Dear AT&T, I Received Your Love Letter

by Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX on September 8, 2011 · 9 comments

Dear AT&T,

Goodbye AT&TThank you for the nice letter you sent me after I terminated my business phone service with you and switched to Ring Central. I had no idea I was such a coveted customer. You did such a good job of fooling me into thinking I wasn’t important through your nearly 20 years of abuse and poor customer service. Wow, you really did love me though. I guess the joke’s on me, you stinker!

The outside front of the envelope containing your love letter to me has printed in large-font blue lettering “We miss you already“. Awe, shucks. Really? I’m blushing. Immediately below that is something that you had heretofore not shared with me, “How about Broadband and Unlimited Nationwide Calling, now starting at $60/month*? Plus, a one-on-one business consultation. Details inside”.

Wow, if I knew you had such a great offer that you weren’t telling me about, I would have left sooner! As soon as my goosebumps settled, I opened the letter to be greeted with more love. “We want you back”. I especially like how, after almost 20 years as a loyal customer, I’m affectionately known to you as “Dear Business Customer”.

But the overwhelming amount of goodness is ladled on even thicker in the rest of the letter.

You invite me to “Come back today and get it All for Less. Now starting at $60 a month”, and you say that I can “have everything you need and nothing I don’t”. Fancy words. Very enticing.

But here’s the thing, AT&T. You truly do suck, and you always have.

Remember when I moved my business line from Travis Heights to a new location in South Austin in 1996, and you screwed up the order and caused a “this line has been disconnected or is no longer in service” message to be played to my business callers for three days before you fixed it? Remember that?

Remember in 1997 when I moved again and the same thing happened? By the time I moved in 1999, I got smart and set up a new line in my new location first, with a brand new phone number before moving. Then, after telling me my old business number would port to the new office location on Manchaca Rd, you told me it wouldn’t. That was fun. I had to move it to a neighbor’s house and manually forward it to my new business number as a workaround.

In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had a trouble free move with AT&T. Remember in 2007 when I moved to a new house I built in Granada Oaks 3 blocks from my old house, and when the number was switched you discovered you had not yet run the fibreoptic from Hyw 290 to the new Granada Oaks neighborhood? Guess someone just forgot about that when you took my move order. And remember how, once again, my business callers heard “this line has been disconnected or is no longer in service”?

And remember how I had to file a formal complaint with the Texas Public Utility Commission to get a higher-up at AT&T to call me and then suddenly, that day, you were able to hard-forward my business phone number to my cell phone temporarily after you had previously emphatically insisted that it wasn’t possible?

And remember how, at my new location in Westlake, I’ve had pooor line quality since day one? My lines crackle when it rains and sometimes even when it doesn’t rain. You sent a guy out and charged me over $500 for him to troubleshoot the problem only to tell me it’s my fault, my lines, and it would cost $180/hr to keep troubleshooting? I’ve suffered for a year with those crackling phone lines and and determined myself that they crackle at the outside connection by simply plugging a phone into the demark, meaning the problem is on your side. But since you’re so difficult and expensive to deal with, and I don’t trust you to not rip me off, I never had you back out to try to fix it. Most of the time I just had calls manually forwarded to mine and Sylvia’s voicemail system from where calls could be routed to our cell phones instead of the landline. Also, as you know, you’ve been overcharging me for this lousy service just because I wouldn’t sign a contract and be locked in to your service.

A New Dawn Breaks

Well, with my new Ring Central service, if I move again, I simply take my phones and plug them into my internet connection and it’s done. I can my move my new Polycom phones to any internet connection anywhere and plug them in and they’ll work, just like that. Amazing.

Also, I now have TWO business lines, so Sylvia and I don’t have to take turns making business calls from a land line, or use our cell phones. And, oh, the line quality is beautiful. It’s the cleanest, quietest sound quality I’ve ever had. It took some getting use to, hearing absolute silence on a phone line, but that’s what my Ring Central phones sound like when noone is talking.

