Is AT&T America’s worst company?

The Watchdog is getting socked with complaints about AT&T customer service. Everybody has a different beef with the company.

As readers of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram Dave Lieber Watchdog column first learned, service is promised, then denied. Billing problems aren’t corrected. And the worst? Monthly prices on some services went up last month as much as $12 for some households.

Dave Lieber's Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong

I’ve shared every problem with the Dallas-based company, and it quickly corrected some easier ones. But why do customers need a Watchdog intervention to get AT&T to solve their problems?

Ron Shelton wanted to shut down one phone line to his Benbrook home, but AT&T didn’t close the line — it added another one. He calls every month seeking a fix.

“I have talked to supervisors, overseas assistants, customer service representatives, all of whom see the problem and all of whom say they have it fixed,” he said.

But the bills keep coming. The last straw was the letter from a collection agency. “I have no idea where to go from here,” he told The Watchdog.

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Fran Longeway of Fort Worth is tangled up dealing with the estate of her mother, who passed away on New Year’s Day. Her biggest hassle? Because AT&T keeps charging for services that were canceled, she can’t settle the estate.

Kathleen Reilly of Arlington spoke “to a gazillion” people at AT&T before she wrote The Watchdog. Nobody would give her credit for a three-day outage of her home phone and a weeklong outage of Internet services. She’s also getting bills for U-verse TV installation that was never completed because installers told her the house was “250 feet shy of getting a good signal.”

Wes Allard of Mansfield sent a modem back to the company but got a bill for $87 anyway. He calls each month and keeps records of whom he talks to but gets nowhere. “Can you help us against this giant?” he asked.

The Watchdog helped Longeway, who was sent a final bill so she could settle the estate; Reilly, who received a $234 credit; and Allard, who got an $87 credit.

Customers say they feel helpless fighting price increases. (An AT&T spokeswoman told me they are “modest price adjustments.”)

Ellen Chase, a former AT&T employee, complained of a recent price increase on her U-verse bill even with her employee discount.

She points out that AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson took a $2 million pay cut to $18 million because he couldn’t pull off a merger with T-Mobile, ultimately blocked by the government.

AT&T also has to pay $4.2 billion in cash and spectrum rights to T-Mobile as a “breakup fee” to compensate T-Mobile for the failed merger. Chase says she sees a connection between those developments and her bill increase.

AT&T spokeswoman Alejandra Arango says price increases took effect Feb. 1. Most U-verse TV customers saw an increase of $2 to $5 a month depending on their TV package.

U-verse high-speed Internet customers pay $4 to $7 more. AT&T high-speech Internet customers saw an increase of $3 to $5. “The maximum increase a customer with both U-verse TV and Internet will see is approximately $12,” Arango told me. In return, she says, customers get more channels and access to more features.

Contrast that with Verizon, which, like AT&T, has a strong North Texas presence. A Verizon spokesman says the only recent fee increase announcement is a $1 monthly increase to rent a digital video recorder, effective in May.

The most disheartened AT&T customer to contact The Watchdog is George Michael Sherry of Fort Worth, who says he makes only about 12 calls a month. His land-line plan is old, now discontinued. He is charged a monthly measured rate, which means he gets a limited number of outgoing calls, and for anything above that, he pays more.

Four years ago, his base monthly bill with taxes was $15. Now with continued increases, he pays $30. “For the exact same service,” he said.

Sherry, 58, has considered ditching his land line but feels an emotional attachment. Without a land line, it “would feel like I am disappearing, like no longer existing.”

Finally, Nolan Watts told me he is furious because he received a warning that he is a high data user. His unlimited cellphone service is in danger of slowing down as he nears his allotted usage, though his plan is unlimited.

His problem? “I watch about 25 minutes of TV video at lunchtime about four days a week.”

AT&T has announced a crackdown on high data users. The company suggests that smartphone customers use Wi-Fi networks rather than cellular networks for music and video.

