Friday, August 22, 2008

Customer Service...Take Two

Everyone with DSL service pays his or her provider for reliable, 24 hour Internet access. Those of us who work at home and need to upload files to industry professionals in a timely manner rely on being able to get online whenever we need to.

My building used to have Comcast cable, so having Comcast Internet led to cost savings. Last summer a neighbor and I experienced Internet that came and went. Both of us spent hours on the phone trying to troubleshoot, and both awaited technicians who never arrived. And at least once, I received a recorded message that the technician was cancelled because the problem had been resolved. Not.

So when my building switched to DirectTV, I switched my Internet to AT&T. I was surprised by how easy the transition was and AT&T's much lower monthly rate. I was able to install the new modem and connect to the service by my un-techy self. The speed was amazing compared to Comcast, service consistent. All was well.

Until a couple of weeks ago, when my AT&T service started getting spotty. Of course, pinpointing why is the challenge. When you call, of course you don't get a person right away. The annoying auto attendant voice asks you to say a variety of commands, which he rarely understands. "I think you said ____," or "Sorry, I'm not sure what you entered." And there are those long pauses while he processes whatever you've said and moves to the next prompt.

When you finally make your way through the maze to a person, he or she starts all over, confirming your phone number and then collecting your complete name and address, last 4 digits of your SSN. I understand the need for security, but this takes too long. Then they want you to trouble shoot a zillion things, even when you know the problem isn't from your end.

"Turn the modem off. Check the cables." Like I hadn't already done those things. "Remove the filter from your DSL phone line." Ok, hadn't tried that one. No change. Your account doesn't show up as registered. So you shouldn't be getting service at all." Well, I don't recall being asked to register and I've used AT&T since last November.
That took around 26 minutes. Then a few hours later I got a recorded message that the problem had been resolved. Not.

Even when you call a second time the same day, and when you have a ticket number to refer them to, they insist on starting all over and walking you through every single step. Resolving that, then trying to get a credit on my bill for the time I'd wasted and loss of service took 39 minutes. However, I got transferred from department to department because DSL said Phone had to issue the credit, and Phone sent me back to DSL where I didn't get to a person but back to the auto attendant and would have had to start all over.

Then when I tried to call to reschedule the technician using the phone number in an email I'd recieved, it turned out to be the wrong number so that took more time than it should have taken.

On another note, why do the numbers you need on the bottom of the modem have to be so tiny?

While each AT&T employee was friendly as he/she read her obvious script, each seemed to have access to different information and advice. The last guy I talked to seemed the most knowledgeable and did some troubleshooting on his end to resolve my DSL issue. Time will tell.

But why does this process have to be so painstakingly frustrating? Can't customer service departments find ways to simplify and speed up incoming calls? At the very least there should be a way to allow callers to provide each piece of info once, and to track issues so when you call back you can either 1) talk to the same representative who is already familiar with your issue 2) know that the next representative can easily retrieve whatever has gone on before so you can start where you left off.

Now, back to getting that credit...

1 comment:

Eileen said...

I have this theory that services that companies know you need- internet, flying etc- have decided to skip the whole customer service part. They know you'll buy it anyway.

It's that or they like to torture us. Could be both.