Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Law's Delay, the Insolence of Office....Cutting the Gordian Knot

AT&T Inc. announced (a week ago) Thursday that it will cut 12,000 jobs – or about 4 percent of its global workforce – citing the slack economy along with corporate reorganization and declining demand for traditional landline telephone service.
At the same time they've also apparently started a more "flexible rate" policy. If you tell them that you can't afford to continue their services, they might give you a slight break in their rates.
Rare and fortunate is he or she, however, who has not at one time or another been ensnared in the Catch 22 of timeless bureaucracy. A man in upstate New York had to regain his commercial drivers license ab initio, with all the attendant costs, despite the fact that the problem originated not with him, but with a mistake made by the Department of Motor Vehicles. At least it was outrageous enough to make the news.
AT&T is certainly still coming out with an attractive array of products, if their ads are any indication, and their remaining employees are excellent at touting and selling new services. But you have to wonder if maybe they should have kept one or two people capable of cutting the Gordian knot. I now have an inch-thick folder of correspondence and notes to prove my point.
In the middle of last October we left an apartment we had rented temporarily in North Carolina, and called AT&T to have the phone and Internet services turned off. At the same time they talked us into ordering a pay-as-you-go cell phone, to get us through the time we would be without a regular phone. So far no problem.
When we got the next bill, we were being billed for a month's services in advance. We called, and they said ignore that bill, because you'll be getting a final bill in a few days. That same scenario has been repeated for four months now. We've spent close to four hours (no exaggeration) on the phone with them, and written four or five letters. Each time they say first that we didn't have the service terminated, but then they check it and say, OK, it was shut off, and you'll get a final bill in a few days. But all we get is an ever-growing bill (it's up to $400 and change now) and an occasional letter saying the bill is going to a collection agency.
Oh well, hope springs eternal, and maybe the fifth time's the charm. Hope so, anyway, and hope you are luckier....

1 comment:

Concerned Neighbor said...

Postscript: Finally after five months gradually got the bill reduced to where it seemed cheaper to pay it than to continue calling and writing, although at 70 some dollars it was more than twice the amount owed for the few days of service that final month.

Yeppers, computers really speed things up, until you get caught up in a Kafkaesque nightmare.

Fortunately this was only about a phone bill, not something serious like medical information, or erroneous personal information.