That points to one cause of these difficulties, telecommunications expert Ray Horak says. Companies such as AT&T and Verizon have rushed out so many new services in recent years that they are victims of their own success.

Demand for streaming music and video is greater than available bandwidth. Complex services have problems sometimes not easily solvable.

There are several directions to go. A company can raise prices, throttle some services and continue to expand its network. AT&T is doing all of that.

Horak worked a stint as business manager of an AT&T office in Dallas. The internal company slogan was, “We may be the only telephone company in town, but we try not to act like it.”

Those were the days.

“The level of criticism [against the phone company] is much more severe today,” he said.

# # #

Guess which company gets the biggest play in the author’s award-winning book, Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation: Bite Back When Businesses and Scammers Do You Wrong? The book shows you how to fight back — and win! The book is available at WatchdogNation.com as a hardcover, CD audio book, e-book and hey, what else do you need? The author is The Watchdog columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Visit our store. Now revised and expanded in a 2012 edition, the book won two national book awards for social change. 

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  1. Below I have posted some select paragraphs from “Customer Disservice,” Chapter Two of my book, The Ampersand Diaries: AT&T and the Life Lessons Learned from the
    Trenches of an American Icon

    This book is available on Amazon.com at:
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Ampersand-Diaries-Trenches-American/dp/1461105943/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346219674&sr=8-1&keywords=the+ampersand+diaries

    It’s also available on my Amazon-based website
    https://www.createspace.com/3598985

    Thanks for your time and consideration! I welcome all feedback! Drop me a line at theampersanddiariesbook@gmail.com. (And thanks again to Dave Lieber for allowing me to cite some material from his book, Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation—an informative read!)

    Chapter Two
    ___________________

    Customer
    Disservice

    "There is only one boss: The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company
    from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else."

