I’ve been an AT&T customer since ’97 and since moving to Florida, I can count the number of calls I’ve missed due to AT&T’s network on one hand. While there are areas where coverage isn’t great, I’ve rarely had a problem getting a signal that was strong enough to make or receive a call.
However, I’ve been looking at new phones for a while and both are on competing networks. While my experience with Sprint many years ago that wasn’t good, I’ve been told by many people that their network quality has improved. T-Mobile is an unknown to me, though, I’ve had employees and clients that have used them and haven’t had any complaints. Switching carriers won’t be as much of a leap of faith as it once was.
However, today at 3:24pm I received a text message that was odd. I’ve been an AT&T customer since 1997 and haven’t had too many issues where I’ve needed to deal with customer service. Normally, customer service is fairly responsive if you know what to ask, but, today was just ridiculous. The SMS message received was:
AT&T FREE MSG: AutoPay Enrollment Change Confirmation - conf #APAPAT1604xxxx. Your change request has been processed.
Since I hadn’t been on the computer, hadn’t made any changes, I was curious. The first customer service representative told me that it was an FCC law that they had to notify me when I was billed or changes were made. Since I hadn’t logged in to make any changes, I assumed that I had been billed automatically. As it turns out, my bills are paid on the 14th, not the 19th.
At 8:36pm, ET I received the following:
AT&T FREE MSG: AutoPay Enrollment Change Confirmation - conf #APAPAT1599xxxx. Your change request has been processed.
So, after an 8 minute wait on the online help, I’m connected with a rep and after about 15 seconds, disconnected.
After reconnecting to their live help, I’m connected with a customer service rep that answers questions in circles. I asked what the messages were for and I’m told, the entire text of the message is contained within the message. So I said, rather than send these to my phone, please send these to the email address I have on file. I’m told:
Melinda Simon: To confirm you wish to opt out of notifications sent via text messages, is that correct? ... Melinda Simon: Thank you for waiting, Mr. Davies. The FCC mandate does not allow account notifications to be optional.
So I asked what the title of the FCC mandate was:
Melinda Simon: I am going to send you a link where you can research the FCC mandate. Melinda Simon: Please click here. Melinda Simon: Please let me know if you were able to view the link.
It isn’t until a supervisor finally gets online that I’m given more detail:
Melinda Simon: Good evening this Brian Thomas one of the managers on duty. How may I assist? ... Melinda Simon: Thank you for your patience Mr. Davies. I took a look a little deeper and we are not permitted to make the changes. chris davies: What is the title of the Mandate? Melinda Simon: I do not know the title of the Mandate that governs this policy. The FCC would be able to provide more information regarding Customer Proprietary Network Information.
In some digging, it appears that the credit card number I have on file expires this month. Somehow, the expiration date of the card on file was modified twice today by AT&T. They added two years to it (which didn’t match my card) and prompted the first message, then added another year to it which matched. I made a modification to my profile just to see if they followed the law and 45 minutes later, still no FCC Mandated SMS message sent to my phone.
It appears that AT&T doesn’t actually require a client to confirm charges or to make modifications to expiration dates – as long as they follow the mandate that requires them to alert you. So, it isn’t illegal to commit credit card fraud, but, it is illegal to do so without notifying you that a change was made.
AT&T, thank you for making my choice to change networks a little easier.