AT&T Works on Sunday?
January 11, 2009

Colour me stunned.

After the crappy service I had last week during the DSL outage and general landline intense static, I received a phone call from AT&T yesterday afternoon around 4. A very sympathetic AT&T employee asked how I was doing.

"Cranky," I replied ... not nastily ... after all, this woman did not come out to the house and sever my landline. It's not her fault my DSL is down. Of course, being cranky meant my tone of voice was off, I'm sure. But I tried.

She was sympathetic some more. First, she let me know that the tech who'd been out Friday had been turned in to his supervisor. One, because the dude was supposed to call me and he didn't. She even sounded rather outraged. "It was in your file. The phone number and that you could be there in 15 minutes." Next, she was a bit miffed because he hadn't fixed the problem - their remote test could still hear noise on the line even if it was more sporadic than before. And because the tech had closed out the trouble ticket as if he'd fixed everything.

Now, I don't know. Maybe the dude had a bad day. It was a Friday and it was snowing. Freaking cold. Windy. But, to be honest, his job is to be out in that weather and repair phone lines. He knows there's gonna be bad days like that. Still, everyone has an off day. Like when I started a design for a site and forgot to make sure it would fit in a 1024x768 screen and made it too damned big. Argh.

At any rate, this woman cautiously asked if I was going to be home Sunday morning. Honestly, I had been planning on going to church since we were having our annual congregational meeting and voting on this year's budget ... but hey, if they would come out on a Sunday, then I wouldn't have to miss a day of work to make sure this thing was fixed. "Yes, I'll be home." She scheduled the tech to arrive between 8 a.m. and noon, apologized for the problems and issues.

Now see, here's the thing. That's all I wanted. I'm really not all that hard to please. A little common courtesy and to feel like I've been heard. It's all most of us want, really. And it seems like between the "hypochondriac" and "DEAL WITH ME NOW" folks who don't really need help right away ... and the business "bottom line" ... so very many companies have just tried to outsource customer service, if not do away with it all together. In my opinion, help desk work is customer service work and outsourcing that work to anyone with any kind of thick accent is bad news.

I know, that was a bit of a leap, wasn't it? Bear with me.

I'm not going to get into the whole sending jobs away from Americans and to people in India or Pakistan. That's a whole different issue than what I want to deal with. Honestly, if a customer service/help desk rep has a thick Boston accent OR a thick Pakistani accent ... how helpful are they going to be over the phone? That person may have superior knowledge and be able to really help out ... but if I'm already an annoyed customer with whatever service ... I don't want to have to decipher an accent AND the tech issue I'm having.

The help desk person I spoke with Friday night seemed like she was reading a script. She went through a litany of common problems despite the fact that I mentioned I'd been through them all already. I could practically hear her clicking keyboard keys to check off the radio boxes of things she was supposed to ask. These, by the way, are also on AT&T's website ... and I'd been through everything already. A couple of times. Their little boxes did not cover our actual problem.

Between my having to strain to hear over the static-y phone line, strain to decipher her accent (I'm not going to say if it was an American regional accent or a foreign accent ...) and to get through the tech - which I understand but was getting stressed out by - I was ready to scream. The fact that using the phone line made the DSL come back up was irrelevant to the help desk worker. Instead, she could tick off the radio button that said "All better" and chalk up another victory for herself.

Frustrated, I sent an email to AT&T listing out all of the issues. The things I'd tried, the fact that as a web designer I was pretty "cheesed off" (I said pissed off, but the email bounced back and said we don't accept email with profanity in it - I had to extemporize) that I'd been without internet service for a full week. That's a LOT of lost work time that I couldn't really afford to lose. That email is what caused the sympathetic response and the promise of a tech's arrival on a Sunday morning.

It shouldn't require - from any company - an irritated email after already filing two trouble tickets to get a reasonable response about service.

This DSL saga seems to have a good ending, though. The tech called around 10 a.m. and came over soon after that. He started outside the house at the box, got something squared away there and then went out to the pole. Then came to the door to say he knew my line wasn't fixed, but not to worry - he was driving down a few blocks to another pole where he thought there was some more noise on the line.

Turns out there was noise at the box outside the house, more noise at the closest pole and some more noise a few poles down.

AND there was one jack in the basement which had gotten corroded and ucky.

Apparently all the first tech did was come out, look at the box, probably cleared a little bit of noise out of there ... and called it good enough.

Luckily, the tech today was quite thorough despite the snow, the cold and the fact that it was Sunday morning.

Now I have a crap-load of work to catch up on this week.

But at least the DSL seems to work whether we use the landline or not!

Posted by Red Monkey at January 11, 2009 5:25 PM | Never Underestimate the Power of Human Stupidity | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


Tara R. said:

Really! All anyone wants, deserves, is to be treated with respect and dignity. I hope your problems are finally fixed.

January 11, 2009 8:15 PM


Antoinette Chua said:

Oh tell me about it!

I had problems with my DSL line for like months (before they finally fixed the problem) and I went all through those different types of customer service reps who are reading (obviously) and not listening. I even came to a point when I'd answer all the routine questions without them asking and all they'd give me is the same sh*t answers.

It finally was fixed when they gave me another modem!! What the! I told them first hand that I thought there may be something wrong with the modem because everything was fine, and they'd always say that it's okay and even brought that modem to their office to truly check.. whew!!!!

But at least all's well.. have a new 2009 year!

January 15, 2009 6:10 AM
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