My surprisingly easy chat with AT&T customer service

I just received some incredible AT&T customer service today.  This is news.  Let me explain.

I just moved into a new apartment not too long ago.  While I pretty much love everything about my new apartment and neighborhood, my cell reception is lousy.  There is exactly one sliver of space along my kitchen counter where I can make an outgoing phone call.  But even then, the voice quality is so low, my unfortunate call recipients get a voice that sounds like a very drunk Jar Jar Binks instead of a very sober Don Nguyen.  Something had to be done.

Because I’m an AT&T customer, I started looking into possible solutions.  That’s when I remember receiving a promotional voucher a few years ago for a free Microcell, which basically uses an internet connection to carry your voice data.  I never used the voucher because back then I wasn’t experiencing poor cell service.  Now it’s a different story.  So I called AT&T customer service and explained my situation and asked if I could get a free microcell.  The csr (customer service rep) was very nice, even when he said “no.”  He then said I could purchase one for $199.  Gulp.   I explained to him (in a similar cordial tone) that it didn’t make sense for me to pay $200 to get nominal service, which I was already paying for.  He said he understood but explained that basically there was nothing he could do.  I was ready to give up but then I remembered something my pappy used to tell me, which was “if you don’t get what you want, always ask for the manager and the manager’s manager.”  My father is the king of negotiation. I remember him holding court with a manager at a Stereo West (before we had Best Buys) in Lincoln, Nebraska, negotiating down the price of two high end VCRs.  My father was always very nice when he negotiated, but would basically drive the manager to complete and utter exhaustion.

So, I asked for the manager and the csr happily connected me to a nice girl named Nicole.  Now here’s where I knew things would go well here on out.  Right off the bat, she actually repeated the reason why I was calling.  I was completely shocked.  I mean, how many times have you tried to escalate a customer service call and been sent to numerous managers who have no idea why you’re calling, which forces you to repeat your story over and over again, like you’re in some communist reeducation camp.  It’s that kind of inefficient redundancy that drives a person crazy. Or at least this person.  I didn’t experience it here.  She told me exactly why I was calling, giving me an indication that she understood why I was escalating the call.  She then said I had two choices.  She could put in a request to have my case reviewed, and upon approval (within 24-72 business hours), I could go pick up a microcell at a nearby AT&T store.  My other choice was to purchase one out of pocket and she would credit my account the full cost of the microcell.   Regarding option 2, I asked her if she thought I could get approval for crediting my account. She said she would do it right now.  What?  So all I have to do is go buy one at an AT&T store for $199 and then call back and have her credit my account $199?  She said she would credit my account $250 to cover sales tax and she would credit it now while I was on the phone.  Then, all I had to do was go to the store whenever it was convenient and buy the microcell.  I nearly had a heart attack.  I explained to her that about a month ago I went into an AT&T store near my office to check on microcells and they didn’t have one, and didn’t even try to get me one somewhere else.  So Nicole asked to put me on hold, she then called another nearby store to make sure they had some in stock, which they did.  An hour later, I walked out of the store with a microcell at no charge.

Everyone can probably claim at least one nightmare customer service story in their lifetime.  The fact is, very few can claim to have received great customer service.  Let the record show, today I have received exceptional customer service and I’m so giddy about it that I wrote an entire blog post about it.   Nicole, you are my hero.  Keep on keeping on, and I hope you have a great day as well, wherever you are.

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