An elderly woman in Ohio has been pretty much beaten to a pulp by AT&T (not physically, of course, but it almost might well have been). Here's the story:
Mandatory phone rentals went out in the 80's when the big phone company breakup went down, right?. There is this woman in Ohio, who had two of the old, black, rotary phones, and kept paying the rental fee (about $29 every three months or thereabouts), apparently not realizing she didn't have to keep paying and just as apparently not having been told. At any rate, she stopped paying this summer, after she had paid some $14,000 over those years! It was at the behest of her granddaughters, who happened upon one of the woman's bills and were (obviously and rightly) appalled, that she finally stopped the payments and got upgraded phones. Talk about beat down!
As you probably know (they DID tell you, didn't they?), Lucent Technologies actually handles residential leasing for AT&T, and some guy over there said, (paraphrased) "Oh, she could have stopped leasing any time she wanted to. We would't have stopped her. All she had to do was send us the phone back" Now I don't care how early you get up in the morning, you are not going to convince me that, with the problems already faced by elderly members of our society, that a respectable company should not have done something to ensure that this woman (and other like her) knew she didn't have to keep paying that lease fee! I mean, come on, most of us are technically savvy, right? Do we or don't we know that it's very possible, even easy, to track things like this, if for no other reason than out of respect for our elderly?
As it turns out (on the humorous side), after the woman got a more modern phone, she balked at it, saying she preferred her rotary. I'm sure though, she didn't mind keeping her money in her pocket after 42 years of profuse beat-down by a phone company that, from this day forth, couldn't get me to by so much as a soft drink from a vending machine in front of any building out of which they do business!
Makes my problems with T-Mobile pale into insignificance!
Purchased a new handset/tariff via the website in the UK. Handset, MDA Vario II (very nice) arrived a couple of days later, but no contract documentation. A couple of days later still, a letter arrives welcoming me to a completely different price plan to the one I had purchased.
Phone customer services, and after playing extension tag for half an hour, eventually get through to someone who says I have to fax my contract over. Which I don't have, as they haven't sent me one yet.
Luckily I managed to find an email from the web sales folk which stated the price plan I had ordered, so have faxed that instead.
Hopefully, they will see sense and get this sorted pronto. Although I am itching to write about it anyway, and imagine it might well crop up in my review of the MDA Vario II next week anyway.
Oh boy, do I hate mobile phone service providers.
My existing contract ended recently, and the upgrade to the handset/tariff I wanted would cost over £100 more than cancelling and starting again. Eventually, they said they would match the online price of my starting afresh, but without the 500 free texts per month for life bit. When I said OK cancel then, the sales droid actually said she couldn't believe it as I don't use 500 texts per month. When I asked her what she would do given two services that cost exactly the same, one with 50 texts per month and the other with 500, she said she would choose the 50.
So? When you send me money I've no obligation to see whether it's for something you were required to pay me for.
Nor am I under any obligation to send money back old ladies send me.
Besides, she wasn't elderly in the 1980s...
Perhaps the thing that makes me most angry, in my case, is that I won't just walk away to the competition as I would nine times out of ten. Becuase this particular provider has by far and away the best value tariff for my usage requirements, especially on the Internet data side of things.
Assuming they will ever let me have that tariff of course :)
It amazes me sometimes how people trained to do sales (there IS a difference between "people trained to do sales" and actual salespeople) are always tripping over themselves. It's almost even more amazing that some of these companies stay in business at all give the often ludicrous lack of competency of their sellers!
I got a call from a sweet-sounding young lady from MCI some years ago, trying to get me to switch from AT&T to MCI for my long distance. When I explained that I hadn't made a long distance call in over ten years, and didn't anticipate making any in the forseeable future, she just kept on going on, and said something about how handy it would be to have a truck in my driveway just in case (Yep, she actually said that, and I still have no idea what she meant).
Anyway, out of curiosity, I asked how much the service was, and she said it was $4.95 a month, plus whatever charges I rang up. I finally got her to shut up when I asked why I should pay $4.95 a month for something I'll never use, when right now I already have a service I never use and pay nothing for it. Her response: "Oh. I guess I see your point."
And I'll say this also; many companies today are so big that it really won't hurt them too much to lose some business because of poor service, or, like in the case you mention, sometimes the service or product itself is excellent, but the problem is the melon heads you have to deal with when you need support.