Today at 1:22 p.m. I sent this email to Glenn Lurie, the new President of AT&T Mobility. Just to make sure all my bases were covered, I sent copies to Ralph de la Vega, who had that job before him, and to Richard Lindner, CFO and Senior Executive Vice President. I decided not to bother the CEO unless these guys proved to be useless:
Dear Mr. Lurie,
Congratulations on your promotion! I hope that dissatisfied customers such as myself aren’t sucking the fun out of your new job. I took a guess at your email address since Google doesn’t know what it is and you probably want to keep it that way.
I’m having issues with my wireless service that your company is not able to correct in a way that reflects good customer service. I’m sure you hear this daily but I hope you will hear me out. I will try to be as concise as possible out of respect for your time.
My family moved from NW Houston to SW Houston on August 25. We failed to verify whether or not AT&T provided coverage in our new neighborhood. To be honest, it never even occurred to me to do such a thing. That’s why we have AT&T…so that we know we’re covered everywhere.
We have 3 iPhones, older 4S and 5 models, but no landline. We haven’t needed a landline for the past 4 years since our cell service was more than adequate.
Now at our new home, we get 1 dot of service on our phones inside our house…sometimes 2 dots if we sit in the sweet spot on the back porch. We often have no service at all and the majority of our incoming calls go straight to voice mail.
We are paying over $200 a month for 3 phones that we can’t use in our own home or surrounding neighborhood. I have been reminded repeatedly that AT&T cannot guarantee coverage in all areas so basically I’m screwed. I didn’t see this coming because I don’t live out in the boonies or in a valley as one tech support guy suggested. Bless his heart. I’m in the Houston suburbs, for Pete’s sake, I expect to be able to use my cell phone.
On September 12, J**** determined there was a problem with my local tower, assigned me a case number (CM*********-9*********), and told me it might take a week for the problem to be taken care of. On September 28, I received an email stating that the problem with the tower had been resolved. I still have 1 dot of service.
Today I called and spoke with a random tech support dude who said that I live in a 2 block area where there is only moderate coverage so I need to buy a MicroCell, which I understand is sort of like a mini tower. I don’t understand why I need to pay for a mini tower when I’m already paying for the maxi tower with my $200 a month. When I asked tech support dude to send me a MicroCell for free, he said that just isn’t done. Ever. I asked to speak to a supervisor and he informed me that supervisor would just tell me the same thing. And she did.
L*** verified my state of screwedness and said that a MicroCell is my only option. She confirmed that they are never ever ever sent out for free but she would be happy to fix me up for $149.99 plus shipping. When I asked her why my friends in B*********, Texas got a free MicroCell from AT&T just 4 weeks ago, she had no answer. I could give you my friends’ names but to be honest, I’m afraid if I do you will charge them for the MicroCell you’ve already sent them for free and as desperately as I want this situation to be fixed, I’m not ready to throw my friends under the AT&T bus. Yet.
I got a phone in my room with my very own phone number when I was 16 years old. That was in 1982 and my service was with Southwestern Bell. I stayed with SWBell while they morphed into SBC and then later became AT&T. We did have a short stint with BellSouth when we lived in South Louisiana but we’ve never strayed from Ma Bell’s family. I have been with your company for 32 years. I’m willing to bet that’s slightly longer than you’ve been with them.
I’m not asking for a gold watch. If I leave AT&T no one will notice or throw me a going away party or mourn my absence for one second. I get it. All I’m asking is to receive the service I’m already paying for without incurring any additional expenses. OR, I’m asking to be let out of our contract without having to pay the $305 cancellation fee. The second option is not desirable to me since AT&T has taken care of all my communications needs for literally all of my life. But it is preferable over buying a device that I shouldn’t have to have.
Would you be willing to help me? There’s not much I can offer in return except for my continued loyalty to your company despite feeling unappreciated for that loyalty, and my promise that I will never contact you again.
Most people jump on that second thing. Just so you know.
Richmond, TX *****
At 2:02 p.m. I got this reply from OOP-Non-Regulatory-Mobility:
Please refer to Clarify case number C*********_9*******
My name is C***** H***** and I work within the Office of the President
for AT&T. Our job is to resolve issues on behalf of senior leadership
for the company. I will be your point of contact on this issue through
resolution. To ensure that I have a full understanding of your
requested resolution, I will be trying to reach out to you over the next
few days, or feel free to call me at *** *** ****.
Thank you for contacting AT&T.
Okay, standard form letter response but still it was a response so I was happy about that.
Then at 3:18 p.m. my phone rang so I ran outside to answer it. It was C***** H***** who apologized for the inconvenience, confirmed the problem and said there are quite a few MicroCells in use in our neighborhood. Then he asked me to verify my address so he could get my free MicroCell shipped out today.
Obviously this makes me happy but it also makes me frustrated that I’ve been jumping through hoops for the past 4 weeks trying to get this taken care of through the appropriate channels when it could have been resolved in 2 hours if I had contacted the president’s office first. When I mentioned this to my new BFF he said it just depends on who you talk to since not everyone is aware of all the options available to settle a complaint…even supervisors. Despite what I was told, AT&T does send out MicroCells for free but only on a case-by-case basis. I took that to mean only if you’re fortunate enough to talk to someone ‘in the know’ or really good at annoying company executives enough that they’ll do anything to make you leave them alone.
That second thing would be me.