Index for Insanity, Inc.
AT&T: Fraud and Bad Customer Service
Although on 17-Feb-2005 I cancelled my service with AT&T for the reasons listed below, as of 02-May-2005 they continue to try to bill me for service after 17-Feb-2005, it seems that they want to let people cancel service with them (actually if they provided service, then I would not have changed service providers). It is clear that they are unethical and have no idea of how to run a business, they only know how to ruin their reputation. I have spent hours on the phone with them trying to get this problem resolved. My personally suggestion is to avoid AT&T at all costs unless you want to go through the same problems that I am going through. The details are below.
Quite some time ago I change to AT&T for my local phone service because AT&T had a reputation for providing good service and their rates were good. I asked, before I switched, if the service would be the same as with SBC and was told that it would be. This, as it turns out, is the first of many lies, deception and what I consider to be part of the fraud by committed by AT&T.
Time passed and there was no problem until one day my phone stopped working, there was no dialtone. I disconnected the incoming phone line to ensure that the problem was not the inside wiring. When I called, AT&T said that there was a short in the line. They said that they would have to send someone out, but since it was Friday afternoon and people already had their calls and the rest would be going home, no one would come that day and they said that someone would come before Monday at 9pm. Part of the problem with AT&T came into play at this time. While AT&T is advertised as a phone company, this is not true since they do not service the phone lines and instead had to pay SBC for service and as it turns out their service contract is quite limited. I told them such slow service was not acceptable service and all they had to say in response was that someone might come out before that. I asked to talk to a supervisor and was told that none were available. When I pushed, I was told that I could talk to a call escalation person who had the same sorry answers. When I asked to talk to a supervisor I was transfered to one. This suprised me a bit since it was a very short time before that I was told that no supervisors were available. I mentioned this to the supervisor and was told that the person was wrong for telling me that and that the procedure was to transfer the person to a call escalation person first. The problem is that a representative from AT&T lied, flat out lied, and once a company lies, how are you supposed to believe anything that they say? In the case of AT&T if you can not verify it, then most likely it is either false or completely deceptive.
For example, AT&T said that there was extra staff working on Saturday and Sunday, due to the rainy weather in order to repair problems. Unfortunately there was a problem with that and the problem was that while their statements, in part might be true, it was deceptive, to say the least. AT&T's statement that someone might come out sooner was mispresentation at a minimum and seems more like fraud to me. The reason for this, which has been confirmed with several AT&T employees, is that AT&T does NOT pay SBC to respond to service requests for residential service during nights and weekends. This means that there was no way anyone would ever show up before Monday. What might have been true is that SBC had additional employees working, but meant nothing since under the terms of the service agreement with AT&T they would not have to go out to repair reported problems.
Later, when I called AT&T's phone number for service and requested the status, the response was that AT&T was actively working on the problem. This is fraudulent since AT&T was not working on the problem and in fact at this point in time no one is working on the problem, which means that I have been without phone service for four days without anyone even looking into the problem. AT&T does not intend to work on the problem either since the problem is with the phone line which is owned by SBC and which SBC is responsible for repairing. While AT&T claims that SBC is supposed to treat each call the same, regardless of who the service provider is, this seems to be yet another false statement by AT&T. At one point AT&T said that no dialtone is a priority call, yet when I called back to complain that no one had come out I was told that there were other, higher priorities which were far more important than no phone service.
Under California law utilities are required to give a four hour window for service, yet AT&T refuses to give anything than a false 4 day window. Even when you call to ask for a four hour window and tell them about the CA law, they don't care and still refuse to give anything other than before 6pm, which at the time was over 8 hours away. Since AT&T needs access to my property as there is a locked gate, they meet the requirements of giving the timeframe. AT&T wants me to leave the gate unlocked, yet they do not want to take responsibility for leaving access unlocked.
At one point I called AT&T and asked to talk to a supervisor, but was refused. I was told that a supervisor would call me back, which turned out to be false. I asked for the name of a supervisor and the employee refused to tell me the name. The employee claims that under the limits set by AT&T, they can only tell their first name and nothing else. Based on the way the person responded, hesitating when he was speaking, it was quite obvious that he was lying, so it is hard to say what, if anything, was true. There is an old line about how to tell when some certain person is lying, to which the answer is when their lips are moving. This is certainly the case with AT&T.
Each time you talk to AT&T it seems that you get more lies than the truth. They fall under the same old line that they don't have to care because they are the phone company. It is clear that AT&T is not the same company it used to be. The concept of customer service is completely lacking and they think that it is in their best interest to lie to the customer, setting false expectation, than to admit the truth. Because of the lies of AT&T and because I did not find out the truth until Monday, I had to stay home all weekend waiting for service. I have had to cancel appointment due to this and also due to having no phone service. I have had to stay home all day Monday and not be able to do things because AT&T refuses to give ANY idea of when someone is going to show up to repair the problem. All of this is because AT&T chooses to be cheap and not pay for weekend repair services and also because all the problems that they create does not cost them a thing. AT&T says that the most they will refund is just the money for service not provided, nothing more. The problem is that there is additional expenses due to the fraud on the part of AT&T.
I used to respect AT&T, but now I see that AT&T is a company which should be avoided since it will cost you far more than you expect when you use them. On the good news side, I have heard that most, if not all, of AT&T will be sold off to other companies so perhaps AT&T will cease to exist and that will be a positive thing since I don't think that any company could provide worse customer service. It might be possible if a company really tried to provide bad service, but excluding intentional bad service, I just don't think a company could be worse. So if you use AT&T consider yourself warned and if you want to protect yourself I would suggest using other companies which provide customer service, rather than just lip service. Don't wait until it is too late in order find out that you have been had by AT&T.
