Living in this era of rapid changes in our way of life, changes who we are, and the way we act and re-act to many things. With high unemployment, home loss, scarcity, rising cost of many things, all expected to worsen as we enter into a period of inflation, and pre-hyper inflation.
In Part One I described some human behavior traits relative to the manner in which we act and re-act, to these changing times. In order to understand this article, I suggest reading the first part. Because this is just my personal story, about one personal experience I encountered recently. It’s about a telephone company, AT&T, formerly Bell South. A very large corporation I have been a customer of for many years, experiencing good service for a long time.
However things changed about 3 months ago when I switched my type of service from just having computer and phone service over to U-verse for television, packaging all three. The service representative was very pleasant and efficient, spending a couple of hours rewiring and installing. I even wrote a complimentary letter to the company about his performance. But quickly everything changed to unsatisfactory, and I was at the point of hair pulling and gnashing of teeth.
The U-verse TV is quite complex, and I had a lot of difficulty operating. Every day I called my daughter and daughter in law to come and adjust because it kept stopping as I punched buttons on the remote, that looked like the panel on a 747 to me. Admittedly, I am quite ignorant when it comes to anything mechanical or electronic. Sometimes have trouble with a can opener. However, the TV would suddenly go off in the middle of a program, and still does. I’m not a happy camper with the new service but cope the best I can.
Compounding the electronics problems, I began experiencing changes in the manner the bookwork was handled. Uninformed about a number of changes and misinformed about other parts. My second bill was for $149.16 and I had understood it would be $130.00. On December 3rd I mailed a check for $149.16 to the new address furnished by AT&T and around December 23 received a rebate from AT&T for $149.16 with no explanation as to why. It was Christmas holidays, and I did nothing but cash the check and waited for the next notice. Which was a bill for $303.49, first part of January with due date January 23rd. I always make out a check when bills arrive, but may not mail right away. It was during the heavy snowstorm, a weekend then MLK holiday Monday, so did not mail. Had no concerns because it was not due until Jan 23rd.
As I recall it was January 19, after hours on the internet writing a lengthy article, looking outside it was dark, finished the article and tried to send it but could not send nor receive emails. Spent sometime trying to make computer work to no avail. Checked phone connection and got a dial tone, checked television and it was off. For an hour and a half I kept trying to make something work and decided to call technical service, and dialed the number. Recording said no calls could be made except emergency, and a number to AT&T. My phone had been cut off. I tried the AT&T number but it would not go through. Then dialed 911 to contact phone service. The operator would not do that but took my daughter’s number and called her. She could call me, and she tried to have service reinstated but to no avail. I was exhausted and very upset. I lost the lengthy article I had written on the computer. Everything had been cut off without any notice. I simply could not understand why.
The following morning my daughter-in-law came and got a company representative on the phone via her cell phone.
She was informed the cut-off was a result of nonpayment. Stated the $149.16 I paid in December was sent to wrong address, and would not reinstate until the $149.16 was paid. The accusation was that it was all my fault for nonpayment and sending to wrong address, when I had paid and sent to the address AT&T provided. I got on the phone and blasted at the lie of accusation, instead of AT&T admitting it was their error. I handed Liz my bankcard to pay the entire $303.41 and the service was restored. The 3rd of February received next bill of $149.16 and paid by check. The following day I wrote a letter to the President of AT&T, describing the chronology of events and sent it registered mail which cost $11.00. Did not hear back and a few days later I sent second letter. Never heard from the President of the company and yesterday, February 8th, received a call from a Public Relations lady in California, informing me she was responding to my letter given to her by upper office.
Now I have been a good paying customer to the phone company, never late for 50 years. And the bottom line is my service was cut-off after-hours without notice. Refusal to reconnect until I paid, accused of non-payment and mailing to wrong address, which was the address they gave me. My records show from my first payment for new service, November 20th, 2010, I paid $321.50. December 3rd, $149.16, January 2011 paid $303.41 and February paid $149.16. Which means in just over two months I have paid $923.13. for the packaged service.
I had related to the President that with all the problems they had caused me, they should furnish a year’s free service. But he never responded.
The representative who called yesterday was quite pleasant, and several times said she was sorry. She said I would be given a $7.00 per month discount and one $75.00 credit on my next bill. I reiterated my complaints, and not too happy with the pittance offer for all I had been through. But what else can one do?
My options might be contact the FCC, file a lawsuit, do without a phone, computer & TV, switch to another company, hearing from others the customer service from other companies is no better. Therefore I’m stuck with what I have: $142.16 a month, and subject to whatever the Corporation dishes out, whenever they choose. No guarantees customer service will be any different nor improve.
The thing that leaps out at me is the pittance of amends and the repetion of I’m sorry. Incensed me even further, i.e., the absurdity of one holding a job with a huge corporation, assuming there’s some rational meaning in saying I’m sorry for mistreatment by others. Downright ludicrous to me.
In my opinion, there should have at least been a couple of months of free service, a response from the president and a letter from the company employee who accused me of nonpayment and the accusation it was my fault the payment went to the wrong address. It’s my feeling the company should have admitted it was all their fault and assumed responsibility for the non-notified cutoff, and assumed some accountability for all the nerve-wracking they caused me. But such was not the case.
I’ve never switched around to other companies but remained a loyal good-paying customer for fifty years, resulting in this kind of customer service, unacceptable to me, but nothing more I can do. I just “eats my spinach and fight to the finish.”
What I do know is there is a Law of the Circle in Universal Law that informs us, everything that goes around comes around, sooner or later and none of us can escape it.
It saddens me to realize this great nation once enjoyed the fruits of the Capitalistic free enterprise business, and know personally, for years treated paying customers with dignity and respect, and common courtesy, but all that has changed. Things will probably worsen as we face an uncertain future with prices already rising as inflation sets in with the possibility of hyper inflation to follow. We could ease the discomfort by treating each other better. I’m just describing one experience with one large company, however poor customer service is pretty much across the board now-a-days. Despite the fact conditions are what they are, I still stand up, and speak out, in rejection over mistreatment. But many do not.
Sometimes it makes a difference and sometimes it doesn’t, but if we don’t try, I’m afraid we are approaching a time when we will be unable to do that much. I will not lie down and roll over, but as long as I have Life I will use what Freedom I have to speak up and speak out against abusive treatment. I have no control over actions of others, only myself. And my responsibility to assert my boundaries.
A few years back, living in Atlanta, I had been a long time customer of Atlanta Gas Company, when one day I received a demand for payment they said I owed from 16 years previously. I did not owe it and refused to pay so they cut my gas off and I never paid it. The following two years, I heated water by electricity to wash dishes, washed clothes in cold water and went next door to my son’s place to take hot showers. It’s not always comfortable to take a stand for that which one believes to be right.
There are still many areas we have choices, but decreasing, and many areas of our lives we have limited or no choices.
The president of AT&T I wrote to, according to his story on the internet, is originally from Cuba, and I’m reminded of a story during the Castro takeover. A guerilla fighter who had been a Communist since he was seventeen years old. Several in this country went to Cuba to fight with him. After he assumed power, he incarcerated the Americans, and demanded they kneel to him and they refused. They were lined up before a firing squad, blindedfolded and Castro still demanded they kneel to him and they refused, so their knees were shot, before they were killed. By a man our government called the George Washington of Cuba. Their limited choice was to kneel or die and they chose the latter.
I tell my stories in the hopes someone out there might benefit and from the 30,000 comments I have received, a number of encouraging responses, I plan on writing about in an upcoming article.
LET FREEDOM RING