06.23.13 A T & T – grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

This post is mostly for RVers but could be helpful to anyone who has the need of a GO phone.  I believe this post rivals the Conroe, TX blog in length but definitely does not have as happy an ending.

A GO phone is a prepaid phone which can or does not have to be renewed each month.  It’s perfect for RVers who may not always be in an area where their regular service is available or for lower income people who may not be able to pay each month.  You can get a $25 a month plan and on up.  We chose a $50 plan for me with unlimited talk and texting and a $65 for Roy with the same things as mine but adding data so the GPS would be available to help us find places.  I’ve never had one in my life but when we arrived at Northern Lights Resort and found that we had no Verizon service we ordered a GO phone from the attwireless.com website. BIGGEST MISTAKE WE’VE MADE THIS YEAR!  I am going to share the whole story because no one would believe that one company could be so hard to work with and so inept unless you hear it all.  Before I start I’ll tell you that we still have not reached the end of this nor has anyone been able to help us so there is no end to this story for now.

We ordered one phone in mid May and by June first haven’t received it so we call ATT.  At that point they were wonderful and said no problem we’ll send you a second one, we have to charge you for both but when the first one is returned by either us or the mail they would credit us for the second one.  We said great.  Two days later we receive the first one and the next day receive the second one.  We decided we really do need two phones since we’re use to having two phones so we call ATT and work it out with them.  The next day we go to use both phones and neither work which we find out is because when we selected the monthly plan on the website it didn’t go through and it wanted us to talk to a live person to give them our money.  So we call and after sitting on hold for 10 minutes listening to how wonderful GO phone service is, I give the young lady who answers my debit card information and she tells me it won’t go through.  I”m only putting $100 on it (two months of service) and I knew I had much more than that in my account.  She tried again and still no go so I give her Discover card that I don’t owe anything on and she said it wouldn’t go through.  Finally I gave her a third card and she said it wouldn’t go through. We’ve made sure that all of our accounts have our Minnesota address so there would be no conflict so that couldn’t be the problem.  Now there have been times in my life that this may be understandable given our financial condition at the time but this was not one of those times.  I told her something must be wrong with her system and when she told me nothing was wrong on her end to give her another card I asked for her supervisor.  The supervisor said two of the three cards showed pending and was not sure why the first young lady had a problem with any of them.  She made it go through my debit card and apologized for the problem.  We hung up thinking all was well and about two weeks later when I tried to use my phone I got a message “I am sorry but all  network service has been blocked from this phone.”  This is where the fun really starts.  I could have gotten over the girl who couldn’t process our credit cards but the rest of the story is just totally inexcusably poor service.

Let me stop here and let you know that for the last five years a good part of my job at Southeastern has been handling university issued cell phone bills and issues.  It was an on going joke that when I’d say I”m calling ATT that would mean I’d be tied up for about an hour and then was never sure that they’d do whatever they told me they would do right.  If it was a Verizon problem, just one quick email to the representative always took care of whatever was needed.  I say all this to say I’ve had plenty of experience working with cellular companies and know some of their quirks and how to handle it.  Nothing in all my experience prepared me for what we’ve gone through with ATT over this GO phone.

When it was first blocked we called from Roy’s phone and after sitting on hold listening to that wonderful GO phone message for 4 minutes they answered and asked us a lot of questions.  They said their notes show it was reported stolen which we were told every time we’ve called since then and every time I told them it was never stolen and we never reported that.  Then they ask for our pass code which I told them the one we always use and they said it was not right.  Eventually the first representative figured out that they never set up a pass code for us and had defaulted to the last four digits of our phone number. Then he wanted to know how much our last payment was, wanted to know the IMEI number which you can only get to be removing the cover and the battery, and several other questions trying to identify us since they really think it is stolen and we must be the criminals who stole it.  When we finally pass all their questions they say another department is in charge of blocked phones so they transfer us to them.  This department asks us every question the first person did and wants to know the whole story including us having to tell them that we never reported it stolen.  They were able to unblock it after they were satisfied with all our answers.

This lasted three days and I was greeted with the message “I am sorry but all  network service has been blocked from this phone.”  No way this is happening again.  We call them back and again are asked all the same questions, why was it reported stolen, how much was your last payment, what is the IMEI number (remember this involved disassembling the phone to get to this number), some other number under the battery, what was the mailing address the phone was suppose to be sent to and AGAIN the first person finally understood and said it had to be handled by another department the ICU department and he would have them call me back.  I said okay and gave them Roy’s number.  They said someone would call back in 20 – to 30 minutes.  An hour and a half later they hadn’t called and I called them.  Sat on hold for 8 minutes had to answer all the same questions and explain everything all over again to the first department and they tell me there are not notes about the previous call for them to refer to.  They say they can unblock it and they do.   We tell them that we want a guarantee that this unblocking is not going to go away again and are reasurred that it will not happen.

Let me say here that they have all been trained in the oldest angry customer calming tactic in the books.  Show  your empathy for the customers frustration and let them know you’re doing everything you can.  The first three maybe four times we heard this it was a little bit calming and then it just started to tic me off and I think we’re here at this point.

