Customer Service Failure
I'm writing to report a serious customer service failure on AT&T's part. I recently traveled abroad and before leaving, called AT&T on December 18, 2018 to add an international data plan. I chose to add one gigabyte of data, and the customer service representative I spoke with advised me that I would receive a text message notifying me when I had used 75%, 90%, and 100% of the data. My plan was to stop using my data once I received the notification that I'd used 90%, so that I would not go over my data allowance. While abroad, I received a text message stating that I had used 80% of the data. To my surprise, the next message I received (on the day I was flying back to the US while I was at the airport) stated I had used 100% of the data and would be charged an additional $50 for another gigabyte of international data. I never received the notification stating I'd used 90% of the data, as I was told I would.
Yesterday, I called AT&T to request a refund of this additional $50 given that I had not been notified that I'd used 90% and given that I was at the airport (connected to wifi) when I received the 100% notification so I knew there was no way I'd used much, if any, of the additional gigabyte that had been added to the account. First, I spoke with customer service representative Krista, who advised me that I had, in fact, received the text message advising me that I'd used 90% of the data. I went back through my texts and confirmed I had not received the text, and asked her to provide the date and time on which the text was sent by AT&T. She could not provide me the date and time (because no such text was sent, contrary to what she told me), and then she changed her story to state that AT&T had sent texts at 80% and 100% (as I had already told her had happened). Then, she told me that she could offer me a $20 credit on my account to make up for the inconvenience, but she could not offer me more because I had used "almost all" of the additional 1 GB of data that had been added. I told her that it was impossible for me to have used "almost all" of the data because I was in South Africa for only a few more hours after I received the text notifying me I'd used 100% of my data and was connected to airport wifi at the time. Conversely, it had taken me almost two weeks abroad to use the first GB of data (which I was using on a regular basis for uber, maps, email, & social media). I then asked her exactly how much of the GB I had used (because, based on her statement I'd used "almost all" of it, it seemed she had that information in front of her) and she could not provide me with the information and told me to give her a minute to pull that information up, then just repeated I'd used "almost all" of it without providing me with a specific figure as requested. (After I got off the phone with them, I checked my data usage and learned I had only used 24 MB of the extra GB, i.e., 2.4% of the gigabyte, so Krista's statement that I'd used "almost all" of it was completely false).
Unsatisfied with the offer to give me only a $20 credit, I asked to speak with a supervisor. Krista then informed that me if I did not accept her offer for a $20 credit, the supervisor would not be able to offer me that credit again, nor would he give me any credit at all. So, in essence, I was threatened that if I did not take her initial offer and insisted on exercising my right to speak to a supervisor, I would not get any money back at all. I still insisted on speaking to a supervisor, who would not give his name but whose employee ID number is DH185F. I reiterated what had happened -- i.e., that when I called on December 18 to add the international data plan, I was advised that I'd be notified when I'd used 90% of the data but that did not occur so I was requesting a refund because I wouldn't have gone over my data but for AT&T's failure to send the notification at 90% of the usage. The supervisor then, in a condescending tone, told me that AT&T had no record of me having contact with any customer service representative at all on December 18, apparently questioning the veracity of my statement that the customer service representative had given me this information regarding the notifications I'd be receiving. Absolutely certain that this conversation occurred, I urged him to listen to the recording of the call I had with the representative on December 18, since AT&T notifies its customers that all calls are recorded. He advised he does not have access to those calls. Then, I told him that if he had any doubts that I'd actually spoken to a representative on December 18, he could look up my call records and see that I placed a call to 611 that lasted several minutes on that date (and I have since confirmed that I had a 4+ minute call with customer service on that date). Eventually, he conceded that AT&T's standard practice is to send notification messages at 90% of usage, but sometimes there is a "delay" in sending those notifications and he refused to provide any credit at all. I asked him about the rationale of AT&T's policy of refusing to give any credits if the initial credit is rejected, and he said that it's not a "policy" but if the first offer is rejected, supervisors are "unable" to offer that same credit again.
In my view, if you've told a customer that they'd receive a notification at 90% of usage, and you failed to do that (whether due to delay or otherwise), the burden of that failure should not fall on your customer -- especially one who only used .024% of the additional gigabyte that was added for an extra $50. Rather, AT&T should bear the burden and grant the full refund. Quite frankly, I am disgusted by the terrible customer service I received from both Krista and the supervisor. The repeated misrepresentations made by Krista during this call are extremely disappointing. Indeed, Krista lied to me twice (first when she stated AT&T sent me a text notifying me that 90% of the data had been used and second when she said that I'd used "almost all" of the second GB of data). Perhaps she has been successful in the past getting customers to back down from refund requests by confronting them with inaccurate information, but that did not work with me, as I knew to ask for data to back up the inaccurate information she provided me. Of course, she was not able to provide the information (i.e., the date and time that AT&T sent the text notifying me of 90% usage, which I would have been able to cross-refernce with the texts shown on my bill; and the total amount of data I'd used after she said I'd used "almost all" of it) because her statements were false. And the total lack of empathy by the supervisor -- and even worse, the false suggestion that I had not spoken to ANY service representative on December 18 -- is even more incredible. A service representative lies to a customer twice and then a supervisor suggests the customer is lying about information she was given by another service representative? I have never experienced anything like this in my entire life.
The supervisor's statement that he was "unable" to give any credit after the first credit was rejected also strains credulity. I have never heard of a supervisor being "unable" to provide the customer with the service they deserve. Rather, this sounds like an ill-advised policy intended to discourage customers from asking to speak with a supervisor and then to punish them by offering no credit at all if they do insist on speaking to a supervisor. This practice is, simply put, shameful.
Needless to say, I will be shopping around to find a new cell phone service provider today. AT&T's terrible customer service has left me no choice. However, I wanted to make others aware of the serious customer service failure on AT&T's part.