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June 27, 2007

My iPhone Review

steve.jpeg

It’s hard to write something about the iPhone that takes a new angle. For the next few days you’ll be seeing hands-on reviews of the iPhone by folks like Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal and David Pogue of the New York Times. Come Friday night, you’ll also see the first customer reactions. Thus, every possible angle is covered.

Lucky for me, AT&T dropped a gift in my lap last night.

I recently installed a landline for Truemors and today, out of the blue, I got a notice that AT&T is turning on DSL for the line. In fact, it was turned on five days ago. There’s only one problem: I never ordered DSL, and I don’t want a Dumb Slow Line. How hard could it be to cancel a service that you never ordered? The back of the order said you can get help via an online chat system 24 x 7. Tally ho!

This is the actual transcript of my support session:

Please wait while we find an agent to assist you…
You are currently at position number 11 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 11 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 11 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 10 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 10 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 10 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 9 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 9 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 9 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 8 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 8 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 7 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 7 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 6 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 6 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 5 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 5 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 3 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 3 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 2 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 2 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 2 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 2 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 2 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 2 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 2 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 2 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 1 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 1 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 1 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 1 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 1 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.
You are currently at position number 1 in the queue.
The next available Agent will be with you in a moment.
You are currently at position number 1 in the queue.
All agents are currently busy. Please stand by.
You are currently at position number 1 in the queue.
An agent will be with you in a moment. Thank you for your patience.

So far, so good. It’s no big deal that I had to wait because I just had the chat window open and did other things while waiting.

Thank you for contacting AT&T Internet Services, my name is [AT&T Person]. One moment while I review your information.

[AT&T Person]: I see you want to cancel your DSL service, is that correct?

Guy Kawasaki: yes, I never ordered it

[AT&T Person]: I am sorry you are experiencing this issue and will be happy to assist you.

[AT&T Person]: Guy Kawasaki, is 650-329-2020 your DSL phone number?

Guy Kawasaki: yes, I want to keep the number. It’s my business number. I don’t want DSL on it at all.

[AT&T Person]: Do you have a dial up account with us?

Guy Kawasaki: Dial up as in data/dsl? No. 329-2020 is strictly voice for my business.

[AT&T Person]: I see. Please call us up at 1-877-722-3755 under normal business hours and over the prompt, say Orders.

[AT&T Person]: Do you have any questions regarding the information that I just sent to you?

Guy Kawasaki: Why? I’m not adding/ordering anything. I am canceling something I never ordered.

[AT&T Person]: Guy Kawasaki, I am sorry for this inconvenience but please understand that I am a technician.

Guy Kawasaki: Why am I calling this number? So you didn’t take care of canceling DSL. I just wasted 30 minutes?

Guy Kawasaki: Why didn’t you just tell me you can’t cancel a service?

[AT&T Person]: I am sorry. I do understand your frustration. Do you have any questions regarding the information that I just sent to you?

[AT&T Person]: Is there anything else that I may assist you with today?

[AT&T Person]: Before you go, I would like to inform you that you may receive a survey in your email, requesting that you rate the service you received from me. Please take a few minutes to fill this out and let my manager know how I am doing and how satisfied you are with the support you received from AT&T Internet Services.

Holy cow: a survey!

Thank you for using AT&T Yahoo! Chat Support. You will now be disconnected from this session. The chat window will remain open until you close it. For quick answers, make the new AT&T Yahoo! Help site your first stop. Visit http://help.sbcglobal.net where you’ll find pages of product information to assist you. Again, thank you for choosing AT&T Yahoo! Chat Support.

What’s Yahoo! got to do with this? Maybe this is why Terry Semel bit the dust. I guess when the notice said that people can get help 24 x 7 it was only for installation and troubleshooting, not an adminstrative task like canceling an order.

Thank you for using AT&T High Speed Internet. You may now close this window.

Your session has ended. You may now close this window.

Okay, so I call AT&T the next day. I start the process at 11:33 am. At 11:45 am I speak to a human, she does some research, and tells me I need to speak to the DSL folks at 11:52. At 12:00 I’m off hold and speak to the next human. She tells me I need to speak to another department and transfers me. This person does more research and tells me that the order was a mistake (no kidding!) and that it’s already been canceled. At 12:07 I ask him what I should do if I see charges on the next bill. He assures me that it this won’t happen, but if it does, I should call back and tell the person—I’m not making this up—“Stanley canceled this on 6/27/07 at 12:00 pm.” I guess there’s only one “Stanley” who works at AT&T.

