Tap My Mind

A Blog by Scott Isaacs

SBC Has Terrible Customer Service

Terrible customer service — we’ve all been on the receiving end of that before, right?  Someone is flat-out rude, or even simply unwilling to help or even listen.  I don’t know about you, but, to me, someone being unwilling to help is even more frustrating than someone being blatantly rude.  Well tonight, that someone was a billing rep from SBC DSL.

Now let me start by saying that I don’t typically complain about service received other than to my wife or a couple trusted friends.  I’m not one to use some public medium for that sort of thing.  But, the fact of the matter is that I’m pretty upset right now, and for once I’m going to say something while I’m angry.  The reason I’m angry: except for the one time when I talked to someone from their Business Services (T1) department for work (that guy was very helpful), every time I talk to someone from any department at SBC I end up completely frustrated.

By the way, I’m not the only one who has experienced issues with SBC.  See this post and all it’s comments: Summation: SBC lacks customer service.  Also see this forum and this post and this post and many more.

A little background is in order.  A few months ago I got home and our phone was off.  There had been no bad weather, and I hadn’t heard of any accidents that might have caused the disruption.  I called SBC to find out that they had shut it off due to lack of payment.

Obviously, not paying the bill is our fault, but we thought we had paid it.  We had written the check, put it in the envelope, and put a stamp on it.  Apparently, it never made it into the mail, and the check still hasn’t been cashed (I should probably put a stop payment on that check…).  Anyway, the man on the line insisted that they had sent us a disconnect notice.  We never received one, not even in the following weeks.  When I told him that we never received anything, he basically said, “tough luck”, and I had to pay some fee to get the phone back on.

Now, again, I know it is no one’s responsibility but my own to pay our phone bill.  I’ve never argued that point.  What I argued was that I never received any communication from them that I had missed the payment, and I, wrongfully, thought that I had paid it.

The reason I know we didn’t receive one is because I know what they look like.  A similar thing happened a couple years ago.  We thought we sent the check, but didn’t (found it later in a purse or jacket), and we did get a notice saying something like “Your phone will be disconnected if you don’t make arrangements within 5 days.”  The thing is, it was already the fifth day on the day I received it!  Luckily I was able to take care of that one that night over the phone.

Flash forward to some Saturday around August or September of this year.  I’m on the phone with my new boss trying to get connected to our VPN so I can do a little work.  No matter what we tried, I could not connect, then he asks, “Are you on SBC DSL?”  Apparently, nobody using SBC DSL can connect to out SBC provided T1 VPN at work.  After a brief conversation with the T1 guy (the friendly guy I mentioned above), we discovered the problem was with the DSL service.  One of their routers “didn’t know where to go” with my data, as evidenced by a tracert.

OK.  So I thanked him and he transferred me to the DSL support.  After holding for several minutes, I was on the phone with them for no less than an hour trying to explain the problem.  I got every response from “contact your IT department” to “we don’t support VPNs” to “contact the T1 people”, but I never once was able to convince the person of what was so plainly obvious from the tracert: their router was dropping the ball.  I still have an open ticket and no connection to the VPN.

Well, tonight, I opened the bill and it is huge!  I notice that there are charges for two months on the bill.  I see that last month they didn’t charge me for DSL, so that makes sense — frustrating, but makes sense.  But the most frustrating thing is that my DSL has magically gone up from 26.99 to 49.99.  Huh?  It almost doubled, and I didn’t know why.

So I called.  Turns out my contract expired in June and I was never notified, so I got increased.  The rep said that I received a postcard in the mail, but “most people think it’s junk mail and throw it away.”

So, the only single communication that they sent me about my contract is something that they admit is almost always confused with junk mail

Needless to say, neither I nor my wife saw anything that said anything about renewing our DSL (she knows how impoartant that is and wouldn’t have overlooked it).  And, of course, they only sent the one notification.  And, of course, they didn’t contact me by e-mail this year like they did last year (which was great — just a few clicks and I was renewed).  And, of course, they didn’t put an insert or comment in the bill explaining that my DSL contract was about to expire.

When I asked why they didn’t do any of these things, let alone ALL of them, his response was that they don’t have to send anything at all, and that I should have noticed an increase in my bill.  Well, my bill has a number of services, including long distance, which fluctuates based on usage.  Plus I had recently cancelled some other services, so my wife (who pays the bills) didn’t notice anything unusual.  The cancelled services roughly equalled the increase in DSL.  She doesn’t know what each service costs, just what the total normally is each month.

Apparently, there is nothing that can be done.  Apparently, there is no such thing as a customer credit at SBC.  Apparently, they don’t care that I’ve been considering switching to Time Warner for phone, cable and high-speed internet, all for about the same price I paid for phone and DSL before the price increase.  Apparently, they don’t care that I will tell my friends about this.  Apparently, they don’t care that some of them may decide to move away from SBC, or stay where they are with another provider when they had considered switching.  Apparently, they don’t care that for a measly $125, or even a portion, I would have happily recommended SBC to anyone that asked, but instead I will now recommend anything but SBC.

Apparently, SBC just doesn’t care.

It seems that their “customer outreach” involves sending things that either never arrive, arrive too late, or admittedly look like garbage.  And when customers don’t receive these items, or don’t receive them on time, they are charged “irreversible” or increased fees just to be allowed to have the right of sending SBC their regular monthly payment.  That sounds more like a revenue generation plan than customer outreach to me. 

I’ll have to remember that when I have millions of customers and I don’t need to care about individuals and communication and customer service anymore.

I hope that never happens.

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2 Comments

  1. I totally agree. I had a job at SBC for a short time and it was the most awful job I’ve ever had. They pay well for you to not help the customer but to try to sell them additional products. I would rather be poor then work there and be miserable every single day. I’m not putting my name because they are a shady company and they would probably sue me.
    I boycot SBC products because of the company.
    GO ROAD RUNNER!

  2. http://

    The sbc dsl support is outsourced through a call center company in houston. I know this because i worked there for about a year and a half and knew people who did sbc dsl support on the other side of the building. Half of the people that work there are morons that know nothing about computers that they hire off the streets. They smell, they don’t know how to dress, and they are rude / nonhelpful. You have about a 10% chance of getting someone that knows whats going on and can help you, but other than that you’re pretty much screwed. I would say only about 1% of the people that work on the floor for them have a degree, and maybe 15% have previous computer experience when hired. They get paid about $10/ hr so that should give you an idea the type of people who work there. They are way more focused on keeping calls under a certain amount of time than they are with actually giving correct information.

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