Saturday, September 11, 2010

Customer Service, the Oxymoron

I have just spent 30 minutes of my Saturday with three "customer service reps" from AT&T. No, not from offshores,  these are native English speakers right here in the US of A.

I pay most of my bills on Auto Pay, direct debit from my bank account to pay in full for recurring bills like utilities. When I moved ( see earlier posts about the pain of moving ) I dutifully filed a change of address form with the Snail Mail, US Postal Service. My AT&T service was set up on auto pay. I moved in May. I switched to Vonage and terminated service with Ma Bell.  In July ( I moved about 1/2 mile BTW)  I get a paper bill stating I have a final balance of $27.17 with AT&T and they have sent my account to a collections agency.

I am not happy.

I call AT&T. I explain that I am registered for Auto Pay. They say when you close the account, the Auto pay is void, and they send out a final paper bill ( which through the magic of the postal service has taken six weeks to travel 1/2 mile ). I pay the bill over the phone. I think I am done. It was a final bill.

September 2010.I get a final EDITED bill for $5.00 for a convenience fee for paying over the phone.

Now I am PISSED. A charge for paying my bill.

I call AT&T again. I speak to Sharon. She doesn't really want to hear what I am saying and asks me to bear with her. I tell her I will after I am finished telling my tale. She cuts the conversation short and puts me on hold. For a long time.
I think this is designed as a cooling off period.

I am transferred to customer service rep #2. I go nowhere again.

She transfers me a third time to Danielle who asks if I want to save $45 on my next bill. I reply, no I want to save $5 now. She is confused. I tell her my story. She is unsympathetic. I have stopped being polite and tell her she will find a way to get this fixed. After all, if she is giving away $45 a pop, $5 should be chump change.

She takes my name and number and says she cannot help me today. She has entered in a "request" to have the $5 removed from the bill. Someone will call me in 24-48 hours. Am I expected to believe she doesn't have the authority to reverse a five dollar "convenience" fee for making my payment over the phone? And I remind her, there was no mention of an additional fee at the time of the phone call. Check the records, since you record all calls for qualtiy purposes. Right.

Does anyone think American Business has a chance?

Customer service and excellence was the business mantra of the 80's and 90's. The new millenium has seen our manufacturing disappear, brains are borrowed from India and China. I recently had to do a module about diversity and cultural sensitivity at work to find out that 43% of the American public reads at a 5th grade level or below. What a sad state of affairs. Any suggestions??

1 comment:

  1. What a disaster waiting for those who can read above that abysmal national average. I find ineptitude frustrating and a time waster of huge proportions; no probability of improvement either, quite the opposite awaits.