The phone company

Posted by: iainhp

The phone company - 02/28/02 01:38 AM

OK, here's another pet peeve. Recently I started receiving a daily phone message on my cell phone. All that the message said were 4 digits of a phone number, a voice saying "Sprint customer service" followed by a full phone number. It was obvious that the message was from an automated system, which started mouthing off the message as soon as my voice mail box answered. Unfortunatly it did not wait for my friendly recording, indicating that I couldn't answer my phone at the time so please leave me a message as I'd really like to talk to you, to finish. Thus I only received the end of the messsage.

Well, it turns out they hadn't received payment and were calling to warn me that my service was going to be shut off (which it was after a week - I didn't call back as I figured they were just trying to get me to sign up for some new service or something).

Here's the pet peeve. This isn't Joe's auto body shop calling, this is the phone company. Shouldn't the software engineers with gazillions of years of experience in the phone industry have anticipated that when calling a phone connected to their own phone service, it might be answered by the recorded message that they advertise as one of their great features (a voice mail box!).
And if this is so, that the automated system should wait for that little "beep" before leaving the message?

That' bad enough. But it's worse. These guys own and run the systems that hold the voice mail box as well as the system that calls out to leave you the message (I'll bet they are on the same computer). Why on earth did they devise a system that goes to all the trouble of phoning their own system?? If they thought about it, why don't they just slide a copy of the automated message (it's just a computer file) into the voice mail box instead of going through all the trouble of dialling the phone number? The mind boggles at the complexity!

Sprint isn't the only one with these problems. MCI often leaves half a message on our home answer machine because they didn't wait for the "beep".
Posted by: jgoo

Re: The phone company - 03/01/02 11:00 PM

Oh dear god. Don't get me started on the phone company. First of al, they call you, every night, right when your in the middle of eating dinner, and ask if you want to change your long distance service. You say no, every night, just to have them call back again the next night. If you tell them that you don't accept solisitaion (sp?), it just seems to make them call even more. If you hang up on them, they just call right back. My grandfather has a funny way of getting rid of them. You know how they always ask you how you are doing first? He always says: "Great. Thanks for being concerned enough about me health to call." and then he hangs up. But somethign that hes been dieing to try (he just always forgets when the call comes) is to tell them something like: "Well, my leg hurts, my backs been giving me problems again, I've been feeling a bit under the wheather lately, my wife just left me, I stubbed my toe earlier and it still hurts..." He plans to go on like that until the caller hangs up on him, if he does at all. If not, he'll just go on to add "thanks for being concerned" and hang up.

[ March 01, 2002: Message edited by: jgoo ]
Posted by: jgoo

Re: The phone company - 03/01/02 11:16 PM

And not only that, their stupidity is ridiculous. My dad ordered a cell phone from AT&T for his buiseness. (Hes a realestate agent). After he ordered it, AT&T told him that he would be getting his phone within 2-3 weeks. That time went by, and he still didn't have his phone. A few more weeks went by, and then a few more, and yet, still no phone. Finally, he got someting in the mail from the phone company. It wasn't the phone, it was a bill, a bill for the cell phone. A bill for the cell phone that he never got. He called AT&T to complain. They said that they'd take care of it, but a few weeks more, with still no phone, he received another bill. The next time that he called, he told them that he wanted to just cancel the whole deal. They said that they would take care of it (again) yet he still recieved bills! He never paid a one of them, and he never did get his phone, but the whole mess was finally sorted out, and the payments he owed were waived.
Posted by: Nina

Re: The phone company - 03/06/02 12:49 PM

Our phone company (QWEST) is so bad that the Arizona attorney-general is suing them for non-delivery of service!

There was a period about 18 months ago when the average wait for a new residential phone line was something like 4 months.

The QWEST CEO's response? "Go buy a wireless phone."

Full disclaimer: I'm the daughter of a lifetime Bell Telephone employee, and was taught from an early age that the breakup of the Bell system was one of the single dumbest things ever done.

Posted by: jgoo

Re: The phone company - 03/06/02 07:37 PM

Nina! I just noticed that you live in Phoenix, Arizonia. During the winter months, my grandmother isn't all too far from you. She has a place in Mesa, Arizonia.
Posted by: T2

Re: The phone company - 03/06/02 09:01 PM

Check this out. When I had my DSL service installed they came out and 'shot' the cable between the curb and my house, i.e., they tested the quality of the cable's ability to handle data rates of traffic. Well, it failed, and they had to dig it up and fix it.

