AT&T Doesn't Need To Actually Read Your Pathetic E-mails

T. is in the military, and has recently deployed to Afghanistan. He has an AT&T phone, and wanted to see about switching to a different plan so he could leave his phone active for occasional calls, but pay less. What with being in Afghanistan and all. He e-mailed their customer service department to inquire about this, and received a response that indicates that while someone at AT&T Wireless is answering customer e-mails, they’re not necessarily reading them.

I have recently deployed with the U.S. military to Afghanistan. Consequently, I wanted to inquire about making changes to my cell phone service to get a lower usage, lower cost plan.

Yet despite my clear and simple questions sent via AT&T’s “contact us” function on their web site, after going back and forth via several messages, AT&T’s form-letter responses did not correspond to my specific question and therefore didn’t help at all.

The following summary of e-mail communication shows how AT&T actually read my messages but instead responded with answer templates that didn’t address the actual question I was asking.

On 6/9, I sent a message to the company that read “I have recently deployed to Afghanistan pursuant to military orders… Once I arrive at my permanent base in Afghanistan, I will want to reduce my plan for extremely limited use for just listening to voicemail and texts. Can you pls suggest a better plan?”

AT&T employee [P] replied, “With our military cancellation policy, you have two different options. You can either cancel with no early termination fee or cancel for up to 39 months and have your number held.” But I never even mentioned the word cancellation in my question; I had only asked about switching plans.

On 6/10, I sent a clarification message to explain that I did not want to cancel my plan, but instead wanted to know about alternative service plans. AT&T employee [G] replied, “AT&T has several options for U.S. Military customers who have deployed…and wish to cancel their service(s) in accordance with the Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA). To complete a Military Cancellation, the service or account must meet all military eligibility requirements.” Again, I did not mention an account cancellation, nor was I inquiring about the SCRA.

Then, spontaneously, AT&T sent me the following message, “Thank you for contacting AT&T regarding suspending your service. Your Suspension Request ID/Number is: [blank].” Once again, I did not ask AT&T to suspend my service. Nor did I even call AT&T.

After three rounds of AT&T’s customer service, I’ve given up trying to deal directly with the company. AT&T is utterly incapable of responding to a request as basic as switching to a low-usage, low-cost service plan for a deployed service member. Why can’t a company that prides itself on being a global communications leader provide even the most minimal level of service to its customers?