iPhone Upgrade Saga With AT&T

My iPhone 4S arrived today and I knew I had my work cut out to swap it with my iPhone 4, add a line for my wife and port her number from Sprint. The process was supposed to be:

  1. Activate iPhone 4S and make sure it can make a call.
  2. Swap SIMs and restore my iPhone 4 onto the iPhone 4S.
  3. Restore my wife’s iPod onto the iPhone 4.
  4. Call AT&T and combine the lines onto a FamilyTalk plan.
  5. Call AT&T and have them port my wife’s number onto the new line.

The first 3 steps were tedious, but I didn’t run into any problems. Step 4 is where the problems arose. I called AT&T and told the rep what I wanted to do; the rep was thoroughly confused about what I wanted to do. Once she understood it, she didn’t think it could be done and I finally offered to goto an AT&T store to get it done. The rep said that might be the best idea; of course, I wasn’t about to leave the house because I got a rep that was clueless. Finally she got a supervisor to help her do what I wanted.

So after almost an hour, the rep managed to get most of it worked out, but had to pull my A-List feature off the account. The in-store rep who sold me the phone said that it is likely that I’d be able to keep the feature (no longer offered) if I was on a qualifying rate plan. It was good enough for now, so I asked the rep to transfer me to number porting and she almost couldn’t figure out how to do that.

The last step I got a very knowledgable rep on the phone who was able to take care of the port without fumbling. I then asked her if there was a difference between the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S data plans; they were the same price and same amount of data. She didn’t know, but understood that I swapped the phones and offered to transfer the IMEIs in the system so that the iPhone 4S was associated with my number. As she did this, the system rejected it, so she swapped the data plans. I’m not sure it made a difference, but if there is a different plan to get the top data speed the 4S can achieve, I wanted it. This call lasted a bit, but it took time to wait for the port to complete.

After something like 1.5 hours, I had a working iPhone 4S and my wife had an iPhone 4.

It is amazing how poorly trained some of the customer service reps are in the wireless industry. While it sounds simple to do customer care for a carrier, the number of combinations of plans, features, etc. make it very hard for a poorly trained rep to get anything done. Combine that with old features that the current system won’t accept. Just about any time I’ve had to talk to customer care rep from Sprint or AT&T (the only 2 carriers I’ve had service with), it was a nightmare. My issues with Sprint were so bad that the only way I could get them resolved was to go through back channels and get a higher level service rep. Hopefully I won’t have to call AT&T back any time soon.

To top this off, I spoke with an enterprise customer care representative since I have a corporate discount on my account. I can’t imagine what the non-enterprise reps would have done.

(I did send email to the sales rep who sold me the phone to see if she could help me get the A-List feature back; she seemed far more knowledgable than the rep on the phone. For those that don’t know, A-List lets you call certain numbers without racking up minutes; I use this for conference calls all the time.)

4 Replies to “iPhone Upgrade Saga With AT&T”

  1. I had a somewhat similar situation. I too lost my a-list and use it a fair amount. Any luck getting it back? I have called 611 like 10 times, hoping I would find an agent that knew how to do it or even what I was talking about.

  2. You’re blaming the wrong people. This isn’t a training issue, it’s an AT&T corporate tactics issue. The complexity of AT&T’s contractual framework is well beyond the ability of anyone to follow, and it enables their revenue stream. It works as designed.

    For example:


    And that’s just one aspect of what they’ve assembled

    I call these “complexity attacks”, and they are a major and unrecognized tax on our productivity (a form of economic parasitism):


    1. In my case, poor training was the cause for not being able to immediately combine my lines into a FamilyTalk plan. I don’t disagree on corporate policy designed to milk more money out of us.

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