Courier Life’s

Carmine’s had it with bad service from AT&T

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I’m madder than an AOL user locked in a chat room torture chamber over the fact that them big interweb companies keep saying they “can’t” do something when, in fact, they are “choosing to do nothing” to help their longtime customers who pay more and more just to live their lives!

Look, you all know the ol’Screecher was as happy as a clam the day my sainted mother bought me that 27-inch Zenith in the living room half a lifetime ago, and I’d be even happier if I never had to get cable or high-speed interweb or my six cellphones, or have to move the bathroom from out back to next to the bedroom. But the fact is times change, and me and everybody else who plans on living forever have to change right along with it or risk being rendered irrelevant.

That’s why it is so important companies do the right thing by their clients, especially those in need — something the folks over at the AT&T clearly don’t understand.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Carmine, you’re not about to go on another one of your rants against Ma Bell, are you?”

Well, the answer is “Yes,” but I want to remind you that this isn’t my sainted mother’s Ma Bell, it’s some other company’s, which took it over without consulting your’s truly.

In fact, AT&T hasn’t been servicing the big yellow phone I have on the kitchen wall for more than a quarter of a century, but that’s a story for another day.

This story is about a friend of mine who proved to me once again that big companies will do just about nothing to service their clients, relying on the excuse that a computer caused an unfixable problem!

Folks, I don’t need to tell you that computers only do what people tell them to do, and any problem supposedly caused by a computer can be fixed. Could that fix take time? Sure. Might it cost the company money? Of course. But the fact is any “glitch” can be worked out — especially if it is the kind that is specifically programmed into the computer.

As was the case in the following anecdote.

My pal’s blessed grandmother unexpectedly passed away last week at the ripe old age of 89 and he, being the great person that he is — not to mention the next of kin — had to take care of all the arrangements. So he packed up the wife and kid and headed to Cape Cod for the week to do what he had to do.

Apparently, 89-year-olds who live on a fixed income don’t subscribe to any superfast interweb services, so it was up to my pal’s AT&T-networked iPhone to get him online so he could continue to manage his staff from 200 miles away, figure out what he had to do for the wake and funeral, and keep his Stampy Long Nose-obsessed child entertained while he was figuring everything out.

That meant using a lot of over-the-air network time for which he pays something like $200 a month for an unlimited supply.

Well, it turns out that the “unlimited” supply turns from a raging river to a trickle the second you go over five jiggawatts or something of usage. And with no stereo hi-fi in sight, it didn’t take long for him to cross that threshold (I may be mixing up my terminologies, but you get the idea).

So, with his cellphone working like it was hooked up to the aforementioned AOL land-line, he called up AT&T, explained his problem, told the rep that in the 10 years he had been with them he had never gone over the threshold, asked the rep if his high-speed could be switched back on.

The answer wasn’t “No, we won’t do that” or “No, we won’t help you,” or (heaven forbid) “No problem.”

Instead, the answer was “That happens automatically, and there is no way we can switch it back.”

My pal pleaded with the company to get him the speed he needed to get the things done he needed to do, but they wouldn’t budge. When he asked them why not, they told him they could give him pointers on how to better manage his online time. He cited, again, that he never had gone over before, and would probably never again, and he just needed them to switch it back. Make an exception to the rule, if you will.

Well, they chose to do nothing to help my pal, and he decided to throw out the phone and used that tried-and-true information device for making his grandmother’s arangements — the phone book.

But remember, folks, there are times when companies can’t help a customer, and there are times when companies choose not to help a customer.

In this case, AT&T decided it didn’t want to help my pal.

Shame on the eggheads over there.

Screech at you next week!

Read Carmine's screech every Saturday on E-mail him at
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