Been meaning to write this one for a while now.
AT&T is like most corporations, in it to make money. I got no problem with that. I’m not calling AT&T evil because they’re a profit making enterprise.
I’m calling them evil because of how they make their money.
Taking advantage of 70+ year old seniors? REALLY? You can’t do better than take advantage of the segment of the population that is least in a position to call “bullshit” on you?
I’m ahead of myself, let me explain…
I was in FL helping out my folks.
When it bacame known that I was in FL, Some of the family realized they needed a Techie and asked if I’d help them configure this or fix that or clean up a computer before they donated it to their local church.
No big deal and I was happy to help out.
About week 3, I get invited to my Aunts in Ft Meyers. Cool, She’s a great lady and she sounds utterly confused by a mass of conflicting information that she’s been fed by well meaning friends and not so well meaning sales people.
So I head on down from the Tampa Bay area and have a great drive. My Mom went with me and we had a great time.
When we get to my aunts place we start chatting about the various services she thinks she has.
First and foremost was that she thought she had WiFi in her house but it wasn’t set up. So I start scanning for any WiFi signal but don’t find one. When I ask she walks me over to a little box in her kitchen.
The box has an antenna and is connected to a wireless phone, but neither the device or the wireless phone are connected to the wall by anything other than their wall wart power supplies.
Humm, I think to myself. I suppose its possible… but the antenna looks all wrong. I pick up the box, flip it over and look at the FCC ID tag. Turns out the little box is a cellular transceiver that provides a dial tone to a standard phone but does not provide WiFi (as my Aunt had been led to believe).
I think ok, lets move on. Then I ask to be taken on a tour of all the electronics in the house. “Sure,” she says and takes me to a small den. there’s a computer, printer, TV, and fire alarm that’s chirping at 1 minute intervals (I hate fire alarms!)
Nowhere in the house is there anything thats remotely like a router, much less a WiFi router. The only other computer tech is her Android phone and her Galaxy Tablet.
So I’m thinking that she’s got to have a cable, fiber, or dsl modem/router laying around somewhere in a box.
I ask to see her most recent bill, looking for evidence that she’s being billed for some kind of high speed internet service. Thats when I suffered sticker shock.
My 70+ year old aunt handed me her AT&T phone bill. A bill for $200. SAY WHAT?!?!?!
Nowhere on the bill is there any mention of high speed services other than those being billed separately to her phone/tablet accounts. Her tablet has a 10GB plan, Her phone has a 5GB plan. Her actual usage was less than 300MB.
OK, Time to go to the AT&T Store to find out exactly what the hell is going on.
We walk into the store and my aunt addresses the counter worker by name. Not a good sign, I take it to mean that she’s been in the store way too much. She introduces me as her nephew and says, “We’ve got some questions.”
At this point, I ask about the little box connected to her wireless phone and confirm that it’s a cellular device with no WiFi capability. The guy was a little defensive and even snippy with me just for asking the question.
Something in my head clicks. In my brain a voice says “OH HELL NO!”
I uncased the demonic wings.
“You sold this retired lady a cellular device to replace her land line phone, when at the same time you were selling her a full on smart cell phone and a tablet? At the same time you configured ALL of these devices on separate sub accounts?”
The dude starts to jabber about how the cellular thing that connects to a normal phone is more reliable than a wired phone. Mind you we’re standing in the middle of hurricane alley!
I asked the guy how the hell a cellular tower is MORE reliable in a hurricane than buried cables? this initiated a whole bunch of stammering.
So her Cell phone and this cellular thingy are the same tech, and that makes one of them redundant. Unfortunately, she signed on to a two year contract on the cellular to normal phone adapter? Waste of technology?
She thought that it was a Wifi device that would allow her home computer and tablet internet access, it wasn’t but she was 3 months past the no harm no foul cancellation date.
I figure there’s nothing I can do about that, I don’t have the time to initiate a contract dispute based on misrepresentation since it’s going to be his word against hers.
“OK, lets look at the data plans,” I say.
“Oh she needs the multi gig plans for her devices,” says the guy who is getting snippier and slimier by the moment.
“No she doesn’t,” I say.
We argue back and forth a few times then I tell him to shut the hell up and look at the usage printed on the damn bill. I slam the bill on the counter to punctuate my command.
Once again, I find myself in the position of commanding a “Servicer”. I hate having to bare my fangs in front of my aunt. But damn, this AT&T guy is working my freaking nerves.
I decide that in addition to commanding him, I’m also going to punish him. There are people in the store, quite a few in fact. Oh what the hell, time for me to have a bit of fun.
“So let me get this straight, You sold services you knew were redundant to a retiree. Apparently you lied to that retiree about the capabilities of at least one of the devices by saying it had WiFi. Then you set up her account so that she was being billed the maximum you could get away with. All of this to artificially drive her bill above $200 a month when comparable services from T-Mobile would have cost her $45 to $80 a month?”