At 12:08, thirty-five minutes into it, I think I’ve canceled DSL that I never ordered. Give or take a few minutes, it’s taken a total of sixty eight minutes of my life to do this.

I love Steve. I love Apple. I’m even open to spending more on a phone than a computer, but AT&T? The slowness of its data network is only exceeded by its lack of customer service. Can I just buy an iPhone to use as a PDA to impress my friends, listen to music, watch video, and access the Internet via Wifi while not having anything to do with AT&T? Can you hear me now?

Photo credit: Pia Torelli/Reflex News/WpN

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Comments

Sup? My name is weisenheimer vienershnitzel, and I'm thinking about getting an iphone for the holidays. Does anybody think its worth all the money for me to get it and pay for html?

Not an IPhone story, but an IT recruiting nightmare story...

I recently went searching in my business community for a technical support person. I contacted the Chamber of Commerce. I got 4 names.

Only 2 returned my phone call after 10 days.

We had a pleasant conversation and I shared my critical requirements. I told them I don't pay by the hour. I pay retainers and am willing to pay top dollar for the right IT consultant. They sounded excited.

I requested, prior to hiring them to come here onsite, that they send me 3 references of companies they have helped.

Now this is where the fun starts.

9 days have passed. Lyle at Connecting Point Computers disappeared and never returned my follow up call. Mark at CMIT Solutions sent me this response (6 days later):

"I apologize for being so slow getting back to you. You had asked me to send you some customer references and I have been personally stewing about your request ever since.

We would very much like to be the IT department for your business. Unfortunately, I am not willing to take the time of my established customers to have you check references. I value their time too much. The only other account that has asked me for references was Washington Mutual. I did ask customers to take the time then, but it was for a very large account. I don’t want to ask customers too often.

If there is anything else I can do for you, please don’t hesitate to let me know."

Now, what could I POSSIBLY ask him to do for me? I'm stumped while he is "stewing."

If you think the iPhone and DSL stories are bozoish, then mine isn't too far behind.

-- Lisa Nirell
www.energizegrowth.com

I made the huge mistake of getting an iPhone.

It is almost as though Microsoft built this thing, it does not work as advertized.

Further, and most important, the ineptitude of AT&T as a service provider is almost impossible to describe in words!

If you are considering getting one of these abortions, do yourself a very big favor and take this advice: DON'T DO IT! Yes, it looks cool...but it is an incomplete and barefuly functional product on the worst network in the known universe. And...

You will get a 300 page bill - IN A BOX! - every month!

AT&T THE VINDICTIVE COMPANY. I disputed a (first time) $1822.00 international roaming charge for approx. 6 weeks. My wife added the 5.99 roaming service, to be with her dying father(3 weeks)in Colombia and be able to stay in contact with me at home. She was never advised the high cost of making calls, some of which came in at over 140.00 each! I spending countless hours over 1 1/2 months calling the 800-331-0500 CS line and speaking to several supervisors. None of them called me back as promised. On 8/17/07, at about 6pm, I spoke to CS Supervisor, "LOUIS STRABRIDGE," Who told me that all "the notes" say the charges were valid. I asked for a copy of the call transcription when the roaming was added to prove they did not explain that some of the calls would be as much as 8.00/min and he said they would not. I told him I was never called back by any of the supervisors as promised and said this was terrible customer service. Louis asked me for my cell number so he could call me back. AT 1:45 AM THE NEXT MORNING, MY CELL PHONE RANG AND WOKE MY WIFE AND I. WE THOUGHT IT WAS A FAMILY EMERGENCY...NO IT WAS AN AT&T CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE!! I demanded to speak to a supervisor to explain the need to call so early. Supervisor "DIANE GERTIN," SAID SHE WORKS WITH LOUIS STRABRIDGE BUT HE LEFT FOR THE DAY. SHE RUDELY SAID AT&T CALLED ME BACK BECAUSE I WANTED THEM TO. Was this call intentional? ABSOLUTLEY! The next day I went into my local corporate store and the staff was shocked saying the company never calls people that early. They checked my open file and FOUND NO NOTES EXPLAINING THE CALL. I will of course have the call listed on my phone bill as proof. THIS IS A PRIME EXAMPLE FOLKS OF HOW A LARGE SEEMINGLY CUSTOMER SERVICE ORIENTED COMPANY BEGINS TO ROT FROM THE INSIDE OUT. I plan to draft many letters for my local newspaper editors and visit many forums on the net. DON'T THEY APPRECIATE THE OLD MARKETING ADAGE, 1 PERSON TELLS 2, WHO TELL, WHO TELL, WHO TELL WHO TELL, WHO TELL.......

