Angry Customer’s Dream

Posted: April 2, 2011 in General Business Fodder, Poor Customer Service

In a recent Los Angeles Times story about “some significant changes” that AT&T has made to its service contract.  The telecom giant “will impose caps on data use or limit a customer’s download speed — or even impose additional fees” if said customer is using too much bandwidth.  A spokesperson for AT&T said this is because 20% of available bandwidth is used by 2% of their customers, and they are simply trying to level the playing field so that all customers receive “a good experience.”

OK, sounds reasonable enough, so far.  While AT&T is not the only company to do this (Comcast has a similar provision), they also come off as a little heavy-handed in addressing the issue.  Big-time bandwidth gobblers can have their accounts changed, unilaterally, to the company’s premium U-verse service, which is faster and more versatile than its normal DSL service.

Sounds cool, until the customer realizes that his rates have now jumped considerably.  Still bound by the service contract he signed, John Q. Customer might find himself paying even higher rates for a service he did not request.  In this economy – hell, in any economy – that ain’t gonna go over well.

What with streaming and downloading movies and television programs, and graphic-rich video games, it is not inconceivable that many customers could find themselves trapped in a nasty situation.  Enough to make John Q. cuss like a drunken sailor.

But… hmmm… there is yet another change in AT&T’s service agreement.  One that states that the company reserves the right to terminate the contract of any customer who engages “in conduct that is threatening, abusive or harassing” to the company’s workers, or for “frequent use of profane or vulgar language” when dealing with service reps.  You thinking what I’m thinking?

AT&T has essentially told its customers that if they don’t like having their account upgraded against their will, or if they don’t like pretty much anything about their account, all they have to do is pull a nutty, with some choice colorful language, and they can be set free.  Wow.  Let this settle in for a minute, as faces of angry customers everywhere light up like a kid’s at Christmas.  Many angry customers are prepared to fuss and cuss for free, just as a routine part of their interaction.  But now, by doing it, they can actually be set free from a binding contract!  With no early termination fee!  Woo-hoo!  Get your foul-mouth on, AT&T customers!  You’re mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore!!!

All things considered, I think AT&T could have handled this whole matter differently.  Instead of forcing their customers to pay for the company’s shortcomings, the company could use some of its money to provide service that meets their customers’ needs.  Then, it probably wouldn’t cause the angry customer to use profanity and threatening language, just to wiggle out of his contract.  But no, AT&T has chosen to focus on what’s important to them, as opposed to what’s important to their customers.  And please, do not let the company cry poor-mouth; they just recently bought up one of their competitors, T-Mobile, for a cool $39 billion.  Nice.  Buy up the competition, and jack up your customers’ fees without their consent.  Greed is good?  Really?

  1. Phyllis Lundy says:

    Woo hoo! Love this one, too 🙂 You are rockin’ ‘n’ rollin’!

  2. melissa anne says:

    I have a blog about customer service as well, although I am on the opposite side of the problem, I am the service, not the customer. My main belief in life is “the customer is always wrong”, but it is interesting to see the opposite point of view. Although I often think that customers are being unreasonable and annoying, their anger and frustration probably has a good reason. Although not always my fault, their feelings are often caused by the short falls of my company, and unfortunately I am the only face they can complain to. Although it is great to see the reasoning behind a lot of customer issues, I will still keep writing, as it is just as important for the customer to know that the server is a person too! We are human, we have feelings, and the problem they are complaining about is almost always not the fault of the person they are complaining to. Thanks for the info! Great blog!

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