Why Would Anyone Want To Be An AT&T Wireless Customer?

The saying used to be that you never go to war with someone who prints ink by the barrel.  The modern day version of that must be “Never go to war with someone who has his own very popular blog.”

Here’s the situation:

I overpaid my AT&T Wireless bill substantially last month.  My bad for typing in the wrong amount in the box on my bank’s bill payment page.  Nevertheless, AT&T (T) deposited the check a month ago and didn’t let me know until this month’s bill that I had made the mistake.

OK…I understand…the checks aren’t processed by human beings and the automated system is set up to do only one thing — deposit the check.  So no one from AT&T called to ask if I hadn’t possibly made a huge mistake.  AT&T simply kept the money and hoped I wouldn’t notice.

Well…guess what?  I NOTICED!  And when I called earlier today politely, with a smile on my voice, and asked that the overpayment be refunded, AT&T said that I had to submit a statement from my bank showing that the amount had been paid EVEN THOUGH AT&T ALREADY HAD THE ACTUAL CASH.

Let me repeat that.  This wasn’t a case where AT&T Wireless had to wait to see if the check cleared; the cash had already been transferred into its account and it was earning interest on it, investing it, paying bills with it, etc.

So I did what any self-respecting person would do in this case…I tried to escalate the problem.  I finally got to someone who clearly was instructed to do nothing more than apologize and explain that he couldn’t do anything to change “the procedures.”  He was unable to explain why “the procedures” made any sense.  And he kept saying that he understood my frustration which, of course, only frustrated me further.

My next step is to call every consumer reporter and columnist I know (And I know a bunch; my day job is a partner in a public relations agency) to complain about AT&T Wireless’ “the procedures.”  I’m also going to call my bank, although I have little to no expectation that they’ll get in touch with AT&T in a way that will expedite a refund of my overpayment.

I’m also going to cancel my contract with AT&T in two weeks when it expires.

And, I’m going to ask as loudly and as often as possible about why anyone would ever continue to do business with AT&T Wireless instead of shifting to any other carrier.

About Stan Collender 126 Articles

Affiliation: Qorvis Communications

Stan Collender is a former New Yorker who, after getting a degree from the University of California, Berkeley, moved to Washington to get it out of his system. That was more than 30 years ago.

During most of his career, Collender has worked on the federal budget and congressional budget process, including stints on the staff of the House and Senate Budget Committees; founding the Federal Budget Report, a newsletter that was published for almost two decades; and for the past 11 years writing a weekly column for NationalJournal.com and now RollCall.com.

He is currently a managing director for Qorvis Communications, where he spends most of his time working with and for financial services clients.

Visit: Capital Gains and Games

14 Comments on Why Would Anyone Want To Be An AT&T Wireless Customer?

  1. One word of advice before jumping ship. Ask other carriers how the handle a similar situation… I bet it is similar.

  2. Correct me if I’m wrong but this was your fault?

    They should write a blog about you!

    I agree run a story on Verizon or Sprint I bet they have the same policy

    What a idiot!

  3. Verizon customer service is much worse than AT&T’s. It’s not really their fault you overpaid them and due to so much fraudulent activity out there these days, the carrier is of course going to be cautious that they are not getting ripped off by some scam.

  4. Now you know it’s not AT&T’s fault. The fault is clearly with Dell or Apple or whatever brand computer you use. Your bank’s web site is also in the wrong. And which browser were you using? Probably Internet Explorer. Blame Microsoft too. It is the fault of all these – maybe more. But the mistake is definitely NOT your fault.

  5. You are idiot. I love how people will call in to a company and talk to somebody in a cubicle making minimum wage and then say “the company refuses to do anything for me.” Which is really funny in your case because they do have a way for you to get your money back, provide documentation so the proper department can have something tangible to work with and file so they can process a refund. That is understandable. Also it sounds like you might be having issues with your bank if you feel that they will be able to help solve the issue. If you had been using at&t’s website to make the payment I know that you would have gotten a huge red warning saying “you are paying more than your balance, are you sure you want to pay this amount?” or even if you went and paid with a machine in an at&t store, you could have seen the amount on the screen, if you missed that and it processed, you could have seen the amount on the receipt and had the store manager void the transaction and contact your bank. Like the other person mentioned most of these companies have similar procedures and the same checks and balances to help avoid these mistakes. I would strongly urge you to use these in the future to save yourself the embarrassment of making a fool of yourself on the web.

    • That was suppose to say “you are an idiot” and “they will not be able to.” those error were not my fault it was my phone. Can you write a blog to complain about Samsung because I have bad grammar? Thanks, you’re champ.

  6. as someone who has worked in the cell industry, we had customers who would pay two months, several months or even a year in advance… so even if they humans processing checks it probably wouldn’t have raised a flag of any color. as much as i’m not a fan of at&t, i’m siding with them on this one (wow, it physically hurt to type that).

  7. For someone who works as a financial advisor, one would think you would know to CONFIRM your entry before hitting enter on a computer Stop whining and think of the payment as an advance for next month’s bill.

  8. You made the mistake of over paying, your overpayment will be put against your next bill so you’ve lost nothing more than maybe .0002 in interest, and your under the false assumption that the other carriers would have done things any differently. Reality check, all carriers worth utilizing are huge corporations with nearly identical customer service mechanisms, your end result would be nearly the same no matter who you were with. Be more careful when paying your bill and you’ll have a better time of it no matter if it’s your cell bill, broadband bill, cable/satellite bill, etc.

  9. To the conclusion:
    And, I’m going to ask as loudly and as often as possible about why anyone would ever continue to do business with AT&T Wireless instead of shifting to any other carrier.

    I answer:
    Why bother, you’ll get the same treatment from the other carrier. They need more real competition, competition that will pay attention to the experience.

  10. I am willing to bet that most of the comments here are from investors long on ma bell. There is no excuse for such a pitiful lack of customer service. I don’t care if it’s the norm. We as consumers have a responsibility. Most of us don’t even come close to living up to it. Bravo to the author for taking the time to be the exception.

  11. So, you screwed up, and in classic 21st century style, you blame AT&T. You are a typical journalist, using your self-assigned “power” to avoid responsibility for your own stupidity.

  12. Makes perfect sense:
    “During most of his career, Collender has worked on the federal budget and congressional budget process, including stints on the staff of the House and Senate Budget Committees; founding the Federal Budget Report…” (from his bio).

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