    — Sam Walton

    Unclear on the Concept

    Please press “1” if you have ever found yourself ensnared within AT&T’s customer service phone prompt purgatory.
    Please press “2” if you have ever screamed at AT&T’s automated system of phone networks and then given up in utter frustration.
    Please press “3” if you persevered long enough to reach a live human being at AT&T, only to find yourself screaming even louder at his single-minded unwillingness to resolve your issue.
    The realities of account slamming and bill cramming were among the initial lessons I learned while selling telecom services to the New York/New Jersey metropolitan-area commercial markets. Nevertheless, another was similarly eminent: From a customer relations perspective, AT&T historically has been a tough corporation to deal with. In fact, in the business community, it is no secret that for more than a century, it has treated its customers as a know-nothing faction of reactionary obstructionists to its ever-critical bottom line.
    It could be argued that sales and its related afflictions rank first on the list of AT&T client catastrophes. If that is true (and you will not get an argument from me), then customer service is a close second. Owing to the aforementioned reasons, among others, it could be asserted in the annals of customer service that AT&T, between its two core businesses, landline and wireless, may go down as the worst offender in corporate America. It is an ongoing mystery to millions of AT&T customers as to why the corporation and its representatives do not take their service responsibilities seriously.
    If you choose not to believe this assertion, there is an entire host of company-specific websites calibrated to not only customer complaints, but also collective outrage that might sway your opinion. Just type “AT&T” or “ATT” into Google, or most any internet search engine, and you will discover innumerable Ma Bell victims fraught with grievance. If you add “customer service problems” to your search, the overwhelming number of results will uncover anecdotes, blogs, and videos concerning the terrible consequences of reported consumer betrayal at the hands of AT&T representatives. You will also be able to read comments from citizens who were diligent enough in navigating the corporation’s phone prompt system to reach a live human being, only to be frustrated by the ensuing encounter. For the most part, you will learn that it did not matter if they were clients of AT&T’s self-branded landline operations or its wireless carrier, AT&T Mobility. Their service-related protests maintain the same tones across the board: abuse, apathy, and neglect.
    It appears AT&T fails to realize that where its customer service is concerned, a significant percentage of its subscribers are livid to the point of gnashing their teeth. Still, in defense of the individuals who work at the corporation, it is reasonable that since so many AT&T product and service offerings are despised by a substantial percentage of the American public, it places its customer service agents at an occupational disadvantage. Either way, by means of consumers’ incalculable online protests, they are plainly attempting to send AT&T a message to get its act together. Collectively, it characterizes a communication that is loud and clear and, in my opinion, impossible to ignore. But it seems that their directives are falling upon the deaf ears of a stubborn bureaucracy that is equal parts inflexible, indifferent, and, plausibly, ineffectual.
    Accordingly, countless citizens have been consigned to wonder what exactly is wrong with AT&T. Have its communications services proved too difficult to deliver? Do its leaders consider contemporary customers too demanding? The answer to both questions conceivably could be “yes.” Yet the real reply is one more factual: The New AT&T is distressingly similar to the old version. It could not be more obvious to the American public that the corporation’s outdated monopoly mindset still lingers, as it continues to conduct itself like it is the only game in town.
    To that point, of the facts I came to learn about AT&T early in my career, one was notable and, evidently, it still rings true: The corporation has a tendency to lean upon old, familiar ways, particularly where apathy toward its customers is concerned. (One more tip of the hat to Lily Tomlin.) Because of this precedential flaw, it is decidedly deficient when it comes to effecting change. As so many of its subscribers, and a good portion of its employees, past and present, know too well, there are three speeds at which the AT&T bureaucracy conducts its business: slow, stop, and backwards. Bearing in mind what has transpired in the age of wireless technology, it symbolizes a painful reality for the corporation’s paying clients. Indeed, the support required for today’s mobile devices and their coinciding services sometimes can prove overwhelming. However, it is still a consumer responsibility that AT&T continuously has had a tough time managing.
    What I found problematic early in my AT&T career was that the lack of honesty and professionalism found in my employer’s sales divisions was similar to that of its customer service departments, and to a significant degree. As I managed hundreds of commercial accounts in AT&T’s Business Communications Services sales unit, many of my clients were strident about the problems they experienced in dealing with my employer’s customer service. Some even recounted incidents that were horrific in nature; including subjection to vulgar and offensive language by service representatives, usually while being screamed at. Others, according to their feedback, were branded “illiterate liars.” There were also the wasted days—in some cases, weeks—spent by clients attempting to deal with bills they paid on time, but were mislaid by AT&T in its famous paper shuffle. That was why many account holders were forced to pay their bills twice or face the specter of being sent to collections. My clients also lamented being cold transferred back and forth among AT&T’s numerous customer service offices, with some having reported being handed off to the phone numbers of AT&T rivals to avoid being dealt with altogether.
    Consumers of AT&T products and services would likely agree that its customer service should, in fact, be called “company service.” After all, the agents who make their living in the occupation are held responsible to see after the best interests of their employer, not paying clients. Therefore, it would be prudent for consumers to know that AT&T customer service employees exist almost exclusively to hear their problems, not to necessarily resolve them. This is especially true since the resolution of customer problems often equates to money in the way of refunds, credits, or prorated service. Like all working corporations, AT&T is in the business of taking money from its customers, not giving it back to them. In fairness, though, there are many misconceptions in the telecom industry about what customers want and what constitutes good customer service. However, in order for a business to discern and accept what customers are asking for, it first must be in touch with them.

