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It’s hard to write something about the iPhone that takes a new angle. For the next few days you’ll be seeing hands-on reviews of the iPhone by folks like Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal and David Pogue of the New York Times. Come Friday night, you’ll also see the first customer reactions. Thus, every possible angle is covered.

Lucky for me, AT&T dropped a gift in my lap last night.

I recently installed a landline for Truemors and today, out of the blue, I got a notice that AT&T is turning on DSL for the line. In fact, it was turned on five days ago. There’s only one problem: I never ordered DSL, and I don’t want a Dumb Slow Line. How hard could it be to cancel a service that you never ordered? The back of the order said you can get help via an online chat system 24 x 7. Tally ho!

This is the actual transcript of my support session:

Please wait while we find an agent to assist you…
You are currently at position number 11 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 11 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 11 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 10 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 10 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 10 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 9 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 9 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 9 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 8 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 8 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 7 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 7 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 6 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 6 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 5 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 5 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 3 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 3 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 2 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 2 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 2 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 2 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 2 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 2 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 2 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 2 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 1 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 1 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 1 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 1 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 1 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 1 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 1 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 1 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.

So far, so good. It’s no big deal that I had to wait because I just had the chat window open and did other things while waiting.

Thank you for contacting AT&T Internet Services, my name is [AT&T Person]. One moment while I review your information.

[AT&T Person]: I see you want to cancel your DSL service, is that correct?

Guy Kawasaki: yes, I never ordered it

[AT&T Person]: I am sorry you are experiencing this issue and will be happy to assist you.

[AT&T Person]: Guy Kawasaki, is 650-329-2020 your DSL phone number?

Guy Kawasaki: yes, I want to keep the number. It’s my business number. I don’t want DSL on it at all.

[AT&T Person]: Do you have a dial up account with us?

Guy Kawasaki: Dial up as in data/dsl? No. 329-2020 is strictly voice for my business.

[AT&T Person]: I see. Please call us up at 1-877-722-3755 under normal business hours and over the prompt, say Orders.

[AT&T Person]: Do you have any questions regarding the information that I just sent to you?

Guy Kawasaki: Why? I’m not adding/ordering anything. I am canceling something I never ordered.

[AT&T Person]: Guy Kawasaki, I am sorry for this inconvenience but please understand that I am a technician.

Guy Kawasaki: Why am I calling this number? So you didn’t take care of canceling DSL. I just wasted 30 minutes?

Guy Kawasaki: Why didn’t you just tell me you can’t cancel a service?

[AT&T Person]: I am sorry. I do understand your frustration. Do you have any questions regarding the information that I just sent to you?

[AT&T Person]: Is there anything else that I may assist you with today?

[AT&T Person]: Before you go, I would like to inform you that you may receive a survey in your email, requesting that you rate the service you received from me. Please take a few minutes to fill this out and let my manager know how I am doing and how satisfied you are with the support you received from AT&T Internet Services.

Holy cow: a survey!

Thank you for using AT&T Yahoo! Chat Support. You will now be disconnected from this session. The chat window will remain open until you close it. For quick answers, make the new AT&T Yahoo! Help site your first stop. Visit http://help.sbcglobal.net where you’ll find pages of product information to assist you. Again, thank you for choosing AT&T Yahoo! Chat Support.

What’s Yahoo! got to do with this? Maybe this is why Terry Semel bit the dust. I guess when the notice said that people can get help 24 x 7 it was only for installation and troubleshooting, not an adminstrative task like canceling an order.

Thank you for using AT&T High Speed Internet. You may now close this window.

Your session has ended. You may now close this window.

Okay, so I call AT&T the next day. I start the process at 11:33 am. At 11:45 am I speak to a human, she does some research, and tells me I need to speak to the DSL folks at 11:52. At 12:00 I’m off hold and speak to the next human. She tells me I need to speak to another department and transfers me. This person does more research and tells me that the order was a mistake (no kidding!) and that it’s already been canceled. At 12:07 I ask him what I should do if I see charges on the next bill. He assures me that it this won’t happen, but if it does, I should call back and tell the person—I’m not making this up—“Stanley canceled this on 6/27/07 at 12:00 pm.” I guess there’s only one “Stanley” who works at AT&T.

At 12:08, thirty-five minutes into it, I think I’ve canceled DSL that I never ordered. Give or take a few minutes, it’s taken a total of sixty eight minutes of my life to do this.

I love Steve. I love Apple. I’m even open to spending more on a phone than a computer, but AT&T? The slowness of its data network is only exceeded by its lack of customer service. Can I just buy an iPhone to use as a PDA to impress my friends, listen to music, watch video, and access the Internet via Wifi while not having anything to do with AT&T? Can you hear me now?

Photo credit: Pia Torelli/Reflex News/WpN