If you waded through my previous kvetch about AT&T’s customer service, you might be interested to learn that they billed me $106 for the replacement gateway modem that never did work. I called to complain and after sitting on hold for a half hour I decided to email the customer service team. I detailed in short, easy-to-comprehend sentences that I had not been informed I would be billed for a replacement part, I had no intention of paying for something that did not work, and in fact, I felt I was entitled to be credited for the week I was without service.
Promptly, “Adam” replied with all courtesy, “I am sorry for the inconvenience happened to you” [sic] and notified me that AT&T had credited me for five weeks (not just one) of service. But not a word about the modem. He closed, “Many thanks for being so awesome always!”
I wrote Adam back, thanking him for his courtesy (it was very nice of him to notice my awesomeness) and insisting that I only wanted credit for the single week I was entitled to, and what about the modem that had never worked? The next day “Andy” wrote back, assuring me that the extra adjustment was because I was such a wonderful customer, and asking me to kindly explain what issues I was having with my new modem. Okay, so my relationship with Adam was over so quickly. *SIGH* So be it. I wrote again, explaining in simple sentences that the modem was bad, it had never worked, and I would not pay for it.
“Paul” then wrote back saying he understood that I was asking about the charge for the modem. He advised me, “I can see that you were changed [sic] for the gateway. I recommend you to send the defective modem to the nearest UPS store and in turn they will send it to us, once we receive the equipment we will credit your next bill.”
Now I was getting somewhere! But just take the box, addressed to me, to any UPS store and they would magically know what to do with it? This is not the UPS I have been dealing with for decades. I wrote back: “OK, so just drop it off at a UPS store? Don’t need a shipping label or anything?”
The next day, I got a message from “Keath” [sic] informing me that he understood I had asked about a return label and that he had just emailed one to me. If I applied it to the box and shipped out the modem at any USPS/UPS location, they would credit my account upon receipt. Setting aside my curiosity about the sudden merger of the US Postal Service with UPS, I figured my problem might just be solved, and I affixed the label and off I went to the post office down the street.
I cannot fault any of the customer service representatives — English is not their first language yet they were unfailingly polite. (I cannot imagine me stumbling through a similar encounter in French, my only other language, or worse yet, in Hindi or Mandarin, which, being an ignorant American, I have not acquired.) And yet —
Three days and four emails to resolve my issue, and if I had not asked about a return label, I might still be getting to know the entire AT&T customer service team. My issue was minor, and based on my personal work experience in sales support/customer service, was something that could have, should have, been easily resolved in one call or one email. Better yet, why were return instructions not already included with the original shipment? (HP does this routinely.) The multi-day lag time and the giveaway of a month’s revenue is so clumsy, such a mediocre business practice, that again I question why and how AT&T remains a corporate leader. A “re-think” is not only “possible” but probably advisable.
Next month’s bill with credits promised and due has yet to arrive. I may have yet another update.