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AT&T: Employer of Aliens?

Not the illegal kind, but the extra-terrestrial kind. I had an exchange with a member of AT&T's online tech support staff today that leads me to believe that the employee is either not human, or has been instructed to do its best to befuddle me with incomprehensible, extremely complex language.

Don't believe me? See for yourself. I wanted to find out if my husband and I (one 3G iPhone, one regular iPhone) could switch to a family plan with my parents without incurring a huge fee.

In a tech support email earlier this week, I wrote:

Q:Enter your contract expiration question below: A:Hi, I am interested in moving onto a family plan with other members of my family.  Please let me know if I would incur any charges switching onto a family plan or whether I can switch over onto that contract without penalty. thanks.

Three days later, I heard back from AT&T. Check out the mind-boggling response below, if you dare. Then, please tell me if you think the response was a) adequately clear, b) written by an alien, c) written by a human instructed to be incomprehensible, or d) a well-meaning but overzealous attempt to be informational and comprehensive, yet failing due to overuse of corporate-speak and non-native English.

From: AT&T Email Customer Care for Wireless
Date: Thu, Mar 5, 2009 at 7:07 AM
Subject: Re: Wireless from AT&T Customer Email - West - [CUST]


Dear Rachel,


Thank you for taking the time to e-mail AT&T regarding if you would be
charged any fees or penalties for joining a Family Talk plan with your
family members. My name is Elizabeth Allen, and I am happy to help you
with your inquiry.


I can definitely understand your concern regarding if you would receive
charges for switching to a family plan with other members of your
family. After carefully reviewing your account, I am showing you are
currently on an individual Nation 450 Rollover Unlimited Mobile to
Mobile and 5,000 Night and Weekend Minutes. I also show you have another
wireless line on the account on an individual rate plan. You do have the
option to combine 2 existing lines of service on your account to a
Family Talk plan. No fees would apply to change your rate plan other
than the prorated charges from the old plan to the new plan.

If your inquiry is to move your line(s) of service to a different
account, this would be considered a transfer of service. It is possible
to transfer the financial or billing responsibility of an account to
another party by completing a Transfer of Service.  A credit evaluation
must be performed on the new customer, and a deposit may be required.
Once the deposit is paid and the transfer is complete, the billing name
and corresponding information is changed.

The receiving account holder must be 18 years of age.  Exception:
Alabama - 19 years of age and Puerto Rico - 21 years of age. We will
need for the account holder to give permission to the customer that will
be taking over the account and that customer must call in to complete
the change. Authorization Note is valid for 60 days. Financial
Responsibility will remain with the original customer until the transfer
is complete.

The account balance will not transfer to the new account. The Transfer
of Service fee will be waived if the: ?Original account holder is
deceased. Customer is requesting a Transfer of Service to be eligible
for combined billing and/or subscribing to the Unity plan or the
receiving account is already enrolled in combined billing. It may take
10-15 minutes for the Transfer of Service team to run the credit
evaluation, build the new account, and complete the transfer. If the
receiving account holder requires Relocation, the Transfer of Service
must be completed first. Once the transfer is complete the original
account holder will receive a final (prorated) invoice. Any deposit will
be released back to the open balance. The phone number belongs to the
new account holder.

Once the transfer is complete:
The original account holder will receive a final (prorated) invoice and
any deposit will be released back to the open balance; the phone number
belongs to the new account holder.

Please note the following information regarding how a transfer of
service affects Rollover minutes:

With a transfer of service when the plan is an individual calling plan
Rollover minutes are automatically transferred to the new customer.

If the transfer of service removes only one line from a family talk
calling plan the Rollover minutes will not automatically transfer. The
rollover balance will stay with the remaining lines that are still on
Family Talk.

The receiving account holder must accept an 11 month contract from the
date the transfer takes place.
Exception: For iPhone and converted accounts, the current contract will
be applied to the receiving account (if one exists).

When a complete Family Talk group is moved, and all lines are
transferred to a new account, the Rollover minutes will automatically
transfer.

An $18 Transfer of Service fee (per line) will be assessed to the
receiving account holder.

Rollover minutes will not transfer on prepaid accounts.

Here are some additional terms associated with a transfer of service.

Discontinued rate plans cannot be transferred to new customers

The original contract will transfer over to the new account.

