When I was in Whistler watching my son at the Paralympics, I was at Starbucks daily (it was my office) doing my email. Since Starbucks has wifi, I assumed (mistakenly, it turned out) that when I got online, I was using the Starbucks wifi. It was a fair assumption but oh, was I wrong.
On the last day of my trip, my wifi stopped working. And when I returned to Austin, it still wasn’t working so Shawn, my tech guy, tried to fix it. When in my h/o I don’t use my laptop, so it wasn’t urgent. But I certainly needed it for my presentation at ProductCamp later that week.
Shawn was unsuccessful so called ATT. He was on the phone with one of the reps for over an hour. Finally, the woman said that the sim card was un-fixable and she’d send another. I waited the rest of the week and it never came, and Shawn had to bring his laptop to my ProductCamp presentation so I could give my lecture.
Yesterday – a week after Shawn spoke with the woman who said she’d send a replacement sim card – I got a call from ATT, telling me I either owed them $643 for using my wifi in a different country (Canada) or I needed to pay her $59.99 for the monthly out-of-country charge so I wouldn’t have to pay normal roaming fees (i.e. the $643 bill I’d apparently incurred).
“WHAT? WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT??”
‘Ms. Morgen, I’m trying to save you money. If you pay me $59.99 for the monthly fee for the out-0f-country option, you won’t have to pay the fee you incurred. We’ve actually disabled your sim card for non payment, so you won’t be able to use it until you pay and I turn it back on.”
“WHAT FEE?? I was told the sim card was broken! I was told there would be another one sent and I waited for it! My web guy spent an hour with one of your folks trying to fix it! Why wasn’t it on my account notes that you’d disabled my card? Why didn’t I know that I was choosing my sim card rather than the Starbucks’ wifi capability??? And why do I have to pay for a month when I only used it for 6 days – why not pro-rate it for me like T-Mobile does with my phone?”
“Sometimes a screen doesn’t come up at Starbucks to give you a choice. We know that. That’s why we’re giving you a cheaper option. And I don’t know why the notes weren’t on your account. I can’t speak for the person you were connected to. I can just offer you this cheaper option now. And we don’t prerate. You must pay for a month at a time.”
Eventually, I was so angry, that she deleted the $59.99 charge also. But what happened here? They didn’t have a way to offer me choices earlier, or let me know I would incur out-of-country charges (oops! It was in the fine print!). I had never had those sorts of charges with my last sim card provider, so I was in the dark. And I almost got hit with a $643 bill. Is this insane, or is it me??
At what point do our phone companies give us the information we need without us having to go through hell and back to get normal services? I remember the customer service problems I used to have in 1983 before ATT was disbanded as being a monopoly. I would have thought with so much competition, they would consider giving better customer service, better rates (Does it really cost them $643 to have me use the airwaves in Vancouvar Canada, for appx 15 hours??)
What is going on here? Do we have a voice – i.e. walk with our feet – or a choice with current providers? Is there a way to know the entire set of plan options before we start (I guess I forgot to ask the proper questions – but with a history of using a sim car wherever I wanted, it never dawned on me)? Or is it up to the provider to have a list of rules/options to lead the customers through so they always know up front what the deal is??? I”m just asking.
PS: Two weeks later – two weeks – I received a Sim card from ATT. I have no idea what to do with it. But the thought of calling them to find out makes my skin crawl.