The Battle of AT&T

June 17, 2010 at 8:33 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
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I actually wrote this the other day…when we didn’t have internet service… 

About a week ago, we started feeling the pressure.  The Man was coming down on us.  ATT shut off our internet service.
Well, we know the drill.  We make a call, make a payment, and wait for them to turn it back on.  But before we prepared to hunker down and begin our withdrawal shakes, I called back to talk to a LIVE person.  There was just something cryptic about the way Detroit explained that this had happened, and I had questions.
After navigating the various treacherous menus, I got put on hold for what promised to be a real person.  After entering my phone number and other information, Shelia comes on and asks for my my phone number and other information.
Shelia can’t find our account.  But she promises to completely satisfy me with customer service, even though I find that doubtful over the phone.  She passes me on to Lawrence.  Lawrence tells me it’s a great day at ATT, and wants to know how he can make it a great day for me.  Turning my internet back on would be a great start, I tell him.
After having me repeat all my information again, plus a few new things–I don’t remember ever setting a secret question, but okay–he puts me on hold briefly to confer with his colleagues.  He comes back and regrets to inform me that my account was canceled.   Not just stopped, but canceled.  For non-payment, which shocked me even though I’m sure it’s accurate.  But it was slated for destruction on the 18th of last month.
Only through their incompetence did it last this long, which gave them time to cancel me, print it out, use it to build a statue of me to burn in effigy, and then piss on it.  If they had shut it off right away like they are supposed to, I would have called right away and avoided all of this.  I can’t help but think that was the reason this happened.
So we have to sign up for new service.  I’ll connect you to that department, but before I do, is there anything ELSE I can do to make it a great day for you?  No, Lawrence, you’ve done quite enough.
He connects me with someone in the Twist in the Wind Department.  Beth wants to make it a great day for me, too.  Honestly, quit trying to make me happy and turn my internet back on, wouldja?
I gloss over the problem with Beth.  “You guys turned my internet off.  I paid, and I have a confirmation code here.  Why can’t you just turn it back on?”
Beth puts me on hold briefly and then comes back.  She said, “Well, it looked like some odd things going on there, but I have you back on.  Go unplug your modem, wait about 15 seconds, and then plug it back in.  You’ll be back in business.”
We did and we were–thanks, Beth!  Our troubles were over…

Until this week.  Monday I got home and again we have no intarwebs.  I will gladly pay you Tuesday for connectivity today–
Except it was Monday, and we already paid the bastards.
Other ridiculous stuff happened, so that by the time I called them, it was almost nine pm.  No people after 8pm.  But the pleasant mechanical voice I call Vern said we could make a payment on our past due account.  No thanks, Vern.
When I got home Tuesday,  I was prepared.  I grabbed my phone and went downstairs, and turned the computer on.  I painted my face blue and put on a kilt.  They can take my Cat5e, but they’ll never take my wireless!
Internet!  I yelled, as I lunged forward and dialed.
Well, I’ve gotten better at this.  I confound Vern quickly and get to a real person.  Annette wants all my information–it’s a good thing I trust all these people.
“What’s the phone number?”
“We don’t have a phone number, we just have DSL.”
“Okay, what’s the account number?”
I have to call back with the account number, because she isn’t finding anything based just on my name and social.  I wonder now if she meant she doesn’t see anything or just won’t look?
I go upstairs and find a bill, and also get the check Detroit did over the phone that has the confirmation number.  Back downstairs I look at the bill–it’s the one we JUST received, that has the payment that she made on it, with my next amount due on July 6th.  Now we’re cooking with gas.
Or, maybe someone just left the gas on, and I’m slowly dying in here.  I was on the phone for two and half mother fucking hours.  I had to plug my phone into the charger, because between the decreasingly helpful but very thickly-accented help and the 70s soft-rock-turned-elevator-hold music, my phone felt like I did.
I was on my last bar.
I talked to Rebecca, Robert, Marvin, and George–All very Anglo-sounding names from India.  At first they were eager to make this the best customer service experience for me ever…but their enthusiasm started to wane after a while.  George (or something like that; honestly I didn’t understand what he said his name was, or what about every fourth word was–I had to pick it up from context) took the initiative to park me in one spot.  He put me on hold while HE talked to other people, instead of sending me around the world cube hopping.  I listened to hold music while I played solitaire and my arm fell asleep, and occasionally he would come on and give me a status update.
“We’ve only just begun…”
“Sir, I am speaking with several of my colleague about your situation right now.  Just please hold a few minute and I will sort this out for you.  Again, thank you for choosing AT&T.”
“I remember when rock was young–”
“Sir, I am now escalating to a higher level of tech support so that we may resolve your situation to your satisfaction.  Just please hold please while I consort with my colleague and workmates.  Again, I thank you for choosing AT&T.”
“Well, you came and you gave without taking, but I–”
“Sir, I am now joining with Estaban in a conference call with you so that we may resolve this difficulty to you satisfactorily.  Sir.  Just please hold, thank you, and thank you for choosing AT&T,”
I felt like Malcolm X at this point:  “I didn’t choose AT&T, AT&T chose ME!  To fuck with!”
“Billy, don’t be a hero, don’t be a fool with your life–”
“Sir?  Thank you, now please, for holding, and I am joining with Estaban who can explain well what is your situation, please.”
Estaban was actually American.  He said that they did indeed cancel my account, and after our payment went through they did put in a new work order, but somehow it got lost or stuck in the system–
But I know how computers work, and I know it was human error.  Or human malice.  I imagine the culprit was one of the chicks from the previous day that wanted to make sure I was satisfied..and she must have misunderstood their mission statement, and just read the part that said, “Fuck em.”
Estaban told me that he had taken care of everything, it was all set now, and we should have our internet back on.
“Yes, anytime Thursday before 8pm it should come back on.  Thank you for choosing–”
“Hold on.”  I sighed.  Not for effect, but because I was honestly weary to the bone about this around-the-world-in-two-hours phone trip I had been on.  “First, you cancel my account even though we paid, and then I sit here on the phone for over two hours, and NOW you tell me I won’t have internet service until Thursday?”  This was Tuesday, and we had already been a day without it.  Besides that, I was trying desperately hard (and succeeding) in staying off the internet at work, to save my job.  And the troll in the basement–with nothing else to do–comes upstairs and helps himself to the Wii right in the middle of the living room…where I am and where I wish him not to be.  Thursday?  I didn’t tell them all of this; I merely conveyed it with my sigh, my pause, and my tone.  I concluded:  “I…am not happy.”
Estaban read from his script, “Well, sir, I can certainly understand your not feeling happy.”  I hear a page turn.  “This is what I can do for you, okay?”  Short pause.  “I can deduct ten dollars from your bill” –I almost protested at that point– “for twelve months.”
Oh.  Hmmm.  I rubbed my head.  “Hmmm.  Okay.  I’ll take that.  That’ll do.” Is this what negotiations at peace talks sound like?  I didn’t sound joyous, I’m sure.  But I was appeased.  Maybe Estaban was French?
He finished explaining to me the details of what it would take before I would have the internet back again.  I felt like they were holding my porn hostage.  He gave me my new account number.
“Once again, sir, I apologize for all the inconvenience.  Thank You for choosing AT&T, and I hope we made this a great customer service ex–”
I just hung up.


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