In an anonymous letter to the Dallas Morning News, a 17-year veteran of an AT&T call center has painted a picture of rampant consumer fraud at the company. The staffer bemoans that during all of her years with AT&T, she never “imagined it would become the catastrophe it is now.”
The call center rep attributes AT&T’s deep-seated customer service problems to one root cause: pressure from management to keep sales high. “It’s very frustrating to be an ethical rep there anymore, as you are constantly under their scrutiny for not meeting numbers. The only way to meet these numbers is to be a liar and a sleaze.” She alleges that 75% of her call center takes antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication in order to deal with their employer, AT&T.
Reps resort to dishonest tactics to meet their numbers, the insider explained. The anonymous rep works in customer retention – a department whose purpose is to prevent unhappy customers from canceling their service. Seeing their bills jump $83 per month after teaser periods expire, consumers call in droves to cancel. Crucially, each cancellation counts against the rep, she reveals. Thus, customer retention reps will tell customers that they’re disconnecting the customer’s service, but they simply break that promise, she alleges. To make matters worse, the AT&T employee accuses her fellow reps of promising promotional deals and then simply failing to apply them—fraud. These schemes are aimed at preventing dissatisfied customers from disconnecting their service during the call, she writes.
So let’s say you suffered from these shady tactics, but diligently wrote down the rep’s ID and discovered the deceptions. If you report the dishonest rep, then AT&T will discipline him, right? Wrong, according to the insider.
“[M]anagement does nothing to discourage the reps’ behavior (as the manager’s pay is negatively affected by each disconnect their rep does).” The implication is that AT&T managers won’t bite the hands that feed them—regardless of how dirty they are. Amazingly, the insider claims that the blind eye to cramming and other flavors of fraud “goes all the way up to sales center manager, general manager and VP.”
The insider’s revelations shed light on what so many of us assumed was mere incompetence at AT&T call centers: instead of incompetence, it sounds like an institutionalized culture of fraud. During your next call with AT&T customer support, try these three steps to help you overcome poor service and get what you deserve.
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