    Symbol of the Species

    Where the objectives of customer service were to be reliable, credible, and responsive, it sometimes appeared as if AT&T representatives failed to realize the industry reputation of their employer rested squarely upon their shoulders. During my AT&T career, I watched many people fill customer service positions simply to obtain a job—even if it was one they cared little, or nothing, about; while angering many of their employer’s paying customers along the way. It used to be a considerable ordeal in the world of business when a client relationship was damaged. But AT&T, in its own narcissistic way, apparently believed its business to be so well off, it could afford to be apathetic about its lost commercial and consumer accounts. Similarly, I witnessed another disquieting pattern during my AT&T career: Service workers at the corporation who were bad mannered in dealing with customers were usually the first to become supervisors. Management seldom, if ever, entertained the idea of firing them or imposing a reprimand.
    Still, not all AT&T customer service representatives executed their jobs in a coarse manner. With mitigating voices and sublime opening lines, some employees promptly made their customers feel as if they were truly prepared to solve their problems. They made it sound like by the time you hung up the telephone with them, all would be right in the world. But many customers were only left to shake their heads in disbelief when they called AT&T and, after tolerantly waiting on hold for any period of time, heard a service worker expound the notoriously trite line, “How can I provide you with excellent service today?” usually trailed by, “I’d be more than happy to help you with that.” Hope springs eternal when paying clients hear those words. That is, until the next sentences commence. “I’m very sorry, sir, but AT&T policy dictates…” or, “I can absolutely understand your frustration, ma’am, but unfortunately there’s nothing that I am permitted to do.” Those responses typically were followed up with a boatload of corporate bunkum.
    Account holders do not call AT&T customer service employees to tell them what a stellar job their employer is doing. They call when things go wrong. Now factor in AT&T’s automated phone systems with their confusing menu selections and it becomes easy to see why by the time customers get to speak to live human beings—if they get through at all—the only thing on their collective minds is wishing they had the capacity to kill someone through mental telepathy.
    In view of the negative service experiences of many of my AT&T sales clients, and later, mine when I became a subscriber of the company’s wireless plans, it was clear that the majority of its service workers suffered from early-onset apathy. Consequently, I witnessed as some of my account holders became so angry at AT&T’s penchant for indifference that they sought retribution through the courts. However, for the mass of the corporation’s litigious clients, their undertakings amounted to no more than wasted time. Why? It is a matter of logic. In the course of its long history, AT&T and lawsuits have proved inseparable. Consider it a symbiotic relationship. The corporation is well aware it infuriates many of its customers to the point of wanting to seek legal action. That is why it has hired a throng of corporate attorneys to protect it. So naturally, the combative inclinations of AT&T’s public are nothing new to them. And while it is true that some citizens, in groups and individually, have won complaints against the corporation for a range of business and civil injustices, they are in the minority. Ultimately, battling American consumers in court may be the one thing AT&T is best at. Beyond a reasonable doubt, it has enough experience to support the argument.
    However, there seems to be a group of customers angry enough to contemplate at least an attempt at legal action, with the impetus relating to a series of gripes about AT&T’s “U-verse” television service. Dave Lieber is an award-winning author, international speaker, and consumer watchdog columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (comfortably close to AT&T headquarters in Dallas, Texas). In January 2009, he tried to make sense of why so many people are fed up with the poor service often provided by the corporation. In his book, Dave Lieber’s Watchdog Nation, he asked:

    Dear AT&T,

    Why do so many people complain to me about your customer service? Repeatedly, they tell me about customer service representatives that drop the ball regarding your U-verse television service. See, I have this job that allows me to monitor in an unscientific way which companies are on top of their game. When I keep hearing from my readers about one particular company, I know things aren’t right.

    I’m talking about customers like Shaun and Kim Hamblin. They ordered U-verse but waited three times for installers who never showed. When one finally arrived, he accidentally cut their DSL line and they lost internet service for days.

    Then there’s Cheryl Vieau who, for weeks, has been fighting AT&T over a $225 disconnect fee without much resolve. “I’ve been on the phone, mostly on hold, for hours,” she said.

    Thomas Parker has been fretting about U-verse for a year. He says he is giving up: “I have no more patience for this. I haven’t complained in over a month because what’s the point?”

    Listen to Joyce Polson, who began her letter to me about her U-verse/Internet package this way: “The worst day of my life was the day my husband switched us to this messed-up service.”