Several people left the store. Others looked at their smart phones and then left (Looking for the nearest T-Mobile store? Checking the time? Ether way, the store was soon empty again.
Ain’t I a stinker? My aunt realized what I’d done and was doing a pretty fair job of hiding her grin.
Suddenly, the smart phone and tablet accounts were using a common pooled data plan sharing 1GB of data between both devices. The bill dropped for just north of $200 to $80 a month.
Later, I found out that she’d gone into the AT&T store wanting to buy an ipad. She walked out with a Galaxy Tab ‘cause it was “Better”. RIGHT!
Great in theory, except that she couldn’t print to anything, except a Samsung printer which she didn’t own, without buying a third party piece of software.
One of the primary reasons she wanted the tablet is that she potentially wanted to get rid of her old desktop computer and based on her needs, a tablet could work fine for her.
But ya sometimes need to print shit out. Her existing printer would have allowed direct printing from a iPad.
The Galaxy Tablet however was a completely different story. It’s absolutely criminal that Samsung took a good operating system like Android and then crippled the shit out of it! (Soo based on what I’ve encountered with a couple of Samsung products… I hope Apple kicks their ass in court and I will not be buying any more Samsung computing devices. )
We stopped at Staples and picked her up a nifty inexpensive little Epson inkjet that worked well has cheap consumables, and included an Epson printer driver for the GalaxyTab. (As an aside, when she goes iPad, and I’m sure she will… The Epson will work just fine for that too.)
Then we went back to her house where I drew pictures and explained the technologies.
In the end she got what she needed but it shouldn’t have taken my sorting through the AT&T bill and intimidating a dumbass in an AT&T store for her to get what she’d asked for. As it stands, she doesn’t have WiFi in her house, but she’s thinking she doesn’t really need it as long as the tablet can surf the internet using cellular.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t get AT&T to let her out of the contract for the stupid ass cellular box connected to her wireless phone.
She hadn’t even used it according to the bill, but she was paying through the nose for it.
I felt bad about that.
Then there’s my friend in Orange County. He’s another person I recommended T-Mobile to.
I understand why he didn’t just buy the iPhone(s) he wanted from the Apple store then set up with T-Mobile.
It was, in part familiarity, part cash flow, and part the belief that all cell phone companies are a rip off. (That latter part is probably mostly true.)
My friend had called AT&T before I got involved. He was trying to do research and due diligence before he went shopping. In the conversation with the AT&T personnel he specifically asked if he could bring a Verizon iPhone to AT&T’s service. They said yes!
As I’m chatting with him I question their assurances. This has to do with the differences between American cellular carriers. There were, until very recently several protocols that phones used to communicate with cellular towers. It appears that many of the providers are wising up and switching to similar protocols albeit on different frequencies.
An old Verizon iPhone however is completely incompatible with AT&T or T-Mobile. We verified this during a shopping outing where the Apple guy had already pulled a new iPhone and iPad from the back and we were prepping to set them up for my friend.
Before we pulled the wrappers off the boxes, I reconfirmed what my friend was wanting to do and ran it by the Apple guy. The Apple guy paused, then looked quizzically at us and said, “a Verizon iPhone 4? And you’ve been told you could take it to AT&Ts network?”
We answered “Yep.”
The Apple guy says “I don’t think that is possible with that model phone, but let me check just to be sure.”
After 10 minutes of searching through Apple’s knowledge bases and the internet the Apple guy confirmed that a Verizon iPhone didn’t have the right kind of radio to make that transition. Probably, it could go to Sprint, but not AT&T.
That cancelled the deal for the iPhone 5s and iPad.
My friend & I then went to the AT&T store. (A little slice of hell for me.)
After waiting 15 minutes we finally get an AT&T asshat to acknowledge us and my friend asks “Can I move a Verizon iPhone 4 to the AT&T network?”
“Sure you can, you’ll just have to buy a new phone,” says the asshat.
“Uh no, we’re not asking if we can transfer the number to a new phone, we’re asking if we can use the actual Verizon iPhone 4 we already own on the AT&T network,” I ask.
Asshat blinks a couple of times, “Why would you want to do that? We’ll give you a new phone with a two year contract nothing down.”
Grrrr! Our shopping ended for the day. My friend did comment how impressed he was with the Apple guy being so up front and honest.
I told him my experience with Apple is that in general their people want you to have a good experience and be satisfied with your purchase. I’ve had some problems over the years with Apple but generally I’ve been pleased with our business dealings.
Flash forward a couple of months and my friend gets a “deal” from AT&T. After spending 5 hours in the AT&T store, he gets two phones and some kind of coupons or freebie cases or something and leaves the store.
