One Dead Samsung Focus, One Challenging AT&T experience

My Samsung Focus died yesterday. It crashed for the first time on Tuesday, a forewarning? Then yesterday is froze up. I left it for a while (15 min or so) before taking the battery out. It tried to boot, crashing at the AT&T screen a few times. Then it loaded, default tiles, theme etc. “Oh No!” I exclaimed. I rebooted it to be on the safe side. It never started again.

It’s under warranty so I will get a replacement. These things have a bath tub failure curve so I’m cool with that and it’s why we have warranties. Certainly not a smite on Microsoft as the OS didn’t seem to be responsible. Nor on Samsung, stuff fails. My guess is a component on the system board or in the memory.

As far as use goes I’ve been a power user. Dozens of apps. Some came, some went. Games trialed, purchased. Heavy social media and geo-location usage. So if anyone’s phone was going to ‘burn out’ just from normal use on that bath tub curve it would be me. I’ve noticed my phone is slower than my wife’s identical device e.g. 5 vs. 60 seconds to update the People Hub. I put it down to more apps, pics, music, contacts (if so then that is an opportunity for MSFT to improve), however now I wonder if it was something going wrong with my phone.

AT&T’s Customer Service Experience

Score: 3/5 Stars

I’m always impressed with how many people I deal with when I have to call AT&T for support. What is even more amazing is how un-empowered they all appear to be. I dealt with no less than nine AT&T employees yesterday. Nine. Over a period of about three hours. Both on the phone and in person. I’m guessing an analysis of efficiency is done? What about efficacy?

This is the first time my call to AT&T support also involved a real world wild goose chase…

In Summary

AT&T are working to make this right. My issue is under investigation with promise to look into and resolve for the future (I expressed how I wished this on no one, OK on very few people). AT&T have credited me $135 in total through the day. Still I’m left with a bad taste in my mouth and as such the rest of this post is intended to document for two reasons a) to help you as an AT&T customer navigate such issues ,should you come across them and b) to provide AT&T with insight into their customers’ experience should they wish to use it in their ongoing efforts to improve customer service.

Some recommendations;
  1. Only send customers to a device service center if a device is confirmed to be there and you can have it set aside.
  2. Over Invest in overnight shipping / devices in store to enable resolving customer issues over holiday weekends.
  3. Reduce number of employees involved in decision making. Empower the knowledge workers/technicians. If you need ‘approval’ you could do via phone with “central approval command” to prevent local abuses.
  4. Save your money by doing small things that fix it for the customer vs. escalations which cost you more in time and actual dollars (example below is $30 vs. $100 cost to AT&T)

Perhaps consider optimizing the issue handling process to reduce your costs and improve customer experience (less people, deeper ‘relationships’)

In Detail

AT& #2 (the second “611” person I spoke to) informed me that they couldn’t get a me a phone overnighted – it’s a holiday weekend and I have plans. My dead phone is my only phone but luckily I had Microsoft Lync on my laptop to call the 800 #. She said I could go into a device service center and located two “with phones”. I agreed to do this vs. having a device shipped. To their credit she did reimburse me $25, I guess for the hassle of dealing with the situation, and the eventual rebuild and reconfiguration of my phone.

AT&T #5, 30 Min later, downtown Seattle, $10hr parking and AT&T #5 informs me there are no devices. Yes #3 & 4 are various stages of handling me in the service center. Note: No warranty devices. They have devices for sale ~$500. Again a very polite man, very “understanding” and “sorry”. He fetches #6, his manager.

AT&T #6, “Manager”. Now the purpose of this employee in the chain of command baffles me. He has no authority to do anything for me. Not even give me a “$30 basic unlocked phone” (keep this number in mind for later) to get me through next week. He spends his time asking #5 under his breath if there is “anything else we can do?”. I’m not sure who he’s hiding it from as I can hear it. Other customers? Suggestion; Maybe just give #5 the authority as he knows the systems and the lay of the land. #6 does say they can approve reimbursement of my parking ($10) but it’s A#5 who finds the person who’s responsible for helping, let’s call them AT&T #5b “Customer service rep” who approves and logs it in the system.

Some time later, back at home on my wife’s phone. 611 again;

AT&T #8 Was doing everything her script said. She too was “understanding” and “very sorry”. By this point those words had lost their meaning. She quickly credited me some hours to my account for my wasted time, roll over minutes we never use up any way. I did have to explain everything to her again. At this point I simply wanted to flag a complaint with AT&T to how this was handled. About seven minutes later she got a supervisor on the line.

AT&T #9. A supervisor who will “investigate” the issue for me. She credits me $100 to my account. $70 more than it would have cost AT&T to just give me that cheap phone in the store to get me through the next week, that $30 I mentioned above.

And that’s the end of my tale…

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2 thoughts on “One Dead Samsung Focus, One Challenging AT&T experience

  1. 61 year old woman fired from AT&T after nineteen years four months service, A retaliation for use of FMLA using a 18 month old code of conduct violation to do so.

    The reason why you were transfered all over the place is because of Numbers! The reps have to make their numbers, Talk time- if you were going to buy something you would have been cared for! Anything else is just a problem and goes against their numers so they dump you off somewhere else and wind up back where you started until you get a more seasoned rep who has learned the ropes. Its like being in a hudge shopping mall and asking the person at the dogs on a stick where payless is and sent up 1 and to your left, the next person at the art shop tells you to the end and right you get the jest you look at the map and wind up back at the dog on a stick

  2. AT&T has trained its employees to shuffle customers, there are dozens and dozens of systems each department has its own system- Pac bell has its own systems-bell south, Legacy -t Cingular-Ameritech-legacy t local-legacy t long distance sw bell ma bell on and on- each time they take over a new company they still use all their old systems it’s a mess!!! Some reps wind up with dozens of systems and ids for each and time out. then there is outsourcing that are real good at repeating everything you have said over and over again, so what you just told me is that your phone is broke? Right, Yes! So what you just told me was yes your phone is broke? Yes that is what I just told you, my phone is under warranty and needs to be fixed, so what you just told me is your phone is under warranty@! after thirty min. of this customer has had it and hangs up. Rep leaves note somewhere on your account that reads **csr called in was very rude and called me #$#$@! and hung up on me** BEWARE CUSTOMER IS IRRATE AND ABUSIVE*****

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