How ironic that, just days ago, I was using AT&T as an example of a company that doesn’t listen. Today, they earned that reputation again in another classic example of customer service failure.

I was looking at my credit card statement and noticed a duplicate charge for AT&T. Alarmed, I checked my AT&T account online; they only showed one charge. My money was on AT&T as the one responsible for the blunder, so I contacted them first.

I was very clear in my email: I stated that my credit card showed two charges for the same amount on the same day while my account records only reflected one. I needed to know what to do to resolve the problem.

Here’s their response, with the personal details edited out:

“Thank you for taking the time to contact AT&T about [ your account number ].  My name is Tanya and I appreciate the opportunity to address your inquiry today.

Here are your account  recent payment postings for March 2011:
03-30                    [ $ amount ]

Should you need further assistance or have other questions, please reply back to this e-mail and I will be happy to help you.”

How does restating the information I’ve already seen help me? I specifically mentioned that I had already looked at my payment history online. Printing it out for me and thinking you’re done just tells me that (1) you didn’t fully read my email, and (2) you really don’t care about helping me.

At that point, I shot back a very annoyed email pointing out those two conclusions and then called the credit card help line. It turns out it was an error on their part — but they immediately explained that they were having a programming issue and that it would be resolved as soon as possible. They listened to my problem and gave me the answer I needed. I’m not delighted that they’re having a problem, but I am pleased to understand the issue and to know that it’s being handled. So I’m a lot happier with them than I am with AT&T. My bank only made a technical mistake; AT&T’s indifferent response to my inquiry told me that they don’t care about my business. And that’s the mistake I’ll remember.


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