AT&T - a Communications Company that's Very Difficult to Communicate With
There's so much to tell here, I'd better just start at the beginning and go in chronological order.
Yesterday morning, while at work, I received a call on my cell phone from an 800 number I did not recognize. The lady on the phone insisted that I'd not paid my cell phone bill in 3 months, and that if I did not authorize an immediate electronic fund transfer, that my cell phone would be deactivated at the end of the phone call.
At first I was shocked...how could this be? I pay my bills within a week of receiving them, always in full or a little over. How could I have not paid this bill? It didn't make any sense. I explained that, while I was not home to look at my checkbook, one of two things was happening here: either I'd made the payments and they'd been credited somewhere else; or I wasn't receiving a monthly bill. I was assured that bills were going out, but were unpaid, and that I needed to make a payment before ending this call.
Her insistence on a payment raised an alarm. "I need to call you back," I explained, "I have no way of knowing who you are or if you even work with the AT&T. I need to call AT&T myself to make this payment, so please don't turn off my phone, I'll call right back."
At this point she informed me that she would have to turn my phone off anyway. Turning it back on for me to make the call was no problem, but I'd have to pay a reconnect fee.
I tried to explain that I always pay on time and was prepared to make a full and complete payment...I just needed to call AT&T myself to protect my identity from a little thing called Identity Theft. She was unrelenting, she'd have to turn my account off then back on, charging me a fee, in order for me to do what I wanted.
At this point I quite literally blew a gasket! "Fine. Go ahead and charge me the reconnect fee. I'll even pay it, but then I'll leave AT&T!" She tried to explain that she was trying to help me avoid the reconnection fee, all I had to do was authorize the payment during this call. Quite frankly, I stopped listening, "Now you're wasting my time! I'm telling you to go ahead and disconnect me, then charge me to be reconnected, just so I can protect my identity! I'm telling you to do it. But I'm also telling you that I'll leave AT&T and never come back!"
So I got disconnected, then reconnected (no word on that fee yet), then called back and made my full payment.
When I got home later that night, I checked my Quicken account and discovered that indeed, I haven't paid a wireless phone bill in 3 months. This could only mean one thing...I haven't been receiving my bills! But everyone I'd talked to on the phone that day repeated back my new address. And now it was late, I'd have to wait until tomorrow to call back...wait, AT&T (formerly Cingular) has a web site and I have an account there! Let me check that, maybe even send an email about how upset I was by this call.
Now the real fun begins.
Once I log in to my account, I notice my account has an old email address, so I update that. Then I make an amazing discovery: my account was set to "Do not send me a paper bill!" That is something I've never authorized, I have no idea how that got there. Even more amazing is the fact that no one I'd talked to earlier had noticed this setting. So I changed this to "Send me a paper bill", then checked to make sure my changes took.
Now for the email, a long piece I wrote (and found myself adding to over and over again) about the phone call, my billing problem, and what I'd found on the web site. But guess what? Every time I got to the last step in the "email AT&T" process, my screen would freeze up and nothing else would happen.
I Googled for an email address but got confusing results. I tried one or two, but they bounced back.
So this morning I called billing support again, simply to ask for an email address to send my letter to. I was very careful to explain that the web site didn't work last night. The lady put me on hold for a while, then told me she'd text message me with the email address once she and her manager found it. I did receive that text, within the hour, but all it did was guide me back to the email link on their web site.
I just discovered that the email link only works in Microsoft Internet Explorer, but doesn't work in Firefox.
I also discovered that the text field has a 1000 character limit, so I needed to break my letter up into six parts. I also found that the web site automatically logs you off every 5 minutes, requiring one to log back on then figure out where they left off.
For a communications company, AT&T is very difficult to communicate with!