Friday, May 11, 2007

Wireless 'Service'

The phrase Wireless Customer Service strikes me as an oxymoron. In fact, just putting those three words together in one sentence is stretching it. Has anyone EVER had good customer service from a wireless communications provider? Choosing a wireless provider is indeed a case of choosing the proverbial Best of the Worst. Why is this?

This quote from an AT&T Wireless representative -- after AT&T Wireless was crowned as one of the cell phone service providers with the most complaints -- probably sums it up:

"the number of complaints we received is so small that it's almost not measurable in terms of the size of our customer base"


It's pure numbers and volume. If you have enough customers, who cares if you lose a few ... thousand. The PhoneDog.com site provides some decent overviews and reviews of the major carriers, but there are many other sites to be found if you want to read such things.

Here are a few experiences of my own to add to the fray:

- AT&T Wireless, when bought by Cingular Wireless a few years ago, added text messaging to almost everyones accounts. Four people in my office were hit by this, including me. When we called to question the additional $5/month, we were told "Well, Cingular gave everyone text free for a month, and then started charging for it if you didn't cancel the service within 30 days." Of course, none of us were actually told about this exciting promotion, but I guess that doesn't matter in the big picture. I bet they made a lot of extra money that month. Someone got a nice, big bonus out of that idea.

- Another exciting facet of the AT&T Wireless/Cingular merger was the change of the website and online bill-paying. I was a former AT&T Wireless customer. For about a year, nothing changed. Then the site began to change. And each month, paying the bill took another click. First, there was one redirect, then two, then a page confirming you used to be AT&T, then another redirect, then another. Finally, about 6 months ago, I had been forwarded/redirected over 20 times, and still couldn't pay my bill. So, I simply switched to Verizon Wireless.

- Moving my number from AT&T Wireless to Verizon Wireless took no less than three hours. Big hugs to my husband who sat on the phone through that ordeal. However, I do have to give Verizon credit; the service people were very pleasant.

- Now, fast forward to this month. We get a note from Verizon that we are in collections for an unpaid bill. This is fascinating to us, as our account is showing a zero balance. So, we call. And the first rep sees a zero balance, and the second, and the third, and the fourth, and the fifth, and the sixth. Almost two hours later, we finally reach someone who believes that they figured out the issue -- which went back to the whole switching numbers ordeal -- and "thinks they can fix it".

Well, we've got the nice lady's name and customer service ID number, so if the Collection Agency sends one of their thugs after us, we'll be ready.

Come on, Wireless Providers. With all that money and technology, can't these things be just a little bit smoother?

1 comment:

Joanna said...

I completely agree that wireless customer service does not exist. My husband says salespeople in cell phone stores are akin to used car salesmen.

I walked into a Verizon last month to get phones for two net admins. I asked how long the wait would be and you would have thought I had asked a personal and insulting question. I asked if I could be paged or called, as I could step next door to wait. Again, the look I got would have wilted the flowers in your backyard.

Mind you, I was about to drop $900 to purchase two phones and sign-up for lots of minutes, unlimited data, unlimited text messages. In other words, I was signing up for not inexpensive plans.

The process, once I finally got to the counter, took almost an hour. An hour! Thank God the person who did work with me was decent.

And to think that I consider Verizon a step up from Cingular.