Friday, October 2, 2009

Breaking Trust the AT&T Way

Two letters have undone all trust I ever had with AT&T. For 60 years we have used AT&T in one form or another for our store. That's a lot of trust built up.

The first letter came on August 24th saying that my account with them was about to expire. With 16 phones, 8 business lines, and a business open 7 days a week, you can believe I called them right away. After jumping through a bunch of online menu hoops I got a guy who informed me that my account was not about to expire, but that he had some great offers of other products I might want to buy.

Yeah, the letter was a total scam to get me to call so they might sell me some services I didn't want. Apparently the hundred plus phone calls from sales reps that I had blown off wasn't enough for them to get the message that I was completely happy with my current level of service and didn't want anything more.

Trust meter down 50%.

The second letter came today. It informed me of the "new services you have requested" and that my new bill would be $106.35 more for the new services.

What!!?

Apparently, even after explaining that I was happy with my current services and didn't want anything more, AT&T thought I should have Caller ID for my 8 lines (two which are purely modems, not even used for receiving calls). And somewhere over the past month, they decided to add that to my account for an extra $106.35 a month.

Yeah, I got back on the phone. Only this time it took 5 calls and umpteen hoops before I found a live person. Unfortunately, the phone number led me to a live person that had no clue how to help me with my problem. Yes, she finally transferred me to someone knowledgeable on the subject, but even then, he couldn't help me. (What's the point of giving out a phone number if the people answering that phone can't deal with the issues for which the number was given?)

Bottom line? They changed my account because they changed program I was on. It wasn't anything I had actually requested. I just wanted to stay on the old plan, but the old plan now had Caller ID bundled in it and I was getting Caller ID even though I don't need it, don't want it, can't use it. No option. It was now in the plan, and I had to pay for it.

I suppose AT&T's idea was, if you can't get someone to buy your products, just bundle them in and tell them they have no choice but to pay for them.

Trust meter down 100%.

On Monday I'll be calling their competitors.

There are so many lessons in this, I don't think one post could cover them all. Here's the one I want you to remember...

Trust takes time to build, but only seconds to shatter. We have used AT&T in our business for over 60 years. We have never had any issues with our phone service. Yet it all was destroyed in 39 days, and now I'm shopping around.

Trust is precious. The trust you have built with your customers is gold. Remember how hard it was to get that trust, and then do everything in your power to keep that trust. Make sure all your policies, procedures and ventures are designed to build trust, not break it.

-Phil

PS If you sell phone services, call me Monday.

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