Sunday, October 21, 2007

ATT Dish Network =Bad Business

I'm in the service business. I supply food and food related supplies and equipment to restaurants, hotels, and other establishments that then prepare that food and serve it up with ambiance, flair, showmanship, and or efficiency that makes dining out worth the cost for the consumer. Our business, the restaurateur and mine, is hectic, frantic, and unforgiving. If a product is not ordered, or not delivered correctly it adversely affects our ability to service our customers. It does not matter if the error is mine, or my customer's because if the finished product does not hit the consumers plate and meet their expectation...then we all suffer the repercussions.

I take my end of the bargain very seriously. I offer my customers "no-fault" insurance. That is I don't care whether it is my fault or their fault that something went wrong, I will cover it to the best of my ability. That sometimes means me going to the store for them, or shipping them an order on a day that their regular delivery does not fall on.

With that in mind I find it so terribly frustrating to deal with companies that so disregard customer service and quality. That forces me to take up space on my otherwise committed foodservice website to vent about a terrible error I made by signing up for a "bundling" deal from Att and Dish Network. (It should be more appropriately labeled a bungling deal)

A couple of months ago I noticed that my long distance bill with MCI went from about $14.00 a month to $75.00. Now this was not a billing error, this was the result of my son not turning in his homework. To clarify that, my son had a couple friends out of state that he was chatting with regularly on line. When I found out he had not been turning in his homework, he was restricted from the computer. My thought was he could better focus on his studies if not distracted by computer games. What I found was that he spends most of his time chatting with these friends on-line and not so much gaming. The result was hours of long distance chatting over the phone that ran up the bill.

I called AT&T and spoke with a great operator that offered me a bundled program that included my high speed Internet, local and long distance, and Dish Network. I was happy with my Verizon Wireless account and she did not offer anything in the way of landscape maintenance or irrigation so that was all we could bundle. Four TVs would be set up on dish and a 5Th in the kitchen would be a mirror connected to one of the others. My fast install was scheduled and life was good!

So ends my pleasant experience with AT&T.

The installation appointment was rescheduled 3 times. Linkus, the company that does the install as a sub-contractor for Dish claims they only employee 18 or 20 people which keeps them under the 25 employee (or whatever it is) that mandates giving us (consumers)the right to ask for a two hour window.

When the installer finally shows up he complains endlessly about how tired he is. He has a trainee with him and carefully shows him how to blow out all my wall plates. "Completely strip the screws" he must tell him as he scoots the plant in front of the damage. The fifth TV cannot be mirrored because that would be an additional charge. He finally leaves as I'm feeding my kids, still mumbling about how tired he is, and that the poor sap down the street, his last service call will just have to wait until another day. 30 minutes later he calls to ask me to save his ladder because he left it in my yard. I moved it in front of the gate for him to find when he comes the next day. That is when I realize he left all of his trash in the side yard, where he dropped it.

As I sit down to view the features on this new service I find he hasn't downloaded the program guide or set up the homezone on one receiver and the second receiver is not receiving a signal at all. I spent another 2 hours on line with tech support completing those chores. I still cannot order movies on line, but I'll just deal with that I think.

I had made a note on my day planner to call back about another deal this week, for a discount that cheery first sales person had informed me of..although I think I was suppose to keep that between her and I forget I mentioned that! The operator tells me that I didn't get what they promised me and that he should schedule a follow up tech call to repair and finish what was promised. 12 - 5pm Sunday.
They would not only fix the online movie pay per view, but hook up the fifth TV!

Tech arrived around 2pm and wondered the house. I showed him the busted outlets, explained the fifth tv, and the lack of pay per view. He shook his head sympathetically, he asked what the first guy looked like, (of course I told him "tired"). He moved about the house with the phone to his ear, I thought "this guy means business!" He re downloaded the program guide in the living room as I serviced my customers by phone. When he went to hook up the fifth TV, he told me they had sent me the wrong unit for my TV. There was no co-axial jacks on this one because it was made for Hi-def TVs. Mine are lo-def. But he warned me I was probably being charged an extra $20.00 per month for hi-def service. When he handed me the service agreement stating that he had completed his work and convinced me he had to have it signed or he wouldn't get paid, I wrote "original work not completed". He did however fix the broken wall plates and pick up the extension ladder left behind by the original tech.

