AT&T, need I say anymore?

(Posted Thursday 1-20-2000) AT&T, do I need to say anymore? Iíd take a guess that nearly every American that Iíve met over the past ten years has a story about this company or knows someone that does. We were so sick of their pettiness that we discontinued their service and as far as Iím concerned we have no intentions of ever using them again. Although this is a brief story (just a letter of complaint that we sent to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) itís still a very valid point. Yes it may seem trivial regarding the amount that is involved here, but itís not about the money. Itís the principal of the matter thatís important here. Something that I feel that AT&T just donít get. I had a long conversation with two supervisors and my wife, also with one. We got absolutely nowhere with them. I feel that the letter tells this story pretty well:


Dear Sir or Madam,

The reason for this letter is to file a complaint against AT&T.

My wife received a phone call from an AT&T employee early last year offering us a basic rate plan of 30 free minutes a month for a certain charge. Any calls over that amount and there would be a nominal charge for each call. She accepted the offer and was told that it would last for 6 months. Right from the start AT&T never sent us any literature regarding this new plan in the mail. Just the phone call asking us to switch and that was it. Each month our bill would have a Ďbasic rateí charge of around two to three dollars on it. We donít make too many long distance calls so this plan was just right for us. When our January 7th bill came in we were surprised to see that the total for AT&T was $20.38. I got on the phone and getting nowhere with a customer service agent, it wasnít too long before I was connected to a supervisor named Sandra. I explained the above situation to her and she told me that our plan had expired. I mentioned that it would have been courteous of them to have at least sent us a written warning or given us a phone call to remind us that this promotion was coming to an end. Sandraís uncaring response was, ďwe sent everything out to you in the mail?Ē I assured her that we had received nothing from them since that very first phone call.

Our conversation simply went around in circles. To put it bluntly I found her completely insensitive, demoralizing and she seemed totally disinterested in what I had to say. I made a point to her, ďbecause you have miscommunicated with us, you cannot give us a credit.Ē Her dry, robotic response was simply, ďIím sorry that you overlooked the brochure that was sent out to you in the mail.Ē Why should we be made to feel like the guilty party here and have to pay for calls that we thought were covered under a plan? After all it was due to their lack of communication that created this problem in the first place. We have no quarrels about paying any utility bill that comes through our door. However, when AT&T claims they sent a brochure and we never received it we do not see why we should be blamed for their lack of communication. What infuriates me is the absence of understanding on their part. We have spoken to three supervisors now and each of them have had the same attitude. Each one has told us that there is NOTHING that they can do and that they cannot give us any credit. With each call I have requested a phone number to their headquarters so that I can take this matter further up the ladder. But, every time Iím told that this has to be done by writing a letter and sending it by mail only. We find this a bit strange for a telecommunications company. After all, they specialize in phone services, not mail.

Our request is to receive credit for the amount of $5.93. This would be 30 free minutes for 2 months (since AT&T did not bill us for December). We will gladly pay the usual carrier line and universal connectivity charges, taxes equal to $6.83 plus the calls over the 30 free minutes per month for a total of $14.45. The credit requested is the balance from the calls we believed were covered with the 30 free minutes. We appreciate your time in reading this and await your response on this matter.


UPDATE. On Monday 1-17-2000, I had also emailed AT&T on four separate occasions asking that someone call me back. This was done on their website at . "Eight days later" a Charles Martin called, leaving a message for me to call back. Do you think I would even bother with customer service like that?

UPDATE. On Thursday January 27th 2000, a letter left Missouri State for me from (one of) AT&T's Customer Care Unit(s). An AT&T Executive Appeals Manager by the name of Charles Martin (as mentioned above) had written the brief letter asking me to call him collect and to leave my daytime phone number on his voice mail so that he could contact me regarding our AT&T long distance account. On Tuesday 2-1-2000 I called and left the appropriate information on HIS voice mail. The following day, 'I received no call' from him at whatsoever. I have left two more messages since. Today is Friday 2-4-2000 and I've still had no response from Mr. Martin. On the latter message I said that I had no intentions of calling back anymore as he was simply wasting our time.

Honestly, why bother sending out a letter to us trying to express how you seem so concerned in getting in touch with us if you simply can't follow through with with your intentions? This is yet another typical example of how AT&T deal with their customers?

CONCLUSION. In late May, AT&T had some supervisor call to apologize for everything that had happened. If memory serves me correct her name was Bonnie. I was so disgusted by the way that AT&T dealt with this whole thing. Right from the beginning, NO ONE wanted anything to do with our simple claim. This left us with no choice but to take up the issue with the CPUC. Because and only because they got involved, AT&T then felt compelled to call. So they get A NICE (and somewhat sounding) CARING supervisor to call us, make it sound like they really are sorry for what had happened and now ask if there anything more that they can do! Don't patronize us. This is beyond appalling. To me, it's a case of pure uncaring corporate attitude, a thing that I've heard said about AT&T many times over.

NEW STORY - (Wednesday 12-27-00) Talk about the monopoly and the greed that this company has, listen to this one. On Tuesday 12-26-00 I went to a pay phone to call a number in Chico, CA. I hadn't dialed the number for at least a year. The line was silent when suddenly an operator came in on the line asking me what number I had dialed. Before I could even talk, an AT&T operator jumped in and said, "that will be a dollar fifty please Sir." With that statement I asked, "Well, I'd like to know why the number that I dialed isn't going through?" "Oh the area code has changed! That'll be a dollar fifty please." "Well may I have the new area code so that I can call the number from my house later," I gestured. "No, you'll have to deposit the money first" said the voice from AT&T. "Why should I have to pay you for a number that AT&T changed to begin with?" What a complete load of shit. Talk about exploitation, AT&T change the area code and then expect US to pay them to give us that information. VERY UNFAIR don't you think?

I was so pissed off, I put down the phone and called 411 who had no problem giving me the information that I needed. Can AT&T stoop any lower to make money off of the public?

Again, I appreciate your reading, regards, Johnny Anderson.

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