Customer Service

Not so bad

Friday afternoon I was having lunch with a friend when I remembered I needed to go to the AT&T store and move my iPad from a standalone plan to my family plan. Oh the dread.

Fortified with a meatball sub I made the short drive. On the way I thought “going to the cellular store is about as much fun as going to the dentist.” But then in the next minute how unfair that comparison was. My dentist is nice and my visits to her office are often reasonably enjoyable. So no this was nothing like going to the dentist.

It doesn’t matter where you go cellular stores for the carriers like AT&T and Verizon are much the same. You go in and talk to the “greeter” who is more of the list-maker. Adding you to the seemingly endless list of people waiting to be seen.

After a few dozen circuits of the store playing with the phones that are out and reading every scrap of information you find some uncomfortable corner of the floor to crowd into and hope that you have enough battery to keep yourself entertained while you wait. And wait. And wait.

Oh the places you'll go...

It could have been worse

All things considered I'm a pretty good traveler. I've racked up more than a handful of frequent flyer miles criss-crossing the globe to help deliver Open Source software to places far and wide.

Given the number of days I've spent in airports and on their companion tubes hurdling through the air a few tricks to make things easier have been picked up along the way. In addition there is plenty to know about scheduling and when to do certain things. This all brought me to the airport early Friday morning for a short flight from Boise to San Francisco for work. Arriving at the airport and flitting through security, my laptop was coming to life as soon as it touched the desk in the business center.

Great customer service makes or breaks businesses

Bongo Billy's excellent service makes for coffee love.From time to time I write about experiences with customer service. Recently three customer service experiences stood out and a brief examination provides some great take-aways.

The customer is never right service

The first of these experiences is that of interacting with a company, not even worthy of being named here, that provides medical and dependent-care reimbursements for Acquia's pre-tax plan. I signed up with the company some time back and had received a debit card and welcome email. The welcome email describes different ways of having claims handled from using the debit card, to faxing them or emailing them.

An unusual iPad 3G activation problem

AT&T Logo This afternoon I got a call from the folks who had spent hours trying to activate the cellular data plan on an iPad. Having called Apple and AT&T didn't help. The frustration level was understandably very high. At the end of the day it boils down to an odd little problem that AT&T never anticipated.

First the interface for activation isn't great at dealing with errors. The cycle would run like this. You enter all the data and submit it. The system doesn't like your physical address and tells you so. When it presents the form with the error it also removes the password you've entered in your last attempt. However it doesn't highlight the password field so you don't know readily it's been removed. Your next submission is rejected for not having a password. Once you fill that in it gets rejected for the address again and around, and around, and around you go.

But that's my job!!

While running errands today I stopped in the credit union to do a little business and see who I could talk to about the problematic iPad website. It's a simple problem really, the iPad is redirected to the mobile website. As you'll see if you visit the mobile site it is pretty spartan. More problematically there is no way to opt-out of using the mobile site.

So I try to explain the problem and I'm treated to an explanation of how the browser on the iPad works. "You see, the iPad looks to the server just like an iPhone so it's not possible to tell," goes the explanation. Of course it's complete balderdash. I explain that I spend my days working on some relatively large websites and know a thing or two and in fact it is possible to differentiate the two.

Ordering DSL from Qwest shouldn't be an adventure

When I tweeted a few days ago about the giant ball of fail that resulted from trying to order DSL service from Qwest I told the representative I'd blog about it because it wouldn't fit in 140 characters.

Where oh where are you?

The fun gets started with trying to enter one's address and get information about what level of service is available. Well here's where the fun starts. Following along if one enters:

1234 W Any Creek Street Meridian Idaho 93346

one gets back the variation address:

2421-2662 W ANY CREEK DR MERIDIAN ID 93342

Now mind you it's not so much a suggestion as your only option to choose this, albeit it incorrect, address. So if one tries again and changes what you're looking for to

1234 W Any Creek Meridian Idaho 93346

The suggestion changes and becomes:


Again closer but still not right as the zip-code is wrong.


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