If you're being forced to get one of those new upgraded internet connections from AT&T--well, it may improve your life, but on installation day, you might want to scrub all other appointments. Took me an evening and a chunk of a morning, mostly spent in online chat with "helpers" whose best advice seemed to be "try again in a couple of hours." And did they call me back as promised? No, they did not.
Okay, I'll spare you further details. We've all been there and the particular indignities are of interest to no one except the sufferer. But it did set me to thinking--are there people who are good at this sort of thing, providers whose online help can actually help?
Well actually--you know on the whole, I'd have to admit that most outfits get better at this sort of thing over time. Back in the 90s, people were launching web help without any practice or guidance. And as if to complicate things, they were buying whole new businesses, trusting themselves to learn to service the customers later. But as life settles down, some of them actually do learn a thing or two.
From my own experience, I'd like to give the Golden Handset to two in particular--Vanguard, and American Express. In both cases, I've never had a bad experience: answerers who pick up before the 25th ring, techies who seem to have ready and relevant responses, even some who can identify and flag problems before you see them coming. The interesting question is--why can't everybody be like that? I suspect that Amex is a bit smaller than some of the relevant points of comparison, and so has less to cope with. Vanguard isn't "small" by any measure, but they do seem to have a knack for finding a stable and dependable business model that works, and then sticking to it--like Volvo making the same car for twenty-plus years. Anyway, whatever they've got, I wish they'd have it bottled and retailed.
Meantime, as to AT&T I suspect part of the problem is that they are one of those who haven't digested all the business they've swallowed: they still don't seem to have grasped that they run two phone companies (land and mobile), not just one (and if I understood right, they'll now be breaking their land billing into two parts--phone and data--so total of bills in all, three). The other problem is that this is a techie business and the geeks probably just can't get their minds around the idea that their customers aren't as geeky as they are. Actually, I think I can count myself as a paid-up member of the cadet branch of geekdom--and a good thing, too, or three hours might have been just the beginning.
Update: From chat with the neighbors, I think I got off easy. Lots of chat about cancelled appointments, missed appointments, an installer who said he couldn't install unless the customer agreed to an upgrade--one house that went without for about a week.
Uh-oh: Now we're having stability issues. Pages crash, ;pages load, lots of links (but not all) tell us that we must have an unfiltered line somewhere (but we've looked and looked). If this is general, they've got a problem on their hands. If they regard it as as problem....