"#1 according to whom?"

For those of you dear Gentle Readers who read my monumental 5-part blog about my Anniversary Party – “Here’s the thing. . .” – you might remember my rather perturbed comments aimed at the customer service department of AT&T.  I believe I mentioned that I would be writing a letter to that august corporation to register my *ahem* “concerns” about their obvious difficulty in delivering their “award-winning,” “Number 1” (so-called) record of service to their customers.

I wrote such a letter, and mailed it the next day, while the wonderful experience was still fresh in my mind  (as though such treatment would ever grow stale for me). The letter, after being very quickly written and before being mailed, was read to Hubs and my brother and sister-in-love.  It was not very well received, primarily because of the rather “uncivil” tone.  While I believed I was terse, I also feel I was quite civil and restrained.  But, as my regular readers will remember, I have a hard time judging my own tone of voice, or written impact.  For a refresher course on this inherited problem, see “Being Misunderstood.”

So, I bowed to pressure, and reworded it.  I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the final version, but  I didn’t receive any other suggestions – in fact I got no further comments at all.  Period.  So I mailed it.  Owing to the tone of the letter, I did expect some sort of reply or at least an acknowledgment of receipt.  To date, not a single word.  I’m waiting, and I will definitely keep you posted as to the progress.  Until then, I am providing you with a copy of the letter:  (I did, however, receive my first bill to cover the balance of the first- month charges.  Of course!)

October 26, 2010

AT&T Consumer Complaint Department
400 Chastain Boulevard
Kennesaw, GA 30144

To whom it may concern:

Recently we received in the mail an invitation to change our bundled service from a local cablevision company to AT&T. This was not the first time that we had received such a mailing over the past year; however, it is the first time that upon calling I learned that your service is at last available at our residence. I spoke with your sales representative, who offered me excellent service, but that is the only service I am satisfied with to date.

Because our present bundled system delivered all three services – DSL, telephone, and cable television – we did not have a phone jack, although I do believe that at some point in time, our 110 year old farmhouse might have had one. I informed the sales rep that this was the case. I paid the initial set-up fees over the phone when I placed the order for High Speed DSL, telephone service, and Direct TV Satellite package. I was pleased with the quote given for the first year of service, and also that after the first year, our costs will still be somewhat less than what we now pay. The rep told me that Friday, October 22, the Direct TV would be installed, and Saturday, your AT&T services would be installed.

Our Direct TV serviceman delivered as promised, and we were set up with them by an excellent service man. So far, so good. He had tried to call us and inform us what time he would arrive, but he said our number (the new one assigned to us by you) was not working. I said it is because they had delivered the equipment, but not installed it. As they were scheduled to come Saturday morning, I waited until mid-afternoon before I called the service department to inquire as to the delay. She told me that there was no service call scheduled for us. The equipment is delivered and you install it yourself. I said we had done that, except that the equipment requires a phone jack, which we do not have, and the installation personnel were supposed to have been at our house that morning. She checked her records, and initially told me that there was no such order. At my insistence, she checked again and told me that yes, there was an order for a phone jack, and that they would be here Monday morning, October 25.

Since I had installed the equipment as far as I could, I had unhooked our present service. This means that we no longer had internet or land-line telephone service. As most of our friends and acquaintances have only that number and not our cell phone they would not be able to contact us. Our 35th wedding anniversary was that Monday, October 25, and we were having a large party. We needed our phone service up and running as soon as possible. As there was nothing I could do about speeding up the installation, I said that that would be OK, as long as it was installed by Monday early afternoon. At 4 p.m. I called to inquire why the service had not been accomplished. I was told that no such service order existed and that if I needed a phone jack, I would have to pay extra, and the earliest they could get to our house was Thursday, October 28, (today). This news was not greeted by a happy AT&T customer. Moreover, he told me to make sure someone would be home, as they could arrive anytime between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. I thanked him for your “specific” time schedule and hung up abruptly. Needless to say, I was and am very upset. I have some internet business that I need to get done, and the extended wait has put me even further behind. I simply do not understand how such egregious errors by your customer service department – especially in light of the telephone recording announcement I received every time I telephoned you, proclaiming your service as “award winning”, and “#1” – could happen. If your service is an example of “#1,” I pray never to have to deal with “#2.”

I called the service department this afternoon and explained why I had so abruptly terminated my previous telephone conversation. She was very sympathetic, of course, and connected me with your complaint department, and I was given this address to which to direct my complaints. Therefore, I am writing this letter. I was informed that you would make an effort to make things “right” with me. I thanked him, but also added that the only way at this point you could make things right was to deliver my service as promised, and to be assured that I would not be assessed any additional fees nor have to pay for any of your service that you would bill me for before the date of actual installation and use. I have no reason at this point to believe that it will be done anytime soon. I am hopeful that you will do the installation at least by October 28th, the time I have now been promised.

Please tell me that this is not an example of your customer service. Since I am locked in for a year with this program, I most definitely will be taking note of any future service we receive, and will terminate our contract immediately after it is up should I perceive no improvement. Moreover, I will make recommendations to my friends and family that they either terminate their service or not use your services in the future. I sincerely hope that it does not come to this. I have a rather large circle of friends and family.

I thank you for your immediate attention and resolution to this matter.


Paula Tohline Calhoun


At 11:30 a.m. on October 28, the technician from AT&T arrived, at last, to install our telephone jack. He was courteous and friendly.

So – you be the judge:  Is the letter too long (probably)?  Is the letter too short (oh, yeah!)?  Or did I say just about enough. . .

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