The world of personal business these days is complex.
Although I’ve whittled down the number of entities with which I have business relationships, it is still time-consuming and sometimes stressful to maintain reasonable online security, revise information on the WWW, manage cookies, cache, User IDs and passwords, and more. It can require days or even weeks to work through the list of online necessaries during the process of a move. In order to keep things humming in a normal, responsible life in the Western world, these things are important. We don’t want our banks or other organizations to become unhappy with us, and perish the thought of identity theft.
My grandmother, Ruth Casey, lived most of her days before ATMs and all her days before online banking became widely available. I remember that she used to pay bills in person, visiting several places around town. Even when I had some direct knowledge of her habits (when I was a college student benefiting from her good cooking and good-naturedness), I thought that was odd, but I suppose it made sense for her, given that she couldn’t have had more than seven or eight monthly bills, and all the offices were within three miles of each other. It was simple then.
Now, possibilities for personal business seem limitless—and can be either blissfully convenient or paradoxically inconvenient. I tend to set up as many automatic functions as I can, so I don’t have to write checks or make too many manual transactions, but sometimes, conversations are necessary.
Communication with company representatives can present challenges. I prefer simple web forms (typically found within three or four clicks) to any other method of making changes, but 10% of the websites are down for maintenance right when I need them, and another 10-15% for some reason have decided not to offer web forms for address changes. An e-mail or a phone call is sometimes required.
The online chat option is one that I treat as though leprous, touching it only if I feel protected. Today, I thought I’d try an online (typed) chat again. Pity that I tried with AT&T, which is a company that seems to draw more than its share of “horrible customer service” assessments to accompany its solid, even impressive slate of technology offerings. Our first experience with AT&T was when it sold (then didn’t sell, then sold, didn’t sell, and finally did sell) a service to us in another city. The service turned out not to be offered in the area, but they had sold it anyway! The company even mailed us hardware and connection materials, and we couldn’t use them. In a final offense, AT&T made us drive many miles to a UPS center to send the stuff back.
Fast forward 2 years. We had a few difficulties in setting up service, but once it was activated, we had no real problems.
Now, a year later, I decide to try to correct a little problem via the online chat window. The conversation below occurred today, 8/18/16.
|AT&T: Our agents are currently assisting other customers. Please wait and the next available agent will assist you.|
|AT&T: Hello! Thanks for choosing AT&T Chat.|
|Brian: Good morning. I don’t usually have trouble with this kind of thing and do not use my att.net address as my main e-mail account, but it’s bugging me that someone at some point (a year ago) misspelled my last name, and I can’t find how to change it. I think this would be in a default “Reply-To” field somewhere.|
|Markell: Hello, my name is Markell. How can we assist you today?|
|Markell: I apologize for the inconvenience. I can help you with that.|
|Markell: May I have a contact number so that we may reach you via phone or text with information about your AT&T services?|
|Brian: Thanks. My contact # has not changed, but I do not want any information other than an answer to my question here.|
|Markell: You are welcome, Brian.|
|Markell: I’ll look into this for you right away.|
|Brian: OK, thanks.|
|Markell: You are welcome.|
|Markell: Just to confirm, do you want to correct the last name on the U-verse account?|
|Brian: I don’t know about the account per se; I don’t think it has a misspelling. The problem I notice is in the att.net e-mail reply-to address (or something similar). My last name is Casey (not Cesey).|
|Brian: I simply can’t find a setting in webmail that allows me to change the reply-to address name.|
|Markell: Thank you for all the information provided.|
|Markell: I am checking the information for you, Brian.|
|Markell: Could you please help me with the AT&T E-mail/User ID that you’re trying to access online?|
|Brian: email@example.com. (There is no problem with logging in or access. It’s only the spelling of my name in e-mail replies that has the problem.)|
|Markell: Thank you.|
|Markell: I am checking the information for you|
|Markell: Please allow me 1-2 minutes.|
|Markell: For your security and to ensure we protect your privacy, please verify the 4-digit passcode on your account.|
|Markell: The four-digit AT&T passcode would have been created when your AT&T service was ordered.|
|Brian: I know you are just doing what you’re supposed to do, but I would like to state that this is taking WAY too long. I asked a question that could have had a fairly quick answer, and so much of this has been extraneous. Again, I am not faulting you, because I believe you have to do certain things in replying. I hope a manager sees this, though. It is frustrating to spend 20 minutes for a 2-minute issue. My passcode is [XXXX].|
|Markell: I am sorry for the trouble caused.|
|Markell: Your account has been authenticated. Thank you.|
|Markell: There is no option to make changes to the U-verse primary user ID.|
|Brian: Also, I do not need “security” and protection of privacy for the sake of resolving this particular issue. Thank you for understanding.|
|Markell: Do not worry. I will help you remove the firstname.lastname@example.org ID from the account.|
|Brian: Do not remove that!|
|Markell: So, you need to register the U-verse account again with the correct name.|
|Brian: Please understand. I only need a spelling change!|
|Brian: Let’s just drop this, and I’ll try to get it resolved by phone at another time.|
|Markell: It is the U-verse primary user ID email@example.com.|
|Markell: There is no option is available to make spell changes on it.|
|Markell: The ID firstname.lastname@example.org is available right now.|
|Brian: It was not my error. It was someone else’s error at some point.|
|Markell: So, you can register it|
|Brian: The spelling problem is not in the e-mail address. It is in my name, as stated.|
|Markell: Yes. I do see that.|
|Brian: And … you have spelled it incorrectly, too.|
|Brian: Please, please, just drop this and make no changes. Please verify that my email@example.com is still active.|
|Markell: Your existing U-verse ID is active. I didn’t make any changes with out your approval.|
|Markell: That’s the reason, I have authenticated your account to provide the ID firstname.lastname@example.org ID is available to register.|
|Markell: I do see that the name on the U-verse account is Brian Casey|
|Markell: I will help you change it to Brian Casay|
|Markell: I am sorry for the typo.|
|Markell: *Brian Casey|
|Brian: Thank you. I don’t know why this has been so difficult. blcasay is yet another misspelling. I have no interest in creating another account. My account and e-mail address are fine. The spelling is c-a-s-e-y. My e-mail address will remain the same.|
|Brian: I only want the reply name to be correct. I will wait and try this again another time. Thank you for your time. Goodbye.|
|Markell: I am sorry. I misspelled it.|
|Markell: Meantime, I just want to ask are all of your computers and devices able to connect to the Internet?|
|Brian: I am not interested in answering unrelated questions as I have a schedule to keep. As long as nothing has been changed, we will leave this here. Thank you again for your efforts.|
Fortunately, almost all the other, recent changes have been easier than this one! For the present, I stand by my aversion to the chat window as a methodology for customer service.
Next: local personal/business relationships