My Trouble With AT&T, Part 2

This continues (and with any luck, concludes) the saga started in My Trouble With AT&T. You may want to read that for background to this story.

Today, June 30 at 12:30 PM (afternoon), I received an email from AT&T stating the following:

Unfortunately, we cannot validate your credit card number. Please call us at your earliest convenience with a different credit or debit card number so we can complete your order: 1-866-499-8008, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern Time.

So I called the number listed there, which apparently the number for their web services division or something along those lines; the part of the company that deals with orders placed through their website. Their system has an hour hold time, as opposed to the general support number which had a (generally) very short hold time.

After what was likely an hour of listening to their surprisingly catchy hold music, I explained my experience from the previous day and asked him if a similar thing had happened to my card again. This guy suggested that it had, and recommended that I call my bank (Wachovia) to find why they are denying the transfer, despite my strong suspicion that the problem was actually on AT&T’s side.

First, I checked my Verizon voicemail just in case Wachovia had left a message; they hadn’t. The person I talked to at Wachovia did see some activity on my account, so they transferred me to their “loss prevention” division so that I could find out exactly what was going on. Each previous time I’ve had suspicious activity on my account, Wachovia Loss Prevention had called me to verify, so I found it mysterious that they didn’t do so here as well. After several detailed identity checks, the guy at Wachovia Loss Prevention told me that my account had initially been charged on the 19th, and that charge was still in the system, so the two subsequent charges (on the 23rd and the 29th) were rejected as duplicates of that one. He did give me an authorization number and a term id for the charge on the 19th that was supposedly valid, so that I could give those numbers to AT&T. Finally, I had what I needed to know to solve this, or so I thought.

I wasn’t free to call AT&T until about 6:30pm that evening. I called their general support number this time (1-800-331-0500, Mon-Fri 7am-10pm, Sat 9am-6pm) under the theory that they would be able to use this new information. Fun fact: it apparently took me three minutes to explain my story (up to that point) to this guy. He told me that he (regrettably) could not solve my problem, and that he’d need to connect me to the 1-866 number in the email, but that he was going to give me a $25 credit on my account for my trouble. He also conferenced me into the other number because “it has better hold music” something that he didn’t need to do. This was a guy I’d probably have a beer with, and high five. He could only stay on the line on hold with me for ten minutes, so I sat through another hour of holding to give the transaction information to this AT&T web rep.

Around 7-something, I was connected to a very nice girl, and explained what I had experienced so far to her. This was by far the most informational and productive conversation; the kind that you experience once in your time with a company. She was initially confused by the bank’s provided authorization number and transaction id for the charge on the 19th, and consulted with her supervisor a couple times. She then suggested that I needed to call Wachovia back and tell them to drop/reverse the charge from the 19th (which was “pending”), as it was apparently canceled on AT&T’s side.

This sounded like I was getting passed back and forth, so I tried a different method; I inquired as to why the order/charge from the 19th was canceled in the first place. After consulting the notes on the account for a few minutes, she determined that because I was switching from Verizon to AT&T, AT&T submitted a “port request” to Verizon. When Verizon didn’t return my port request in time, the transaction was automatically canceled. Then a human looked at the order on the 23rd (the second working day after I had ordered); the port request had presumably been returned, so they resubmitted the order, and recharged the card, which (again, as far as I know) was then declined by Wachovia as a duplicate charge.

The girl I was talking to then discovered that the charge from the 29th was actually going through, but whoever charged my card hadn’t updated my account status or notes, which is why the email was (apparently mistakenly) sent out on the afternoon of the 30th. That does not answer why the first person I spoke to on the 30th did not realize this, but I don’t pretend to be a support tech, so I don’t have the answer to that. So to this date I didn’t receive an email when I should have, and received one when I shouldn’t have. Classy. I did get a “confirmation number” from this girl, should I have any further problems, and which will presumably work in some field on their website. This girl also provided me with a free upgrade to priority shipping. She put a note on my account that I wanted more than a $25 credit, but was not authorized to provide it herself. Presumably, my order has been rectified, and I’m doing pretty well at this point.

I asked about getting a copy of these mysterious notes on my account emailed to me (mostly for intellectual curiosity, partly because they might be useful in actually getting a damn iPhone in my hands, partly for the purposes of writing this entry) but she apparently wasn’t able to do so, but said that the general support division might be able to. So, another transfer and a short hold time later, I explained what had happened to yet another person and made my request for some sort of record of what had happened emailed to me. She wasn’t authorized, so she transferred me to a “resolution specialist” who verified my information and almost immediately transferred me to a “manager.”

Out of all of the people I talked to, this “manager” guy was the least useful; from his voice, I pictured a douchey-looking white guy in a cheap suit with an MBA. No offense if that’s describing you, dear reader. He was pretty hostile to this request for the account notes; I clarified that I simply wanted a written record of my plight sent to me, preferably through email. Apparently any description of what has transpired would include AT&T’s “specific business practices” and that he could not even send me a summarized version; “nobody in AT&T can.” Again, I tried a different method; I walked him through some of the people I’d talked to, and pointed out which were most helpful to me, emphasizing the girl who (hopefully) fixed my order and gave me free priority shipping. After I’d run through that, I said that I still wanted more than a $25 credit, and he transferred me to another number.

At this point it was around 8:30 pm, I believe. This hold period was blissfully short, too. She had my account notes, but we worked out that I would tell her what had figured out so far (as detailed above) while she read the notes that corresponded to my story. She put me on hold for a few minutes while she verified my story and “found out what [she can] give me.” She came back and briefly asked which text messaging plan I’d selected and said that she was talking to a “resolution specialist” before I was put on hold again. When she came back, she told me that she was able to give me an additional $100 credit on my account, for a total of $125 and free priority shipping on the iPhone 3GS. I was pretty satisfied with that, and we joked a little and I told her to have a good night.

So, to summarize, I talked to two people at AT&T on the 29th; one AT&T and two Wachovia on the afternoon of the 30th, and six at AT&T on the evening of the 30th, for a total of eleven people over two days. I received a credit of $125 on my account for my trouble, and free priority shipping on my iPhone 3GS when it is available. The only downside here is that the order was technically placed on the 29th, when my bank account was (re)charged, so the 7-10 day wait starts from there, and not from the 19th, when I had originally placed the order. Throughout this process, I was always calm and respectful to the people I talked to, as they’re just doing their job, and (in my opinion) if they can’t do something, it’s better to ask them to transfer you to someone that has the ability to do so instead of yelling at them. Let us all hope that this truly is the last “My Problem with AT&T” post.

Andrew Guyton

1 comment so far


Holy cow is that annoying! *crosses fingers* Here’s to hoping that a phone will be in hands in a week!!

“Throughout this process, I was always calm and respectful to the people I talked to, as they’re just doing their job, and (in my opinion) if they can’t do something, it’s better to ask them to transfer you to someone that has the ability to do so instead of yelling at them.”
As someone who’s had to work at a call center (for a tax website – oi!) as well as in several customer service jobs, I really appreciate that. Unless they specifically note that they’re a supervisor/manager, there really aren’t any rules they can bend for the customer without possibly losing the job. Wish more people followed that advice as well.

Leave a Reply