AT&T Billing Confusion

March 24th, 2009

In today’s global competitive economy, how can companies stay ahead and make profit?  I’ll tell you how – by constantly changing their billing statements and providing customer support lines that are time consuming and full of untrained people.

Confusing Billing Statements:

My AT&T flickr set has the details of the first 6 bills, focusing on the AT&T – DISH Network (satellite TV) section.  To be fair, AT&T bills me, but DISH Network is the one who comes up with all these crazy line-items. Not one of them is the same.

2008-09-13: Total -$8.51 (credit)
2008-10-13: Total $95.98
2008-11-13: Total $54.99
2008-12-13: Total $89.99
2009-01-13: Total $60.97
2009-02-13: Total $72.99
2009-03-13: Total $36.57

Untrained Customer Support:

Oh, you think there might be an error on your bill?  No problem – Just call our Support line.  Hello, that’s half the problem. As mentioned in my previous post on Chicago Internet, I spent many hours on the phone trying to sort out initial billing confusion.  But I still have had to call several times to sort things out.   Part of the problem is the unusual relationship between DISH and AT&T.  They sometimes like to transfer you to the other.  Also they like to put you on hold for a moment and then after 10 minutes the line hangs up and you must start over.

Direct line to DISH Support- 866-266-1292

Best to start a Billing Chat Session with DISH Customer Support (transcript below)

The first billing confusion was based on the fact that I was told that I get free outgoing calls within 15 miles.  A manager at AT&T Customer Service assures me there is no such thing, and tried to sell me an outgoing call package deal.  No Thank You, Ma’am. Secondly, DISH is all sorts of messed up .. took 3 calls to sort of straighten it out.  See this picture with details on DISH Bill.  Basically they give you lots of credit on first bill to cover first and second bill, and the third bill should look normal. Did you look at that Bill?  what’s so hard about saying “TOP 200?, “Local HD”, “HD Silver” ???  One thing nobody mentioned is that they charge you $5/month if you don’t connect your DISH receiver to phone or wifi – “ADDL RECEIVER ACCESS FEE”.  What?   .

In any case, my most recent bill in march seems to have no errors.  Wow.  We’ll see how long that lasts. And here’s the transcript from my chat session with the DISH billing support.

Please wait while we find a representative to assist you…
You have been connected to (03) Rachel S..
(03) Rachel S.: Thank you for choosing Dish Network the leader in DVR and HD. I will be happy to assist you today. Please give me 2-3 minutes to access your account and review the information you have already provided.
(03) Rachel S.: Your patience is greatly appreciated.
(03) Rachel S.: I see that your Dish Network account is bundled with one of our Alliance partners.
(03) Rachel S.: We are sorry, we don’t have access to bundled accounts. However, we have a specialized department in Dish Network that takes care of bundled accounts.
(03) Rachel S.: Let me go ahead and transfer your chat to that department.
(03) Rachel S. has left the session.
Please wait while we find an agent from the (12) Partner internal department to assist you.
You have been connected to (23-12-3) TJ P..
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Thank you for choosing Dish Network, the leader in HD and DVR services. This is TJ, Operator ID ZAH. I’d be happy to help you with any questions or concerns today. Can I please have the name and zip code on your account?
Chad Norwood: chad norwood 60647
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I see you are inquiring about billing errors. I’m sorry to hear that. I’d be happy to assist you with this today.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: What in particular is the issue?
Chad Norwood: My bill dated Jan 13 is incorrect
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I’m sorry about that sir.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: What is incorrect on it?
Chad Norwood: 2 items, both labeled “2 premium package”, one for $9.02, one for $20
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I do see both of those on there.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I also see credits towards those of $13.53 and $18.04.
Chad Norwood: thats for “3 premium package” and “4 premium package”
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Then I see one more additional charge for $13.53 towards the premium as well.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Yes sir, it’s due to removing movie channels.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Those are the partial charges and credits that applied due to that change.
Chad Norwood: “3 premium package” has a charge and credit, so it cancels itself out
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Yes that is correct.
Chad Norwood: the “4 premium package” credit of $18 goes towards me canceling $40 in december
(23-12-3) TJ P.: You still have the SilverHD and PlatinumHD packages on your account which is the 2 premium package.
Chad Norwood: Ok
Chad Norwood: I did sign up for Top 200 and silver HD in september 2008
(23-12-3) TJ P.: That billing cycle ended on January 12th. Since you removed those channels in the middle of that, it did credit you back for the time you didn’t have the 4 premium package.
Chad Norwood: so i suppose $10 is OK, but not platinum
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I can remove the PlatinumHD right now for you sir.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I see PlatinumHD was signed up for for 3 months free on October 30th.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: There is normally a $5 fee for removing programming, but I will waive that for you today.
Chad Norwood: I never wanted the platinum
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I’m sorry about that sir. I can credit the difference back to your account.
Chad Norwood: I never wanted anything but Top 200 and silver .. so anything that was “free” that has a charge on it, isn’t really free, now is it?
(23-12-3) TJ P.: IT was free for 3 months sir, so yes it was free.
Chad Norwood: I appreciate you taking care of this, tho.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: After the three months, no, it is no longer free.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: You’re welcome sir.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Just a moment to apply that credit.
Chad Norwood: I also have questions about Feb 13 bill
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Sure sir.
Chad Norwood: First – you can take off platinum hd, right?
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Yes sir.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I already have that removed and there is a $20 credit on your account covering two months of that.
Chad Norwood: second, my $49.99 Top 200 turned into $57.99 classic silver 200
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Yes sir, we did have a rearranging of fees and a price increase on February 1st.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: The price increase itself raised your package $3 only.
Chad Norwood: i got a notice saying name change and price to $52.99
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Yes sir, if you notice, you are no longer being charged $5 for the Additional Receiver Access Fee.
Chad Norwood: so price is off by $5
Chad Norwood: $49.99 is on Jan 13 bill
(23-12-3) TJ P.: That is now included in your DVR Advantage pack, bundled with the price, instead of showing separate.
Chad Norwood: what is that additional receiver fee for ?? I only have one reciever
(23-12-3) TJ P.: So your monthly rate did only increase $3. The $5 you were paying before as a separate fee is no longer on the bill and the price of the package rose $5. So those offset each other created no increase there.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Excuse me, that should say: Those offset each other creating no increase.
Chad Norwood: I understand the math
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Alright, sir.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: From removing the Platinum HD, you will see a partial credit on your next bill for that programming as well.
Chad Norwood: But what does that name mean – additional reciever – since i have only one reciever
Chad Norwood: is that right?
(23-12-3) TJ P.: It’s for the second signal running into the receiver.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: It wasn’t aptly named, which is part of the reason the way it came out changed on February 1st.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: You have one receiver with two tuners in it. Two tuners allows you to run a second television if you’d like, but even without one it allows you to record or watch two live things at the same time.
Chad Norwood: Thank you
(23-12-3) TJ P.: You’re welcome sir.
Chad Norwood: I understand
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Is there anything else I could assist you with?
Chad Norwood: After several phone calls to DISH today, including 2 where i was hung up on, I”m glad to finally get a hold of somebody who knows what they are doing.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I’m definitely sorry to hear you had such trouble sir.
Chad Norwood: That is all.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I’m glad I could be of assistance however.
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Thank you for being a Dish Network customer. Have a wonderful day!
Chad Norwood: You too
(23-12-3) TJ P.: Thank you.
Chad Norwood: Keep up the good work !!!
(23-12-3) TJ P.: I appreciate it!
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