AT&T U-Verse: Customer Service Fail, Comedy Win


I’m setting up new TV and internet service and decided, after some online research, to go with AT&T U-Verse.  I had never heard of it but the only other choice in my building is Comcast and I’m not a  dotcom millionaire so they are a little out of my price range.

When I did my online order as I went through the process it asked what day and time I would like to schedule my installation.  This included the standard calendar widget with a “please select from available times” direction aiming me to the dates in blue.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a time available for the next day (Thursday) so that’s what I selected.  I called it a day impressed with AT&T’s easy online system and prompt installation.   I should have known better.

Sure enough, that night I got a confirmation e-mail letting me know my U-Verse installation was confirmed for the following Monday:


Yup, service confirmed for March 14th.  Three days after the time I had selected.  No problem, I’ll just hit the “support site” link in the e-mail to ask about it.  That took me to this very helpful page:


So then I figured I would just call in.  I made two different runs through the automated AT&T system that both ended with unexplained hang ups by the system.  On my third call I got the always helpful “please call back during regular business hours from 8am-7pm” which was great since they had only notified me at 9pm.

Just when I was about to give up hope I remembered that when I was on the U-Verse site ordering a helpful chat window kept popping up to see if I had questions and talk me into purchasing.  Surely the helpful chat window would want to help me again now that I really had a problem?  What wound up happening could not be confused with solving my problem but I just might have made a friend for life.  Here’s the whole chat transcript [Note – The made up name of the offshore chat helper has been changed to prevent any backlash]:

AT&T product specialists are happy to assist you with your questions. Click below to begin your live text chat.

Chat representatives will not have access to your personal account. This service is provided to you under AT&Ts Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Welcome to AT&T. My name is Kyle.

Wow, Kyle that sounds like the name of someone I might actually know.  I already feel comfortable that this person can really help me although I’m assuming it’s actually someone in a windowless warehouse in Sri Lanka.

you: Hi Kyle

you: I have a problem with my UVerse order

Kyle: I will be happy to answer your questions regarding AT&T U-verse products.  To start, could you please tell me which State you’re located in and the zip code?

you: 94158

you: When I placed my order is asked me to select an available time for the service appointment and I selected tomorrow from 11-1pm. I just got the e-mail confirmation and it says Monday instead of tomorrow.

Kyle: Hello, thank you for the zip code information.

you: How do we fix that?

Kyle: I apologize for the inconvenience you are facing while your order.

you: Can you fix it?

you: Here is the order #XXXXXXXXX

At this point we hit a long pause.  I got worried that something might have happened to my new friend Kyle.

you: Are you still there?

you: Kyle?

Kyle: Let me share some information how it works.

Kyle: Yes, I am right here with you.

Kyle: I am typing something for you.

you: ok

Kyle: I would have loved to assist you with that but being an online chat representative, we do not have privileges to access your account information online at this moment. In this case, I kindly request you to call  our customer service department as they are the best people to deal with that as they do have access to your account information so that they can verify your order with our system and help you change your installation date. Would you like me to provide you with the direct number of our customer service department so that they can do so?

Awesome, direct me back to the closed customer service department.  Seems the sales guys work 24/7 and the support team only works bankers hours.  Perhaps I just need to let Kyle know about the tough time I already had.

you: I called the customer service department and their automated system hung up on me twice.

you: I don’t understand why the online site would ask which day and time I prefer if that is not going to be the day and time for the installation.

Kyle: I understand your concern; however, as we do not have access to your order, I kindly request you to call our customer service department.

Kyle: Can you think of any additional information you might need, or any questions I can answer about AT&T services?

What I most immediately thought of that I needed was actual help with my problem which, to this point, I was not getting. I know Kyle can do better.

you: Yes, why does the web site ask me for a time I want the service if it is not going to schedule the service at that time?

you: And I tried calling the customer service number but they hung up on me multiple times. Are you going to hang up on me too?

you: I’m starting to think AT&T hates me.

