It was a hot, sticky Wednesday afternoon when I dropped everything and drove to the AT & T store. It was June 23, 2010 and after a couple of days of unpacking, Stephanie and I decided it was time to order our internet service and to plug back into the world again. After placing many calls to various stores and companies, I felt like the store in Apex offered me the best bang for my buck.
I walked up to the counter and when the representative asked me if he could help me with anything, I declined. I had spoken with a knowledgeable sales associate on the phone and realizing that most sales associates work on commission, I decided to wait for the person I had established a business relationship with prior to my visit. So I walked around the store and looked at some of the phones they had on display in their showroom.
I was finally called up to the counter. As I placed my order, the price for my DSL service increased by five dollars per month. When I inquired as to the price difference, it was explained to me that I was only ordering DSL service and not a phone as well. I had stated that I was only interested in DSL service when I initially called and the prices had been explained in detail. The sales associate apologized for the misunderstanding but since I didn’t need phone service and I was getting a “dry loop” DSL plan, the rates were a little bit higher.
I should have left the store and gone home. If there was a problem with understanding exactly what I had ordered, who knows what else might not get done properly. But I needed to get my internet connected again and although fate was warning me to the contrary, I stayed and proceeded with the order. As the paperwork printed out, I was told that my DSL service would be connected on June 29, 2010.
Six days?! Really?! Six days to turn on my service?! I was perplexed. I made some inquiries to see if we could expedite the order, but the system was down. I was told that the order would be processed the next morning and that I could call back in the afternoon to see if my connection date had been moved up.
I called back on Thursday and there was no news. The sales associate promised to call me on Friday. I called back late on Friday afternoon and the sales associate had left for the day. I left my number with the person who had answered my call but no one bothered to call me back. My phone rang once on Saturday morning and then stopped. So I dialed the number on my caller ID and lo and behold, it was the sales associate. He told me that he tried to call me on Friday but I had given him the wrong number, and the people who answered the phone said I didn’t live there.
My blood pressure was starting to rise. If I wasn’t there on Friday afternoon, how was he able to reach me on Saturday morning?! But I had to keep my attitude in check. I wanted my service connected. So I inquired about my connection date. As we conversed, he told me that he had no new information to report. The connection service office was closed on the weekend, so I was basically relegated to waiting until the 29th for my DSL service to be activated.
On Tuesday morning, June 29, 2010, I called the Apex office to see when my service would be up and running. I was told that it would be done by 5:00 p.m. At six o’clock, I tried to install the disk and start my service. After numerous unsuccessful attempts to get my service to work, I called the technical support line. They could not find my account information but were willing to help.
After a few attempts to install my service, the technical support person told me to uninstall my Norton Anti-Virus. Red flags, bells and whistles were screaming in my head “DON’T DO IT!!!” but I didn’t listen. I did it. When we went through the process of uninstalling my anti-virus program and installing the DSL package, an error message appeared and I was unable to access the internet.
I called back to the Apex store and spoke with the manager. She was honest with me and told me that the Central office had until midnight to flip the switch and activate my service. I hung up the phone and waited until midnight. When I ran the install disk, I still couldn’t connect to the internet.
The next morning, I called the eight hundred phone number and was directed to the sales department. When I inquired about my account, they informed me that my service was not supposed to be connected until July 6, 2010. I was livid. I explained everything that had happened so far and asked why my connection date was changed from the 29th to the 6th of July. The salesperson had no idea why that happened. The person on the phone also told me that they would try and expedite my service but it was not guaranteed.
I hung up the phone and drove to the AT & T store. When I walked in, I went straight to the counter. The woman working at the counter was on the phone. While I was waiting, she pointed to the original sales associate I had been dealing with and then pointed at me. When he walked over and asked if he could help, I said, “I would like to speak to the manager.”
The woman on the phone was the manager who I had spoken to the night before. When she hung up the phone, I calmly explained my situation to her again. She apologized and then honestly dealt with my issue. She made phone calls in front of me to try and get the service problem rectified. When she was done dealing with the connection department, I was guaranteed to have service by 5:00 p.m. on July 1, 2010.
She also understood how inconvenienced I had been throughout the whole process, so she sent an email to her District Manager to see if a credit on my account could be made to make up for the difficulty I had been having. She told me that she was not authorized to give me the credit but her District Manager should be able to address that on his end. She also asked me to call when the service was up and running so that she knew everything had been completed. I thanked her for her time and her honesty.
On Thursday, July 1, 2010, a technician showed up at the house and found a new problem. The phone wire for the house had been cut so even if the service had been turned on, it wouldn’t have worked. He could not understand why the line been cut but went to his truck so he could connect the house to the Hub again. He ran the wire through the street drain, under the street and around the entire yard to junction box on the side of the house. When he was done, I had DSL service but a wire lying across my entire yard that had to be buried.
He told me that he would create a ticket for AT & T to come out and bury the line in my yard. When I asked him about a time line for the work to be completed, he said it would take about a week.
When I opened my email for the first time in weeks, there were a bunch of emails from AT & T about the status of my order. I am not kidding. I, the client, who had no internet access actually received emails from them, the internet provider, who had not hooked up my DSL service. The irony was rich. But, unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there.
The manager who had been incredibly helpful was off on Friday, so I called her on Tuesday, July 6, 2010 and found out that she had been moved to another store. I called her cell phone number which was listed on her business card and she informed me that she had been “quickly” moved to a store in the area. She was happy to hear that my service had been connected but I would have to call the District Manager to inquire about a credit for my dissatisfaction with the process.
I called the District manager and left a message. He called back and had no idea what I was talking about. I explained everything to him in detail. He told me that he was going to have to investigate and get back to me.
Later in the day, I was also happy to see that the utility companies had come out to our house to paint the lawn so that the DSL wire could be safely buried. Maybe something would get done on time.
On Thursday, July 15, 2010, I called the eight hundred number again to see when the wire in my backyard was going to be buried. They had no knowledge of the wire being above ground. I explained that somewhere in the system there had to be a ticket because all of the utility companies came out the previous week and painted my yard. The woman on the phone had no knowledge of a ticket being created. So she created a new ticket and guaranteed that the wire would be buried by July 22, 2010.
I called the District Manager again to inquire about my credit for my account. He didn’t call back.
When we came home on the 22nd, the wire had been buried. Finally, a deadline had been met. But I still hadn’t heard from the District Manager.
On July 29, 2010, all of the utility companies showed up to paint my yard again. When I asked them what they were doing, they showed me an order from my DSL Company to bury the line on July 28, 2010. I was thoroughly confused about two things; (a) why would the utility companies show up on the 29th to paint my yard if the date to bury the wire was on the 28th? And (b) why was a second ticket created?
But I didn’t worry about it because the line had been buried and the work had been completed. And as I headed into the weekend, I still hadn’t heard back from the District Manager.
On Saturday morning, July 31, 2010, an employee from my DSL Company showed up to bury the wire in my yard. At this point in time, all I could do was laugh. It was so ludicrous that it became funny. And again, unfortunately, the story doesn’t end there.
I tried once more to follow up with the District Manager. I got his voice mail and left a message. But he didn’t call me back.
A week ago, my DSL service just stopped working. Technical assistance told me I had to return my router and get a new one before they could authorize a technician to come out to the house. So I did. It took twelve hours to get a new router. And guess what? It wasn’t a problem with the router. I called back technical support and they finally sent a technician. It was a wire problem at a Hub a few miles back. Problem solved.
And still to date, not a single call back from the District Manager.
For a month I have heard everyone at AT & T tell me that I “am a valued customer.” If I am valued customer, I would hate to see how everyone else is treated!