AT&T Billing Can’t Find Man’s $475

    “Today, I got a call from AT&T’s billing department. The lady wanted to know when I was going to pay the past due amount of $477.82. I paid this, I responded. She begged to differ.

    But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me start at the beginning.”

Let’s do, after the jump.

Brian G. writes:

    “You see, my business Visa card expired in February and so I was sent a new one. Little did I realize, all of the bills that I have signed up to pay automatically, have the expired card on file, so the automatic payment will not go through. (It never occurred to me when I got my new card that I had to go to the website of each company and update the information. My bad, but it just never occurred to me.)

    I first found out about this a couple weeks ago – March 16, 2006 to be exact – when SBCATT sent me an e-mail saying that I owed $477.82 and my credit card had expired. The e-mail instructed me to update the information and everything would be set. I did this. So I figured I was set and forgot about it until today’s call.

    I explained to the billing department woman that I had paid the bill on the SBCATT site. She asked for the date. I looked through my accounting software and found where I had entered the charge. I told her “March 16th.” She was non-plussed and asked for the approval number for the payment, that I would have gotten an e-mail after I made the payment with an approval number. She said if I did not have the approval number, then she would notify the Claims Department who would investigate where my payment was and someone from Claims would call me. By doing this, she told me, I would not have my service “disrupted.” Disrupted? I erupted, “You better not cut my phone and internet off where I paid this where it is not my fault.” “Well sir, I am not assigning fault, I am just saying that sometimes customers key in the wrong numbers.” “Oh, so you are assigning fault, you’re saying that I must have screwed this up.” “Oh, no, sir, I only said we haven’t received the payment, you are the one talking about fault.

    If I were a cartoon, I would have a beet-red face with smoke shooting out my ears. Now, I’m angry at this lady and angry that I faced the prospect of a new call with a new person from the Claims Department to whom I would have to repeat all of this information. I had to find that approval e-mail.

    With her still talking, I spent a few minutes looking in my old e-mails. Nothing with an approval number. I then checked my web server which holds all e-mails that I have received. Nothing. Nothing, that is, except an e-mail saying that I had updated my information with “SBC EasyCharge.” I told her this.

    “Oh, you used EasyCharge,” she responded, “If you used EasyCharge, then you would have been told that this takes 1-2 billing cycles to update the information. That is not a payment. You still have to pay what you are billed.” Her tone was approaching that condescending, grade-school teacher tone I hated when I was 8 and still hate today, almost 40 years later. But then I read the e-mail. My reputation was saved. (I wanted to give her a big Nyah-Nyah, but I restrained my inner child).

    With barely-restrained glee, I read her the e-mail where it said, “This information has been updated and will be effective immediately.” There was nothing about 1-2 billing cycles. Silence. Finally, she recovered and told me, “Well, that may have taken effect, but that was on the 16th of the month and your billing cycle ends on the 13th, so it does not affect your current balance. “How am I supposed to know that?” I virtually screamed at her. “I thought it was taken care of. The e-mail said I was all set.”

    She finally said, “Well, since I see you have updated your information, I will put in a note that this will all be charged to your credit card on April 4th, your next cycle.” I won, I quickly thought. And then she uttered the words that, if she had been standing in front of me, would have caused me to not just kill her, but chop her body up into little AT&T bits.

    She said, and I quote, “You may disregard this call.”

    Thank you for allowing me to vent.



Edit Your Comment

  1. TedSez says:

    Ummm… Am I missing something here? It’s clear that the billing rep’s language was incredibly patronizing, and the correspondent has a right to be annoyed by that. But unless I’m reading this wrong, he didn’t actually pay his bill — as in, the money he owed didn’t go from his account to their coffers during that billing cycle — and she was right to call and let him know that. And while the e-mail they sent him may have been confusing, it makes sense that changing the account “effective immediately” would not automatically result in a payment for a billing cycle that had already gone by.

    Given all that, I bet if the billing lady had simply helped this guy fix the problem without sounding so nasty, he would have been a lot happier keeping their service — or at least he wouldn’t have complained to a major website about them. Which just goes to show how important it is for companies to make all their interactions with customers pleasant ones… and how often they fail in this effort, or don’t bother trying in the first place.

  2. whytee says:

    He was completely right to be mad. I’ve had nothing but horror from my cell phone carrier since I signed their stupid contract and get the same insouciance from customer service reps even though every time I’ve been overcharged it’s been their fault. The last time (to the tune of $400) I was so fuming I emailed the CEO. To his credit, he assigned me a dedicated manager-type who actually took the time to discover the root of the problem, which had nothing to do with me. The Man does not look out for The Little Guy.

  3. Melsky says:

    Why does this stupid company use a payment company them that doesn’t actually pay the current amount due when you submit money to it? That makes no sense at all. Then they try to blame the consumer. That guy has a right to be pissed, I would be too.

  4. flores2751 says:

    This has happened to me too , and let’s about being over charged , yes too many times i just payed for a new cell phone and 1 month later it didn’t work , so i sented it to them and they send me one back but with a bill of 200.00 for the phone what happen to the 90 warrtty with the phones this is just a way so they can make more money I could have got a better phone at a store, but they told me that they would replace it for free , i just had got two new phone and had been with the company for 4 years i feel like they could have just replaced them for me like it said it would when i got them.