You have to wonder about the power of IT to mess up business practices when you receive three bills in one month for the same phone. I just did. To add insult to injury, it was three different bills, each demanding a different sum. To add further injury to the insults on top of the original injury, the last one to arrive tacked on a late fee to a bill that was not due to be paid for another two weeks. A quick call to customer service, you say? Sure thing — cue the “we are experiencing high call volume and anticipate significant delays in answering your call”. And this AFTER spending 115 seconds navigating their menus to find the operator.
I gave up twice before persisting three days later and getting through to a pleasant but befuddled operator who after much back and forth, including leaving me on hold for minutes at a time (my minutes???) confessed, “we don’t know”! Apparently their system was ‘set up’ this way so that even though it billed me three times and included a late fee, it was apparently not really a late fee at all but a legitimate charge that was part of my bill(s). Oh, that’s good customer relations! I asked if I would get 3 bills a month from now on for the one phone but she thought not, maybe two for awhile (she was not even slightly intending to be funny). When she asked me at the end if there was anything else she could help me with, I told her to haul out for public hanging the accounting folks who designed this practice. I was intending to be funny (at least that’s my defense if the authorities come knocking). I think I detected a smile at the other end…..
One cannot put a price on the costs of such design stupidity but it seems now we are at a stage of having no control over AT&T and their kind, you just have to pay what they ask, when they ask, as you know it will only cost you time, money and a few grey hairs to get to the bottom of their thinking on this. If I believed they actually knew what they were doing, I might have at least some grudging admiration for this cynical approach to obtaining $$$ from customers, but I suspect it’s all a bit too much even for them.
One final note of irony here: when I picked up my phone from the AT&T store, one of the staff audibly complained to another when told that to complete the process she would have to ring through to customer service. “Oh no, not them” she groaned. Man, the people selling this stuff can’t stand their own customer service system. Should have been warned…..
Post script — Irony upon Irony, the day after I wrote this entry I received a Thank You letter from AT&T, telling me how happy they were to welcome me as a valued customer.