AT&T Shows the Way (NOT!) – Adventures in Customer Service


I began this post as an opinion post but have decided to instead simply share my conversation with a representative from AT&T Mobile.

By way of I production let me share a bit of background. My house gets next to no connectivity with AT&T. My wife’s Blackberry is a bit better than my iPhone but both leave much to be desired. At times the connectivity is passable but at other times it is non-existent. We have stayed with AT&T for a host of reasons, not the least of which has been the iPhone for the past few years. With the iPhone on Verizon, and my growing interest in both Android and Windows Phone 7 I thought it was time to look into options. I called AT&T the other day and was told that canceling my phone would cost me $120. I was also told that someone would follow-up with me since I am “a valued customer and we don’t want to lose you.”

No one followed up. Surprise surprise. So this morning I called.

“Hi Mr. Cohen, I’m — and I want to give you excellent service”

“Great. I called the other day because I am thinking about leaving your service and was told someone would follow-up. No one called so I figured I would call one final time before I made my decision.”

“I’m very sorry about that.”

I explain the issue with reception.

“Mr Cohen let me look into something…” a few minutes later “The best solution for you would be one of our microcells but it is not available in your area. But the micro cell would take your Internet signal and…” (She continues for a while telling me how great the device is and how it would fix everything.)

“Excuse me, you are telling me it is not an option for me.”

“That’s right.”

“But it is not available to me so why are you telling me how it would be perfect for my situation?”

“Well it would be great…”

“Yeah but it is not an option you are offering me. So enough about it since I can’t get it. I guess I’ll just have to…”

“Mr Cohen, let me speak to one of our engineers.”

I’m on hold for a while.

“Mr. Cohen our engineers suggested that you might have better luck with your signal if you switch the phone to EDGE instead of 3G.”

“Really? Can I assume that I would see a reduction in my bill commensurate with only being able to use the slower data?”

“No I’m simply suggesting that by turning your iPhone to EDGE you might find better reception. That way you can stay with us.”

“Are you actually saying that with a straight face? You ‘solution’ to my reception issue is going down to EDGE speeds and continuing to pay the same rate? seriously?”

“Well it is a solution…”

Seriously??? Seriously???

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.

7 Comments on "AT&T Shows the Way (NOT!) – Adventures in Customer Service"

  1. Joel McLaughlin | February 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm |

    Um….what wireless company in their right MIND reccomend downgrading to Edge? Holy crap. I guess you’re going to Verizon eh?

  2. Sounds like the kind of responses you would get from non-tech customer service reps who are given scripts to read back to callers. And I can only imagine how the conversation with the engineer went…

    Phone rep: “The guy on the line has an iPhone and wants to cancel because he has bad reception. He can’t get the microcell either.”

    Engineer: (who was interrupted during his break and really couldn’t care less about subscribers anyway) “Just tell him to switch to EDGE. He probably doesn’t even use the data anyway.”

    • That assumes she was actually talking with an engineer and not just picking options from a support knowledgebase somewhere. I’m imagining that it went something like this:

      “Okay, I’ve got a caller complaining about poor reception… here we go – poor voice quality. Hmm… ‘switch to EDGE connectivity'”

      Joel: That’s easy to say… as long as the person you’re talking to actually knows what the heck you’re talking about. You don’t know where that call centre is, or what their training is. And a lot of places encourage their operators to follow the script VERY strictly.

  3. Joel McLaughlin | February 9, 2011 at 1:23 pm |

    I think Todd hit the nail on the head. People need to start learning this stuff….especially if you are a phone rep!

  4. Michael Jones | February 9, 2011 at 7:25 pm |

    Adventures in Customer Service; AT&T Shows the Way (NOT!) #attfail

  5. Priceless! RT @geardiarysite: Adventures in Customer Service; AT&T Shows the Way (NOT!)

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