I've spent over 10 hours on the phone with AT&T customer service this week with far worse results. It is the most horrendous customer service in this universe and any other. My latest email response from them tells me they are still reading from some script and ignoring anything I say or write to them. My only savior has been someone named Lavonne (sp?) in Bellsouth's residential service department. She is apparently the only person in the company with ears and a brain.

Dear Steve Jobs,
Thank you so much! It has been widely rumored for months, and now it finally arrived, I am thrilled with my new IPHONE!
We have to admit it’s quite lovely, the sleek, minimalist design it is overwhelming, the vivid display looks amazing, fun interface for navigating multimedia, terrific Web browser, syncs well, the functions flow seamlessly into each other.
Overall, and despite the high price, as predicted the IPhone is a revolutionary success, and I was not reluctant for a second to cancel my contract with T-Mobile.
I am pleased, and no regrets for jumping out off the fence and get the IPHONE. I feel terribly sorry, for the ones that can’t afford it, and chooses to speculate posting undesirable reviews.

my friend bought the iPhone ...
its really kewl ...
but cant use it outside US ... and we are in maldives ...
that sucks ...
but still ... its very kewl ...
hehe ...

Guy...

I too feel your pain (as well as the rest of you). I just "hired" AT&T for a phone and DSL because Cox Cable wanted to shaft me with high pricing and make me commit to a three year deal. Anyways, they botched my order three times already and I have been tempted to give up technology all together. This has been the year from hell for working with companies like NameSecure, AT&T, and Dell.

Well, I must go because I have to go give AT&T another hour or two of my time to see if they can unscrew what they screwed up.

Well, the good news for me was when my iPhone stopped sending my emails into the phone, I said, great, who do I call, my ISP service, AT&T or apple? I started with my ISP service and they said if I can get online with my iphone it isn't them. Called AT&T and they established it wasn't them in a very efficient way with people who knew what they were doing, so they transferred me seamlessly to Apple, and the Apple dude told me how to restart the iphone, which solved the problem. My initial feeling of being passed around didn't result in the nightmare I had feared, a pleasant surprise.

Well, the good news for me was when my iPhone stopped sending my emails into the phone, I said, great, who do I call, my ISP service, AT&T or apple? I started with my ISP service and they said if I can get online with my iphone it isn't them. Called AT&T and they established it wasn't them in a very efficient way with people who knew what they were doing, so they transferred me seamlessly to Apple, and the Apple dude told me how to restart the iphone, which solved the problem. My initial feeling of being passed around didn't result in the nightmare I had feared, a pleasant surprise.

I hear you. I have been using AT&T/Cingular for the past three years but I am finally changing. Poor service, three out of three phones were defective, clueless customer service, and on the list goes.

Guy, I really do feel for you. But think yourself lucky. It could be worse. You could live in Australia and have to deal with our version of AT&T - Telstra. I swear to god, the IVR they use will ensure you lose the will to live.

I was a long term and satisfied AT&T customer. I now hate the company with a passion beyond human endurance. I have just spent approximately FOUR HOURS spread over three days talking to "AT&T" about, of all things, a car charger for my phone. This was offered to me as a bonus when I upgraded my phone. I didn't ask for it; they offered. I told them to send it with the provision that it be a Motorola OEM model (If I'm going to use something, I want it to be right) Note this is the charger shown on their "accessories" web page.

They sent, instead, a cheap generic charger. First call was "ooops, we'll fix that right away" When the replacement never arrived I called again; talked to seven different people (telling my complete story and giving all my account information each time). They gave different tales, ranging from "What do you want, it was free!" through "go to an AT&T retail store and exchange it" to "We'll REALLY send you the right one, next week." I stopped there.

Today another cheap generic charger arrived. The THIRD person I spoke to said "Go buy one, send us the bill, and we'll refund you." Will you put that in writing?