He then drives to the Apple store and purchases a couple of iPads. As it happened, the same Apple Guy was on duty and remembered my friend, he set up the iPads and was pleased to help. Which left a good impression of Apple with my friend.
I should note that a substantial portion of the smarts of my friends iPhone was not set up when he left the AT&T store. He was able to make and receive calls but had limited functionality on the “Smart” phone portions of the unit.
Yep, all the functionality of a flip phone on his brand spanking new iPhone 5s. Way to go AT&T asshats!
When I got called in to do instruction on the phone’s capabilities I spent some time configuring and reconfiguring what little AT&T did configure.
That was bad enough, but now months later my friend is still fighting with AT&T to get certain discounts and rebates.
He’s spent tons of time on the phone spinning his wheels to get these things resolved and apparently keeps getting assured by whoever he talks to that all is well and he’s going to be seeing what he was promised in December. But billing cycle after billing cycle those promises don’t materialize.
Again, another “less young” person, being taken advantage of, or promised a bunch of stuff so that the AT&T store people can make the sale with no regard for what the long term ramifications on these folks lives.
My friend isn’t retired yet, but he’s also not swimming in cash either. The AT&T folks tried talking him into one of their outrageously priced data plans when all he and his partner need is a GB or two per month max.
For god sake, I’m a data hog, and I don’t exceed the free 1 GB per month from T-Mobile, that I share with my partner.
Yet AT&T keeps signing people up for 5 and 10 GB per month. I suppose if you were in LTE service all the time you could maybe use that much if you were streaming Netflix or iCloud.
But most of us have access to WiFi MOST of the time. We’d rarely need that amount of data on a cellular network.
At least with T-Mobile, if I were to exceed my allotment, all they’d do is slow me down. Some of the other carriers cut you off completely.
My friend also ended up embroiled in an AT&T U-verse conflict on behalf of an 80 year old lady in OC.
All she wanted was WiFi in her house. Seems simple enough you’d think. So she calls AT&T and gets SOLD AT&T U-verse.
Ok, you think, she gets rid of her cable bill, has no internet bill, and consolidates her land line service into one single bill.
Yes, that’s the theory. The reality has been a billing nightmare and the service has been spotty as well!
This poor lady has been run through the wringer. She got charged for all the premium channels that were supposed to be free for 3 months.
When she called to complain she was fed some bullshit line like “You were supposed to call us to discontinue those introductory channels.”
So the outrageous billing was technically valid.
Then her WiFi stopped working and it was an AT&T problem, not a problem in her home. They weren’t supposed to bill her for the service call but they did!
Then her phone stopped working, she calls them back out and they bill her for another service call.
This is all going on within the first few months of her having their service.
She tries to lower the bill by discontinuing more channels and gets the “Yes ma’am we’ll make that change immediately.”
But the change is never made, when she calls again there’s no record of her request.
On and on, round and round it goes.
All this lady really wants is a working phone, working WiFi, and basic TV. AT&T can’t seem to get that through their heads. Meanwhile they’re milking her for hundreds of dollars each month.
I personally believe that retired people should get Phone, WiFi, Basic TV and possibly Gas & Electric FOR FREE! If not totally free, then retirees should be able to pay 1/2 or just pennies on the dollar for those services.
There should be some perks for living to retirement.
Another friend, in a moment of weakness is approached at his home by a smoking hot female AT&T employee. She’s selling U-Verse door to door.
He listens politely to her spiel and figures, “Yeah, it’s a good deal even after the introductory rate expires.”
There’s only one thing extra he wants. Not having to pay for HD services or something like that.
(I’m with him, everyone broadcasts in HD. HD comes to the cable, satellite, and fiber providers by default, so why the hell are the providers charging us 5.00 or 10.00 bucks a month to get something we could get over the air with an antenna?)
The little hottie says, “Sure, we can do that!”
My friend schedules the installation.
A couple days before the installation, AT&T calls to confirm the installation date and time, and mentions that they cannot waive the additional HD charges.
My friend tells them “Well then you can’t do the installation in my house. Goodbye!”
The moral of this long convoluted post?
AT&T is BAD, they shouldn’t be trusted and potentially should be indicted in a nationwide class action lawsuit for breach of contract and misrepresentation.
AT&T employees are immoral minions of a corporation whose greed is legendary.
They prey on the elderly, and think nothing of complicating someones lives so much that eventually, the people just give up and pay whatever obscene prices AT&T wants to saddle them with.
AT&T is like this coast to coast, the misrepresentation and double dealing isn’t a localized phenomena, its indicative of corporate rot that goes to the CORE of the company.
Choose to fight them wherever and whenever you can. Don’t shop at their stores, don’t purchase their services if you can avoid them.
Take your business, in good capitalist fashion to AT&T’s competition vote on their corporate behavior with your wallet.
Eventually, they’ll take notice.