Dear AT&T,

    My name is Beth, we’ve spoken before.  I’ve called you a few times, and I spent the bulk of today telling your social media team that your customer service is the worst I’ve ever experienced.

    I wish that this was the paragraph where I called out one person and said “this person was great, it’s the rest of your company that let me down”, as I usually can when dealing with the customer service teams of giant corporations, but alas, I can’t.  Every single person I spoke to today told me that my call had been escalated, it wasn’t their job to fix it, and somebody else would contact me at some other time later.  No names, no times, no direct information to contact anybody myself.  I was just told repeatedly to sit back and wait and Somebody would deal with me Later.

    To provide a little background, my problems with you didn’t start because of a technical issue.  They started with your customer service team as well.  Our DSL was working fabulously.  In retrospect, we should have left everything alone, but we’ve been paying you for years and getting great service for years, so this simple tasked seemed safe.  My partner’s ex-wife’s name was still on the account, along with his, and it didn’t need to be.  Your customer service team said that there was no way to remove one of the two names on the account, that the only way to have an account in his name only was to cancel the existing account, and create a new account in his name.

    He agreed to this.  Last week, the old account was canceled and then during the process of creating the new account, he was told “Ooops, you can’t have DSL.  Uverse is available in your neighborhood, so DSL is no longer an option for you.”  Our DSL had been working perfectly before the old account was canceled.  We don’t want Uverse.  At least 75% of the people I know who have Uverse hate it, canceled it after installing it, or have massive amounts of down time.  It is also brand new to our area, and we don’t want to be the test subjects.  We liked our DSL.  We were happy with our DSL.  We were happy AT&T customers.

    After dodging the Uverse hard sell over and over again, for 58 minutes on the phone with customer service, he was finally connected to somebody who could at the very least turn our DSL account back on.  This person even claimed to be able to remove the 2nd name from the account.  And on top of that, it could be done at the current, lower price for DSL in our area, not the higher rate we’ve been paying for too long, it seems.  He was told that the reconnection would be a “rush” order.  There would be no new equipment to install and no need to send a technician to our home because we had the equipment.  Again, our service was working fine until you made us shut it off over an administrative issue.

    For the rest of last week, we randomly unplugged our DSL modem to reset it, to see if it was running again.  We left town for Thanksgiving weekend and came home on Monday evening.  Still no DSL.  On Tuesday morning, I started making calls.

    I am the one handling this issue for two reasons.  First, because I’m at home.  I’m on maternity leave.  Our daughter, Ada, was born 7 weeks early, spent three weeks in the NICU, and has been home for a month now.  She weighed only four pounds when she was born, and is still on drugs to assist her breathing and heart functions.  This information will be revisited later, but for now, let it just be the explanation of why I am dealing with this, and not my partner.  He is at work.  I am at home.

    The second reason that I am dealing with this is that I have a background in customer service.  I am much more likely to hold a company’s feet to the fire until they fix a problem, rather than get frustrated and simply give up.  It is my firm belief that most terrible customer service interactions are not terrible because of ineptitude, they are terrible by design.  I truly believe that your company has created a situation that is so cumbersome to straighten out that you’d rather just lose me as a customer.  It is easier.  It is easier for your people to tell me that they have no record of a customer at our address, or a customer with our last name, or a customer with the landline phone number you gave us last week that is tied to our DSL service.  It is easier for you to let us get frustrated and walk away than it is to figure out what your coworkers screwed up last week and fix it today.  If my partner were in charge of this, he would have thrown his hands up in the air and walked away last week, or definitely today.  But I haven’t.

    Let’s call this a teachable moment.

    I could go into infinite detail outlining each hoop that you’ve made me jump through in the last two days, as I’ve begged you to let me continue to be your customer.  I have very detailed notes.  But I’ve done this already, I’ve explained this already, to multiple customer service reps.  So instead I’m going to tell you what I experienced today when I wasn’t on the phone with you.

    For the first time since I went into pre-term labor, since I spent weeks driving back and forth to the hospital to stare at my tiny little baby and wonder if everything would be okay, for the first time since I brought her home and began to deal with the daily grind of having a newborn, the mindnumbing loneliness of being stuck in a house with few options for socializing that didn’t expose her to potentially dangerous illness, for the first time since all of these huge and life-changing firsts . . .  I started to wonder if I am suffering from postpartum depression.

    I fell asleep after feeding her today, sleeping while the baby sleeps, with my cell phone by my side in case you called.  When I woke up, my phone battery was dead.  I’d had it plugged in, but I must have disturbed it, and the charging cord had fallen out.  I looked at my dead phone, my dead computer, and my dead television (what little television I watch is delivered via the internet) and I felt more alone than I have in my entire life.

    The internet has kept me sane, and I’m not saying that’s a good situation to be in, but it’s where I’m at.  The internet has been my connection to my friends who are scattered across the country who have been there for me the last few months in a way that transcends any logical definition of been there.  And while I could recharge my cell phone and place a call, I wasn’t entirely sure it would get me what I needed anyway.  Because the people who have been there can’t be here, and that’s why we have the internet.

    This is a teachable moment for me too.  Eggs in baskets, etc.  I spent today longing for the days when I lived close enough to Boom to call her up and schedule an emergency sushi date.  Or the days before Jenny moved to Houston, when it was easy to meet at Sunrise for an hour to connect, and in the worst case, take a nap on her couch after a cup of mint tea.  It made me more acutely aware that I have no local girlfriends anymore, that my social circle here is merely an extension of his, and that dialing my phone to put out that call for help when I need a friend is a giant inconvenience to the people who live too far away to answer it.

    This is why I have the internet.  This is why it’s never been so bad before.  Because for the last few weeks, I’ve put the baby down for a nap and I’ve sat at the computer and I’ve reconnected with my life, with the friends who are there for me – digitally – whenever I need them.  Be it Massachusetts or New Jersey or Virginia or Texas or Ohio or Iowa or Minnesota, I’ve had all the support I needed.  Until AT&T turned it off, and told me Somebody would help me Later.

    I wish this was a “this is what you did” post and not a “this is what you are currently doing” post.  But it still isn’t resolved.  Somebody called, Later, at about 4pm this afternoon, while I was nursing the baby.  The call went to voicemail before I could answer it and the only phone number you left was a voice mail queue where I was asked to leave my phone number, incident number, and Somebody would call me back Later.

    I don’t even know what to ask for anymore.  What can AT&T do that will give me back the seven, going on eight, days without internet service?  The hours I’ve spent on the phone begging people to let me be your customer again?  What can AT&T do that will erase that hour that I spent on my couch today, staring at the wall, crying, because I’ve never felt so lonely and I have no idea how to fix it without an internet connection?

    I guess I’m open to suggestions.

    Sincerely,

    Beth

    ——

    Technical note:  How did I publish this?  I typed it on my computer in a plain text file, tethered my phone to my computer, enabled USB storage, transferred the text file to the phone, copied and pasted the text, and used the WordPress mobile app.

    Maybe I’m not alone as long as I have robots.