I was an employee of the old and better AT&T for 10 years; my final title was Director (really division manager in the old titles) e-AT&T where I managed our online consumer marketing group. Prior to that I helped build and launch telecommunications first wireline/wireless bundle called AT&T's Personal Network. As part of that bundle we created what we called Genie customer service reps. These were our best representatives and they were trained to handle all aspects of your telecommunications needs - long distance, wireless, 800 services, rewards plans, and whatever else you need. As VP Jack McMaster described when we had a meeting with him - the Barbara Eden version of Genie. In fact, the reps were so good and proud of their service they started calling themselves Genie reps.
Fast forward 7 years to a telecommunications world lacking in competition and of course customer service. A world where the new, new, new, really it is new AT&T provides terrible customer service. Sadly my Genie reps are now probably laid off.
For the past month when we periodically made an instate long distance or long distance call, we'd get the following error message "the carrier you selected is unable to compete your call." Thinking the problem was Embarq (the worst brand name ever), I placed a call to their customer service who told me it was not their problem and I should call AT&T. I told them I worked there for 10 years and it is most likely your problem, probably someone trying to get my Long Distance. I called AT&T and they confirmed (or lied) that it was Embarq's problem because they are seeing a notation on my account that says LEC Denied. Ahha, I said to the AT&T rep, it is Embarq's fault and I called back. Embarq was helpful, opened up a trouble ticket and told me to call back in whenever I hear that message. That call was today.....
At 11:15 AM today I got the message repeatedly, as I tried to call my cell phone, so I called Embarq. After waiting on hold for 10 minutes, I spoke with a rep that couldn't help me and she transferred me to some cracker jack rep.
The first words out of this person's mouth was, can I have the long distance number you are trying to call? I said it wasn't a long distance number and she said I need a long distance number.
This got a fired up response that went something like this (picture Lewis Black saying this)...Maybe you didn't understand me, I can't make a call, what's the difference whether it is long distance or not. She put me on hold for 15 minutes and then told me I need to call AT&T which prompted me to call an Embarq supervisor named Cheryl.
Cheryl got on the phone and calmed me down. I told her to make sure she sees how much I bill every month and that I deserved better service. She agreed and then said I need to call AT&T.
This prompted me to say "look Cheryl I'm tired of making calls on my own. If I call AT&T and they tell me it is your fault, I will switch my LD, local, and internet to cable and then you all lose. Why don't you stay on the call?" As the Genie rep from old would have done, she did and called her number at AT&T which sent us to a real idiot.
This new, new, AT&T rep told me I had a flag on my system for Usage Management and they need to transfer me. However, before he did, he tried upselling me to DSL. Here's a hint for the new AT&T - WHEN YOU HAVE A CUSTOMER SERVICE PROBLEM DON'T TRY AND CROSS SELL BEFORE THE PROBLEM IS FIXED. The woman on the end of the transfer sealed my fate with AT&T when she said "I can't see why you are in credit management, so I'll have to send you to AT&T Repairs".
"AT&T Repairs? Why would I want to go there? Why don't you just fix it? She said I need to transfer you to fix it which prompted me to say "Well if I have to make another call I might as well drop you for long distance". This should have been a clue to her, but instead she said "Thank you for using AT&T" and she hung up.
After all of this, I switched everything to Embarq via the very nice Cheryl and even though it is costing me $5 more per month, I don't care. The new, new, really it is new AT&T has very bad customer service. OK, so I don't have SBC for local, but I sure spent enough elsewhere and now you don't have any of my business. Thanks for the good times and too bad you couldn't treat a customer with more respect. It was the final straw from a former AT&T who used to bleed AT&T Blue. I hope the Justice Department hangs up on your merger so we can get some real competition.
BTW - I'm posting this link at the Consumerist in case they find it interesting.
Buzzcustomer.com found the story interesting and linked to this post. Thanks guys!!! Love the site to - it is needed...