Monday, January 16, 2012

I Spent Two Hours Talking to Nine Customer Service Representatives to Discuss One Phone Bill

So the story begins...

The email icon on my Bing Bar notifies me that I have a message awaiting me. It turns out to be my conveniently paperless Home Phone and Internet bill. Click!


I click the link inside of my email to be transported to the website, to then log into my account. Click!

I sign in, only to find that to my amazement, my bill is incorrect - again.

I pause a moment to reminisce on this common occurrence, when it comes to adding a new ATT service.

See, we just recently added a home phone to our residence, due to the poor cell phone reception in our geographical location. This was to make our lives more simple with the convenience of a home phone. Yet, this notion is quickly dispelled after spending a total of two hours on the phone in the past two days talking to nine different ATT customer service representatives, of which, none have helped me.

Can you sense my frustration yet?

Now, out of all of the representatives, all of them have been nice, and cordial to talk to. None of them have been rude to me in any way, and that was pretty amazing.

But the overall helpfulness of these call center representatives has been lacking.

The most common complaint I have is that they just aren't listening to the customer needs.

Thus beginning my two-hour discussions with nine customer service representatives, and finally, one representative via chat, who ultimately satisfied my bill inquiry.

This is how it went down.

Day One:
I start out on Tuesday, January 11, 2012 from where I left off - on the website - logged in to my account, and wondering why my bill was so high.

So I scoured the website for an easy-to-find number to contact them about my home phone bill.

There was no easy-to-find number readily available within two clicks.

How to Correctly Find the Right Contact Number: After clicking "Contact Us" on the main page, there are then 29 different options to choose from on Step 2. None of which include discussing bill issues. Then select one of several options under one of the four categories provided. Step 3 then tries to help you with Frequently Asked Questions online. Eventually you will get to the contact information, if you have ample time to browse the many options.

Unfortunately, I was not patient enough to go through all of those steps, and I somehow found the Wireless Customer support number ( 1-800-331-0500 ). I figured it was as good enough as any, so I dialed away.

The first Customer Service Representative Megan took my call at the beginning of my lunch break. She was the first to "assist" me in getting nowhere. Megan referred me to the Concessions line, which can be reached at: 1-877-722-0020 . Megan asked me how well she did. I replied, "Good, so far." She did not answer my billing question.

I then talked with Customer Service Representative #2, Gloria. She told me that the Concession line was not the right line. She was absolutely positive that I should call the "Active" or the "Retired" line, regarding my question. These numbers are: 1-877-377-9010 and 1-888-251-0645 . I decided to go with the active line, with no idea why I would need to call either.

After connecting through the active line, I learned this line was for employees. My wife and I are not employees. I spoke with Customer Service Representative #3, Jodi. Jodi said I was at the wrong place. What a surprise! Jodi said she was going to ensure that I got to the right place. She would personally dial it and get me to the right place. I sat on the phone listening to elevator music for 10 minutes, and decided I couldn't wait any longer because my hour-long lunch break was almost over. Jodi did tell me before the lengthy transfer that I needed to call the Customer Care main number, reached at: 1-800-288-2020 .

I looked at the clock and had 5 minutes left to my lunch. I decided to take a gamble and call Customer Care one last time. I reached another female Customer Service Representative. She did not greet me with her name, but I asked because of the past hour of non-assistance. Her name was Lauren. She told me that she could not help me with my question, that I needed to call Lifeline - another division of ATT - that identifies themselves as LifeLine Support. I was given the number 1-800-664-5417 .

At this point, I was out of time. I took down this number. I closed by asking Lauren if I could have someone directly call me back regarding my bad experience of excessive call transfers. She told me that this was not possible. That I could only give my feedback through a survey, on which I could request that someone call me back.

I then thought of the very likely possibility that I would never see this survey. I asked what email they have on file, she responded that they call me back for the survey. I have not received a telephone survey regarding the first four representatives that "helped" me on day one.

Day Two:
The following day, I decided to pursue the answer to my home phone bill question. I had already invested so much time already, I still needed an answer before I could pay my bill.

Today I was going to try a different strategy: Attempt to avoid a wait by trying an undisclosed Customer Service line. I found this number with a Google search. That number is:1-888-387-6270. I called this line, did not have the excessive key punches with "options" and told me up front that the wait time was one minute. I thought I had won the lottery.

I spoke with Kristi, Customer Service Representative #5. She told me that she only serviced the states of TX, MO, and OK. She transferred me to a phone line for my region.

After the hold, I now spoke with Ruby (Customer Service Rep. #6), who was in my "region" for Alabama. Ruby spoke English, but her sentences did not make sense, which told me English was not her first language. I told Ruby my billing question, and she said I needed to call Lifeline. She gave me a second number for Lifeline. Did I forget to mention that the first number I was given by ATT, was not a working number. Ruby gave me a number to write down. This number was: 1-800-295-7495 . Before we got off, Ruby wanted to make sure to put a notation on my profile that I wanted to apply for the discount, but she did not tell me exactly the wording - because we had already mailed in our registration form. I was inquiring as to when the credit would be applied to our account.

After Ruby, I tried to call LifeLine. After dialing, I heard the all-too-common digital buzz from a fax machine. I was provided the fax number by Ruby.

I then called LifeLine at a number I found doing a web search, and reached Kristina (Customer Service Rep. #7). I told her my question, and she wanted to personally transfer me and do the talking for me, since I've been tossed around more than a Caesar salad at Olive Garden. I ate my lunch hurriedly as I downed my lunch. She finally got me on the phone with Reginald (Customer Service Rep. #8), someone from my region. After the transfer, Reginald told me that Kristina told him that I still need to apply for the discount, because that is what someone (named Ruby) notated on our account. Reginald apologized that he couldn't help me, but confirmed that I needed to call a LifeLine Support Representative for my region.

I was now approaching the time where I was nearing the end of my second, hour-long lunch break with no results. I decided to call Customer Care one last time. I spoke with Tamika (Customer Service Rep. #9). Tamika shared with me a new tidbit of information: LifeLine for my region does not have a direct phone number. They only have a fax number, and that's it. Sounds strange if you ask me, but it sounds like the norm for this company at this point. Tamika mailed us another form to fill out, because she threw out the idea that our first form (mailed in over a month ago) was lost in the mail.

My lunch break was over and I got off the phone. I was two hours in, and made no real headway on the billing question. Does persistence pay off? Not in this situation.

As the day neared its end, I went back on the ATT website, and clicked to chat with a Customer Service Representative online. Corey logged in. Corey told me that our credit would not apply until 2-3 bills later, and I just needed to wait. This was contrary to what the Customer Service Representative told me a month ago.

So I decide to wait a little longer, in hopes that the credit will be applied in the future to our home phone bill.

So what's the moral to my story? If you want real results, skip the call centers, and go straight to chat support.

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