Tuesday, July 5, 2011

AT&T - Getting Better?

The service is getting better at AT&T, although it is still a monster company.

AT&T is the General Motors of telcom - and no that wasn't a compliment.  They are a behemoth of a company, and oftentimes it is hard to get an elephant to dance the ballet, even if you can find slippers that fit.

But in terms of service, they are getting better it seems.

More by accident than design, I have ended up an AT&T customer six times over:

1.  Wireless - from a personal perspective, AT&T just put up three new antennas here on the island.   We have five bars, even on the beach.  I still have my cell phone amplifier in the house (and car) with external antenna though.  In terms of coverage area, Verizon has them beat.   But for me, not being a yakker, this is not a big issue.  We have been a customer back when they were AT&T, before they became Cingular and then became AT&T again...

2.  GoPhone - this has worked out so well, it seems too good to be true.  Our cell bill has gone from $80 a month to less than $10.   Of course, again, we are not addicted to texting or serially yakking on the phone.  You can save a lot of money in life if you avoid obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

3.  Internet - the Internet DSL service is, by and large, reliable.  The only problem with the service is that it is bifurcated from the regular phone service, which means you have to go through two different phone trees to talk to someone about your service, if it is interrupted.

4.  Regular Phone Service - has been reliable, and their unlimited long distance fairly reasonable.

5.  Hardware - I even use a series (12) of AT&T Business phones, which have worked very well, once you get over the learning curve of programming them.

6.  Long Distance Calling Cards - I use these for infrequent International calls, as well as call on the road.  Cheaper than using an "International Plan" on your long distance service and a lot cheaper than the basic International rates for long distance.

Overall, service has improved.  I am finding their customer service (call centers) to be more and more helpful, with people explaining things and seeming to be less rushed to get me off the phone or get rid of me.  And gaffes like this misprinted VoiceMail instruction book seem to have been fixed.

Recently, I contacted them online, after receiving a series of oddball telemarketer calls.  I was concerned about being slammed or crammed.  Turns out that AT&T (and other carriers, I presume) offer a service to allow you to "lock" your service to prevent the long distance phone service from being changed without your permission, and also "lock" your service from having 3rd party bogus services "crammed" onto your phone line.  (The latter are usually done when you answer one of those bogus Facebook Surveys online, and provide your phone number).

I filled out an online request form and the next day they called back and set up the lock/block, with a 3rd party confirmation to insure that no one bogus changes these services.

The customer service experience was pleasant, and they clearly explained everything to me.

While people like to bash AT&T, their customer service, I think, is getting a lot better.

Disclaimer:  Although my last name is Bell, there is no relation.  But I did buy some stock the other day.  Not a bad P/E ratio, either.