"WE DON'T CARE!--WE DON'T HAVE TO! WE'RE THE PHONE COMPANY!"--Lily Tomlin as "Ernestine," the playfully sadistic phone operator, on the old TV show "Laugh In."
After using the AT&T website (successfully) today, to add some features to my home phone service, I tried to find a way to ask the question, "Why do some people I call see "caller ID blocked," instead of my name and number?" (I don't have blocking on my account.) After trying very hard to follow the on-screen instructions exactly, to get to a tech support person for a "chat" about this, I found myself stuck in a loop, required to log in again and again.
Abandoning the website, I tried the 800 number, found myself in phone-menu Hell, and (after finding no option that met my needs) discovered that the menu offers no option of the type "just let me talk to a human being, PLEASE!" (If you fail to select one of the menu options offered, or press "0" in desperation, you'll just be kicked back to the beginning of the top menu.)
Exasperated, I went to the corporate part of the website to find the name and address of someone to whom I could write a letter of complaint. I found none. Searching the Internet for "at&t complaint" and similar combinations, I found a mountain of complaints posted, plus an interesting report that, if you write the CEO of AT&T with your complaint, your letter will be forwarded automatically to the legal department, which will send you a "cease-and-desist" letter threatening legal action if you persist.
AT&T's attitude of "man the barricades!--the customers are coming!" is a striking contrast to that of another phone company, which not only posted its corporate address and CEO name on its website, but quickly responded to my letter of complaint (directed to the CEO), and actually had company officials (plural) call me, for further details.
The most infuriating part of my experience with AT&T was the badly-designed website. If AT&T wants to avoid payroll costs by routing all inquiries to a computer, they should at least have a really user-friendly website, with instructions that can be easily followed by the average consumer. (Hey, I have 30 years professional experience in IT, and even I couldn't make the website work!) And, most important of all, the website should have a "fall-back" option: some way to ask a human being what to do next, either via chat or email. The failure of AT&T to provide this last option, on either website or phone menu, should be a red flag for consumers, and--dare I say it?--to investors, as well, since indifference to the basic needs of consumers is not a good sign for the long-term health of the company.