Here at TrustDALE, we've seen plenty of cases of terrible customer service. From slow response times and rude office staff to stonewalling and just plain disappearing, we've seen what happens when companies don't do what's right. Usually, we see this happening with smaller businesses. Large corporations typically have the money and the personnel to do what's right, if you can just reach the right people to talk to. That's why we are shocked by this egregious example of "customer no-service" from a company as big as AT&T.
A Dangerous Mistake
Alejandra Salazar, a single mother, was excited to have AT&T fiber optic cable installed in her home. A technician came to her home and began his usual routine. To run the cable into her home, the technician needed to drill a hole from the inside out. But as he began to drill, he made a serious and dangerous mistake. Instead of drilling clear through her wall, the technician drilled right into her power box. There was a quick flare followed by an immediate short, and then a complete loss of power in the home.
This was no simple mistake. Hitting the power line could have killed the technician and started a fire in the home. Luckily neither of those things happened, by Ms. Salazar was suddenly left in the dark. Normally, we would expect a mistake like that to be reported back to AT&T and immediately remedied. Instead, the technician handed Ms. Salazar an 800 number to call and told her that she had to get this fixed herself. Once she did, she could call the number and apply to AT&T for a reimbursement. Then the technician abruptly left the scene, leaving Ms. Salazar without power and with no one to turn to.
A Downward Spiral
Shortly after the AT&T technician left Ms. Salazar in the dark, another technician arrived to install a dish. Seeing that Ms. Salazar had no power, the technician told her that he had a buddy who is an electrician, and he could get this repaired. Not knowing where else to turn and still without power, Ms. Salazar agreed to have the electrician restore her power.
The electrician came to her home, and he successfully restored power. However, he charged Ms. Salazar $2,200 out of pocket for the repair. And, unknown to Ms. Salazar, the electrician neglected to apply for the appropriate permits to do the repairs.
Before the repairs began, Ms. Salazar had to contact Jackson Electric to shut off her power so it could be safely repaired. But when she called to have it turned back on, Jackson Electric had some questions. They wanted to know why the power had been shut off in the first place. Knowing no better, Ms. Salazar told them the truth. She told them about the AT&T technician and the electrician who fixed her powerbox. That's when Jackson Electric informed her that they had no records of any permits. Unless she could prove that the appropriate permits had been obtained, they would shut off her power in 48 hours. Not knowing what to do, Ms. Salazar reached out to her uncle Tony Lugo, a member of the TrustDALE community of trust. And Tony called us at TrustDALE.
We reached out to AT&T thinking this must be a case of simple miscommunication. We were directed to a customer service agent named Chelsea, who was assigned to Ms. Salazar's case. After repeated attempts to contact Chelsea by phone, we were ultimately able to connect to her only by email. She told us that it was Ms. Salazar's responsibility to make the necessary repairs to her electrical system. Then she would have to apply to AT&T for a reimbursement.
But that wasn't the end of it. Chelsea informed us that the reimbursement was contingent on an investigation—presumably performed by AT&T themselves. If, after the investigation, it was determined that AT&T was responsible for the damage, Ms. Salazar could submit receipts for reimbursement.
At TrustDALE, we've dealt with lots of consumer complaints against large corporations, and this just didn't seem right. Surely someone at AT&T could take responsibility and make this right. So we reached out to AT&T's lead public relations manager for Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. We wanted to know why nothing was being done to take care of Ms. Salazar. The response we got shocked us.
According to a statement, the technician had reported the problem to AT&T as soon as it occurred and began the claims process on her behalf. Then, all Ms. Salazar had to do was to present AT&T with an estimate for repairs to be reimbursed. First of all, this was very different from what Chelsea had told us initially. Secondly, this still put the full responsibility for repairs on Ms. Salazar.
TrustDALE Springs Into Action
At this point, Ms. Salazar had a patch job from the electrician, who had installed the wrong kind of power box on her home, and she was facing a shut off because she lacked the proper permits. So we reached out to Coweta EMC, which is the same company as True Natural Gas, a TrustDALE partner. They were able to connect us to David at Jackson Electric, who cut through the red tape and kept Ms. Salazar's power on while her electrician installed the right kind of power box.
This still left a big hole in the interior of Ms. Salazar's home. So we reached out to Trusted Toolbox, a TrustDALE partner. They like to do what's right, and they agreed to fix Ms. Salazar's home at no charge.
We still haven't gotten any worthwhile communication from AT&T, but at least we were able to make it right for Ms. Salazar. And we look forward to hearing from AT&T. We'll let you know when, and if, that happens.