Here’s a comment I received from an AT&T rep.  I take her at her word that she is indeed from AT&T:

As an unfortunate rep on the phone representing AT&T in iDay as we called it. Yes the stores were not prepared. Also in our defense if we issue a credit even remotely associated with an iPhone, it’s our job. Who made that rule? Apple. Working with them on a regular basis (the visual voicemail is having a lot of trouble) i know that many of their reps are extremely rude and not helpful in the least bit. I put everything i have into every call i take. I get screamed at, cussed out and i’ve even had my life threatened because someone thinks taking an iphone to another country won’t cost anything. If you are using internet on your phone and you don’t have a package…. think about it. You’re getting charged. everything you need is online. Pay attention to your bill. read the fine print it’s there for a reason. every company has the same basic services! yes we mess up on occasion but i have NEVER not called a customer back. The job is incredibly difficult. Today i got yelled at because my customer didn’t know how to use a rebate card and choose credit not debit. but i was nice and explained everything but apparently it was my fault.? I agree that we should be able to give some sort of compensation for iphone customer’s with a bad experience. but first is it really a life or death situation? we’re all adults and patience is something we should have learned by now. but we can’t do things for customer’s with bad experiences because of the iPhone. Who set up the rules? Apple. I have bills to pay and I’m putting this out there for all AT&T haters….. would you loose your job so someone else could get a new cell phone they don’t HAVE to have? Me either.

I agree that she has a tough job.  I only call customer support when something’s wrong.  So of course I feel wronged and angry, but I’m always professional and courteous, if at times a bit short (as in terse).  I have no problems with the AT&T reps I dealt with on the day (save the one that manually ported my number, what sense does that make?).  They were all professional and tried their best to be helpful (though I never did receive confirmation that I was off the Small Business Plan, I guess I need to call AT&T again after all). 

And in fact, after a few emails, I was actually contacted by AT&T Mobility Office of the Executive President.  Did I get anything free?  A month’s credit?  New features for free?  No.  But I didn’t ask for any.  And it wasn’t about getting anything for free (other than my skyrocketing blood pressure that day, the only thing I really lost was time, though a LOT of it, and a day’s worth of cell service).  Did I just want to vent?  Yes.  Did doing so via Twitter and this blog satisfy that?  Mostly.  It was nice to see that AT&T took customer complaints seriously and customer complaints weren’t just dismissed. 

The corporate AT&T person I spoke with was great.  She informed me that people being placed on a small business plan rather than a family plan was a common occurrence.  HERE’s the problem.  Not the AT&T reps on the phone like yourself, dear commentor, though admittedly at times some are extremely unhelpful and their tones of voice are not exactly helping the matter.  But performing a job with a lack of competence or perhaps AT&T corporate needs to do better at training or quality control.  It cannot be that difficult to create a family plan without checking the small business plan box (I’m fairly sure I’m grossly exaggerating how simple/complex the process is, but the sentiment stands).

Even in store, when I finally received my iPhone.  The iPhone plans are set.  It’s a matter of minutes, business or regular data, and the features.  I already had everything set up on my account from the first phone.  Just keep everything, add my iPhone data plan.  Seems easy enough.  The store rep seemed to have some trouble with it, but someone came to help.  But lo and behold, my text message plan was not transferred.  So there was another whole day without a service.  Did I know this?  Not until the next day because there is no notice on the phone that texts are not being sent.  So that was a phone call with an extremely helpful rep.  Then of course there was the matter of being charged for early night and weekends on one line that I did not sign up for.  But that was another call and a credit issued.

So many reps are plenty helpful.  And they all have a tough job because 90% of callers (probably more) are just ready to dump all their anger and frustration on them.  But it doesn’t excuse the initial mistakes.  (Yes my family plan creation was on the phone with a rep not in store.  And per above, my text thing was a problem with an in store rep.)  And since customers can’t really get back to the root of the problem, the CSR they get on the phone is the person who gets it.  As the public interface of the company, its the CSRs job to deal with the problems.  Though I understand if it get really old, really fast to have people just dumping anger on you all day, every day.

Something to say?