    James Burke said six technicians visited his home, but none could fix his poor television service. “No one seems to care about my problems,” he lamented.

    Seth Viertel has attempted for months—“I am at my wits’ end”—to get payments restored to his checking account that were credited to the wrong customer. “AT&T’s customer service,” he stated, “is anything but.”

    Corporate Criticism

    For reasons of space and practicality, it is impossible to document every AT&T customer service tragedy bearing in mind how many there have been through the years. The sheer numbers also make it unfeasible to correspond with each of the customers professing to have been victimized. But after researching a number of online protests from past and existing clients, and performing some due diligence, I was fortunate to communicate with more than a few of them. From 2009-2011, I tapped their minds for this chapter and discovered how poorly they had been treated by AT&T and what they thought were the reasons behind it. Although the products and services the customers objected to were varied from among the company’s landline and wireless offerings, several themes, such as disregard, disrespect, and failure were prevalent in nearly all of their correspondence.
    In gathering responses via email requests and, in a few cases, over the telephone, I did not ask for names. However, I did ask if the customers would feel comfortable in providing ages, occupations, and hometowns. A few of them agreed, but most said no. Others hung up the phone on me or ignored my emails. Among the comments I was able to gain from protesters across America, some were succinct, others ceaseless. All of them, however, were revealing. Here are several of their AT&T customer service experiences:

    "After getting fed-up with AT&T’s poor wireless network, I called their customer service office to cancel my service. After pressing through the long prompt system, a representative answered and immediately put me on hold. When she came back to the phone, almost twenty minutes later, I told her I was going to cancel my service. But while I was talking a self-proclaimed supervisor came on the line and screamed at me because I was cancelling! I couldn’t believe my ears! AT&T is the absolute worst company in America. Anyone who supports them deserves exactly what they get. I took the time to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, but it didn’t get me anywhere. One of their representatives explained to me they receive so many gripes about AT&T there’s nothing they can do for all their angry customers."

    — Male environmental engineer, 57-years-old, Stockton, California: January 23, 2011, over the phone

    "AT&T is toxic. Never again will I give that company another penny of my hard-earned money."

    — Female accountant, 35-years-old, Kirkland, Washington: April 17, 2010, via email

