AT&T Policy Fail During Crisis Management for Colorado

Erik Bernstein crisis communications, crisis management, Crisis Prevention, crisis public relations, Crisis Response, Erik Bernstein, internet reputation management, Jonathan Bernstein, online crisis management, online reputation management, PR, public relations, reputation management, strategic reputation management Leave a Comment

Don’t let crises for your customers create more problems for you

Refusal, or inability, to flex with circumstances is a surefire way to land your organization in need of crisis management, and recently our colleague Phil Cox brought a situation to our attention that really hammers this point home. Juliette Leon Bartsch lives in one of the Colorado communities that just faced unprecedented storms, and keeping in touch with friends and family quickly put her past her texting limit, which led to another deluge, this time of fee notifications from her provider, AT&T.

Denver Post reporter Andy Vuong caught wind of Juliette’s story, and published her account of what happened when she headed to an AT&T store to clear things up:

After waiting for 30 minutes, she explained her situation to an AT&T store employee.

“They finally said, ‘Let me see your phone,’ to kind of prove it,” Bartsch said. “Instead of erasing the charges, they offered me a plan that costs more money per month to cover it. They were upselling in the middle of trauma.”

Now, keep that experience in mind as you read this email that was sent to Colorado members of Bellco Credit Union:

Dear Bellco Member,

Bellco hopes you and your family are safe in light of the recent floods that have hit our state. Natural disasters are very stressful and we want you to know we are here to help.

We can quickly replace your Bellco debit or credit cards that are lost, damaged or not accessible at no fee to you.

We can work with you on your options if you are unable to make a payment on your Bellco credit card or loan.

For those in the hardest hit areas of Colorado, if you tried to make a deposit or loan payment, but have not been able to do so, please call us and we’ll work with you on any fees you might have incurred on your account.

If you have more specific issues or need help, please call us at 303-689-7800, 1-800-BELLCO1 or simply stop by your nearest Bellco branch. All of our financial representatives are ready to help.


Douglas Ferraro

To be fair, AT&T did suspend collection calls and remove flood-related overage charges, but not before customers like Juliette had gone through yet another stressful experience. Not only that, but the Post was already on the case, and AT&T’s initial failure to flex with the circumstances left it painted as a villain in the media

In the end, the treatment Bellco and AT&T customers in Colorado received was much the same. Both were given special extensions on outstanding payments, and flood-related fees were removed. The major difference is that Bellco was proactive, and AT&T was reactive. This meant the credit union came out looking like a caring part of the community, and AT&T came out looking like the type of corporation the public loves to hate.

The BCM Blogging Team

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