Thursday, January 30, 2014

Keeping on top of customer service

Back in December I called my cell phone company and asked them about a $15 out-of-contract discount they were offering. I did qualify (I figured I would, I've been out of contract for two and a half years) but it has been a PAIN to actually get that discount.

The first person I spoke with verified that I did qualify, but I would have to switch my plans around. I would be switched to a data plan ($25) and a voice/text plan ($20) that offered enough megabytes/minutes/texts to cover my usual usage. Sounds good - with taxes and fees, it still came out to about $18 cheaper than what I was already paying.

Then I got my first bill, which showed me on a $40 data plan and $30 voice/text plan - a $25 HIGHER bill than usual. I called AT&T and went over what I had been told by the first rep, and the second rep fixed the plans to what I actually agreed to and gave me a $25 credit to cover the difference. Since I called so early in the billing cycle, it was applied before I had to pay the bill (I HATE it when companies give you a credit but it doesn't appear until the next bill and you still have to pay the higher wrong amount - that's a free loan you're giving them! Anyway.).

That was great, but then I got the next bill, which showed the $25 credit but ALSO still showed the $40 data plan with no $15 out-of-contract discount. So I called AGAIN, and the third person I spoke with said it takes 2 billing cycles for those discounts to show up*. She again gave me a credit to offset the difference from what I had agreed to pay, and said things would be right by the next bill.

I'm waiting on the next bill to see if everything is actually as I agreed to.

It seems crazy to me that this was so difficult. You have to be organized and have time on your hands to pull this off - I write down the date, time, name, and other details of all customer service phone calls I make for just these occasions, and I called during Baby M's naps. I've had shady billing practices with AT&T before, so I was extra alert and careful to check everything twice. Three phone calls to save $15. If that was a one-time savings, I'm not sure it'd be worth it, but since it's almost $200 per year, I guess it was.

* Why hadn't either of the previous two reps told me that? And WHY does it take two billing cycles for discounts to show up? It doesn't take two billing cycles for higher-priced charges to show up. I suspect most people just don't notice, so the company is able to make a little more money. UGH.

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