“Valued” or Why I Cancelled My AT&T Internet as Exemplified by Trying to Cancel

When I moved to Chicago almost four years ago I set up AT&T DSL as my home internet provider.

Toward the end of last year, I upgraded the Mac Mini hooked up to my TV to the newer server model and decided I needed a static IP address. However, AT&T’s pricing for such options were not great, and I found I was able to get a better deal elsewhere. Even so, I decided to hold off.

I decided around the same time to disconnect my landline phone. AT&T offered a “dry loop” option, so I moved to it to lower my rates. However, doing so raised my internet rates but not my total bill (since the phone cost was removed). Soon after, I started getting hounded via email to combine my wireless service with my internet service, or they would raise my rates again. I looked into this and learned that the discount I received from my employer on my wireless service would be removed, so I opted not to. Still, I received pseudo-threatening emails to do so.

Then the last straw came when I learned about the new DSL terms and conditions introducing data caps and other customer hostile tactics. I contacted a new provider, had them set up, and called on Saturday to attempt to cancel my service. The setup took all day Friday, and once I was up and running, I saw it was past business hours, so I would call AT&T in the morning to cancel.

However, it seems AT&T’s billing department was not open on Saturday. So I called customer support, and they let me know they were unable to cancel my account on the weekend but gave me a direct line to call on Monday. The rep then ended the call with “Thank you for calling AT&T where you are a valued customer.”

If AT&T’s customers are so “valued,” why is the billings department only open weekdays from 8-5? Most people have Monday to Friday jobs during those hours. This makes it very hard to call to straighten out a billing issue if necessary. It certainly doesn’t seem like AT&T values my time. Luckily I had today (Thursday) off and I gave the billing department another ring. Here is what followed:

The first rep answered the phone and didn’t give me her name. She asked me for my phone number and was confused when I told her I have a dry loop. She then asked for my account number, which I gave her, at which point she then told me she needed to transfer me to billing.

The second rep picked up, didn’t give me her name, asked for my phone number, and then was confused when I told her I have a dry loop. She then asked for my account number, which I gave her, at which point she told me she needed to transfer me because she was in Texas.

The third rep picked up, actually gave me her name, asked for my phone number, and understood when I told her I have a dry loop. She then asked for my account number, which I gave her, and she asked what I needed. I then told her I wanted to cancel; she then told me she needed to transfer me. Frustrated, I informed her that this would be my third transfer, and I kept being told that I would be directed to the right person. She then apologized thoroughly and promised me this would be my last transfer. She then gave me a new direct line to call in case I get disconnected.

The fourth rep picked up, didn’t give me her name, asked for my phone number, and then was annoyed when I tell her I have a dry loop. I then gave her my account number. She asked me for the rate I paid on my last bill and was annoyed with me when I didn’t know off-hand. She then asked again, and I told her I had paperless billing, so I was unsure of the exact amount.

The rep then angrily told me she “cannot allow me to pay over the phone if I don’t have more information about my account” and that I “will need to call back with the right information.” I then politely thanked her for the help and but that I wasn’t calling to pay a bill. I was calling to cancel my account. Stunned, the rep got quiet for a moment, and then sheepishly asked why I was canceling.

I informed her that I had got a better rate somewhere else, and the new service had already been installed. She then told me she needed to transfer me. Flustered, I then told her that the last rep had promised this would be my final transfer, that she was the fourth person I had talked to, and that I had been assured that she could handle my problem.

She then half-sincerely apologized and stayed on the line until I was handed off to my next rep.

The fifth rep picked up, let me know her name was Vanessa. She then asked me what she could do to make me “a satisfied customer today.” I let her know that, while I am sorry there was nothing she could do, I had decided to switch and was calling to cancel my service. She then asked me why and I told her I had gotten a better rate through another provider at a heavy discount.

The rep then said she understood, “especially in this economy,” and asked if they’ve already set up the new service. I tell her they had. She then went ahead and canceled my account and asked if there was anything else I needed. I then asked her what I needed to do with the DSL modem they provided, and she then told me I own it.

Each person passed the buck. Rarely could they be bothered to try and get things right. Sure, I was trying to cancel, and they had no chance of keeping me, but the way this was handled, to me, exemplifies the kind of “service” AT&T offers. Rarely was I treated like a human. The experience felt like I was passed around like a piece of garbage that no one knew where to dispose of. I don’t feel like I was very “valued” at all. But hey, at least now I’ve got a worthless DSL modem to throw out.

Thanks, AT&T!