Posts Tagged ‘att’

AT&T Local Phone Service woes

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

Earlier last week I received a call that had a lot of static. Last Saturday morning I received a few phone calls in the morning, but, later calls started coming through to my mobile phone – busy/ring no-answer forwarding from the house line to my mobile.

That afternoon, I placed a Trouble Ticket with AT&T using their online system. Today, still no dialtone, line is dead at the Network Interface Jack. Attempted to check status yesterday, couldn’t figure out how, reopened a ticket, but, in Chrome, got to last step, told me that session timed out and I needed to reenter. Decided to try again this morning. Again, last step, Session timed out, reenter. Tried in Safari, Session timed out, reenter. The ‘reenter’ link points to a 404.

Called the phone number listed, went through their automated process, it told me there was no problem on the line and it must be my equipment. Went out to the box outside, unplugged the line at the Network Interface Jack again, tested again, left it unplugged. Called in again, it tells me that there is no problem, I must have a phone off the hook, would I like to schedule an $85 service call since I don’t have inside wire maintenance?

Hit 0 for about 2 minutes, kept getting tossed back to the troubleshooting instructions. Called back in, didn’t enter any prompts, got transferred to a person, he said they had no record of last Saturday’s ticket, but, online tickets often get lost. Saw that I entered one through the automated system, said that it would cost $85 to have someone come out. I said, I have the phone line unplugged at the Network Interface Jack, the problem is outside the house.

He said:

“Well, if that isn’t plugged in, you aren’t going to get a dialtone. Would you like us to schedule a call for $85?”

I thought using the automated system would be quicker. I tried to use their IVR system and it told me it wasn’t a fault on their side. I realize not everyone has 20+ years of telecom/datacom experience, but, I have to wonder if the pressure is to get the person to accept it as a billable call then to later sell inside wire maintenance as a way to defray the $85, i.e. sign up for the $4.95/month plan and we won’t bill you the $85, knowing that you’ll be a client for more than 17 months.

The first UX problem is dealing with their Web site. It is not easy to find how to place a trouble ticket for people that know what they need. It does have a lot of helpful information that you need to go through – all troubleshooting that I had already bypassed by checking the Network Interface Jack first. But, finding the link to actually place a ticket takes you to a page where you have to again tell it what type of service, put in the phone number, run through a number of screens where you’re able to enter 160 characters of text to describe the problem, then, if the process is successful I guess it creates a ticket. It is obvious while I was doing it that it did try to reset the line as the line-use indicator did blink a few times right after I entered the number.

But, what takes the cake is the IVR system. There was no way to schedule a ticket without accepting the $85 charge. It did run me through the same tests the online system prescribed, but, you couldn’t proceed without accepting the liability. Additionally, I could not give the phone number I was reporting as the trouble number. Even though the line had a hard fault, calls are transferred to my mobile automatically – allowing me to keep a single phone number to give out for people to contact me. I debated giving my Google Voice number, but, wanted to see how the system worked. The person I spoke to never asked for a contact number.

All in all, I think the customer service experience here from a web usability standpoint needs to be looked at. I tried two modern browsers, and did attempt to use Firefox while writing this and each one ends up with the same problem. I’d bet if I had Internet Explorer it would work.

Remember… customer metrics. Know what pages should be getting hit, know what your expected volumes are. And when you see abnormally low numbers, investigate.

AT&T Customer Service nightmare

Tuesday, October 19th, 2010

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.

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