My Soap Box Rant on my phone company

Many years ago, I was very idealistic and felt I could affect change. In those days, companies and government representatives did respond to the voice of the people. I helped to save the Wild Mustangs with Wild Horse Annie. I helped save the dolphins from the tuna fishermen with boycotts and letters to representatives to create new laws. It was a good time.. Now the world is more complex, the communication network is vast, and big business has begun to rule the powers that be.. it IS the power that be, I think... but still I try.. I try to be the "squeaky wheel that gets the grease".... we can't give up, we MUST be a voice!

 
April 19, 2004  Tackling SBC - Good Old "Ma Bell" which is not good any more....

I have never been more angry in my life at the way that Big Business and Monopolies are ruining our lives - everything from our day to day needs to our very jobs! What brought this to a head for me was learning that our own phone company - a swelling giant with no heart - has begun to "out-source" customer services to other countries!! SBC, with their fancy commercials done by actors touting all their ever expanding services, does not care any longer about the very people who pay them millions of dollars to even exist in the first place!

For months, no the past year or more! - SBC has not held up as a reliable DSL company, let alone a telephone company. We have had both phone line outages and DSL outages - all proving out to be on THEIR END! Ever since SBC- the mother Bell company swallowed up Pacific Bell things have changed radically! Funny thing - the government years ago broke up "Ma Bell" and now the Bell company is slowing, and blatantly bringing back all it's little sub companies right back into the parent company!

I learned about the possible strike of all the SBC workers right from the source- the 411 information operators! While the strike was averted for now, learning that now the DSL technical support customer service is being out-sourced to foreign countries where the people taking the call cannot even UNDERSTAND you, nor you them, is the LAST STRAW!

When I called DSL technical support on Saturday, April 17th, and got the status recording it said all the customers in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas were unable to connect to the Internet. I stayed on the line and went through the system to TRY to REPORT that it was affecting us, here in San Diego as well. I got a lady with a thick accent who began to ask me for my name and telephone number. She was having trouble getting my last name, and I began to get really suspicious. I asked "where am I calling"? - when she only parroted the recording status information to me. I said "I am in San Diego!" She said "Are you in Los Angeles or the surrounding area"? Then I knew- she was not an American, she was unable to help me at all. I demanded to know where I was calling? I said WHAT COUNTRY?? Dead silence.... What country?? "Corporate policy does not allow us to give out that information"... I asked again... same response. I said "Fine! I am calling Corporate"! and hung up. Of course corporate customer service has no voice mail, nothing and I am forced to wait until Monday.... but the shock of the reality of AMERICAN DSL technical support being routed to anther country to a person who does not even know what they are talking about was infuriating! I was unable to report the outage in my city, and held hostage to the automated recording information only.

I called 411- to talk to the nice folks working there and when I told the gal what happened, she gasped! She asked me to tell her supervisor, and I did. We had a nice long talk. Then I called 611 - the phone repair line and talked to a young man, who had just found out about this out-sourcing, and he said "his manager said our jobs were safe"... but I am sure he is beginning to doubt that! (411 is information - the good people who have given me many corporate numbers and 611 is the phone line repair line) It is more likely that the 611 jobs will be affected next... one would HOPE that the 411 phone number information jobs would NOT be out-sourced, since these folks really need to be easy to communicate with, and knowledgeable about our own areas, and our own country, when we may not even be sure what city the business we need to call is in, etc.

I have been talking to corporate and the higher level of customer service for many months now, as SBC DSL service in Southern California has been off line for a day, two days, and now THREE DAYS in a row - by placating people who I can now see even more clearly have an agenda - taking our money for the corporate people to live a high life, with no concern for both their service to us- the people who pay their salaries, nor the very workers here in the United States, with the ever expanding out-sourcing of jobs! How will they fair when the people like us wise up and leave them for any other company, and how will they fair when all the workers they put out of jobs can't even afford DSL or any fancy phone service from them??? How can a company that is founded and based on service and American jobs act to undermine our country?? GREED!!

