You may have heard about musician Dave Carroll. His story has been featured on CNN and Fox News. Last spring his band, Sons of Maxwell, were travelling to Nebraska for a one week tour. His guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. His $3500 guitar was severely damaged. For over nine months, he was given the runaround by various United Airlines employees. The various United representatives he spoke to put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves. Carroll promised the last person to finally say “no” to compensation that he would write and produce three songs about his experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world. United Breaks Guitars is the first song. The song instantly became a You Tube sensation and as of this writing has been viewed more than 3,000,000 times.
Dave, you think you could write me a song like “United Breaks Guitars” about AT&T Wireless? My problem started a couple of months ago. I started getting intermittent service. I’d try dialing a number 10-20 times only to have the call dropped with each attempt. When I called AT&T to complain, they asked if the problem could be with the phone? Hmm, you’re the ones that sold me phone and you’re the ones I get my cell phone service from. How the heck would I know?
I was told that the only way I could get a new free phone would be to sign up for another two year contract. Of course the phone that I owned and had been pleased with had been discontinued. I ended up getting a Nokia 6650. The second I got it out of the box I knew this phone was going to be trouble. The keypad construction is poorly made. I could see that after using the phone only a few times, the keys would stop working altogether. Trying to insert the battery was a nightmare. It took me 45 minutes to get the battery case off. In addition, the phone got extremely hot when in use.
When I called AT&T to tell them I was not happy with the phone, they told me to go to an AT&T store so I could see the phones up close and personal. (I was on crutches at the time, so it was not an easy trip to make.) The store had an extremely limited selection. The salesgirl told me that I would only be allowed one exchange. If I wasn’t pleased with the new phone I was stuck with it. What a stupid policy! What if there were problems with the new phone? I hobbled out of the store.
I called AT&T on July 6th. I spoke with Ms. Amber Polk, explained the situation, and told them what a horrible policy it was. She told me that if I ordered a new phone either via phone or online, that of course I’d be able to return the new phone. They didn’t expect me to judge how well a phone works from only seeing a photo. I hung up content with the resolution.
As I had a doctor’s appointment Friday and would be needing paratransit services, I knew I would need a cell phone in case I had any transportation problems. (I did, but that’s another story for another day.) I decided I’d return the phone on Monday. I called AT&T to ask about shipping requirements (e.g. insurance, return receipt). When I started working out details on an exchange with the representative, I was told that I could only have one exchange. If I didn’t like the new model, I was pretty much stuck with it. I was furious. This is NOT what I was told on July 6! Getting cell phone service should be an easy process. I was so disgusted, I told the representative that it was obvious that AT&T did not want to keep the business of a long time customer (11 years) and that I was sure another carrier would be happy to take money.
I was put on hold to talk to someone about closing my account. Imagine my surprise when Bobby Washington told me that my account was showing an $18 upgrade fee! Upgrade fee???? You told me that my old model was no longer available, therefore I was FORCED to choose a different phone! There was NO WAY I was going to pay for that!!
By now you could see the steam coming out of my ears. Mr. Washington asked if I would like to speak to a manager so that the problem could be resolved to my satisfaction. By this point I had been put on hold so many times during that call, that I had been on the phone with AT&T 1 hour 20 minutes!
I wish I had written down the manager’s name. First she told me that if I was unsure about a phone, I should research it online. And exactly how would I know that a phone gets extremely hot while in use based on a photograph. She told me that I just couldn’t keep exchanging cell phones as it would cause "inventory problems." That was one of the most ridiculous things I ever heard! I asked her if when she goes to buy a dress, does she only try on one dress, or does she keep trying dresses until she finds one that she likes?
Hasta la vista AT&T!