Saturday, July 5, 2008

Me - 1/2, AT&T - 1/2

I had a little fracas with AT&T to day and I can't say I won, exactly. But I didn't feel like I lost, either.

Rachel's phone has been acting up. It now longer vibrates when a call comes in and it seems to drop calls a lot. The sound quality is also really stinky but that's nothing new. I have the same model and I think the sound is crappy on mine too.

So we were down in Fredricksburg this weekend and decided to try to get an upgrade for her phone. I knew I might have to pay a little more but so be it. So we go in and I explain the situation to the young woman there and she says, "Well, you'll have to pay because the contract isn't up yet. But look around and see what you like." So we looked at a bunch and I saw one that looked as though it was going to be about $70. We go back to the desk and the young woman says, "Oh, no, that's the price for new subscribers. For you that phone is $250." (in fact, the phone -- for new subscribers -- was $70 but was also "buy one, get one free.") I allowed as how there was no way that I was going to pay $250 for a phone and she said, "Well, you can do a warranty exchange on the old phone...just call this 800 number and talk to them and they can arrange to have a new phone sent to your'll be the same model, and probably refurbished but it'll work."

We walked out and as I walked to the car I got more and more steamed. I mean, we've been loyal customers of AT&T, Cingular, AT&T for more than two years...and yet some schmo can walk in off the street and sign up and get a phone for less than a third of the price they're going to give to us! I mean, I know it's the standard business practice nowadays but it sucks. And I wanted to let someone know I thought it sucked.

I called the 800 number for the warranty return and was told we needed to talk to customer service and that we'd be transferred. There was a very long wait during the transfer so the first person was probably warning the second person that they were about to get an earful. Anyway, this guy comes on and listens to me and says he "understands my unhappiness" but that they have to use the term of the contract to recover the cost of the phone (which is crap...I think I've read that the initial cost of cell phones is pretty cheap) I offered to re-up my contract for an additional two years. No, that wasn't possible because I had just re-upped 6 months ago. I told the guy that perhaps there was nothing I could do now but that I would certainly be thinking very hard about whether I wanted to re-up with AT&T when the time came. Then he told us that, by the way, Rachel's phone wasn't eligible for the warranty exchange because it was more than a year old.

"Let me get this straight," I said, "we have a crappy, semi-broken cell phone, we can't get a straight-forward replacement, and we can only buy a new phone from you at full price?"

Yes, that was right. Whereupon I went off on the guy a little, though Mr. Pointy Sticks said I remained polite.

Finally, this guy said there was one option...I could pay $40 and they would send Rachel a basic replacement phone overnight. Which is not perfect...but at least they did something. Though I sort of think that this guy just went off to see what old phones they had sitting around that they could get rid off.

And as soon as I have time, I'm calling Working Assets to see about having them buy out my contract.


But I do have stuff to photograph and get up on the blog tomorrow.


Kitt said...

I will never ever do business with any incarnation of Cingular, ever. It's a long story, but this is just another example of their lack of helpfulness.

Rose said...

Well Alltel did the same to me; I'm afraid they're all alike and they have us by the short hairs and they know it!

Rooie said...

I'm sure they all work this way. So does Comcast and Verizon when it comes to cable offers.

But I just don't want to take it any longer.

Margaret G said...

Well, Rooie, the guy may "understand your unhappiness", but I hear your pain! I just spend the past 7 days in West Virginia with NO ATT service where I was. Yet, everybody in my family with Verizon had perfect service.

I know they are all greedy fools, but I intend to be done with ATT after this contract runs out in the fall. I'll probably go with Verizon for the simple fact that I spend 2 weeks each year in WV and hate not being able to call out unless I go find a high hill some place.

I'm also having Comcast remove my phone service tomorrow and going strictly cell. Why should I pay twice for precious little phone service?

Anonymous said...

Dear Rooie,
My name is Mark and I'm the Director of Customer Relations for Working Assets in San Francisco. We'd love to find the right handset/plan for your needs, check coverage in your locale, and buy out your current contract. I'm vacationing right now with my wife's parents in Iowa, but just send me an email at with your contact number and I'll have a representative call you. How's the weather in Fredricksburg? I use to travel quite often to Frostburg and enjoyed driving through your area.

Mark Hollis
415.369.2042 Desk

Rooie said...

Wow! Talk about customer service!

(I've been in email contact with Mark...more later.)