AT&T does not care if you have no phone service, no access to emergency phone services such as the police, fire, ambulance, 911, etc. It is obvious that they do not care if you can not get assistance, all they care about is getting their money from you. If they have to lie in order to get you to use their services, it does not matter to them. Lies seems to be their normal business practice.
Finally my line has been repaired. According the SBC repair person the line should have been repaired on Saturday. It took about 2 minutes to repair the problem, but I guess a timely fix is too much to ask of AT&T.
Unfortunately the stupidity of AT&T continues. On Tuesday I got an automated called from AT&T regarding my phone problem. There are a couple of funny things about it. In CA a human is supposed to come on the line first due to problems with automated messages and disconnecting, but why should AT&T care about the law, they are the phone company. The message said that the problem with my dial tone which was reported on 14-Feb was repaired on 11-Feb. So, the information was not accurate, but that is to be expected from AT&T. I suspect in part that AT&T wants to think that it is better than it is, so good that they are able to fix a problem before you report it, instead of not being able to fix it for several days.
Due to the fraud and lies, I have been asking for a refund. Unfortunately AT&T just spews it company lines. Just like when I was told that the service call was scheduled for Monday and could not be changed, I am told that since I already got a credit, they could not do anything. It does not matter that I did not approve nor accept such low amount of a credit, nor that they refuse to explain how they came to that amount. At the customer service number they say that there is no one else I can talk to about the matter, that it is done. Unfortunately one of their employees told me about the complaint department. The phone number is 888-858-9042, but the address I was given was not valid, which is typical for AT&T.
I guess that most employees of AT&T either does not know about this department or actively choose to lie about its existance in order to avoid complaints. Based on the number of lies I have been told by AT&T (ATT for search engines), you can guess which I think is the true answer.
I just got a bill from AT&T and they continue to show that they are anti-consumer. I switched from AT&T to SBC and got the bill from AT&T which includes too low of a credit and charges for phone calls. The problem with the phone call charges is that I had unlimited calling, including long distance. I also switched the long distance, so when the service was switched, so was the long distance. Unfortunately AT&T wants to get all the money that they can, even though there is nothing to base it on. AT&T claims that they did not get the change for the long distance until later. It is clear that this is going to be a long fight to get my money from AT&T.
More on the abuse by AT&T. I got an order confirmation from AT&T regarding the long distance service. This concerned me because I had cancelled all service from AT&T on 17-Feb-2005 and the order date was 02-Mar-2005 and the letter date was 07-Mar-2005, but one funny thing about it was that the letter arrived on 29-Mar-2005. I called SBC and they showed that the service was what it was supposed to be, so the representative offered to call AT&T with me to get this sorted out. The first person we talked to was extremely rude and refused to answer simple questions, like why was this letter sent. Later, the SBC representative talked to me and could not figure out what this person was so rude. I suspect in part it was because the AT&T person wanted to get the SBC person off the line and I said no. The SBC representative asked to talked to a supervisor as this person was completely unprofessional, but got the AT&T policy answer that there was not a supervisor available. I asked for the call escalation person, but that only resulted in being put back into the queue, so again AT&T lied. The second person was much better, although could not answer why the letter was sent. It seemed that I was still signed up for service with AT&T long distance, although no calls were routed through AT&T. This did not make much sense until 01-Apr-2005 when I received a statement from AT&T. While I had previously asked for my money back, AT&T refused since I was contesting long distance calls (mentioned above). It seems that AT&T does not want to give me my money back and instead attempting to use the credit up with minimum monthly fees. I spent almost an hour contacting AT&T about this and managed to get a credit, in part because the person I talked to was not in the USA and seemed far more reasonable, but he did say that I had to call the local AT&T in order to request the check.
One nice thing about the order confirmation was that it mentioned that the limits on the damages in the service agreement was thrown out, but that they were re-doing it. Most likely to re-start all the legal attacks on it.
Update 02-May-2005: It seems that AT&T is not willing to give up trying to bill me for a long distance plan I never asked for nor authorized and in which NO calls were routed though them since I had long distance service with SBC. Today I received another bill from AT&T which again charged me a minimum service amount for service in April when I cancelled ALL service with them on 17-Feb-2005, as well as calling in March and April trying to get them to go away. Supposedly the cancelled all service and are supposed to issue a credit for the amount that they claim (incorrectly) that I owe them. One can only hope that AT&T is finally out of my life, although I am tempted to sue them for damages and with all the letters and phone calls it would be clear that they should lose.
Update: 23-May-2005: Well, again AT&T lied as the claim by Ron that a credit was to be issued and my account completely closed turned out to be false. Today I received a letter stating that my account was past due and that I had to pay them or my phone service would be turned off. I called and Josh, a supervisor said that he could not help me and that I had to contact some mythical department which did not have phone access and could only be contacted by fax or sending a letter. Unfortunately I don't have any contact information on this department, not a reason why I must contact them instead of the usual channels. It looks like the real solution is going to be to sue AT&T for harassment and such in order to get them to go away. Everything that they say is lies and so far they have not responded to any of the letters in which I sent.
Update: 01-Jun-2005: I received a statement today showing that my account is finally at $0. So, 104 days after cancelling service with AT&T I have a statement showing that everything is resolved. This is not to say that they won't try to bill me for their bogus service still, but it looks hopeful. I really should sue them for damages, but it would be best for them to just go away and to be done with them forever!!
Index for Insanity, Inc.
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