And guess what else? I have free long distance and super cheap (pennies per minute) international calling. Remember back in 2006 when you charged me a total of over $400 for those calls I made to a client in Germany because - stupid me – I apparently hadn’t subscribed to your “International Plan” and didn’t realize that you would charge over $5 per minute for those calls. $5 per minute. You’ve got some nerve AT&T. Well, I don’t have to worry about that sort of thing anymore.

Oh, and this is really cool, with my new Ring Central system, it allows me to have calls ring my cell and desk phone simultaneously, so I don’t have to remember to forward lines when I’m in the field, I can just answer from whichever phone I’m at. Ain’t that cool, AT&T?

And if I want to return a call from my cell phone without giving away my personal cell phone number, I just use the RingCentral iPhone App to dial out and talk. The person I’m calling sees my business phone number 512-327-3900 as the caller ID. When Sylvia travels to Europe next month with a friend, she’ll be able to use her Ring Central App to make Voip calls for free back to the U.S. whenever she has a WiFi connection.

Meanwhile, we’ll need to do lots of Googling and reading before she goes to Europe to learn exactly what settings are required to be turned off on her iPhone to avoid another one of your super high surprise bills. You really make your customers work hard to avoid your predatory billing practices.

Oh yeah, my last regular business line phone bill from you, AT&T, was a total of $162.92, for ONE crappy, noisy business line. This included 17 different line item fees and charges, plus $46 in long distance charges.

My Ring Central invoice, for TWO lines of service and a bunch of amazing bells and whistles is $92.72 total, with no long distance charges because it’s included. The bill is just a single page, simple to read.

And, unlike your AT&T customer support system that suckers callers into 7 minutes of button pushing and holding only to be finally told at :02 after closing time to call back during business hours, RingCentral has 24/7 customer support and people who know something about the service on the other end. I can call at midnight if I need something. But other than getting set up the first week, I haven’t needed their support because everything just works.

So, even though I know you still love me AT&T, and you really, really want me back and would even be so generous as to rip me off for less than you have been, I have to say I’m not coming back. No way. It ain’t gonna happen, ever, in my lifetime. I’ve never felt so free since escaping your horrible tentacles with my business line. Now, you do still have me as a home customer, and of course we have the iPhones, but that will eventually change as well. The home phone will for sure, later this month.

Some Free Advice

Maybe you should start showing some love and good customer service to your existing customers instead of your departed ones. I won’t be coming back. I never loved you. I only remained in the abusive relationship with you because I felt trapped. But no longer. Adios AT&T.  And don’t bother sending me anymore pathetic letters.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ed Neuhaus September 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Thanks now to know to stay with my VoIP system. Sorry you had to deal with it, but I am going to learn from your experience. Great blog. Love it.

2 Craig September 9, 2011 at 6:18 am

Thank you for saying this. I have similar feelings about AT&T and I think anyone our age does too. Watching them flail around as they try to deal with competition for the first time is kind of funny. Like watching a fat guy run a marathon without any training, bent over wheezing every half mile. Pathetic.

3 Tim September 9, 2011 at 10:33 am

“Watching them flail around as they try to deal with competition for the first time is kind of funny”
Well except the part that they’ve bought pretty much every politician in the nation so that they don’t have to compete. That part is kind of scary.

4 Michael @ The Stage Coach September 12, 2011 at 7:29 am

I see nothing’s changed… when we moved to TX, SBC (now AT&T) messed us around for two weeks by failing to enter the service order correctly. We had working phone service at one point, then a tech disconnected it claiming no one was around when he made the service call… Well, I worked from home, and you can bet I was there from 7am to bedtime that day… When we bought our house in 2002, I would not deal with SBC, so I signed up for phone service from AT&T. GREAT SERVICE! GREAT PRICE! But guess what happened: AT&T bought SBC. Eventually, I had to call the New AT&T and have my “legacy” account transferred.
So I call the New AT&T (employees formerly known as the Knuckleheads at SBC in San Antonio) to transfer my legacy account. I get every thing transferred and she asks me to hold while she works on the long distance plan. Sat on hold for +30 minutes, and when I get the “please call back during business hours” message – we had gone past 5pm. [Never call for customer service after lunch on a Friday.]
The whole thing kind of slips my mind over the weekend, until I tried to make a long distance phone call the following week. Long story short, AT&T decided to just turn off my long distance service because I was not able to “complete” the transaction. When I finally figured all of this out, after bouncing back and forth from tech support to customer service for 2 hours, they tried to get me to pay double per minute what I was previously paying. The rep said there were 3 long distance plans I could choose from and that’s it. When I said that I was going to find another phone service, she said, “Oh, well in that case, here are some more options for you…”
I did not give her a chance to give me any details. I laid into her hard for lying to me and being deceitful, and I refuse to give any money to schiesters. Apparently, the TX PUC does not believe these sales tactics are as seedy as I do because I received no action from my complaint.
I refuse to do business with AT&T ever again. I don’t care if they give the iPhone away for free with a free iPad and $9.99 monthly service. I will pay more money to avoid them and their shady business practices, awful services, and bottom feeder customer service.
@Tim: Pretty darn accurate. But I think they are finding it hard to compete – why else would they try to buy T-Mobile? Too many customers jumping ship, in my opinion…

