Why AT&T sucks

Yes this is related to the iPhone 3G. No it doesn’t have to do with the activation issues. So here’s my (long) story.

I have a significant other, who recently became more significant. Great, good for me! So for SO’s birthday I decided to get her the new iPhone (as well as upgrade myself). Since she was now my significant other, we decided to put our phone lines on a family plan. We were/are both AT&T customers. She was on another family plan already. So we called AT&T and had them release her number for me. I called and added it to my account.

Now when you do this, you are supposed to get 30 days in which you are equipment upgrade discount eligible on the new line. So given the ridiculous subsidy price of the new iPhone, I was excited. Being an existing iPhone user, I was already eligible for the subsidized price. So we created the new family plan on 7/7. On 7/9 I check online, just in case, to make sure we are subsidy eligible. It says I am, her line is not! Okay, don’t get angry, just make the call to AT&T CS right? I called. And waited. Then when I finally got someone, the CSR acknowledged that I should have the discount given that I just took on the second line (which hadn’t been equipment upgraded since she started on that plan over 2 years ago). He wasn’t sure why my account said otherwise. I was put on hold as he talked to whatever department works on that. He finally came back and said there was nothing he could do but send aforementioned department an email and when they got back to him, he’d get back to me. I asked how long would this take? “I’m not sure.” “Will I definitely get the discount on this line before the time it says it is eligible for upgrade on the website or at least within the first 30 days of service, as I’m supposed to get?” “Yes.” So I get put on hold as he crafts the email to the other department as well as a confirmation email to me. He comes back saying he sent the email and would call me as soon as he receives an email back from said department.

Okay, at this point I’m not mad at AT&T so much as disappointed. It’s just annoying really, but hey, I can still get my iPhone right?

So on iPhone day I get up at 4:45 AM. I get to the Apple store by 5:20. At this point I’m about 35th in line. I wait and wait and wait and about 8:40 I finally get in. Heaven. (Oh just for kicks the guy directly in front of me smoked like 15 cigarettes while we were waiting.) So I decide to take the hit and buy one phone subsidized and one unsubsidized. But oh no, Apple’s having a hard time processing my account. Some error comes up. I get placed in the hands of a capable and helpful Apple employee. She gets on the phone with AT&T.

First AT&T CSR told the Apple employee that my account had the problem because a 2G SIM card was not compatible. (While I don’t have a 3G phone, yet, both my iPhone’s and the SO’s phone’s SIM cards are both AT&T 3G cards. That’s all they give out anymore.) To rectify this the AT&T CSR was going to manually in put the new SIM number off the phone. Great, easy peasy. So she does this but the transaction still doesn’t go through. Oh and now I no longer have phone service on my iPhone. I’m quite sure if I opened the iPhone 3G sitting there (who’s SIM was given to the AT&T CSR) it’d work for me. But I can’t buy it because Apple’s system is still kicking up an error. So we hang up and call another CSR. This one says there is nothing wrong with my account and the sale should go through. I call on another line to talk to AT&T and am told that nothing is wrong, but I have to go to an AT&T store because I’m “buying an AT&T service. Your phone might be Apple, but you have to buy in store because it’s OUR service you are using.” I hang up. The Apple employee calls another AT&T CSR. At the very least we are trying to get me phone service again. After much time on hold, the Apple store employee finds out that despite being on a normal family plan I am somehow classified as a small business account (meaning I have to go to AT&T to buy). We ask how I could be a small business account since I CERTAINLY did not sign up as one. The AT&T CSR is not helpful on this point. The AT&T CSR runs some sort of process to reverse the “upgrade” on my account so I can have service again and tells us that I have to re-activate my phone through iTunes. So the Apple employee looks at me sadly and says I have to go to AT&T to buy. So around 10:15 am, roughly 5 hours after I got to Apple, I walk out empty handed and still without cell service.

Two things about this point. First, AT&T has next to no stock. Currently EVERY Apple store in my area has stock and AT&T is sold out, but expects more today (7/12). Second, AT&T only allows one per body in line. Which is absolutely ridiculous (I’m raising hell until they let me buy two, especially given the TWO, relatively big issues they’ve caused me).

I go to my office and call AT&T. I’m hoping they can remove the small business designation on my account and I can just go to the Apple store over the weekend and buy my two phones. The CSR has no idea how it happened. Sees the first note on my account about the equipment upgrade problem. She thinks whoever set up my second line just accidentally checked a box or something. She puts me on hold as she talks to her manager. She comes back and tells me they cannot manually override the designation and she’ll have to send an email to the transfer of service department so I can go from being a small business to an individual responsibility user (on a family plan). I ask how long this will take. “7 to 10 days sir.” Come ON! REALLY?!? “Will I get a confirmation?” “Yes, they will call you.” “Thanks.” Hang up.

Oh, in case you forgot, I STILL have no cell service. I call the SO to make sure her phone works and yes it does, but she tells me that it was off for awhile in the morning. I go home. I connect my iPhone to iTunes, nothing. I install the new 2.0 firmware (after a long while given the AT&T/Apple server issues that plagued everyone yesterday). Nothing. Nothing I can do will get me phone service. I pop my SIM into my old unlocked phone. Nothing. So clearly when they moved my SIM info they moved my account off this SIM number and to another. And when they processed the downgrade it wasn’t put back. So this SIM is dead and I now have an iPod Touch basically. Being a cellphone only house, I decide I can’t have this and walk a few blocks to an AT&T branded store to get a new SIM or have mine reactivated. $25. Hell no. Because it’s not a corporate store I have to pay. So I walk. And resign myself to waiting in line at AT&T.