So, they came out and dug up the side walk and dug up the yard and traced it all the way back to my house. There was only one problem. They got the wrong house. Specifically, the dug up my neighbor's yard, who was hopping mad about it.

So, I called up Pacific Bell and ask to talk to a supervisor. I told them, "You used to have a customer service issue. Now you have a community relations issue on your hands."

Something must have clicked because, bang, the next day they came out and dug up my yard and fixed my cable. My neighbor is still mad about it.
Posted by: Charles68

Re: The phone company - 03/17/02 08:46 PM

Originally posted by Nina:
Full disclaimer: I'm the daughter of a lifetime Bell Telephone employee, and was taught from an early age that the breakup of the Bell system was one of the single dumbest things ever done.[/b]

Nina, I retired from BellSouth 2 years ago. Your Dad's right! Service went out the window in the interest of 'numbers'. I wasn't trained that way, and was glad to GET OUT!!!
Posted by: Nina

Re: The phone company - 03/18/02 09:35 AM

Hi, Charles68:

Yes, you should have heard some of our dinnertable conversations back then! When you look at Lucent now, it's hard to believe that it was once Bell Labs, home to some of the most impressive innovations of the previous century. Not that Lucent is bad, but it's hardly the sanctuary of some of the finest engineering done in the world.

I'm probably one of the few kids who, at the time, assumed when someone said "Charlie Brown" they were talking about the Bell telephone president, and not the funny round-headed guy! \:D

Posted by: T2

Re: The phone company - 03/18/02 10:21 AM


I've spent time working with the people at Bell Labs. I came away with the impression that many of the people there are very well trained in science. But not in capitalism. Thus, when they come out with a product it is always botched. Badly. That is why people have trouble naming even one commercially successful product to come out of Bell Labs in the last 10 years, save for the Definity PBX, which is a great box at the end of its lifecycle. All others have been market failures. Because Bell Labs wasn't bringing home the goods is why Lucent went out and purchased 29 companies during the late 1990s.

I actually have some rather strong words to say on the matter. Read on if you're interested:

The top layers of Lucent management is heavily populated with shamelessly incompetent ATT good-ole-boys that can run a regulated semi-monopoly cash cow-type business, but not a competitive Internet-era capitalist enterprise. After 2 years of inept senior management, missed Wall Street earnings expectations, a dismal showing in both marketing and sales, Lucent botched a sales force reorganization that resulted in the departure of many of its best account executives and engineering talent.

At the same time, crushed under the weight of a dysfunctional corporate bureaucracy, Lucent's 29 acquisitions suffered a torrent of attrition that left product houses barely able to maintain, let alone, advance their code bases. Many of the internetworking engineers I talked to left simply because they were embarassed to be associated with such ineptitude and felt that continuing to work at Lucent was a drain on their valuation as professionals.

And--while the remnants of Lucent's sales force struggled to put skilled people in front of customers--their competitors aggressively took market share (3% per month in the optical space alone). To make matters worse, after each of seven (and counting) missed quarters senior management re-arranged the deck chairs and simultaneously shot a high ranking reformer. In hindsight these were cosmetic reforms only. There are now almost no high-ranking reform-minded people left in Lucent that come from an entrepreneurial background. With each successive layoff, the New Jersey senior management team did not cut under-performing or unprofitable pieces of the business--the old ATT guys don't know the networking business well enough to do so--rather, they cut people that were distant from their own political center. Unfortunately, that included the best remaining intact pieces of the sales force. Not surprisingly, Lucent's sales force is now regarded as the worst in the industry and frequently looses deals even when they have the best products.

Over the last year Lucent's stock plummeted more than 95% and Lucent's market capitalization is now below its book value. That means that it is worth more dead than alive. And Lucent has virtually nothing to show for more than $50 Billion (that's a lot of money) spent in the late 1990s on aquisitions in the data networking space.

New CEO Pat Russo is IMHO a much better leader than the former two CEOs, Rich McGinn and Henry Schacht. She gets it. But she's got a tough road to hoe trying to implement reforms through the still intact Lucent middle-management bureacracy. Bottom line: This investor is not buying Lucent stock any time soon. They've got lots of serious problems they haven't even begun to address. Only now they no longer have the wiggle room afforded by a productive cash cow because that cash cow (the voice business) aint as profitable any more.

[ March 18, 2002: Message edited by: T2 ]