I’d like to preface that I’ve previously worked in the customer service industry for years. I’m the first to be sympathetic. And I know there are other threads in the Pit about the decline of customer service in general and specific. I simply have to Pit my experiences with Verizon and AT&T Wireless (now a moot point on the last one) because even now I still can’t believe the bullshit.
As brief as can be on both companies:
AT&T**: February '04 - was told when I activated the phone that I would have to put down a $400 deposit, refundable after 8 months. Fine, put it on my Visa check card.
March through May: Bills show that I have an initial credit of $400 and my payments are being made out of that credit. Each month I would call and speak with a supervisor, who assured me that I don’t have to worry about it, everything is fine. I recorded names and dates.
June: Get bill for $750.00. Call, speak with two supervisors who tell admit it was on error on their part, but I still have to pay the total bill up to this point ($350.00) and put money back into the deposit ($400.00). I say its ludicrous on both points, gave them the names and dates from my previous calls, and after close to 2 hours total ended up cancelling my account with no penalty, and a promise to refund the remaining $50 they owed me.
July: Day before we’re about to close on our first house. I check my account balance and I’m $400 short. This time 4 hours spent going through various supervisors and departments before I finally get the excuse of A) its another department’s fault and B) they cannot put the money back in my account unless that department approves it, but they’re only reachable by e-mail (???) and they have to wait for a response.
(During the first three hours I endured comments like “Well, you did authorize us to charge your account when you started your contract” - that’s for money that I owe you, idiot, not a license for your incompetent company to take money that I do not owe you! Or how about the snooty girl who told me, in so many words, to suck it up?)
$400 is a lot of money for someone in my tax bracket, especially before you close on a house. I Googled until I could find the phone number for the corporate headquarters (I forget where exactly now), explained the situation is as calm a manner as I could muster, and was very nicely transferred by the secretary to some guy named Randy. Randy, god bless 'em, made sure my money was transferred into my account the next day. A happy (and hard fought) ending to my first customer service nightmare.
Verizon: July: While making plans for the move into the aforementioned new house, Verizon was scheduled to turn our new phone on by the next Monday. Monday comes and goes. Major storm had blown through the area and lines were down so I figured they were busy.
Quick jump (for brevity’s sake) to September , when our phone was finally turned on. It took them two months to figure out that out here in the boonies, all the wires are old and there are a limited number of them. The last remaining available line was given to another house on the road that had a bad connection. They managed to do this in the week between the previous owners shutting off their service and the day ours was supposed to reconnect. It took 4 visits from their servicemen (who said they were from across the state because Verizon refuses to hire more local workers) to finally splice in a new line and get our phone turned on. All this while we tried to set up house in an area with absolutely zero cell phone reception (not that I had one; see above) and I pissed my boss off because work was the only place I could make necessary phone calls. We also had friends doing renovations on the house, and I was scared about their safety with no phone service available.
For the first month of all this, while I was still calling the regular customer service line, I would get “estimates” like “the work needed will be done 2 weeks from now” or “they should be finished on the line on another 3 weeks”. It wasn’t until I started calling supervisors at the customer grievance line that I finally started getting accurate information. The day my phone was turned on, I literally fell to the floor and everyone in my office started clapping.
I’m mostly over it by now, other wise I wouldn’t have been able to relate the tales without cursing. However, I no longer sign up for automatic bill payment with ANY company, I will probably never own a cell phone again, and other companies have had to suffer my knee-jerk reaction that all companies are incompetently run, and all low level (and most high-level) customer service people are rude, lying, corporate shills or some combination of the three.
I Pit these companies. Oh, boy, do I ever Pit them.