Sunday, March 29, 2009

Frustrated with AT&T Wireless

I'm extremely frustrated with AT&T Wireless right now. I've been a customer for something like 7 years now, and I've always had pretty good service, particularly in the AT&T stores (as opposed to the franchise stores). But my phone service took a big quality drop recently. Maybe they upgraded their network or something, but as of a couple of months ago, Christie gets 4 bars in the basement with her 3G phone, and I get 1 bar with my non-3G one.

So I went to the AT&T store, but they weren't any help at all in diagnosing my problem, except to recommend a new phone. They were particularly enthused about selling me an iPhone. They did give me a new SIM card, with a sort of half-shrug, saying "sometimes that works".

It didn't.

Today, Christie and I decided to stop by a different AT&T store, which was probably a mistake, as I wasn't feeling particularly good physically, nor was I at my best emotionally. They tried to sell me an iPhone, and I told them I wasn't interested in a smartphone of any kind. They asked why, and I told them that I spent 95% of my time within three steps of a computer, and that turning that into 100% just wasn't worth $30 a month to me. He kept trying to sell me an iPhone.

I finally persuaded him that I just wanted a baseline phone to make calls with, and that reception was the biggest thing for me. He sort of waved his hand at a bank of phones and said, "They're all basically the same. It might solve your problem with reception, might not. Every phone's different."

Huh, so they're the same, and they're different? If only there were someone around who could guide me to the phone with the best reception in and around Columbia!

I might have been getting a little cranky at this point. Since I'd spent a fair amound of time on the website, and had seen a number of phones with "$0 with upgrade credit!" next to them, I asked him what the prices on these were like with my upgrade credit.

"Oh, these are the upgrade prices."

Either there were free/cheap phones that he didn't want to show me, or AT&T is really trying to drive traffic to their web site. There is a third possibility, I suppose, which is that the prices on the web site are dependent on a contract, and the upgrade prices in the store are not, or something along those lines. Again, if only there were some person involved in the transaction who could have given me some guidance!

So, according to the good people at the AT&T store, about two months ago, my service quality underwent a rapid decline, but the reason for this is a total mystery to everyone, and the only way I can keep the level of service that I've been paying for (paying more for, actually, since they got rid of their lower level plans and 'upgraded' us to the next one up) is to spend $80 to $100 in the hopes that things might magically get better.

The best explanation I can think of for this is that AT&T pays their people commissions on new customers, and commissions on iPhones, but there is no commission for keeping a customer who might have gone elsewhere.

Anybody know how the reception is for T-Mobile in Columbia?


Rita said...

I'm familiar with the phone runaround. A salesperson at a previous carrier told me this: Buy a new or slightly used phone on Ebay with no contract and plop your SIM card in and you're good to go. That's all we do anymore. I don't trust the sales folks in the stores anymore because their managers are constantly pushing them to push customers to "upgrade".

Mike said...

Yeah, I popped my SIM card into the cheapo phone that we were using as the "house" phone, and now it works great.