Steve W. is a reformed call center representative for Cingular who wrote in just to share his experiences during the storied Cingular/AT&T merger. If you ever had any reason to wonder why your account might have been screwed up during the transfer, his account sheds quite a bit of light.
I just wanted to drop you guys a line about Cingular. I was until recently an employee, I was a Call Center Rep. for the Northeast Region, thats pretty much everything north of Virginia not including NYC and New Jersey. Also I’m not particularly disgruntled, I left of my own accord for a better position but I thought I would shed some light on the practices that lead to the problems that some of your readers experience.
The whole ATT merger was to say the least a fiasco, Cingular simply did not think ahead on this. The same happened with their buyout of Triton in VA & WV. Basically they just dumped all the ATT customers on their Cingular call centers without training their Cingular reps on any of the ATT plans or features, or for that matter, on what would be needed to transfer from one service to the other. This left the majority of reps with no idea what to do with ATT customers, most of the time the only thing any of us could figure to do for their problems was to transfer them to an ATT call center.
Steve’s whole story after the jump.
We’d try to help a customer but honestly most of the time we were simply impotent in the matter. We were told that, yes at some point in the future all ATT customers must convert to Cingular plans, but weren’t really told what to do in the mean time so it ended up with a lot of rumors pumping through the call centers and then misinformation getting passed to the customers. You have to understand this didn’t just end at the Reps, our managers were just as out of the loop as the rest of us so we really just had to wing it and hope for the best.
One of the commentors talked about getting a refund that was never placed on the account, well more than likely the agent submitted what was called a High Level Adjustment, the idea is that it goes to the level of manager that has the ability to refund the amount of money in question; it is very likely that it was placed on a desk somewhere and never went any further than the trash can, yes it was done with paper! Paper was rampant, form after form, and a series of disconnected software applications. They were still working on consolidating all their apps when I left, and from what I hear it still is nowhere near done.
Also the company had 2 separate programs to handle just Cingular customer accounts and their corresponding data files were not compatible, so if you got someone from a region that used the other software you had no recourse but to transfer them out to someone who had it. This doesn’t include the software that ATT call centers used, which we never had open access to.
Basically there was a total breakdown in the information supply chain. No one really knew what was going on and could only hope they were doing the right thing and that they wouldn’t get in trouble for it later. It was even worse for the Triton merger, though. We honestly had no idea what was going on at ALL with any of their plans. We didn’t get coverage maps (they had very sensitive coverage plans) until months after the fact and the technology was completely screwed up since the company decided to unrestrict the roaming on the customers plans without warning them.
I’ll be honest, having worked there I would never do business with them. I simply can’t trust them with my service knowing the way they handle their employees and customers. While I worked there it was all I could do to try and help customers and not get myself into to much trouble!
We’ve sent Steve a comments login so he can respond to your questions should he choose to.