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Wednesday, February 03, 2010

AT&T Infinite Fail + 1

Remember back in October when AT&T randomly started billing me for "Enhanced Billing Services" without my consent? Well, since then, I've gotten to spend hours on the phone with AT&T at least once a month. They have:

    - allowed this other company to bill me without my consent
    - said they'd fix it
    - didn't fix it
    - told me I needed to fix it by contacting the other company
    - billed me again, even after I'd called and fixed it with the other company
    - randomly stopped sending my bill to Wells Fargo eBills (Wells Fargo says "Discontinued by Biller")
    - this caused my bill to go unpaid for a month, leading to a late fee
    - the late fee was waived by a nice human I talked to when I called again (fourth time now!)
    - after re-enabling e-billing on Wells Fargo's site, AT&T sent email demanding a verification, and sent me to a website my account type (not U-Verse!) cannot access to verify
    - I tried calling during my time off, but was told that the AT&T offices were closed, though it was late-afternoon on a Saturday
    - got another call from AT&T saying they needed me to verify my request or it would be canceled

That's where things were when I started dealing with this a bit before five o'clock on January 7th. Then I:

    - tried to remember again what mysterious email address AT&T has assigned to me, because they won't let me define the email address I should use to log in, but instead picked a random email account they created and I have never ever once logged in to review
    - jumped through hoops at that web site answering a bizarre list of "security" questions (my choices being either "Who is your favorite actor?" or "Who was your childhood hero?")
    - got to a page that said I'm in the wrong place
    - tried calling to fix this
    - got hung up on while being transferred around
    - got hung up again while waiting on hold after 17 minutes
    - called back to wait on hold again for another 25 mintues
    - got passed around to tech support and after waiting on hold for another 22 minutes was told that I needed to talk to billing or that maybe I should try live chat
    - started live chat and had him transfer me to billing
    - did live chat while waiting on hold and found that Unica, my chat support rep, could not help
    - Unica recommended calling the tech support department
    - talked to billing, who said they couldn't help with web site problems, and couldn't enter a verification over the phone because they couldn't access that
    - got passed back (without my consent) to technical support
    - at this point I requested he send me to service cancellation instead
    - the cancellation department is apparently encouraged to transfer you anywhere else, so they transferred me back to tech support, again without my consent or acknowledgment
    - waited another 20 minutes and learned a deep hatred for AT&T's hold music
    - I talked to tech support again, now exhausted, and the chap went and got his supervisor (I'm pretty sure I'd talked to the same tech support dude an hour earlier, so he knew what was coming)
    - Supervisor apologized, but said there was nothing he could do, but recommended sending an email via the web site since the department I really needed didn't actually have phone support, so that was the best way
    - I submitted an email form, which went to a blank white screen rather than any submission confirmation

Over two hours later, I still couldn't verify that I wanted to get eBills via Wells Fargo, and my blood pressure was through the roof.

I've so had it with this big old dinosaur that doesn't seem to be able to tell it's tail from it's feet. The biggest problem here seems to be that none of the departments have effective cross-communication and that different service offerings (like U-Verse vs. AT&T/Yahoo DSL vs. regular old phone service) seem to be incredibly poorly integrated. I think the email I got was for a web page only U-Verse users could access, but I don't have U-Verse, so it was rejecting me, and there was no way to report or resolve the problem once it started. Not merely a dinosaur; a dinosaur with acromegaly.

So then I logged onto the Comcast site. I could order internet there, but just to check in I decided to call to take care of some other business like changing my phone number to something other than my land line, which now it seemed unlikely I'd be keeping.

I talked to a nice young man who said he could set that up, wondered if I wanted the cable guy to come out for installation for $25 or if I wanted to get a self-install kit for free. I said I was thinking of picking up a cable modem at Fry's on my way home. He asked what variety. I gave him a model number for one I had checked on their list on their easy-to-use and informative web site that I had found on the Fry's web site for in-store pickup. He cross-checked it on their list and said that would be fine, so he could have the technician turn it on now, and I'd just need to call and give them the MAC address when I got home and plugged in the modem. I said, "... Now?" He said, "Yes, it's all set." I said, "I love you!"

I then hung up and changed all of my contact numbers for PG&E, credit cards, Wells Fargo... everything! Now everything is calling Google Voice to reach me.

Since then I've set up a cable modem, reset the wireless router to manage that connection, ended DSL service less than a week later, and kept the land line just long enough for The Woodbury to deal with some EDD issues without burning through every minute on his cell phone. Last night, I called to disconnect the land line a couple minutes before 6 p.m. After wandering through 10 minutes of phone tree interactions (including being placed on hold), I was told by a recording that this department was closed and that I needed to call back during normal business hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Riiiiiiiight. Interesting how I can't disconnect service via the web or via email or anything else, and I can only do it during hours that most everyone is at work. (Oh, and just for giggles, I tried filing an email form on the web last night, but it again goes to a blank white screen because their web site is so very broken.) So, this morning I called back and disconnected it.

Farewell Pacific Bell SBC AT&T! After too many years being a thorn in my side, I can only say, "Good riddance!"


  • What a tale. My interactions with AT&T have always been fully satisfying. Comcast has always been more of a problem for me.

    I know it's a little late, but another angle to have tried would be to file a complaint with the Public Utilities Commission.

    Good luck with Comcast.

    By Blogger Kevin, at 2:31 PM  

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