Okay- I just talked to the corporate part of SBC for DSL service in San Antonio, Texas... I was told that only the 'overflow' calls are routed to India, and that SBC is a US company dedicated to staying in the USA.... that I should have asked for a supervisor, and that I could have asked for the person's id number (which he admitted might be an India based company id and not an SBC one).... and that he was making a case for my concerns...and that it was not falling on deaf ears.... AND that with my service out for more than 24 hours I should see a automatic CREDIT on my bill (which I was asking about) next billing... if not I have to call and make a case for that to be looked into to receive a credit...

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It has been hours since I talked to the Texas SBC DSL... after a round robin bunch of calls, I found out that the man in Texas was NOT giving me the correct information. The DSL billing department for residents would NOT have gotten a credit information... I only got that for both our lines because I CALLED THEM to make sure! I also found out that there is NO difference in the business and residential DSL packages when there is a huge area that is down... The Texas person kept telling me I needed the business package to get "better customer service".... I finally called another corporate office where a lady had helped and been sympathetic in the past and this time she told me over and over I would have to lodge a complaint with the DSL corporate- that she could only help me with the voice line part. So I was not calling high enough... and I can only complain TO the DSL department that was causing me the problems!!! Dead end? Perhaps... I am totally disheartened and we will be looking for other ways to get our services outside of SBC... It is simply NOT a "user friendly" company anymore!

I did try once more to get to higher up corporate to lodge a complaint about the sub departments (why would I lodge a complaint TO the department that I have a complaint about?!?!) and the number (still business hours) suddenly has a recording 'you have reached #.....(NOT the number I called) with no company name, nothing but "the box is full".. My nice 411 operator tried 15 corporate numbers with the same exact result!! It's like the system is locking us out!! She said she had never had something like this happen in the YEARS she was working there! Well... that kinda says it all, doesn't it??

Still, the bottom line - is CALL!! And call every department, and don't give up! Call corporate and YELL loud enough! Either you will affect change or you will find out once and for all where a company is coming from! The SBC DLS guy agreed that without us there would be no company... so it does pay to call and make a complaint! The more folks that call the more likely there will be change!!! Call your information number and ask for SBC corporate! Tell whoever answers you have a serious complaint about your service/customer service treatment in the DSL (or phone) and you want to talk to someone in charge! (this works for ANY company by the way... call and BE A VOICE FOR THE PEOPLE!!)

This weekend, and today - Monday while my DSL is still down, I am spitting mad,  and hoping that TimeWarner TV cable with it's RoadRunner internet service will hurry up and come to our area - anything to get away from SBC! My cell phone needs more minutes and I need a new phone for that - SBC just lost that account as I will certainly stick with Verizon, instead of going with the new SBC cell phone service!! I plan on calling a few television stations to inform the news media of this too. I imagine they will show if the are affiliated with SBC or not - if they do not report on it, they are probably tied to SBC in some way... time will tell on that.

This Out-Sourcing Job thing....

When we were forced to give up Symantec - Norton Antivirus software because of it's new invasiveness, we moved to McAfee... when I called to talk to the McAfee customer service I ran into the lack of communication with an East Indian man... When I recommended that a friend order a DVD player on line from Circuit City, and the machine arrived broken so she had to call them - she was forced to deal with another East Indian customer service person that absolutely could not understand her! I called Corporate for her and helped her talk to an American to get the situation resolved!!

Big Business Greed- I am afraid that we are headed for a REAL depression! Thanks a lot, Corporate America! I hope you can survive on the minority of the rich folks who also don't care!

Do what you can folks- try to get your services with other companies, SPEAK WITH YOUR DOLLARS!! And while you are at it, consider what England did to fight the outrageous gasoline prices - boycott one oil company's stations at a time!! We can't go without gas, but if folks would just organize and boycott one oil company's stations for a week at at time, the impact would be felt in the oil company's wallets! San Diego has the highest gasoline prices in the country! More outrageous greed by heartless big business!

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Look at this amazing turn of events!! Jobs being created HERE by foreign company with free internet phone service!!!  Click here! While I am not happy about the new knowledge that Kazaa was previously owned by the creators of Skype, it is refreshing that these people may be doing something so positive for our job market! 

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