The next day the phone is blocked again. We call ATT again (got that number memorized by now) they ask all the same questions, gotta go through the whole story so they clear us as not being criminals apologize profusely for the problems and say they will get it fixed and they understand our frustration (no they don’t) we disassembly the phone to give the IMEI number and when they ask us for the last amount we paid them we gave the same thing we’ve always said to everyone of their representatives before this and they tell us it doesn’t match up so they ask us for the pass code and I forgot about them not giving us one so I told them what we normally use and that didn’t match, I gave them five or six options and none of them matched so we’re back on the criminal list and they said they would have to put in an ICU case report which someone would act on and would call us back in 24-48 hours.  Well three days later no one has called back and my phone is still blocked.

Part of the frustration is that we’re 1500 miles away from everyone we know and this is our one means of direct communication and it’s shut down.  So on the third day I call and again get asked all the questions and the representative this time was in no way trying to calm me down.  She accelerated my fury when she was telling me how to do something to solve it and I repeated it so Roy could hear it and she says to me at one point “you’re not getting it” and I almost came unglued.  It seems that most of the people we’ve spoken to haven’t made any notes or very many notes about our conversations because we have to tell it all over again every time.  She wanted us to get a third person’s phone and ask them to let us put my sim card in their phone so the pass code could be changed.  We’re in a city where we know no one and it was going to be hours before we were back at the resort where we at least know a hand full of people. I told her that was the craziest thing I’d ever heard of to ask a third party to help out with a problem that ATT should have fixed from the beginning.  She said well if you don’t want to do what I”m telling you to do then I’m going to be able to help you.  She then tells us that the ICU case was only submitted the day before which was two days after we spoke to someone last.  That didn’t seem in any way to be their fault to her as she said well you’ll just have to wait a couple more days for action to be taken.  I wanted to reach through the phone and rip her little head off at this point but I gathered myself and didn’t.   We were driving into International Falls during this last conversation and when we got there Roy tried a version of what she had said by putting my sim card into his phone, doing something and putting it back into my phone and I was unblocked.  I thanked my wonderful husband and told him if it got blocked again he was handling calling them.

The next morning it’s blocked again so he does handle calling them.  I’m not sure what all went on in his conversation with them but he was on the phone for an hour and when he hung up he said it’s not blocked any more and again they guaranteed him that it would not be blocked again.  One hour later it was blocked again.  Oh and I now know the 15 or so digit IMEI number by heart!

This takes us to this morning when Roy got on the phone with them again.  Again we had to answer all the same questions but this time the man told us that he was the same person who helped us several days ago and put in the ICU case and told us they’d have it taken care of within 24-48 hours.  He said the records show no action was taken and the case was closed.  Roy has to go help a customer at this point and I take over the call.  He then tells us that the amount we were telling him of our last payment (which was our only payment) wasn’t correct and we needed to verify the amount he has.  This brings us back to the lunatic first girl who couldn’t get any credit or debit cards to go through.  I didn’t know what account might have been charged this newest mystery amount and had to check all three which are on three different websites.  Of course it wound up being the last one I checked and that’s when we discovered that the last payment was for $53 and was just a couple of days ago.  We did not set up automatic payment for these numbers because we paid for two months service for both up front and wanted to just do that one more time before we throw these phones in the sea and blow them up.  So no one should have charged us $53 and we discover that they also charged our account for $64 for Roy’s phone which was not authorized.  They had our banking information from the original order and USED IT!  By the way we really liked this last guy.  Since he talked to us early on and knew they had really botched this up he tried very hard to help us.  Before we placed this last call we decided we want them now to send us a new phone, with a new sim card and a new phone number and want them to pick up this diseased phone and make it go away.  Now we have to add getting our money refunded for the additional payments we didn’t authorize so this nice little man has to send us to the sales department.  I ask him before he transfers us to please tell the sales people to not ask us all the questions and make us go through what we have to with each new person that answers.  He promises he will.  The sales people ask us the same questions and we have to prove our non criminal status to yet them and they transfer us to someone else.  We are now on hold for 20 minutes and the person who answers the phone this time doesn’t have a clue why we are calling, no one has had the decency to give them the background and we’re starting from scratch.  As she proceeds to ask the questions all over again I have to help someone and ask her to hold on, I come back and she’s gone.  I know very well about their “silent holds” where they can hear you but you can’t hear them and thought perhaps this is what happened so we held on for another 10 minutes and finally hung up.

In between all of this we’ve tried to take care of the pass code issue on their website.  As soon as Roy successfully got into our account on line it says “we’re sending a new pass code to your phone”.  Well guess what WE CAN’T USE THE PHONE TO GET THE PASS CODE.

We just want to make this awful phone go away and get a reliable means of communicating with our loved ones and even people we don’t like.   I can’t just hear my old boss Donna Methvien dying laughing because she’s listened to me on the phone with ATT so many times and heard me say when I hang up – I know they won’t get this right – and sure enough they usually didn’t.  There is a separate department for GO phones so they should be able to help you quite easily but you can see from my tirade above they can’t and don’t.

There is no end to this story right now, just one little dead phone sitting in front of me.  We’re going to drive 100 or so miles tomorrow to the nearest ATT store to hopefully speak to someone in person and get this ended.  Please be in prayer tonight for whomever that salesperson is!  They will need it!

When and if this ever gets resolved we’ll let you know – in the mean time please don’t call my number it will never work again!  Until then I’d highly recommend that if you live in an area where you get equal coverage from ATT and Verizon, never, never, never, never, never choose ATT.

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear!

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