Matt’s mom, a longtime Qwest customer, called up the company to switch her long distance over from AT&T. The CSR suggested she switch over to a bundled package that would save her $11 a month and offer faster Internet connection speeds. What the CSR didn’t mention was that the new package required a 2-year commitment, that it wouldn’t work with her current DSL modem, and that it actually came out to about $3 more per month.
Customer service has been no help, so Matt emailed people at the executive level. Although several addresses bounced back the message, Matt did receive a promise that Qwest’s executive VP that someone from customer service would contact him to resolve the matter. That was on March 31st, and he still hasn’t heard back from anyone.
Here’s the email Matt sent to the Qwest bigwigs:
Dear Teresa Taylor,
My name is Matt [redacted] and I am writing to you on behalf of my mother, [redacted]. Recently, she was the victim of some very bad customer service, of which I wanted to make you aware. My mother was satisfied with her service, but when she attempted to add a long distance plan to her decades-old account, adding to Qwest’s bottom line, she was bumped off her plan, signed up for a two year contract without her knowledge, presented with false claims that she would save money, asked to pay an additional $60, and prevented from using the service for which she paid, for approximately a week at the time of writing.
My mother has had the same phone service for over three decades, including Qwest and your predecessors in the area, at the phone number [uh-oh redacted as well]. She has had DSL internet with Qwest for approximately 8 years, signing up for a 256 kbps line with an internal DSL modem. Her bill in February for these two services totaled approximately $63. For most of this time, she has been very satisfied, except for the times when her connection would be unavailable for days or weeks at a time. Tech support representatives were often completely unhelpful, despite keeping her on the phone for hours. On one occasion, over a three-day weekend, she had to wait three and a half days to have someone reset her password after she had forgotten it and accidentally erased it from her computer.
Recently, she made a phone call to Qwest to try to sign up for a long distance plan to replace her plan with AT&T. This should have been a simple call to add a relatively inexpensive service, but she was given a hard sell to change her plan. She was told that she could save $11 by switching to a bundle that would include phone and internet service at 1.5 mbps, and an additional discount for bundling her phone, internet, and DirecTV service. The operator failed to mention that she would be signing a two year contract with Qwest as part of the Price for Life program, the new bill for phone and internet would total approximately $66, she would be ineligible for the new DirecTV equipment that new customers receive, and that the service would fail to work with her current modem, requiring her to buy or rent a new one. Soon after, she was unable to use her internet and approximately a week passed before the issue was resolved when my mother and I spoke with someone in the sales department.
When I called into Qwest and had an opportunity to speak with a salesperson about the problem, she was the first person we found remotely helpful and was able to find the tech support operator, “Roger,” who finally discovered the problem. It was at this point that the representative told us that my mother would have to pay $60 for a modem or pay $5 a month to rent the moment. She had the audacity to claim that my mother would still be saving $6 if she paid $5 every month in perpetuity for the modem, despite the fact that a $5 increase would bring the cost to $71, which would be $8 more than she paid on her February bill. My mother could receive credit for the time her internet was down before the source of the problem was found, but if she did not choose to take advantage of the offer to send a modem, she would have to keep paying for unusable internet.
I asked to have my mother’s plan revert back to her original plan and after a long time spent on hold, I was told that this would not be possible as the plan was no longer offered. I asked to at least have the Price for Life contract removed and she was eventually able to do this after another period on hold. A supervisor offered to have the modem sent overnight with no additional shipping costs, but we were told that we would still have to pay for the modem. The operator gave us her personal work email to us so that we could contact her with further questions, which was a nice gesture, and my mother and I ended the call.
Although I am happy that we eventually discovered what had happened to bring my mother’s internet down, we are both completely unsatisfied with the proposed resolution and the road which brought us here. As I said in the first paragraph of this letter, my mother had been satisfied with her service, but when she attempted to add a long distance plan to her decades-old account, adding to Qwest’s bottom line, she was bumped off her plan, signed up for a two year contract without her knowledge, presented with false claims that she would save money, asked to pay an additional $60, and prevented from using the service for which she paid, for approximately a week.
We ask that you instead consent to a resolution which we believe is fair, where my mother receives local phone service, DSL internet at 1.5 Mbps, and a free modem that will make the service usable, at the same price she was already paying, as well as a free upgrade to new DirecTV equipment, discounts for bundling her current DirecTV with her phone and internet, and credit for the time she has been unable to use her internet service. We believe that the upgrade to 1.5 Mbps and new DirecTV equipment is fair for a long time customer whom has happily put up with so much frustration for years, and will prevent future confusion with tech support operators who have been unfamiliar with her current modem and TV equipment. This will also allow Qwest to stop maintaining an outdated line. If you wish to propose an alternative, please let us know. My mother is already looking at prices for competitors and working on a letter to Consumerist.com, the Better Business Bureau, and the Iowa Attorney General, so we ask that you respond to this message promptly or by April 4th at 5:00 pm at this address.
Thank you for your time, and your attention to this matter.