Business Technology

“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!

Business Technology

iRobot understands that sales and support are one.

In recent weeks I’ve been working hard at cleaning my apartment, throwing things out and simplifying constantly. My hope is that if I really manage to throw out stuff, organize and streamline I’ll be able to keep the place in better shape consistently.

So far, so good.

That said a big part is just general cleanliness. To which I owe much of my help on my Roomba 530 cleaning robot.

I’ve had the little guy for around 3 years and have gotten used to doing routine maintenance to clean it and keep it running smoothly. However, recently one of my brushes broke. It’s completely removable so I decided I could just order a new one and install it myself.

However when I went to the site they didn’t have the brush I needed (6 bristles for a 500 series). I figured it had to be there, I was just missing something. Confused, I called their sales line to attempt to order the proper part.

When I got the rep on the phone he immediately introduced himself and asked for my name. I explained to him that I was having this issue with my 530 and I couldn’t find the proper part. He apologized and informed me that it was a common issue and that the part had actually been redesigned to a stronger three brush design and knew exactly which part I needed.

A few moments later I had ordered the parts I needed (and some extra filters) and I was off the phone with the receipt in my inbox.

Sounds pretty simple right? Here is what stood out for me:

  • The employee lead with a friendly greeting that did not at all seem forced. He didn’t at all seem annoyed that I didn’t know what part I really needed.
  • I was calling sales with what was essentially a support issue and he was able acknowledge my concerns, tell me why I was having trouble and offer me a solution in a matter of moments.
  • The transaction was fast! I spent no time on hold, I was on the line, speaking to someone and had everything resolved in less than 5 minutes.

Too often these days companies separate their sales and support to a degree that one department cannot assist you with both without transferring you. In my experience today it was no trouble at all. The employee was clearly spoken and genuine. You could tell he was not reading from a script, he had his own friendly personality showing through. The experience did a lot to impress me with their company, obviously so much so that I felt to write a blog entry. I will happily recommend them to friends and family now too. Other companies could learn a thing or two from iRobot.

Thanks iRobot!