"We never put anything in writing."

This is a good video overview of a week's worth of reviews...http://thenewsroom.com/details/476174?c_id=wom-bc-js

At least the person spoke - or typed - English.

Makes me think of this picture:

http://images.despair.com/products/demotivators/apathy.jpg

Support technicians are also humans.
Here is quit job interview with some Verizon DSL tech support guy
http://www.scribd.com/doc/49542/funniest-exit-interview/

Customer service sucks everywhere. But, we as consumers are also to blame. We expect to call one number and have our call to go directly to the person that has the answer we want.

When we reach someone and they don't have the answer or can't instantly connect us to someone that does, we get mad, demand to speak to managers, etc. That wastes time, money, and then fancy consulting companies come in to setup outsourcing and automation. It treats the symptom but not the cause.

It's currently a percentages game. I'm sure someone has the stats on what % of calls get resolved, re-routed, escalated, etc. That probably helps determine how to setup better queues, staff departments, bonuses, etc. There's probably a huge revenue stream just from people that get fed up and end up paying. Vicious cycle but that is both poorly designed and designed to work poorly.

What will happen is that companies will start charging more for higher-end service (think Apple ProCare). Enough people will pay for it and it will probably hedge the costs of customers leaving.

Overall, I too hate getting directed to a resource that can't answer my question. Kind of like getting directed to an iPhone review and getting an AT&T DSL customer service review...

The reason the technician can't help you is the phone people are trained to save you as a customer.

I worked with a system that initially had an online cancellation ability. It made it too easy for customers to cancel so it was replaced with a message to phone in to cancel so that a person could pitch their save offers.

Just be glad iPhone isn't with Sprint. Within the last 6 months Sprint changed their policy so that the "customer service representatives" in the store can't actually help you with customer service issues. If you have questions about your bill, phone, plans, etc, they point you to their crappy cell phones and tell you to call customer service. Henceforth, you have to wait 40 minutes for an answer on the store phone while the "customer service representative" behind the desk stares at you. I still can't believe someone thought the system was a good idea!

Wonderful read Guy. :)

Guy, great post - seems many missed your statement about writing something different about the latest Macingagdet (your first line, "It’s hard to write something about the iPhone that takes a new angle."). I heartily agree with the whole modern-customer-service-stinks-at-large-semi-monopoly-corporations-and-here's-an-example idea. It appears Apple is trying its creative/innovative best with its financial/customer care eyes closed.

However, (if you will allow me my own "new angle" on yours) shame on you. Being in the tech biz you should be familiar with the term called 'escalation process' whereby service is provided on a tiered scale. My experience with large companies here in the u.S.A has taught me to state my problem/request with the first live body that answers and give them *one* chance to resolve it themselves. If they even *hint* at not being able to completely resolve it themselves or *redirecting* me to another department, phone number, person, etc., I immediately ask politely to speak with a supervisor or manager and repeat the above steps until I get to someone who is willing to take ownership of my situation. I have rarely failed to get my situation resolved using this method; however, I have had to climb the escalation ladder quite a few rungs on occasion.

It's unfortunate we have to use little tactics like this to infiltrate enemy lines in these postmodern "enlightened" times. Seems like values, morals and character need to be brought back into the business management curricula of higher education.

We don't want to publicly talk about those things being relevant today yet the populace screams into the blogosphere when we experience the consequences of their lack. (Greed, expediency, etc. leading to poor customer service)

My .02

Well, reading all this I can imaging what's going on to happen here in Russia. Right now, we don't have locked phones. You just buy phone you want, and SIM card of a carrier you want, separately.

All the big carriers have some sort of automated voice\internet service to change your dial plan yourself so you just have no need to talk to them.

If you have some trouble that requires human assistance, it's a pain but not that worse.

We don't have yet carriers like AT&T that could be a monopoly for all services -- landline, cellular, DSL, for a home you live in. So you deal with different specialised service providers. That's might be not so financially effective (as complex providers give you discount and subside your phone for your loyalty) but more effective to manage as you can choose provider you want for each service.

But now they all talk about triple play and staff like that so things will turn worse soon...

How would you rate the phone? Here is a poll: http://www.apopularitycontest.com/display_poll.php?ID=5560

I hate AT&T / Cingular, etc. They suck...I've been through the same hell that GUY has gone through. I FEEEEL your pain!

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