AT&T Wireless Complaint - Why ATT Wireless Will Lose Me - Poor, Poor, Poor
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA -- You would think that a company would want to make it easy for one of its customers to easily upgrade, but AT&T Wireless seems to believe otherwise.
Two years ago, once my phone contract ended, I switched to pay-as-you-go (PAYG) from monthly. For me, it was great b/c my bill went to $100 per/year (it had been $580; I'm not a heavy cell phone user). Today, I tried to upgrade to a newer PAYG phone but here's the problem: I just wanted to buy a new phone and switch my current number and account info over to the new phone. But the AT&T store tells me that I have to purchase my new phone on-line; the on-line AT&T folks tell me that I have to purchase that particular phone in the store. Not only that, but if you purchase the phone on line you can only get a new telephone number (can't keep your old one) and new SIM card and new account information. I'm scratching my head because it seems that they don't want to make it easy for you to upgrade.
Now, maybe this is due to some kind of second-class treatment for PAYG users. I have read studies that say that MOST consumers would save money by going to PAYG. There are still lots of people like me who want a mobile phone but we don't use it every day; heck, when I was on contract, I probably used my phone an average of 5-10 minutes per month. So, for all those years I was a great customer b/c I paid and didn't consumer ATT's resources. Now that I'm PAYG, it seems that basic services and conveniences aren't available.
One other point: cell phone plans and rules are, I guess, too complicated for a company's employees to accurately understand and convey. Sometimes, it seems that you can get a different answer for each person you ask a question ... but I digress.
Here is my chat log from my AT&T conversation:
Thank you for your patience! An AT&T sales representative will be with you shortly.
Chat InformationYou are now chatting with Holly, an AT&T sales representative.
Holly: Welcome to AT&T online Sales support. How may I assist you with placing your order today?
alan: I already have an AT&T phone, pay-as-you-go, with a $100 balance. I'm trying to purchase the Pantech c530 ... can I switch my current $100 over to the new Pantech? And can you do it or do I have to go into an AT&T store?
Holly: Unfortunately it can't be done online but if you visit an AT&T retail store to purchase the phone they can do that for you there!
alan: But I just visited a store today and they told me that I had to buy this particular phone on-line.
Holly: The phones online do require you to choose a new plan and come with a new SIM card and new phone number. The online checkout does not transfer an active AT&T number to a new AT&T phone. It's possible the person that you were speaking with was not aware of the procedure online. I apologize for that inconvenience.
alan: Okay, just to make sure I understand: if I want to get a new phone and still be pay-as-you-go, I have to get a new plan and new number and new SIM card? There is no way to keep my current number if I upgrade my phone and still maintain an PAYG plan? But if I went to a monthly plan, I could upgrade and keep my same number?
Holly: When you order online, you would need to choose a new phone and new plan. The checkout won't process an order of just a phone and it won't transfer an active AT&T number to a new AT&T plan unless you are upgrading a phone on a contract plan.
alan: Okay, but my phone is probably 4-5 years old ... so buying one of ATT's current line of phones is not considered an upgrade? I understand that processing an order won't transfer my current number -- but you seem to be saying that there is NO way of transferring my current number to a new phone.
Holly: You can transfer your current number to a new phone if you purchase the phone at an AT&T retail store, it just can't be done online.
Holly: The checkout will give you an error message.
alan: Okay, Holly, but at the AT&T store I was TOLD that I had to purchase this particular phone on-line? You say go to the store, the store says go on-line. What is a customer supposed to do??
Holly: The store may not understand the online procedure. I apologize for that.
Holly: They do not use the online system for ordering so they may not be aware that the checkout doesn't allow for just the purchase of the phone.
alan: Again, what is a customer supposed to do?? I'm certainly not going to buy another AT&T phone (new number etc) when it's imperative that I transfer my current number.
Holly: You can purchase the phone at an AT&T retail store if you like.
alan: I went to an AT&T retail store today, as I mentioned before. I was not at a Best Buy or some third-party store. I was at an AT&T store.
Holly: Yes, you may want to visit a different store. I am very sorry that happened but the checkout won't process an order of just a phone and it will give you an error message if you try to transfer the number. I apologize for the trouble.
alan: Okay, well, it seems to me that it'll probably make more sense to just port my number over to Verizon or T-Mobile. Thanks.
Holly: Did the store not have the phone you wanted in stock? We have had stores misdirect people online before in that case. You may want to call other stores in your area to see if they do have the phone. I would be happy to get you a list of those stores if you like.
alan: I can easily find other stores ... and, yes, they had the phone in stock ... but I feel that I've already spent more time that was necessary over something that shouldn't have been that complicated ... the next closest store to me was sold out of the phone ... so, right now, I'm not feeling like going out of my way and going to another store with the same misunderstanding (since, as you seem to suggest, certain of ATT's stores share this confusion).
Holly: Well I do apologize, you can purchase the phone at the retail stores, I would suggest calling in advance and speaking to the manager if you do decide to visit.