AND THEN, THERE’S AT&T – Marilyn Armstrong

I swear that I’m at that point with AT&T where I’d rather chip half an inch of ice off the car than talk to anyone at AT&T.

Yesterday, they delivered the telephone that goes with the plan. Whatever plan that turned out to be. I actually had no idea what the plan was. Each time I talked to someone, they had no idea what I was talking about. I kept getting computer-generated emails telling me I had to pay $80 or $90 next month and $50 or $60 thereafter. I signed up for their 300-minute plan that comes with a free flip phone.

Yes, they still make flip phones. They are just like the old ones. In fact, I these really might be the same flip phones we used 20 years ago. They sure look the same, although they have a calendar and a camera. I’m not expecting much of a camera and for reasons that are obscure to me, it didn’t import my Google contact, but apparently, it will accept the information if I can figure out how to enter my email address and password into the flip phone.

Right now, I can’t actually turn it on and off successfully. It’s one button that turns it on and turns it off, but you hold it longer to turn it off. If you hold it too long, it starts up again. Meanwhile, the on/off button on the side doesn’t do anything as far as I can tell. I wonder if this thing will ever work. I despair as I try to read what they humorously call “the user guide.”

I went to the site where they are supposed to tell me how to set up the phone and they never heard of it, but the setup site never heard of the phone. I was forced to (gods of olden days please protect me) call AT&T.

I couldn’t even figure out how to turn the phone on or move the cursor. She did turn the SIM on, but it didn’t have any information on it. But, it turns out, there IS a manual for the telephone. Not a good manual, but a “better than nothing” manual. I’m sure you know what I mean. Written by a software program, no humans involved.

“Why,” I asked, “Didn’t they include the manual with the phone? Is there some law against giving basic instructions to users?”

“This is the packaging for this phone, and it doesn’t include the manual,” she explained.

“Lady, I used to write manuals. You ALWAYS include the manual with the device. That’s the point of having the manual. When you get the device, you can make it work and you don’t have to spend three days on the telephone with AT&T.”

She said she was sorry, but she could give me a link to the manual online. I said “FINE. Let’s do that.”

But it wouldn’t come up so we had to clear my browser data and NOT sign me into AT&T and then figure out what phone it was because the only thing it said was AT&T. My home phones are also AT&T, but they don’t actually make them. I think they might be Unidyne ripoffs, but I’m not sure. They work and that’s all that matters.

In this case, she had no idea who made the phone, so I pried open the back and said: “The battery is an Alcatel, so I’m betting that’s who actually made the phone.”

And sure enough, Alcatel made the phone. Got the manual. Downloaded it. Saved it in two places — desktop and on Google — and then she asked me if I need any more help. I said: “No, I’ve had enough of AT&T to last me the rest of my life. I’m going to eat dinner, watch some television and try to never think about AT&T again as long as I live.”

Long pause.

“Thank you for your patience in letting me assist you.”

“If you’d included the manual, you wouldn’t have had to assist me.”

“Well, thank you for being a loyal customer.”

“You’re welcome. Now I’m going to eat my dinner.” And I hung up before she could say anything more. I couldn’t cope with another thank you for being a loyal customer because being a loyal AT&T customer doesn’t feel like a great thing at the moment.

Oh, and by the way, after a lot of conversation yesterday on the phone — I’ve had three days of dealing with AT&T, not to mention half a dozen computer-generated NOT the real bill — I am paying $29.99 a month plus local taxes. The phone cost $3.78 for shipping. That’s it. I am saving about $20 a month … and I nearly lost my mind in the process.

The phone still doesn’t really work, but I can turn it on, turn it off, and enter a phone number and probably, it will call the number. Pretty sure.

I did eventually get it to accept my wi-fi, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time, right?

Categories: Customer Service, Media, Technology, Telephone

Tags: , , , , , ,

42 replies

  1. Where have all the consumer advocates gone? Seem to me we’ve been losing a lot of ground lately.


  2. Gotta love technology. I hate calling tech support. It’s almost easier to figure it out myself than sit on hold for 40 minutes.


  3. I had the same sorts of problems when I got my ‘smart’ phone. This was in 2016 and it’s apparently obsolete now, which boggles my tiny mind. It works and I can do what I need to with it, BUT nobody could explain how to make it work to me. I had to learn by trial and error. Initially I couldn’t figure out how to even get past the start up screen, which looks amazingly like a dial pad. Finally I learned how to get past that (I password protect all my devices) and it’s been an interesting journey. Now if I weren’t lame as a duck, and didn’t need the thing for emergencies if one comes up while I’m in the car, I’d toss it. Go back to my old landline. It might be ‘archaic’ and young people might snicker, but the landline was easy to use. And cheaper. Good luck sweetie! I suspect the luck is what you’ll need, because getting any decent ‘support’ (as you found out) is simply not possible any longer.


    • We have a “landline.” It costs $4.99/month. We use it for everything. I have email on my computers and I can happily live without a cell except if I’m traveling. It’s just a waste of money.

      The instructions are written by software and make very little sense. I finally manage to program in the five telephone numbers I actually use on it — two friends, my son, and the electric company.


  4. It’s become so complex! I have never had a cell phone, don’t know how to turn one or use it. I think I’m glad about that.


  5. Oy Oy Oy. Thank wanted to laugh but I couldn’t. 🤦‍♀️


  6. If it can be complicated, ATT will find a way. You have my total sympathy. They took out one of our phones and managed to screw up my Kindle so that even they can’t fix it. I thought the idea of all this technology was to make things simpler, but they have complicated even the simplest things. Onward and upward to 1994.


  7. Oh, Marilyn….this is beyond ridiculous with AT&T now. What does their Help Desk actually do? ‘Cause it is pretty darn obvious they don’t help!


  8. Sounds like a nightmare.


  9. I only have a smartphone and no other, but never had a problem, although it’s an iPhone. i have. never heard of the flip phone


    • OLD technology. Very old. I had a smartphone and two separate iPhones, but they cost $30 more per month (minimum, usually more) and I really don’t use them. This should let me make emergency phone calls — and cost less. And I may just go to an el cheapo pay in advance phone because $30/month for a phone you never use is still too much money.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Everything in the USA seems so difficult to do. No wonder so many people are in therapy. Hope this is the last time you have to talk to them.


  11. I had a cell for years. About 3 years ago i put it down. I don’t miss it. I don’t need it. I hardly ever used it. The only people that called me were bill collectors looking for previous person that owned my number. They called me incessantly, No matter how many times i told them i was the new owner of that number they just kept on robotically calling me anyway.
    They probably still are,


    • My next stop is canceling entirely. I don’t use it anyway and unless we are on the road and for that, I can buy a pre-paid phone at Walmart and not even HAVE monthly bills. We only use it when we are traveling to tell people we’re lost, we’re late, we almost there — and occasionally, to call my son and remind him to feed the dogs and leave them enough water. Otherwise, I NEVER use it. I leave it in my bag turned off and I never give the phone number to anyone because I don’t want calls coming in. The whole goal of this exercise was to reduce the cost of the phone, but at $30/month, it’s STILL too much money for the amount I use it.


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