Who would have thought my attitude toward AT&T (which was admittedly declining rapidly) could change in a day? Yesterday, I blogged about our less-than-ideal experience with their service here in Blacksburg. It’s been pretty frustrating to be in a rapidly growing urban sector of southwest Virginia and realize we had better cell service in rural south Arkansas.

Since Apple signed the exclusivity agreement with AT&T back in June 2007, many have compared the phone company to the Empire in Star Wars. One of my favorite images has been the rendering someone did of the AT&T logo as the Death Star.

However, as I wrote yesterday, it takes great communication to alleviate the angst that customers feel when they are left out of the loop of issues that affect them. Carolyn and I received that yesterday. Let me tell you what happened.

We had an errand date. Among other things, I got a haircut (actually I got them all cut), returned some things to Lowe’s and then bought some stuff for Adelyn’s closet at Home Depot (cheaper there, or so I thought), and finally, we made a stop at the local AT&T Store in Christiansburg.

We pulled up out front, and I said, “OK, get your angry face on.”

We both scowled at each other and stepped out of the car, loaded for the angry-customer-routine at AT&T. Then we broke down into laughing at each other’s expressions and stepped into the store. We were met by Scott, and his humor, identification with our problem (his phone had also been down over the weekend), and warm, friendly attitude soothed our ruffled feathers in a microsecond. Not only was he helpful but he was likable. Kudos to AT&T Christiansburg for hiring him. The other employees in the store were also warm and sincere. We were impressed.

They assured us that the service was sketchy due to the soon-to-be announced network upgrade to 3G. They apologized profusely, which they didn’t have to since it really wasn’t their responsibility. Scott then helped us switch our cell numbers to local numbers. Imagine our delight and surprise to learn that JEFF (5333), CARO, SAMN, and ADDY were all available! Scott and the others were pretty entertained by our Arkansas enthusiasm. After learning I was a pastor, Scott suggested that I get 998.LORD so if people needed Jesus, they could call me.

While the Scripture does say, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” (Romans 10.13) I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Felt a little sacrilegious.

We left the store happy customers.

But wait, there’s more…

Upon returning home, I logged into the AT&T site to check my online account and make sure that all our upgrade dates had not been reset as well as ensure that our carryover minutes were still in place. They were both gone. New upgrade date was two years out. Grrrr.

So I called AT&T customer service… Here’s my second great experience in one day. Are you sitting down? The girl I spoke to was extremely friendly from the beginning. I related to her about our recent move and what we’d done in the store. She checked the records and then assured us that it would take up to 24 hours for the records to be updated in the system. She then scheduled a phone appointment with me for Wednesday to make sure it had been taken care of!

On top of that, she asked why we’d moved. I related that I had been called to be the pastor of Northstar Church here in town, and she happily congratulated me. When she asked if there was anything else she could do, I replied, “Fix our reception issues.” Upon learning that for our 3 weeks in Blacksburg we’d had very poor service, she said, “Hold on.” Upon returning, she said that it appears that they’re preparing to turn on 3G in Blacksburg, and the date is scheduled for… August 14! This Friday!

She laughed as I cheered. I related to her about my blog entry yesterday and said I wished AT&T would communicate better with us so we’d understand what was going on. She agreed and after I asked if there was any possibility of them reducing our fees for the month of July, she graciously gave us a $50 credit toward our bill. “You guys have been great customers for a long time now. With two iPhones on your account, we want to honor and keep you happy. Is this credit sufficient?” she said.

I enthusiastically agreed.

Soooooo….. although my griping about AT&T over the past weeks has been pervertedly fun, I’m ending it now. Thanks to Scott and girl-whose-name-I-can’t-remember. It only takes one or two folks like that to put a whole new spin on the AT&T world.

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