AT&T was supposed to have more units available at 10 AM. So I get to AT&T around 5:15 today and am 9th in line. Of course I’m assuming their standard line will be I can only buy one, in which case if they tell me that they’ll have stock tomorrow I’ll be in line again to get the SO’s phone. I have no idea if I’ll walk out of here today with a phone. I’m not hopeful that it’ll be easy.

UPDATE: Can it really be an update if I never published the post? Regardless here’s where I stand on 7.20, a week later. I was roughly 17th in line. I got to the door of the store around 10:50. (There was all sorts of other kinds of drama, but I’m leaving this post about the iPhone experience itself.) They had announced they only had 20 phones. I knew in my heart of hearts it would not be good. I figured a handful of each variety. And based on conversations held all morning, most of the people ahead of me were looking for various 16gb phones. So then I get in. Of course off the bat, no white iPhones. And by now, only 8gb models left. So I’m given the option of ordering. And the AT&T sales guy “cuts me a break” by letting me order 2 rather than 1 and being in line to do it again (though looking at my store’s orders online, appears I wasn’t all that special as a few people got to order multiples).

So I placed an order for 1 16gb white and 1 16gb black. I was told 7-10 business days.  Oh, here’s the good part.  Though I didn’t get confirmation of it from the guy I talked to first, the charge DID ring up with the upgrade eligible discount, so I guess that was fixed after all. The SO’s white was delivered 7.17, so good on AT&T for before the estimated date. I’m still sitting here without my iPhone. Based on the internet scraper sites, I’m first in line now for orders that haven’t been fulfilled at my store. So I’m hopeful that I’ll have my black 16gb phone early this week.

Still at the end of the day, I had my hands on the two phones I wanted on launch day. AT&T made a complete debacle of my account and as such prevented me from purchasing said phones and created this week long ordeal. I’m not as crazy as some of the other people waiting, I mentally prepared myself to have to wait the full 10 business days. I’m not angry about the wait so much as the reason I have to wait in the first place.

I’ll update again when I finally get my phone. I should make this an “Am I too Angry” thing, but I haven’t bothered to seek out better poll software.

4 thoughts on “Why AT&T sucks

  1. Josh

    Sir, AT&T does suck bad. I purchased a new contract of service from them which locked me in at 2 years mind you. I decided to go with 2 BB Pearls. The total came to $175.18. Well they shipped me the phones and the day it was supposed to be delivered, AT&T notified UPS to stop the shipment, 5 minutes from delivery. i was just on the dang phone with the UPS guy on hoe to get to my house. He calls me back and tells me to call AT&T, that there was a problem. So I did and find out all they had to do was verify my account. I was like OMG I paid for these phones you had no right to stop the shipment on them hello. They tell me all they can do at this point is ship me a whole new order and that when the first order got back, I would get a refund of $175.18 to my account. So I place another order and pay another $175.18. The second order gets here no problem. I activated my service and my phones. I was sent a email saying that the first oder arrived at their warehouse and I should expect a refund with 5-7 business days onto my card. I was really excited. WRONG! It’s been 14 days and still no refund at all. I called AT&T and they give me a run around, so I ask to speak with their supervisor. I was told he was very busy, but they would make a referal for himto call me back within 12-24 hours. So I did, but I highly doubt he will even call me. AT&T sucks. I have 15 days to cancell my service before I am locked into their contract, so if my refund aint here by the 14th day. I am totally cancelling my service with them!!!

  2. Susie

    AT&T does suck!!! I don’t know if this happening to other people – but recent AT&T customers beware! I wanted to get an iphone 3 months ago, but when I went to the store they were out, and the rumors had started flying about the new iphone coming out. The D.C. store reps said that I could easily purchase a plan in May, 2008 and just get the free phone, so that I could upgrade to the iphone when it came out. They said it would NO PROBLEM.

    Surprise, surprise. I’m about to purchase my iphone when the nice Apple employee tells me that I’m not eligible for the discount. She directly contacted AT&T and tried to reason with them, and then I got on the phone with AT&T and told them I would cancel my contract. Apparently, they could care less because they chose to lose me as a customer (for a minimum of 2 years!) rather than provide me with the discount that I was assured of back in May.

    So much for customer service…

  3. Rachel

    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.

  4. sean

    AT&T, formerly Cingular wireless…Only a name change. I started working for them last november. Lied to from day one on location i’d work at to every day operations. Paystub stills says Cingular on it… so they really just changed there signs. All they care about is new sales. Once ur a customer..F U.. Most of the managers and sales people put features on your account without your knowledge. Then when you get the short bill it’s hard to tell difference between taxes and fees. I had so many people paying for roadside assistance never knew about and talk dial, which all phones have built in.
    Then when I was let go for not hitting new quota, because i wouldn’t flip customers into a new number, they are now fighting my unemployment. If i had 10 pages to write i could fill them. CHECK you Bill!!!!!!


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