Monday, September 17, 2007

Adventures in Customer Service

The following is a conversation I had with my friendly Cingular The New AT&T customer service representative. Enjoy!

AT&T: What can I help you with this morning?

Me: Um, yeah... I noticed a discrepancy on my August bill under the x1973 number? There's a charge for ten dollars for something called 'Bid4Prizes'?

AT&T: Okay... let me look into this for you. Ma'am, could you hold one moment?

Me: Sure, thanks.


AT&T: We found the charge in question. It's from a company called "Motricity" -- it's one of the services like you see in TV commercials for ringtones and games... It was probably ordered on their website.

Me: Well, we didn't order it. We're responsible adults, and neither of us would ever, ever be interested anything like that.

AT&T: We're very sorry about the inconvenience, ma'am. What probably happened was that somebody accidentally entered your phone number in on the Motricity website --

Me: Wait -- so anybody can just do this?

AT&T: -- what happens is that sometimes people accidentally enter in the wrong phone numbers on these websites. I went ahead and credited your account and canceled the subscription...

Me: Holy crap! A subscription?! So basically, anybody can just enter in anybody's phone number into a website and get them charged?

AT&T: .....

Me: Jesus. Do you get calls like this all the time?

AT&T: Ma'am, I've gone ahead and credited your account for the full amount.

Me: This is crazy. You can just screw over whoever you want.

AT&T: Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Me: Um... no? I guess I'm good.

AT&T: Well thank you very much and we thank you for your business and tell your friends and family about The New AT&T.

Me: Uh, thanks. I'll be sure to do that. Bye.


Laura said...

Amazing. Just amazing. This happened to me a little while ago with something called Wilton Rewards - I had no idea what it was, and I still don't know.

You might also want to spread the word on, a website for reviews of products and stores that you really like (or really hate). It's at, and it's very easy and rather cathartic.

Anonymous said...

It's actually not possible to just enter someone's number and sign them up for a subscription. I don't think the AT&T person understood what they were saying. A message is sent to the phone number entered that must be confirmed by the person with the phone before the subscription starts.

litelysalted said...

Ooooh. Thanks for the tip, Laura.

Well, anonymous -- no one "confirmed" jack shit on our end, so I don't know where you're getting this. Additionally, I had to call back after I realized it was a "subscription" and saw that we had been getting charged for it for a couple of months now -- and so the second CS person I spoke to was a little more personable and verified what had happened.

Alex the Odd said...

Yikes, getting charged for things out of the blue is never a fun experience. I regularly look at my bank statements and see a coupleof withdrawals of £50 at, like, 1am on a Wednesday and get freaked out - then I realise that I'm me and remember the half hour cab ride I took home.

I suck.

On the "phone subscription" thing: I wouldn't put it past any company that regularly advertises to kids on daytime TV to have the kind of business practices that allow you to just enter anyone's phone number - it's all the same to them.

AT&T formerly Cingular formerly AT&T said...

shut up stoopid, we is a good compney... u are stoopid, we know wut we r doeeng!!

MEECH! said...

... but seriously, the same thing happened to me; I called in, got the same spiel about not being charged until the subscription was approved, yadda yadda... then how come it showed up on my last 3 bills?!

Fuckers. Like 55 dollars a month isn't enough for you.

litelysalted said...

...any company that regularly advertises to kids on daytime TV to have the kind of business practices that allow you to just enter anyone's phone number...

That's pretty much what the second lady said, that kids just fuck around and enter in random numbers. Sadly, I could totally see myself doing that as a kid. Don't make it right, though.

girl with curious hair said...

This is horrible--now I have to check and double check ever statement I get in the mail. Crap.

On the upside, I didn't know such things were possible and could be used as revenge against those who annoy me. Not that I would, but it could be done...

aejr said...

HOLY SHIT! scary!

sounds like AT&T tho. i had lots of bad trouble with them.

Anonymous said...

I just got that charge on my bill and did a Google for Bid4Prizes and your blog came up as the top search result.

Tried to call AT&T about it but they're closed on Sundays. Nice.

And yes, there's no way I would confirm that charge. AT&T should not allow this vendor to run charges through their system: it's an obvious ripoff. But they like this vendor because AT&T profits by charging the vendor a service charge for each reversal and the vendor doesn't mind because they get money for each customer who doesn't notice the scam.

David said...

I'm a bit late in the game on this, but I had a similar thing pop up. ATT set up a protection on my account that I have to explicitly tell them if I want something to be charged like that. As I'm not a 12 year old girl, I never sign up for a subscription on my account... so it never impacts my life.