AT&T replaces faulty BlackBerry Curve after appeal to exec

Usually, you can fix a customer-service problem by going through normal channels — either phoning the company or sending a brief, polite email through the website. But not always.

Rosanne Skopp is an exception to that rule. She bought a new Blackberry Curve earlier this year. Two weeks after the device arrived, she made an overseas trip — and that’s when her handset started to “behave very badly,” she says.

She writes,

The cursor was uncontrollable and it became impossible to read email or any other data. Immediately upon returning to the States yesterday, my husband went to the AT&T repair store with the BlackBerry which we had started to call “the lemon.”

They were unable to repair it so they gave him a refurbished unit … in other words someone else’s former lemon.

The refurbished unit was so poorly refurbished that I immediately had to spend several hours back at the repair shop where the technician needed to confer, via phone, with more skilled personnel.

I’m not going to outline the bizarre issues I had (unless you would like me to), and which she eventually fixed, but I do feel entitled to a new unit, rather than a refurbished unit.

By the time Skopp contacted me, she had spoken with six different AT&T representatives, and they all told her the same thing: “After 30 days, only a used unit.” Never mind that the unit started to malfunction long before her 30 days was up, and that she had a paper trail to prove it.

Thirty days is thirty days — no exceptions.

What did I think? I responded,

Unacceptable. I would try putting your request in writing to someone higher up at AT&T. Keep me posted, please. I’ll do what I can to help.

Skopp forwarded our exchange to Randall Stephenson, the chairman of the board, chief executive officer and president of AT&T.

Within minutes, she had a call from an AT&T representative.

“She was warm and understanding and totally lovely,” she says. “She asked for the mailing address and verified the model. The new phone is on the way.”

I love a happy ending.

Skopp’s story underscores the importance of being polite but persistent in dealing with customer service problems. After exhausting all normal channels, she went to the top. And AT&T did the right thing.

(Disclosure: I am an AT&T customer. I hope all of my customer queries are resolved before I have to email the CEO.)

(Photo: Anthony Ram os/Flickr Creative Commons)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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