5 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX September 12, 2011 at 9:02 am

Hi Michael,

Sounds like you’ve been dragged through AT&Ts poor service as well. Hard to believe the different between RingCentral and ATT. Even if it is an offshore CS Rep, it’s 24/7 and they know their stuff. I just called to check on moving my home line over as well. Will cost an extra $5/mo. and can be set up to ring wherever I need and have it’s own voicemail greeting, etc. We hardly use the home landline at all, but I don’t want to drop the number, so this is a good alternative.
Steve

6 Louis September 13, 2011 at 12:10 am

Steve,

Great piece. Im going to forward this to my father who uses AT&T for his home service and doesn’t even use caller ID or call waiting! I had never heard of Ring Central, but it seems like a very useful service, very similar to what I use, Google Voice. If you haven’t heard of it, look up their tutorial videos on youtube some time.
Also, for when your wife goes to Europe, she only has to make sure she keeps the phone in airplane mode the WHOLE TIME and only toggle the WiFi on and off when needed, so that her phone does not look for cell phone signals and cost you surcharges and to increase her battery life. Look into using Skype as well, which has the added function of video calls (as does the iPhone with Facetime) from Iphone to Iphone or to a PC/MAC with a webcam.
Lastly, its been my experience that WiFi networks in Europe can be unreliable and not always free, so on my last trip to Europe, I rented a MiFi device from Xcom Global which allowed me to have my own personal wifi network where ever I was while in Holland. They FedEx you the device before you leave on your trip, already configured for the country/countries you’re going, all you have to do is turn it on when you land and you’re all set, instant WiFI for your Iphone! I hope this information helps you guys out.

7 Mike G September 19, 2011 at 8:54 am

Great post Steve,
Your site is always interesting and reliable. Thank you for your diligence. I have thus far avoided the barbed net of AT&T because I have witnessed countless friends and co-workers, all enamored by the iPhone, or as I call it “the forbidden Apple of Eden”, and then suffering horrid contracts and fees.

I switched cell service from Verizon to T-mobile this last year to be on the same plan as my new wife. I have enjoyed T-mobile so far; it’s a bit juvenile but so far has delivered where promised. Then I find out that AT&T buys T-mobile and the $400 phones we bought won’t work with their service in 1 year. Awesome. I will NOT be renewing or signing any convoluted contract with AT&T no matter what the cost of switching.

They have a very 1920′s/monopoly view-point on business. Perhaps they should start selling gasoline, they would do well with it.

Anyway, thanks for the reminder of these trespassers. They really should not muddle the word “love” in their advertising. That is nothing short of satanic.

8 Steve Crossland, REALTOR in Austin TX September 19, 2011 at 9:18 am

Hi Mike,

Yes, I’m in process of porting away my home phone now from ATT. We’ll still have the iPhones (4 of them now including my daughters) but I was just thinking the other day how someday we might actually revert back to standard cell phones if the tablets continue to advance.

The iPhones are productivity tools first and foremost, so I don’t mind the expense per se, and we actually haven’t had service issue with the cell phone side of things, but I feel so wounded and mistreated for so many years from ATT that if a simple and easy migration path away from their clutches was to come about, I’d thik seriously about it.

Steve

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