Kyle: It is possible that the time you scheduled may be available at your location but you might have received the wrong mail. In this case, I kindly request you to call our customer service department to check back your options.

Kyle: The AT&T believes in retaining customers but not in losing customers so they will surely find the way to satisfy you with the installation option you wish.

This was an interesting insight into AT&T’s thinking about customers.

you: How do you know AT&T wants to retain me as a customer?

you: You said yourself they won’t let you see my account and help me, wouldn’t you like to help me?

Kyle: Our online department is specialized to limited process just to navigate customers through the order process for new customers  hence, we do not have access to your account information.

Kyle: However, as you have already placed your order, you are requested to call our customer service department,. Otherwise, I would have helped you with changing your installation date within a moment without wasting your time.

Kyle: After all, we think our customers most valuable.

It’s nice to feel most valuable.  It would be nicer to actually get help with my problem.

you: So if I hadn’t actually ordered you could have helped me but because I am a customer I can’t be helped.

Kyle: As I am specialized in new customers order processing and I do not have access to your account, I am unable to help you even I wish to.

you: If I was still in the order process could you set a specific time for the installation?

And here we get another mysterious minute long delay.  I’m a little worried that Kyle may really be in trouble.

you: Kyle? Are you there?

Kyle: If you order as a new customer, you will be able to select the available time yourself as you proceed. However, it is recommended to not to order again as your order is already in our system with our customer service department. By ordering again, it will result in creating double account and double billing which I do not want that create difficulty.

you: Are you ok?

Kyle: Yes I am right here with you. I was typing the response.

Kyle: I certainly understand your situation how frustrating this can be.

Kyle: Please accept my empathy towards your situation.

you: Why didn’t the site just connect me with you when I was ordering to set the time? I was on with another chat host and they never said they could help with that.

Great use of the word empathy.  Kyle really does care.

you: Thank you for your empathy.

you: You are a true friend in this most difficult time.

Kyle: I would have loved to do that but as I said that I only have privileges to navigate you through the order process not in order system. I can help you with navigating you to the page but cannot see your selections or account information

At this information my previous assumption that Kyle is in Sri Lanka has shifted to wondering if Kyle is actually a convict.

you: It would be a little weird if you could see which internet package I selected. Bandwidth says a lot about a person.

Kyle: I would have done what I could do for you.

How can you not love this guy?

you: I know you would have.

you: You are one of the good ones Kyle.

you: I am proud to call you friend.

Kyle: I would have done everything that I could be able to.

Damn, if Kyle weren’t in Sri Lanka/prison I would hire him tomorrow.  So much passion!

you: Thank you, that means a lot to me

you: Don’t feel bad Kyle, you did all you could. I hope you won’t let not having been able to help me ruin your day.

Kyle: Thank you for understanding my limitations.

Kyle: It’s a great pleasure  that I have been chatting with you who understands my limitation.

We all have limitation.  Preach on brother.

Kyle: I would be glad to provide you with the direct number of  our customer service department so that they can help you with that.

you: Don’t ever let your limitations stop you. You can do anything with your life!

Kyle: For assistance with AT&T U-verse via phone, please contact our customer service department at 1-800-288-2020. Customer Service is available from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Sunday.

Kyle: Can you think of any additional information you might need, or any questions I can answer about AT&T services?

you: Thank you Kyle.

you: I will never forget you

I came for service and I left with a friend for life.

Kyle: Thank you for chatting with AT&T today.  It has been a pleasure assisting you. Should you need further assistance today, please click on the chat button to chat with us again. AT&T appreciates your business. You may click the “Close” button on the chat window to close this chat.

Oh Kyle, I closed the chat but opened my heart.  Thank you.


Do I know anything more about the AT&T U-Verse products?  All I know is their customer service won’t actually help you but they damn sure will entertain you.  From now on I may just hit the live support chat any time I’m feeling lonely.