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.