Tuesday, May 27, 2008

I Fought the Death Star and Survived.

Not that one, I'm no Luke Skywalker. This one.We have been long time customers of ATT Mobility, and Cingular before that and BellSouth Mobility before that all the way back to $1200, 15 pound under the seat analog car phones. I always had a positive impression of their customer service, until now.

For the last few months I've been looking to upgrade my cell phone. It is a very old one but it worked and I don't use it that much anyway. In fact we have over 4,000 rollover minutes. Recently my phone has started shutting down in mid call, not dropping the call completely shutting down. My search became more urgent.

In an effort to make my life simple I made getting a new phone complicated. You see the two of us divide our time between three cars and three residences and a significant amount of out of town travel. She has a tendency to forget to charge her phone leaving her out of communication while she is on the road or traveling.

All of this leads to problems selecting a new phone. I tried a lavender Razr on her.

It came in lots of colors. It was too cute. It was expensive and all of Her friends had Razrs.

Next I located the Plum LG CU515.

It was different, professional, cheap and I could get a black on . Problem solved.

If only it was that easy. I went online to order the upgrades, just like I did last time around.

NOLUCK. As a business account I had to use the "new" "special" ATT business website.


OK. Maybe I'll get some better pricing. I went there but couldn't get my account login to work. It seems I needed a special master agreement to use the ATT business wireless site.

NO LUCK. I had to agree to all sorts of draconian rules to get to see if I was going to get a discount. I read the fine print, bills were my personal responsibility and I didn't get discounts unless I had 5 phones. I only have two and a wireless Internet thing.

I decided to spend Saturday going to an ATT store in the burbs.

NO LUCK. The kid in the store wouldn't sell the phone without a data contract I didn't need didn't want nor that he could explain. He also insisted on telling me the phone didn't come in black. But as I was leaving he did mention it came in charcoal. At least she actually got to see the plum phone in person. It is darker and cooler than the pictures.

I decided I'd just call. Surely we could find a person at the 8o0 number who knew how to accomplish the simple task of signing up two long time customers for two more years.

NO LUCK. We were back to signing some kind of agreement and going through the website I had been through and decided wasn't worth the effort.

I was ready to go to almost any other carrier, dump all of my rollover minutes and potential for future bundles since I have phone and Internet service through ATT. I called several other carriers and found out they were as stupid as ATT.

Finally I remembered that my fairly recent purchase of an Sierra Wireless Aircard for the ATT wireless network was reasonably painless. I decided to risk going back to the their downtown ATT wireless store in Place St. Charles.

I walked in and a much too cheerful young woman asked if she could help. I said - "Probably not, I'm willing to bet you can't do what I want to do." She said she could so I told her, "All I want to do is upgrade two off contract phones to LG CU515's. One black and one plum." She said "I can do that". I said, "We'll see".

It took an hour, two coworkers and a couple of trips to the back but I walked out of there with two new phones, properly configured and working.

Jesus H. Christ. Why are big companies so stupid, or is it just New Orleans?


Michael Homan said...

Therese and I recently switched from Verizon to AT&T and have been happy. Therese also has the plum phone, Kalypso has the black. I've had very good luck at the St. Charles location. Part of the reason we chose AT&T was so we wouldn't have to go to suburbia, as Verizon only has stores in Jefferson Parish.

Leigh C. said...

Verizon does have a shop that is right near the Savvy Gourmet on Magazine. Just sayin'...

Daniel Z. said...

When I had a short stint at Radio Shack, I remember the pressure on us when it came from cell phone sales.

Our jobs literally depended on some statistic that nobody could explain to me how they calculated it. I was basically told that if I averaged 1 accessory with each cell phone purchase that I would make the cut. I did, but others didn't and lost their jobs for not pushing extra stuff on the customer. The manager even told us that if we didn't sell accessories with phones that he would take the sale away because we didnt do our jobs. This, of course, would reduce commissions paid.

We also got increased bonuses if we sold more expensive plans, data plans, text messaging, etc.

So I can understand why the employee refused to sell you the phone without the plan. He may have been better off not selling a phone to you.


me and the wife have been happy with just changing carriers every two years and getting free phones out of the deal.

the cheap contract allways carries a two year clause.

plus you allways get the hot phone that was out of your price range the year before.

man i love the fast pace of tech.

i think we will have first generation i-phones next go around.

i have never felt loyalty to a carrier or felt that one gave better service over another.

we have been happy with this method for eight years now.

in defense of att who was our carrier during katrina.

they did give us a credit while all their towers were down here in nola.

as did netflix and cox cable.

Tim said...

Customer service, like full serve gas stations and drive in movies, is dead. You now must check yourself out at the grocery and hardware stores, and you're expected to read the box at the appliance and electronics stores because they hire kids at minimum wage. I know, it sucks, but that's the way things are at most businesses now. When you find a place that actually greets you and tries to help, give them as much business as you can in order to preserve them!



Sophmopm said...

I'm jealous of the aircard. I had one gratis ye olde KSDCo while I was in N.O. and it was hard to give that back. I keep resisting, though, since my bill is already like a luxury car payment with 5 phones (4 of them, smart). Still, I yearn.

I've had the same phone account since 1994. Every time I call Customer Service, they stumble a bit at the end when they thank me for being an ATT customer since...! It was Bellsouth Mobility when I bought that first bag phone. I've had great luck going into the store and telling them what I want (re: upgrades, etc.). Heh.