Alltel: A tale of two customer service reps

Early last month I made a business trip to New Orleans. While there I made several hours of phone calls. I thought I had nationwide no roaming. Imagine my surprise when my bill showed up with over $180 in roaming fees!

My first call to Alltel nearly made me switch to Verizon. I can’t remember the name of the customer service rep that I talked to, but it went a little like this:

CR: Thank you for calling Alltel. How may I help you today?

ME: I have a few questions on my bill this month.

CR: Ok, can I get your name.

ME: My name is…

CR: Can you give me the name of the account holder?

ME: [my wifes name]

CR: Is your wife with you?

ME: No.

CR: Since the account is in her name, I can’t discuss the bill with you without having her permission. Is there a number we can call her at?

ME: She’s at work, so no.

CR: Well, maybe we can discuss the bill if you read it to me.

ME: OK. [reads bill]

CR: I see. That’s very unfortunate.

ME: Is there any thing we can do about the charges?

CR: No sir. There is nothing we can do about charges that have been billed already. We can change your plan so that it doesn’t happen again.

ME: No thanks. I only travel once a year so it wouldn’t do me much good.

CR: Have I answered all your questions? Do you have any more?

ME: You didn’t answer the ones I gave you, and I don’t have anymore.

CR: I didn’t answer your questions?

ME: No. You said that you can’t. Goodbye.

CR: Goodbye sir. Thank you for calling Alltel

I don’t have to explain to you why I almost switched services right then and there. Of course, without having access to the account, I couldn’t disconnect it so I had to wait anyways.

After some thought and a little research, I decided to stay with Alltel. I needed a new phone though, so I had my wife call to add my name to the account.

Yesterday, I called back to get a phone upgrade and set up a payment plan for the extra charges. What I got was one of the most pleasant interactions with a customer service rep I’ve ever had. I never asked for anything, and what I got was spectacular. Her name was Holly.

ME: I have some questions on my bill.

HOLLY: Yes sir. I see why you might have questions.

ME: Yeah. Seems I racked up some roaming charges last month.

HOLLY: I see you’ve been with us since 2003. Let me see if we can get rid of some of those fees by rerating the minutes under a different plan or as a courtesy for a long time customer.

ME: [taken by surprise] Ok. Yeah, sure.

HOLLY: If we change your plan to [nationwide roaming plan] we can backdate it and rerate the roaming minutes. Any that would have been free under the plan will go away.


HOLLY: I was able to rerate all of the minutes so your bill is $[XX.XX].

ME: That’s spectacular. I also need new phones. That’s why I called.

HOLLY: Sure. We can upgrade both phones today if you like.

I won’t go through each and every line after that. It was the first part that was most important. I called with intentions of asking if I could make payments on my bill and Holly took it upon herself to try and save a long term customer some money. She succeeded in reducing my bill by over $180, or almost the exact amount of the roaming charges. She even threw in free overnight shipping on the new phones. It took her about 30 minutes to do all of that. What she succeeded in doing is making a long term customer happy. After she fixed the bill, I got new phones which makes me a customer for at least another two years. Alltel lost $180 in roaming charges but because of Holly’s actions, they get about $1680 in monthly subscription fees for the next two years while I’m under contract. That’s a difference of $1500.

Maybe Holly deserves a bonus or a promotion? I certainly think so. She did an amazing job and I can only assume that she does similar things each and every day. If she works 8 hours and helps 5 customers like me in that 8 hours, she makes the company $7500 a day. And I bet she gets more than 5 phone calls from customers that could use a little help. Maybe she can’t help all of them, but I bet she makes the company over $25,000 a week.

So, Holly, if you’re reading this, Thank You! I hope you get paid on commission. You deserve to be.

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About Shane Ede

Shane Ede is an IT guy by day and a Entrepreneurial Blogger by night. You can follow him here on Thatedeguy or over on Twitter and Google+.


  1. If you haven’t done so already, call back and talk to Holly’s boss. Make sure to put in a good word for how she handled your account. Managers dig hearing props for their employees and it will go a long way toward her next performance review 🙂

    Lots of people want to contact managers to bitch about the help, but it’s more rare and much deserved in this case to hear compliments.

  2. Hmm, seems like an unclosed center tag. Might want to check into that, unless you wanted all the comments to be centered, Shane.

  3. Thatedeguy says

    I hadn’t intended the centering, but hadn’t really put much time into fixing it. Never had anyone mention it before. Should be fixed now.

  4. I used to have similar experiences calling Sprint pretty much consistantly. On the flipside I rarely if ever had problems with Verizon when calling in as a rep, but I did have the tier 2 direct number which bypasses the tier 1 customer support people that pretty much don’t have the power to do anything. If there is one thing I learned having to call wireless carriers multiple times a day for 3 years was that if you get bad customer service say “Nevermind” and call back in a minute so you can talk to someone else. Worst case when you call back just immediately ask for someone in tier 2 support “because you were just talking to them” and you can weasel your way past tier 1.

  5. julie byrd says

    My alltel phone has not received calls for a few days. Customer service (“Tech support”) says there is a tower down, they don’t know when it will be fixed. They offered me $5 for the inconvenience.
    When it starts working again, that’s how I’ll know the tower has been restored.
    Now I’m holding with the bill paying department, who is at least in this country.
    I have been tied up with this problem for 4 hours today, 2 hours yesterday.
    There is no way to email Alltel. They have an address for written correspondence – suggest it will be 3 to 4 weeks for a response.