Monday, September 15, 2008

Echoes of July 11

On July 11th, I had a lot of explaining to do to my wife after I waited 5 1/2 hours to purchase my iPhone 3G.   The time felt well spent to me, as I conceived the idea for Cosmovox and several other iPhone app projects that Leisuresonic currently has in the works.   But the last hour I spent in the Portland Apple Store set in motion a time consuming quagmire that I couldn't foresee at the time.

I didn't think that the activation failure that I experienced while trying to buy my iPhone 3G was a big deal;  I had already waited in line more than 4 1/2 hours.   The Apple sales rep was flustered but he eventually put through another activation request and I marched home with my fanboy prize.

Over the next few days I received repeated phone calls from AT&T asking about my failed activation.  The calls came from different departments of the AT&T behemoth.  Some were confused as to why my phone service was working on my new iPhone.  Eventually I spoke with a representative who figured out that the activation failure I experienced on July 11th came from an attempt to transfer service from my land-line home phone to my new iPhone 3G.  I watched every keystroke the Apple representative entered on his clunky Apple Store mobile sales device,  so I never faulted him for this.   Nevertheless, the AT&T representative assured me that the problem had been corrected.   The calls from AT&T ceased. 

By early August I had received my bill from AT&T.  I was mildly perplexed, and in hindsight myopic, as I received more than one bill.   Had I looked closer at them, as a responsible party should,  I would have noticed that the bills were for 2 independent AT&T mobile accounts, using two different phone numbers.   I chose to pay my bill in full online and felt that my business with AT&T was done for the month.

Before the end of August I received a phone call from a woman named Veronica Perez from First Revenue Assurance.  When I took the call she would not reveal the nature or purpose of the call until I had answered her questions intended to identify me.  I am easily offended by such practices and I almost hung up on her.  I answered her questions reluctantly and she indicated that her call was an attempt to collect a debt of $142.62 for AT&T mobile.   I was surprised and did not make the connection between the multiple bills I had received, the inquiries from AT&T, or the activation failure in the Apple Store.  She indicated that a credit score strike would be issued against me if I did not pay the debt.

I looked at the paper bills more carefully and saw that AT&T mobile was billing me for iPhone service on my home land line serviced by Qwest.  As the bill was 2 weeks past due, it must have been time to submit the debt to a collection agency.   I had not even received a past due notice from AT&T yet (it dutifully arrived later).  Amazingly impersonal treatment.  By this time, I had already submitted an application to the iPhone App Store, which is not a small gesture of support for AT&T and its stake in the iPhone partnership.   I felt disconnected, not an unfamiliar feeling when dealing with corporate behemoths, and attempted to instead feel satisfied by vowing to change carriers immediately at the end of my contract.

I called AT&T and they formally closed the account and zeroed its balance, as it was obviously apparent to them that the account was created by mistake.  However, Veronica Perez from First Revenue continued to call me, at approximately 3 day intervals, claiming that I still owed AT&T approximately $25 until I contacted the Receivables department at AT&T mobile and they did some magic to stop the inquiries.  I am not 100% that my credit score remains unblemished by this fiasco, but repercussions of July 11th are still resonating. 

No comments: