Case Study - AT&T Customer Relationship Management
By Tim Cook on May 30, 2007
Time-line of Events
April 20th, 2006 - I apply for SBC Yahoo Internet, which includes a sweetheart deal that will last for 12 months. Included in the terms & conditions is an early termination fee of $99 is mentioned.
April 21st, 2006 - The service is connected
April 13th, 2007 (approx) - I contact AT&T (had since re-acquired SBC) to disconnect phone & internet service, due to my imminent move to a new apartment. Disconnection is booked for April 14th. No mention from AT&T call center staff of early termination fee.
April 18th, 2007 - AT&T issue me a a bill. It is for $17.22 and is clearly marked "FINAL".
May 16th, 2007 - AT&T issue me another bill. This one is marked "REVISED FINAL BILL", and contains a $99 charge for "EARLY TERMINATION-HSI BASIC".
May 25th, 2007 - I contact AT&T and ask for an explanation. They explain the early termination fee. I ask if I can get my service re-connected. I am told that no, I can not get it re-connected as it has been more than 30 days since it was disconnected. I ask if there is any way this situation can be rectified - suggest that I could reconnect if a credit was made to cover the early termination fee. There is no flexibility available to the person I was speaking to, though they did empathize with my situation.
June 26th, 2007 - I send a check to AT&T for the $99, but include a request for an enclosed copy of this blog entry to be forwarded to their customer service department.
July 27th, 2007 - AT&T send a check for $99 back to me, refunding the early termination fee.
So, initially I was disappointed, but ultimately I am happy with AT&T. I could never say that they were not in the right, but I would still suggest that they could give more latitude to the people who work in their call centers.
It would also be wise to advise customers of the pending early termination fee at the earliest opportunity.