When Zach bought iPhones for his parents and added them to his AT&T plan, someone made a mistake. One of the new phones became the primary line on the account, Zach’s phone became one of the secondary lines, and this messed up his ability to upgrade to a shiny new iPhone of his own so he could FaceTime video conference just like his super-cool parents. Only that’s not how things work at AT&T Wireless. Zach was told that no one in the entire company has the power to fix this error. Not the customer service reps. Not the managers. Not the CEO. Not even the combined forces of Seal Team Six and the ghost of Steve Jobs could undo this error committed by a single authorized AT&T dealer employee somewhere in the Western United States.
I recently added two iPhones to my account at AT&T for my aging parents based on their simplicity of use and FaceTime. I added the first phone at an authorized AT&T store and the second from Best Buy. At that time I was eagerly awaiting for my own upgrade eligibility date to arrive (November 2nd 2011) so that I could join the rest of the family in FaceTime heaven. Because of the cost of adding the original two iPhones I was forced to wait until today (December 14th 2011) to try and upgrade my personal phone. I was told by the authorized AT&T dealer that my eligibility date had been moved to February 1st 2012 for some reason, and that I would need to call AT&T at 611 in order to resolve this.
So I called At&T and talked to a young lady named [E.] who, despite her efforts, just didn’t have the authority to do anything about my problem. Apparently the original AT&T dealer had moved my number from the primary line to a secondary line and had made the new number the primary. She explained that because AT&T bases upgrade eligibility on revenue this had bumped my phone to the later upgrade date. She said she didn’t have the authority to fix my problem but if I were to go into the original dealer I could try and convince them to override my eligibility date in the system. I bought the phone in [one state] and I currently live [a few states over] so that just isn’t an option. I asked her if she could move my eligibility date back to the original date by correcting the lines. She said she would get a manager and find out if that was possible…
An hour later I finally was paired with a manager! Apparently AT&T has enough dissatisfied customers that it takes 1 whole hour for anyone to actually speak to someone with enough authority to make a change. I explained my situation to the new representative who firmly told me that she would not be doing anything for me because she would be fired. I then told her I would like to be transferred to someone at AT&T who had the authority to change the situation. She said no one at AT&T had that authority.
Rather frustrated I said “Let me just state this out loud so I can be sure I understand correctly. Because I went from spending $80 a month at AT&T to spending $130 dollars a month and adding two phones I am being punished via a later eligibility date, and no one at AT&T has the authority to deal with this.” I was told “That is correct, sir.”
You know, this just might be why AT&T receives the lowest customer satisfaction ratings year after year as per your recent article on the subject. Rather than saying “Sir, you are right. One of our authorized dealers messed up and we are going to fix that for you” all AT&T could do was say “No one has that power.” I’m sorry for the CEO of AT&T if even he doesn’t have the power and authority to fix a messed up eligibility date.