If you would like to process this transfer of service please call
customer service at 1-800-331-0500. The hours of operations are Monday
through Friday 7:00am to 9:00 pm, Saturday 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and Closed
on Sunday.

The current Family Talk shared minute plan offerings are:

AT&T Nation Family Talk with 550 Shared Rollover minutes, Unlimited
Mobile to Mobile and Unlimited Night and Weekend Minutes with an overage
rate of $0.45 per minute
$50.00-primary
$9.99- for each additional line

AT&T Nation Family Talk with 700 Shared Rollover minutes, Unlimited
Mobile to Mobile and Unlimited Night and Weekend Minutes with an overage
rate of $0.45 per minute
$60.00-primary line
$9.99-for each additional line

AT&T Nation Family Talk with 1,400 Shared Rollover minutes, Unlimited
Mobile to Mobile and Unlimited Night and Weekend Minutes with an overage
rate of $0.40 per minute
$80.00-primary line
$9.99-for each additional line

AT&T Nation Family Talk with 2,100 Shared Rollover minutes, Unlimited
Mobile to Mobile and Unlimited Night and Weekend Minutes with an overage
rate of $0.35 per minute
$100.00-primary line
$9.99-for each additional line

AT&T Nation Family Talk with 3,000 Shared Rollover minutes, Unlimited
Mobile to Mobile and Unlimited Night and Weekend Minutes with an overage
rate of $0.25 per minute
$140.00-primary line
$9.99-for each additional line

AT&T Nation Family Talk with 4,000 Shared Rollover minutes, Unlimited
Mobile to Mobile and Unlimited Night and Weekend Minutes with an overage
rate of $0.20 per minute
$190.00-primary line
$9.99-for each additional line

AT&T Nation Family Talk with 6,000 Shared Rollover minutes, Unlimited
Mobile to Mobile and Unlimited Night and Weekend Minutes with an overage
rate of $0.20 per minute
$290.00-primary line
$9.99-for each additional line

Night and Weekend minutes apply Monday through Thursday between 9PM and
6AM, and from Friday at 9PM until Monday at 6AM. Mobile to Mobile calls
are any calls that placed to or received from an AT&T phone. The overage
rate is the per-minute rate charged for minutes used in excess of the
rollover minutes included with your calling plan. Rollover minutes not
used in a given month will be retained for a period of 12 months from
the close of the billing cycle in which they are accumulated, and are
used to cover any overage in succeeding months. Further information on
rates, services and plan features can be obtained from att.com/wireless,
by selecting the ?Shop AT&T? option and ?Rate Plans.?

If you decide you want to change your plan please call customer service
at 1-800-331-0500 or by dialing 611 from your wireless phone.

You can change your plan via the online website. Please keep in mind, if
the rate plan is changed via the website the change will not take effect
until the start of the next billing cycle. I have listed the steps for
changing your plan online:

1. Log in to your "My Wireless" page on att.com/wireless
2. Click on "change rate" which is located under Rate Plan & feature.
3. Scroll down to the Rate Plans Available.
4. Choose & select the new plan.
5. Confirm the price plan change by pressing ok

Should you need to contact us again, you can contact customer service at
1-800-331-0500 from any landline phone or 611 from your AT&T Wireless
phone or by sending us another email via the contact link through your
online account. The hours of operations are Monday through Friday 7:00
am to 9:00 pm, Saturday 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and closed on Sunday. To send
your request via email, please follow these steps:

1. Log in to your "My Wireless" page on att.com/wireless
2. Click on contact us, which is located by the search link on the top
right hand corner of page
3. Scroll down to bottom and select the link to email us.
4. Follow prompts to send us an email.

AT&T Online Customer Care is unable to assist with email requests unless
these requests are submitted via the MyWireless section of
ATT.com/wireless. If you follow these steps to email us, this will make
sure your email was submitted properly and that you will get a response
to your question.

We are here to assist you. I encourage you to visit us at
www.att.com/wireless often to view your monthly account statements, make
payments and shop for new products and services. We greatly appreciate
the opportunity to serve you. Please let us know if we can assist you in
any other way, and thank you for choosing the new AT&T.


Sincerely,

Elizabeth Allen

AT&T
Online Customer Care Professional