    Corporate Confessions

    It was not only AT&T customers who were thwarted by the company’s service representatives, but also its employees. With similarities to its sales groups, AT&T’s customer service offices seemed to be cults of deception. As an account manager of one of those groups, I had numerous chances to correspond with my employer’s service workers over the phone. However, in the forefront of my memory, there stood a rare opportunity to tap the minds of those workers that proved they were not too unlike a vast majority of the corporation’s sales staff: cold and cruel.
    About halfway through my sales career, the respective superiors of AT&T’s Business and Consumer Communications Services units scheduled a joint forum in the Parsippany, New Jersey office that was attended by the corporation’s many commercial account managers and residential sales agents. But what made this forum special from the others held in our office was that it was graced with the presence of our employer’s customer service representatives from their specific metropolitan-area locations.
    The key purpose of the meeting, as explained by our superiors, was to provide a networking opportunity, akin to a corporate “meet and greet.” It was intended to provide us a better understanding as to what each other’s jobs entailed and how it related to the marketplace success of our employer. As the gathering commenced, there was little consorting among the employees of the two sales groups as our duties were similar. Instead, the intent was to secure as much wisdom as possible from the always heard, but rarely seen, customer service representatives. Holed up in small, inconspicuous offices, they were the vital, yet mysterious, individuals with whom we commercial account managers often communicated with when problems arose with our clients. Negligible as they were to AT&T’s executive leaders as not part of their kowtowing bureaucracy, they were essential to the corporation’s sales personnel.
    In the blink of an eye, an AT&T customer service representative had the ability to cost an account manager the sales commissions of a hard-earned client by simply being rude to him over the telephone. It did not matter if it related to a billing problem, unreasonable charges, or an innocuous question about his account. If a client felt disrespected by an unprofessional customer service employee, he would be prone to terminate all of his AT&T services and tear the equipment he was paying for out of his office walls. He would then jump to a rival telecom before the account manager who conscientiously put forth the work to earn his business could so much as exude a whimper. I should know. It happened to me more times than I care to recollect.
    When a well-merited customer was lost, there was no feeling more helpless. After all the time and effort it took to achieve an account holder’s trust and convince him AT&T was the right choice for his communications services, it could take only two short minutes of indecorous chatter from an apathetic customer service worker to lose it. I know that when it happened to me, it felt like I had been punched square in the gut and then had the rug pulled out from under my feet. Still, I was not the only account manager to suffer, as nearly all AT&T sales employees, at some point in their careers, experienced this paycheck-killing tragedy. For that reason, our employer’s customer service offices were usually held in contempt by the dealmakers who were, so often, at their mercy.
    Yet for one precious day, we were together: Account managers and customer service representatives, in an uncommon assembly. It would be a golden opportunity to engage them in some service-related banter in the hope of gaining a better realization as to why the AT&T service offices regularly operated with indifference. There was no way in hell I was going to let this rare chance slip away. So I straightened my posture, tightened the knot on my diagonally striped tie, and then grabbed a few of my equally inquisitive peers for company. We strolled over to where many of the representatives were gathered in discussion. After we introduced ourselves, we took things slowly by first rattling off some small talk; what with the status of AT&T, and some of the recent moves our embattled executives were contemplating. But as the rap session unfolded, personalities loosened up and guards were let down. That was when the blunt corporate shoptalk commenced. While fraternizing with the enemy, I discovered several key facts and learned a couple of lessons about AT&T’s customer service efforts…

    Tales of the Unknown

    It is true that customers’ needs and interests are best served by establishing atmospheres of trust rather than suspicion. Even so, there are innumerable consumer queries to the AT&T sales and customer service offices that lead only to dead ends.
    Inaccuracies and uncertainty at AT&T are not uncommon and, in some cases, are implemented purposefully. This occurs most often when its customer service representatives answer their telephones and immediately begin expounding ambiguous psychobabble. I witnessed firsthand as many of them executed this mode as an art form. While my clients were trying to explain their problems, these representatives were quick to go into madcap tangents of corporate buzzwords and cryptic tongue, all the while trying to give the impression that they were at least vaguely interested in what they had to say. While experiencing this, many account holders said they could sense a mob of anxious managers standing behind the representatives with arms crossed, tapping their feet on the floor while looking at their watches. Those instincts were mostly correct. Depending on the circumstance, there was only so much time that an AT&T customer service representative had to converse with clients on the phone to attempt to remedy their problems. So even when peppered with intentional stupor, if a client’s issue still was not resolved during the representative’s allotted time, he was out of luck.
    However, bafflement at AT&T was not limited to customer service interchange. It was (and still is) prevalent in its service agreements. In such cases, the verbiage explicated by them can run in upwards of 12,000 words and is overwhelmingly doltish with its incoherent legalese. The corporation and its attorneys use the language to confuse, distort, and vindicate against legal complaints and consumers customarily take it as gospel. It is bad enough that a vast number of Americans do not know how to read their AT&T phone bills or know how smartphones, internet, and television options integrate with the rest of their home-base technology. The puzzling Terms of Service that come with it only worsen the situation. To that point, what the extensive manifestos really spell out is that customers cannot hold AT&T legally accountable for anything unless it can be proved that there is willful or gross negligence on the part of the corporation or one or more of its workers. Nevertheless, for most customers, attempting to figure that out is enough to abrade the human psyche.

