Cindy Becomes ATT


AT&T’s corporate office in Morristown NJ is a phone company office without phones. No AT&T stores or toll-free help lines have its number. AT&T’s 411 Directory Services handles a request for that number in an inventive way:

It gives Cindy’s home number as an AT&T corporate number for Morristown, NJ. If called, Cindy’s answering machine says, “If you’re calling AT&T, this is not AT&T! If you’re calling Cindy, leave me a message.” I left her a sympathetic message. Cindy called me back to explain that she has had and paid for that “unlisted number” for the last 6 years, during which she has repeatedly asked AT&T to stop listing it as an AT&T office. The AT&T Response: Change your number, Cindy, it’s easier.

An AT&T “escalation” person told me that changing the directory service listing was hard to do. Thus my consumerist advice to Cindy: The six-year struggle amounts to a new sort of common law marriage between a corporation and a consumer. Cindy is stuck with AT&T and AT&T is stuck with Cindy. So, try a new message: “Hi. If you’re calling for AT&T help, stop right now and fix the problem yourself. AT&T is too big to help little consumers like you. Due to the heavy call volume thing, you are on your own. Good luck and good bye.”

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