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The Consequences of Being 'Big'

Posted Monday, September 24, 2007, at 3:12 PM

Sometimes you feel like banging your head against the wall. There is a Web site I have found that list 301 Useless Facts, and it explains fact #212 -- "Banging your head against a wall uses 150 calories an hour." Of course we are talking about this in a figurative sense.

Sometimes it is dealing with bigger companies that cause this phenomenon, especially when one big company merges into another big one.

So what happens when you have a problem with a product or service? Do you find yourself groaning, "Here we go again"? No matter how many times you call technical support, you are less satisfied. I find this is especially true of big companies.

How many times have you read a blog about Walmart? Yes, another big company that sometimes forgets about customer service.

The same can be said about the recent, or not so recent, merger of AT&T and SBC. Don't get me wrong. I do not have problems with the products they sell. I have been a loyal customer for a decade now, but when AT&T merged with SBC, problems surfaced in regards to customer service. It seems big companies have the same problem - they forget why they have customers.

I personally came face to face with the 'big' AT&T. This had to do with helping my in-laws move and hooking their computer up and reestablishing their Internet service. They have high-speed DSL from AT&T. They do not have any problems with the service, just like I also do not have a problem with my DSL at home. The problems started when my in-laws moved into another house. They simply want to reestablish their DSL.

It is a constant struggle for AT&T to get it right. They already told us the problem has to be at our end, but the fact is, their left hand does not know what the right is doing or has done.

To give another example, my sister-in-law has been on the phone trying to get their Internet up. First they argued for a while. AT&T told them they do not have Internet, nor did they ever have Internet. Well, I know they did have Internet because I personally installed it for them, and one quick glance on their bill would show that they were certainly billed as having Internet.

The groaning continued. They got that squared away, or so they thought, AT&T disconnected the old service then and for some reason canceled their Internet transfer order. Okay, my sister-in-law was back on the phone-- again.

I have personally been over to their house specifically to setup their Internet three times and it is still not working because of AT&T. After determining that the modem is not picking up the signal for DSL, I had to call AT&T. Now this is another reason I hate big companies.

How many times do you have to speak to a computer 'person'? Calling them makes me cranky, and here my sister-in-law already spoke with this 'person' three times.

After speaking very carefully and distinctively so that the computer can understand, they still say, "I'm sorry, I didn't quite get that, please try again." I say, t - e- c - h - n - i - c - a - l s - e - r - v - i - c -- e.

Bummer, and I am the one hard of hearing and this 'person' is deaf (I'm exagerating, I am sure) but I know that you all have experienced this.

Now for those of you who have had technical difficulties and had to rely on tech support on the phone, you all know that first, you have to verify who you are and verify that you have the right to deal with the problem.

Now getting back to the Internet hookup problem, after finally entering five or six prompts to get where you want to go, I get an 'live' person, and man, am I glad to speak to one. Finally, I thought we might get somewhere. Wrong! First the non-English tech guy is asking me a question, and after the first five minutes of trying to understand his accent, I go through the verification process. Yes, he has verified that we have Internet service and it should have been setup by AT&T on their end. Then, we go through what I want to talk about and that is for AT&T to reset the password. Now, nobody at my in-laws can find where they put the password so I needed the password reset. Simple right?

Wrong! They reset the password, but it didn't work. It said it cannot authenticate login, which means the user or password or both is wrong. So we go back and forth, saying out loud each letter and so forth. After doing this so many times, (I lost track of how many times,) it became past 30 minutes of trying but not being able to login.

I spent 52 minutes on the phone. I know that because my cell tells me how long I was on the phone. Needless to say, I was frustrated and cranky. The non-English tech was cranky also (I wonder why?). Finally, I said, "Well, I got to get back to work, we will have to call back, on another day." The tech guy said, "Just a minute, I will try something else." I said "Wow, that will be great!"

I was put on hold. Then the tech guy came back and said AT&T received a disconnect notice so that is why we cannot login. I was about to throw my phone across the room. I told him that we already had that resolved, that AT&T accidentally canceled the service, but he said there is nothing he can do until we resolve the issue.

So I guess we will be on the phone with AT&T AGAIN.

Apparently, the department that we talked to in regard to disconnecting the service didn't communicate the matter to other departments.

Big business is good for the pockets of the shareholders but not for the customers.

Groaning, I wait again for the phone call to come to connect the Internet service for my in-laws.

I just pray that the 'Big' Company will get it right.

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I feel your pain! I had already had a whole bunch of trouble with my cingular service, THEN I got a notice in the mail that said b/c they were switching to At&t that they would no longer be able to "cover me." But ever since then I have had wonderful customer service with the lovely people at U.S Cellular.

-- Posted by Chassedi Cooper, Nevada Daily Mail editorial ast. on Thu, Oct 4, 2007, at 3:12 PM

Chassedi, I wish AT&T could no longer "cover me" as well. I had fairly good service with Cingular, but since the switch, I no longer have cell cervice at my house. For most people this wouldn't be a problem, but I have never had a phone at home, because I had cell service. Now that I don't, I will have to pay to put the phone line in, as I never had one run to my trailer when I moved it in. AT&T won't let me out of my contract, stating that they don't guarantee coverage at specific locations.

-- Posted by Joe Spencer on Sat, Oct 6, 2007, at 11:12 PM

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