Attention AT&T: Don't Lie About "Massive Outages," Reporters Have Phones Too

When Stephanie the AT&T “escalation affairs administrator” lied to Jan about why her phone couldn’t be repaired for several days, she probably didn’t know what Jan did for a living.

Stephanie told her that AT&T was experiencing “massive, massive outages.” Jan is a journalist. Whoops.

From the Arkansas Business:

“Massive, massive outages” is a news story to me. I told Stephanie so and went into reporter mode. Stephanie said a media relations officer would call me at work “by the end of the day,” while declining to give me that person’s name or her own last name.

I called the Public Service Commission in my capacity as a reporter. The agency knew nothing of “massive, massive outages” but would check. The PSC a bit later: “We’ve had one outage complaint from North Little Rock on the 25th for AT&T but nothing from Little Rock.”

It turns out that Stephanie was lying. Suprising? No. Did they turn Jan’s phone back on once she put on her reporter hat and went digging? Immediately.

Jan doesn’t think that’s fair:

More calling. Finally, Andy Morgan, a spokesman for AT&T in Oklahoma City, told me, “We’re under a service emergency. The primary reason is the rain.” But instead of “massive, massive outages,” it was more like “several hundred,” Andy said.

I assured Andy I didn’t want special treatment, that I’d called as a journalist only because of Stephanie’s explanation of “massive, massive outages,” that I’d wait my turn. But when I got home from work that day, my phone was working.

It shouldn’t be like this. You, Dear Reader, are probably not a journalist. But you deserve the same consideration. And if your utility is indeed experiencing “massive, massive outages,” you’ll probably try to be patient.

But you might not seek to verify the explanation. You might not have the time or energy to call the PSC or to keep going up the chain of command until you get a straight answer – or a solution. And that’s not fair.

It certainly isn’t.

Failure to Communicate (Jan Cottingham Commentary) [Arkansas Business]