August 20, 2007

Cingular/AT&T - Understanding your product is important

I just got off the phone with a supervisor at AT&T/(we used to be Cingular) customer service. As some of you know, I escaped AT&T Wireless customer service a few years ago when I switched to T-Mobile, and I escaped T-Mobile's complete lack of coverage by switching to Cingular. It appears that the gods hate me for being an atheist/agnostic, because AT&T bought Cingular just to spite me (I'm kidding - I know that if there are no god(s) they can't hate me).
Back to my point. Cingular's (now AT&T) data services are called Media*Net or Media Net (depending on where you look). AT&T re-branded them as AT&T Media, it would appear...although the new brand is only apparent only after you log in at this page. On this service, you can sign up for daily alerts, like stock quotes, news items, etc, etc. They're delivered via SMS to your phone. Fire and forget web services are great up until the forget part. That's my sin...I forgot.
Every day at 2:45, or abouts, I would get 4 stock quotes delivered to me. This was great, until I stopped caring about one of them. Then, looking at the SMS, there was no indication of where these alerts were coming from. I checked Yahoo alerts, Google alerts, MSN, everything I could think dice...I could not remember who I signed up for these quotes from......time to call the mobile customer service for some help.
The first Customer Service Rep(CSR) I spoke with told me that she could not tell me who I was receiving the messages from. I explained that they were coming from 1110410000 and she said that meant the Media-Net service, but because that meant the data service for my phone, that it could be coming from anyone, and was probably coming from a 3rd party service. I explained that if she could tell me who that was I'd be on my way. No luck - seems that there is no way for her to trace the service down. She'd be happy to block all SMS's coming from that number, though. As this would destroy my ability to receive other desirable messages, I declined. She suggested that they could be coming from Yahoo. I thanked her and hung up.
The second CSR I called because I finally figured that the messages could indeed be coming from Media Net itself. I slightly recalled signing up for the alert service when I first got my Media Net service a year or so ago. I tried to explain this to her. She explained that I had no subscription services she could see and had no idea who the messages were coming from. I slowly repeated that they were coming from Media Net and that I needed to know how to access these subscriptions since my online account had no pointers whatsoever to the old Media Net configuration page. I asked for a CSR familiar with the Media Net service. At this point, she explained I wasn't paying for the messages anyways, so what did I care...........wait, what?
...I pulled up my bill - there the messages were - counting against my monthly limit. Excuse me, I do indeed pay for them, they count against my limit. If I go over x messages a month, I have to pay 5 cents each for them. That's $1.00 in value every month the now useless messages are taking up. But you're not paying for them, since you haven't reached my limit, she stakes her claim and holds on for dear life. Apparently this is a woman who will buy stuff because it's on sale and she's saving money by spending it. I am sooooooo glad I'm not her husband at this point.
Ok, options, she offers.....You could change your cell phone number, or disable SMS messages, she claims. Those aren't options - those are cop-outs because you can't seem to help me. If I were getting death threats by SMS, you'd be able to find the source, wouldn't you? No, sir, we could send you your bill.... I glanced at the useless 8 letters on my bill that indicated only INFODATA as the source. Maybe I could send the cops to go arrest someone named INFODATA if my life were in danger, but I seriously doubted it.
Ok, I changed tactics. What if I wanted to change the city which weather displays on my cellphone when I push the Media*Net button? Just a second, sir....(for the fifth time this call, at least).....20 seconds later....:click: The commercials you hear while on hold mercifully stop...but so does all sound. I have been hung up on...I have 5 bars - I checked. Full signal - dropped call - guess their commercials aren't all they're cracked up to be.
Google - found my answer in 2 minutes. The link is buried deep in AT&T's Cingular site. Manage Alerts - Delete. I've just saved myself 20 messages a month - a whole dollar's worth should I hit my SMS limit.
So, Rich - what's the point - why do you care? I'll tell you why. It's their service, their product. They're supposed to know it. If they claim that there is no separate support for Media Net, then they should know how to configure it, change it, manipulate it, cancel it, etc. The fact that they don't, is unfortunately part of what I've come to expect of AT&T Customer Service. Of course, these could be former Cingular employees, but AT&T Customer Service has been known to be bad for years. My favorite Lily Tomlin back in the 1970's made fun of them, and nothing has changed. They still don't take customer service seriously.
Maybe I'll get lucky and be able to escape them again.....I wonder how many bars Verizon has at my house and workplace....


Matthew said...

I'm thinking AT&T's strategy is exactly that: great phones, crappy service. My Nokia I got from them was a great phone, the iPhone is pretty impressive, but they had distinctively poor service.

Anonymous said...

Depending on what other services you have or care for and where you live, Verizon is not so bad at all. It has worked for me for many years, but I am rather someone that uses cell phones for the "simple" stuff...getting/making calls, texting and pics.
It works well in this area.