How AT&T lost a customer

From guest blogger Phil, in Australia

Yesterday I had to phone AT&T up in order to try to purchase a product they sell.

The product in question was called Web Meeting and it met our requirements nicely and a couple of calls by someone else hadn’t yielded any of the promised callbacks.

So I called the Australian number for AT&T and spoke to the receptionist I explained that I wanted to purchase Web Meeting and needed to speak to someone who could help me purchas it, she then put me through to the Helpdesk in the Philippines.

I called back and again spoke to the receptionist and asked for someone in Sales. “they are all in a sales meeting today” but I’ll try connecting for you. She then disconnected me.

I called back, explained again and she tried putting me through to the same person but disconnects me again.

At this point I’m pretty annoyed but ring back up and am successfully transfered to a sales executive who takes some details and promises to call back, but doesn’t give me his number so i can call him direct. Three hours later he still hasn’t called back. Call AT&T and told he’s in a meeting.

I’m now so annoyed I look up their address detailed on the AT&T website and lo and behold they are in the building opposite the one I’m in, and two floors down. So i decide to walk over there and try to resolve this.

I walk over get to reception and meet my first nemesis, the receptionist. She’s brusque and annoyed that I don’t have an appointment but when I give my name she is immediately apologetic about the disconnections and calls the sales executive again but he is still in a meeting, so I ask to speak to someone else.

Cue a nice young lady from Kilkenny in Ireland who recently returned from the Grand Canyon in the US where she was on holiday. Suffice to say in 5 minutes I’ve explained what I need and why I’m there.

She promises to call me or email me later in the day with the details i need but says that our company may not meet the mininum requirements for the product. She explains that in order to qualify to BECOME an AT&T customer we would need to have an existing contract with them worth at least $100,000AUD.

Flabbergasted I leave with her promise to contact me and concentrate on other things.

Fast Forward to the next morning.

I receive an email from her telling me that the US alone controls Web Meeting and all administration and sign up is handled there, she emailed the product manager and will get back to me when they reply to her email.

So I think well its still afternoon in the US so i’ll ring them and find out what i need to do to sign up. Cue Benny Hill-esque telephone calling sequence where i try every number for AT&T in the US only to discover they’ve all gone home at 4pm EDT!

Eventually I get answered (call centre in Georgia) and speak to someone who can sign me up there and then, i explain i’m calling from australia and need to buy Web Meeting and can we do it now.

I spend the next 30 minutes providing all the details their system needs, addresses, billing addresses, telephone numbers and contact details. And then she asks me for a US telephone number for billing purposes, I explain we don’t have a US office and can I pay by credit card.

In order for us to be billed, and thus signed up, we need a US phone number. When I say we don’t have one she says she can’t continue without it, and there is nothing we can do to get around it.

What kind of company advertises a global product but has the requirement that you must have a US phone number in order to be billed?!


We went and bought a year’s subscription to and so far it’s working just as we want, no fuss and no sign up hassles.