He also had a second page he wanted me to sign, the Digital Agreement form. Apparently this was supposed to be signed with the first guy. Apparently I was not under agreement. I saw a light at the end of this tunnel! As I spoke with the ATT Dish 800 operator, and watched the tech squirm as he wanted to get on with his day, we all waited for the supervisor to approve the cancellation of my account. But it was so close to my cut off to have my next day orders imputed. I asked if the supervisor could call me back. Once it was agreed the call would take place at roughly 4:05pm we disconnected.

At 5pm I gave up. It wasn't until my daughter said that her TV still wasn't working since the tech came that I called again. I was hung up on once during a transfer (I'm sure it was inadvertent) then I spent a little over an hour trying to diagnose the problem with a tech over the phone. It was when she told me to try and disconnect and reconnect the cables on the back of the receiver -the second time that I asked her to transfer me to a supervisor so that I could complete my dis-connect order. Supervisor came on briefly, "David Fuller" was his name he stated, how may I help you?" "I want to cancel my service David" I told him. "Hold a second" was his attempt to retain my valued business relationship. I never heard from David Fuller again.

I was transferred to "Operator Gyp" who informed me we had two options.
1) He could schedule a service call (with a 5 hour window)
2) He could connect me with the phone tech and suck another hour of my life out of me.
I asked him why he wouldn't give me the third option of cancelling if this was the cancellation department. That's when he transferred me to "Floor supervisor Joe aka Operator JJP". Joe was kind enough to inform me that he was going to charge me the cancellation fee for quiting early in the 18 month agreement that I never signed. I told him the first time I saw that contract was today, and that I certainly did not sign it today! He disagrees and feels that he still must charge me.

When I inquired about the process to disconnect he said to expect boxes for the equipment (pre-paid) to arrive via UPS within 2-5 business days, but I could call in within one business day to check on the status of the boxes and get a tracking number. He was not very helpful when I asked for his direct line, or when I asked for Jessie, JJP's boss' direct line to check on the status of those boxes. JJP says there is no way to get anyone directly at Att/Dish. I asked him "Joe, if you wanted to call in sick, what number would you dial?" Apparently you just have to go "no-call / no-show" if you don't feel well at Att/Dish.

At this point I feel terrible that they feel it is necessary to charge me a $213.28 disconnect fee after not providing the service they promised. I put in nearly 27 hours between phone calls, and waiting for service techs for this experiment. My time is worth a whole hell of alot more than that.

I suppose I will have to spend more time contacting ATT to unbundle my service. Shopping Direct TV, or going back to Comcast will be another hassle. In talking to the kids tonight we probably could do without a house phone. It seems silly and repetitive in this cell phone world. We do have to factor in our DSL needs. I know comcast has an option but I read how they are interfering with content that you can view.

Those are other issues though, and if you take nothing else from this post, don't' get suckered by the slackers at ATT / Dish Network. Do not accept paying for a lack of service and poor quality of product. Eat out at a local restaurant, I can offer you a list of fine establishments. If you are buying supplies for your restaurant , call me. They don't call me the Industry leader for quality and service for nothing.


Anonymous said...

hmm big mistake you did there.. is going with a partner.. you will be saving yourself 5 dllrs a month with a "combined bill" but will get alot of headaches... good luck with direct tv.. att also SELLS direct tv.. if you want service just call the company directly.. DO NOT i repeat DO NOT bundle accounts thinking you will get "savings" maybe cable will save you but we all know its not 100% digital and expensive. Cust serv will always be bad for everyone.. bleh.. :/

Kevin said...

I tried to upgrade my Dish to HD, (haven't upgraded for about 4 years). The guy came out on the scheduled time, spoke crappy english, didn't have the right equipment, had to reschedule. Bottom line - after 3 scheduled appointments, at which they never showed up in the allotted times, I was extremely ticked. I called, asked to cancel the whole deal. (I'd spent hours on the phone with these people). It was a completely miserable, time wasting experience. I was only trying to upgrade my service, and pay them more money... When I asked to cancel, they transferred me to this girl, who then asked what she could do, and offerred me three months of free service. Someone showed up within a week, and I got 3 months of free service.. I don't know if it was worth it... But they really do need to work on customer service. This whole episode went on for over a month's time.