Wednesday, March 21, 2007

As you may remember, I tried (unsuccessfully) to enroll in AT&T's UVerse awesome internet access.
When having a phone jack (ew) in my home became a deal-breaker, I cancelled without ever completing set up.
The customer service agent walked through my bill, applying credits until I owed $4. I figured this was a small price to pay for a lesson learned (and a few blog posts) and waited patiently for the bill to arrive.
Imagine my surprise when the bill (installation, equipment, a month of service and state and Federal fees) arrived in the amount of $163.25.
I assumed that it was an error, an errant billing glitch that would be worked out.
Please try to imagine my further surprise when yesterday I got the same bill with a nasty letter about "service termination" and "collection agencies".
I went into the phone call angry and bitter but resolved. I intended to not pay this bill for services I never got.
First, I'd like to suggest that the computerized "helper" employed in answering the phone is a fascist. He quickly found my account, but refused to connect me with an actual person until I'd paid my overdue amount. He'd be happy to take my bank account or credit card information. If I was not prepared to pay, I could hang up and call back when I was.
I started yelling control cues.
"Customer Service!"
This was seeming awfully authoritarian.
"Excuse me," the computerized voice droned, "Did you say you wanted to speak to an agent?"
"Yes," I replied, "Agent!" Then, more relieved, "agent."
I was thrust into an aura of light jazz hold muzak. Against my will, I began to "shake it".
I was almost disappointed ten minutes later when a person interrupted my dance.
She refused to help me, but offered to transfer me to the Billing Department. Anxious to get back to my dance, I agreed.
This time, I was shoved into tuneless light piano hold muzak.
The muzak began to attack my spine. Something in the pitch resonated in my vertebrae painfully like someone was knocking a wooden mallet against the top of my spinal column.
I was relieved when a human picked up on the other end.
"I'm so glad you answered," I started, "The hold music for collections was a funky light jazz but your hold music is an awful piano soundtrack designed to wear me down. Please please don't send me back there."
While she looked up my account information, I told her everything. I know now that I'd never stand up against actual torture-based interrogation.
I started with the internet outage on a Friday night and my desperate call on a Saturday morning to sign up for UVerse. I explained that the representative wouldn't sell me the service without TV and phone and that the DSL didn't come with a connection I could use.
I confessed my ties to Al-Qaeda and my fondness for Musharr Al-Hadim, the Al-Jazeera anchorman on-air from 8-10pm weeknights. He is fanatical and balanced.
"Oops," she interrupted, "Look at that! I just credited your account more than you actually owe!"
"Um, thanks?" I asked.
"I'm so going to get written up over this, but it was our mistake obviously."
"I'm sorry?" I still wasn't sure how to handle this news.
"It's okay," she said, "I'm going to transfer you back to collections. Tell them a manager reversed all your charges."
"Thank you!" I was relieved. And more than a little looking forward to the light jazz treatment.
The hold was nowhere near long enough this time, and after I reached a person, she said I still owed $60, which she could take by credit card or bank information.
I asked to be sent back to billing, forgetting in my dismay the light piano hell which awaited me with gaping maw.
"Noooooooo!" I screamed in agony, interrupted by the helpful voice of someone new in billing.
He interrupted my story when he found the earlier note and put my back on hold (at my request in the light jazz queue) while he called collections on my behalf.
In the end, AT&T owes me $2.
I do not expect a check.


Pamela Moore said...

I've spent so much time at my day job fighting with SBC/AT&T over the past four years we've had their services it's pathetic. Sounds like they're more efficient with residential issues. What was your wait time - thirty minutes?

Garrick said...

I probably spent 45 minutes on hold between the various departments. Time flies when you are listening to light jazz, though.