    The Tipping Point

    The objective of conducting business in corporations is not to bestow upon the American public confusion, deception, and disrespect. The only reason they exist is to serve their customers in the best possible way. That is why business schools are beset with case studies of corporations that have paid heavy prices for being insensitive to their customers’ wishes. (Remember New Coke anyone?) Such marketplace indiscretions have become progressively notorious in a digital era where it is easy for consumers to be heard around the world. And when their protests gain a powerful media voice they can have an extraordinary impact on a corporation. Consumers already pushed to the brink by a dour economy are more apt to snap when forced to resolve their account problems through impenetrable phone prompts and their resultant offensive customer service. Coupled with the aggravation of having to wait tolerantly on hold with Bangalore, India or chat online with a cold, scripted android, it comes as no surprise that more consumers are rebelling against AT&T and its prescribed service channels.
    It is understandable that the maintenance of a vast communications network and its qualified customer support is not a simple endeavor. In the face of industry competition, it can represent a difficult business model for any corporation to sustain. But as I sold AT&T services to the commercial markets, I witnessed as my employer hid behind the misguided notion that customer service technology was inhibiting its consumer relations when, in fact, the issue was its episodic approach. After researching and discovering the service concerns of innumerable AT&T customers, and considering my own experiences with the corporation’s business clients, there is one reality that stands out: Where poor customer service is involved, the AT&T brand has staying power. And if it is the intent of the corporation’s leaders to turn their employer into an esteemed entity with credible industry influence and firm customer loyalty, there is copious work to be done.
    Unless relative improvements are made at AT&T—and fast—the future of consumer relations at the corporation will soon boil down to one critical question: How much more customer service abuse is the American public willing to take from it? Because if I did not know better, I would say that, not unlike the consumer defilement often experienced in the banking industry, it appears as if AT&T is trying to find out just how far it can push its customers, notably iPhone users.
    While researching this book, I spoke with AT&T customers who claimed they sent protesting correspondence to several of the corporation’s executives, including CEO Randall Stephenson and AT&T Mobility CEO Ralph de la Vega. But they never received the courtesy of a reply. How can you provide customers with what they want if you do not know what they are asking for? It left the complainants angry and upset that AT&T seemed not to care about their wants and needs. Perhaps the officials believed that if disregarded, their customers’ problems would disappear. Either way, because of being ignored, they admitted that they would no longer be AT&T customers and likely never would be again. When customers are neglected by their service providers, it is they who disappear.
    Listen up, AT&T: It appears that your customers hate you. They despise you with a passion not previously seen since the days of the old Ma Bell monopoly. And evidently, their anger is only increasing. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, AT&T ranked last among the major domestic wireless carriers in May 2011 with a survey score dropping 4 percent from the previous year. That reflected its worst result since 2006, the year before the launch of the iPhone.
    Make no mistake about it: The day will soon come when corporate customer service and its predominant mentality of “pay us now and pay us later,” will die at the hands of uncaring and unprofessional representatives. When it occurs, there will likely be no obituaries or eulogies. But there will be burial services. And leading the funeral procession will be AT&T, if it does not clean up its act in a hurry. As long as the corporation continues to retain its satisfaction ratings at or near the bottom of almost every customer service poll, the moment of its enraged subscribers’ critical mass is rapidly reaching epidemic proportions.
    As I continued to perform research for this book, I called an AT&T customer service phone number that I found on April 8, 2011. After waiting on hold for approximately thirty-five minutes, I was able to speak briefly with the random representative who answered. I asked if she would like to offer an opinion on her employer’s inferior rankings in customer service surveys of recent years. At first, she did not answer. After a moment or two, however, she offered a slight giggle and went on to state that at AT&T “customer service is dead.” She explained that the telecom’s subscribers would be “best suited coming to terms with that fact” since, in her opinion, “it probably won’t be changing any time soon.” She then hung up the phone on me.
    Think about that. Oh, and have a nice day.

    Amazon.com:
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Ampersand-Diaries-Trenches-American/dp/1461105943/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346219674&sr=8-1&keywords=the+ampersand+diaries

    The author’s Amazon-based website:
    https://www.createspace.com/3598985