Our family seriously contemplated trying out AT&T U-verse system because Time Warner Cable in Southern California has some serious issues. A sales man came to our door selling U-verse systems. I decided to sign up even though I seldom buy from anyone who walks door to door. The sales man changed his prices at least five times during our conversation. I should have tossed they guy out but he had just started working for his company, New Image Marketing, a few weeks ago. He was young and it was obvious he was feeling his way with this sale. After I signed the contract and he left, I had a discussion with my son and wife. My son suggested I dump the company because we found out that the highest Internet speed was not on special, would cost a lot more. My conversation with my wife revealed that she heard that the installation cost would be free, the contract showed it being free but it also showed a “Service Activation Fee” of $36 which was not talked about. Each day, I was getting more concerned that I did not know the complete charges that were in the contract. I decided to go to a local AT&T store and have someone review the contract. At the store, a young lady helped me out and told me that the store could offer a much better deal. Instead of a six month discount of $43 off the contract she could do it for one year. I asked her to cancel the contract and I would sign up with the store offer. She went on the phone for over one hour and was hung up on once by a corporate support person. I was in the store for close to two hours watching her working the phone to cancel my order. She could not get it done! She gave me her personal phone number and asked me to call her the next day. I did call her the next day and she said that she can not cancel the order. She said she would not give up and to call her the next day. My wife told me to call an 800 number revealed in an e-mail we received from AT&T confirming our order. I called the 800 number and tried to cancel the order but got a run around with absolutely no accurate information about the order status. I went on the Internet and looked up my order and it said “Pending”. To shorten this story up a lot, I will tell you that there was no way to stop the installation.
The installer showed up and he was just as nice and accommodating as the store employee. He tried to install the U-verse system but we were too far from the main fiber optic box so our Internet speed did not meet the contract requirements. I told the installer that I did not want the installation at the vastly inferior Internet speed. Now I watched this wonderful guy make call after call and waiting long periods of time to get the order canceled. His time was vastly wasted in this simple effort.
My experience with AT&T front line personnel, store sales and installer was spectacular. They were darn near perfect and did a wonderful job of raising the reputation for the company.
Let me list the apparent deficiencies if not alleged incompetence of the AT&T U-verse system management:
- There is no dedicated phone lines for store sales persons to transact customer business. I find it incredible that store employees must use the same phone numbers as ordinary customers. Store employees need to be efficient for the customers and to generate personal commission sales. For them to scale down their commissions due to corporate alleged corporate mis management is most revealing of a monopoly utility mind set.
- There is no dedicated phone lines for AT&T installers. They must call the same phones as ordinary customers. You have an installer who spends three hours at a customer location and then needs to cancel or process an order. He has to wait long periods of time? His overhead is huge. He drives a well stocked expensive truck, is paid a decent wage and needs to service as many customers as possible during his shift. He needs to be made more productive so the company assets he embodies can more quickly move along to service more customers.
- It is simply appalling that AT&T can not reveal on their Internet sites that any particular customer address is able to achieve a particular Internet and TV quality signal. We have been told that the line men and women who are responsible for the signal lines have the maps as to node distances. The store employee and the AT&T U-verse web site should offer any person the ability to enter an address and view the full range of Internet speeds prior to any contract being signed.
In summary, AT&T management seem to be willing to waste employees time resulting in driving up company costs. These added costs trickle down to the us, the customer, and nothing can be done about this waste because AT&T is a monopoly that is not properly regulated by intelligent business decision making or the government.
Update: Almost precisely one month after putting up these posts we lost our land line phone. It seems an AT&T person pulled our feed wire at the change over box. It took three days to get someone out to fix it. The repair technician told me that it looked like someone thought it was an unused wire. I asked the repair technician if this might be malicious, due to the blog articles, and he replied that it cost the company a lot of money to send him out to do the repair.