Guest Column: AT&T coming layoffs, & bad service — why?

By Peter Taluc

Sunday, Jan. 22, at around 2 p.m., my phone line suddenly went dead. No dial tone. I was on the Internet at the time, so I am clear about when this happened. There was no dial tone on any of the phones in the house, and I then checked the interface box on the outside, where there was also no dial tone, so I was confident the problem was with AT&T, my landline and DSL provider.

I went to a neighbor’s house to call AT&T to report the outage. After following the endless menu layers, I was plugged into the queue to talk to a technician, which is what the computer said I needed to do. The computer told me that someone would answer my call in “about two minutes,” but after waiting an hour, I gave up and went home. I then went to McDonald’s with my laptop to register the outage on the wireless Internet.

Even though I connected to AT&T’s site, I could not find any way to register the outage, and gave up.

Sunday morning at around 7:45 a.m., I tried to call AT&T again, and finally talked with a rep. She said she would have a tech come out on Monday, or on Sunday, if possible. About three hours later, I got a call (the phone rang!) From the field technician, who said that he had fixed the fault, which was right at the pole near our house. He said that on Saturday, when I had dealt with the automated system, that system had actually checked my line, and the people in the office had determined that the problem was close to my house and guessed the problem was in my house. He said that their policy is then to tell the customer that they will send someone out, but they do not — they deleted my service request. This was apparently why the system wouldn’t answer my calls.

He also said that AT&T is laying off 1,600 (local!!) people on June 1, 2012, which is to be announced on April 1. He said that although the landline business is profitable, it is not as profitable as wireless, so they are working to get rid of it. All service work will be farmed out to subcontractors after June 1, a move which will only make it more difficult to get “service” from AT&T. Although the subcontracted workers will be making $12 an hour less than the current AT&T employees, I doubt if our phone bills will go down, as they didn’t when they outsourced all of their call center jobs. More profits for AT&T, less service for the public.

I know others have experienced the same problems (Google “AT&T Customer Service” to see many stories), and the company has only become worse with time. It would be nice if our legislators helped the people for once in demanding that AT&T serve the public, not only by providing good service, but also by not outsourcing all the jobs – all of the call center jobs have already been outsourced overseas.

Where are the legislators who will take on this company and stop them from outsourcing jobs and continually diminishing the quality of service? This is an election year – where are the legislators who want to save jobs? Or are they all bought out by AT&T’s big money?

Peter Taluc is a resident of Rockford.

From the Feb. 15-21, 2012, issue

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