ACP & Lifeline
I was excited to find out that AT&T offered a specific program through the ACP program, including the Lifeline program. I've had a rude awakening over the last 5 days. I had scheduled a broadband internet installation for this past Tuesday and was relatively surprised how easy it was. The tech called and showed up at the exact time stated and was knowledgable regarding my account and info. Unfortunately, due to poor wiring access, he was unable to complete the install that day. We talked over the details and agreed that I should reach out to AT&T and request to receive a mobile hotspot device. This is partly because of the install trouble and also because I'm moving to a new address in the next 30 days and I didn't want to make things more difficult and time consuming than necessary.
Once the tech left around 8:30am, I called the 1(800) number I found online and started the impossible task of getting the correct information and available programs and my eligibility. I kept getting bounced around, but thankfully I was able to finally speak to a woman named Maya, spelt with a "Y" instead of an "I" (because I asked). She was able to help me, actually. She signed me up for a hotspot plan, we agreed to the details, and all I needed to do was pay for the hotspot device. She offered me 3 different models, one was $6, one $8, and one for $12 I believe. I realized I didn't have access to my credit card due to forgetting it somewhere, and I asked her what different options I had. She said it's not a problem and asked if there was a specific time she could call me back so I could finish the transaction. I said 6:00pm that evening, and she agreed and said she'll call around then.
So I waited until 6:00pm and I actually received a phone call exactly at 6. However, it wasn't Maya or even a woman. Turns out it was a completely random employee and had absolutely no clue about my previous contact that day, no clue about purchasing a device, and didn't know anything about my previous conversations. I was shocked; he had no clue and of course didn't know Maya or her department. I had waited so long already and it was a depressing blow.
Since then, nobody has any clue about what department, specific program, or who Maya is. I figured just for fraud prevention, the FCC, or financial info and tracking they could locate the call information and/or employee. I spoke with multiple supervisors and they seemed genuine and wanted to help. Obviously I remembered Maya's name and the exact spelling she used, but I also was able to provide the specific phone number I called, the exact time of the call, duration, and the account details. Even with all that information, they weren't able to find the previous call, more importantly the plan details I agreed to or what promotion I received.
Just that day, Tuesday, I spent over 5 hours on the phone, including on-hold time and the fact that I was transferred to different departments about 20 times. Nobody seemed to know anything about the qualifying programs I received and had no clue about mobile hotspot devices, the optional plans, and if it was an actual option anymore.
Since that day, i've continued calling and still get transferred to a different department constantly and nobody knows what plans I qualify for or if I can purchase and use a hotspot with Lifeline or ACP. I've already filed a complaint with the FCC and haven't heard anything back from AT&T. Through my own research, it appears I need to deal with the prepaid department specifically, due to the hotspot running on a SIM card. Even now, I get transferred to the sales department the second I mention purchasing a hotspot out of pocket. Once there, I mention I qualify for the ACP program and get transferred back to the ACP department. Then i'll go to wireless, then broadband, then post-paid, and then back. It's a round-and-round circle of ignorance and I literally feel like i'm the problem; good thing I always keep it real, otherwise AT&T could easily drive me to the point of insanity.
Out of all of this, the fact that they don't use a company-wide communication network regarding customers boggles the mind. They should track customer issues, the exact amount of time spent on hold, the times called and why, notes from other employees about what has already been covered, and a customer's needs and/or reason for the initial call. I experienced some up-selling about products and services, but that wasn't a major part of the process; it's expected nowadays.
Please, if you're reading this, make a change for your company. I could care less about getting an AT&T service after this, there are plenty of other companies that offer services in my area. AT&T seems to offer a decent product overall and it's presented with good intentions, but the business communication between employees and customers is severely flawed. In fact, I just got off the phone with a woman named Ashley in the U-Verse department and she's going to call me tomorrow, surprisingly Memorial Day, around 8:00am. Maybe she's in the right department, i'll surely find out. If they want to offer me a new program or discount, I might consider the offer. Otherwise, I'll probably move forward with Verizon or similar company. Hope they learn, because the next random guy won't be as nice as I am.