The Molly

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The AT&T third-party eBill verification process, in 50 easy steps

Ok, this is what it takes to sign up to get eBills from AT&T (for phone and Internet service — don’t ask) delivered to my bank.

First, you click “get bills online” on the bank site. When you do this with, say, Visa or Verizon, you get a pop-up asking you to verify, which you do, and the e-bills show up a couple of cycles later. Not so with AT&T. You get the same verification pop-up, and you click ok, and it seems like you’re off to the races.

Ha ha.

A few days later, you get a call with an 8-digit activation code. Personally, I had no idea what to do with this code other than write it down until I got an email, about a week later, reminding me to verify my third-party eBill service provider. Finally! A link!

Now, to verify the provider, you first have to create an Account Manager account (I’m not making this up) with AT&T. To do this, you enter your phone number, then you can verify with either the last 4 of your SSN, or a 3-digit code found on your bill.

But even after all that, in order to create the account, you have to get an online registration code. To request an online registration code, you click “request an online registration code,” (natch). But there’s nothing online about the online registration code. You have two options for receipt: AT&T will either MAIL IT TO YOU VIA U.S. POST (seriously!) or call you with it 10 minutes later.

Once you have THAT 8-digit code, you’re ready to create the account that will let you enter the other 8-digit code to verify that you do, in fact, want online billing. Right?

Oh, no. Once you have the code, you can, in fact, sign up for the account, and sign up for electronic billing from AT&T. But by this time, the site has completely forgotten that you want to verify a third-party eBill provider.

To do that, you have to go back to the email they sent, click the link in the email that takes you to the verify page, even though the link is labeled, “create an Account Manager account,” log in again with shiny new account credentials, and THEN verify that you want them to send third-party eBills.

That last step, by the way, did not involve the 8-digit code that they originally gave me, and insisted I would need.

Of course not. Why would it?

By the end of this process, the only thing I wanted to verify was my new Comcast service.

8 Discussions on
“The AT&T third-party eBill verification process, in 50 easy steps”
  • OH, NOW I see why I’ve been going around in circles with them for months. We’re trying to do this for my 92 year old mother who is deaf and blind. I guess they’ve been calling her with the verification codes. I’m sure she’s been hanging up on them. We called and explained this to an agent, but I guess that’s too difficult for them to understand.

  • Molly,

    Frustration trying to find a way to contact you via email/finding an address, but wanted to add some shade to your currently running audio rant on Google’s alleged monopoly status.

    You are right that anyone can switch to Bing or perhaps another esoteric provider to search, but there is one big problem cropping up with Google that may need oversight.

    That is a lack of transparency as to editorial positions on what gets picked and what gets left out, particularly in the realms of political viewpoints and commercial websites (and getting knocked off sometimes arbitrarily and with no pre-notice).

    The problem is the lack of transparency with Google as to how it chooses its results and what priority it gives. That failure and unwillingness may lead to a need for regulators to step in.

    Thanks for a lot of sensible viewpoints hitting the non-tech world.

  • One thing about getting the ‘registration code’, I picked ‘call you in 15-30 minutes’ option, and I tried multiple times, no one ever called me back on this ‘registration code’. The description of this options mentioned: wait for 15-30 minutes, or call us. This ‘call us’ obviously does not work, first it does not list what number to call; I tried to call their general number 1-800-288-2020, after a number of trials, being routed to billing, but the agent there said she could not help, and there is no way to contact the online department. The only option is to select the “mail to you”. What choice do I have? so I selected this. Wondering how long this have to wait. I searched online, someone mentioned he waited two months, the mail of ‘registration code’ didn’t come. I was thinking of this, if the call option didn’t work at all and they don’t know this, and there is no way to contact and inform them of this problem, what does it make the ‘mail’ option work?

  • This is more common than not, unfortunately. Privacy & security tactics seem to work against, not for, the consumer. Ugh, such FUBAR…..

  • That sounds tortuous. All I had to do was put in the address my bill is sent to with billers phone number and my bank did it all automatically. PNC Bank. I’ve had several other bill show up recently in my banks bill pay to instantly add ebills.

    So now the next question, is all this ebill shit safe?

  • Haha, so insane. I have AT&T for home and celly and recently had problems with my bill. I went online and it showed a recent payment and a $0 balance, but my service was shut off. After many phone calls, I got the answer “you are on combined billing, you have to go to att.com/pay, not just att.com”. Good times.

  • I’ve been a big complainer of AT&T’s poor network and customer service, but in this instance you can’t blame AT&T because their practices are required by federal law. Delivering CPNI (aka call detail records & some billing information) without proper authentication is against the strict CPNI laws that all telecom companies have to comply with.

    The physical mail to deliver a PIN is a specific legal requirement. While the process may stand to be a bit more usability friendly, in order to make this process easier we’ll need to lobby congress.

  • Molly!!! I just had a similar experience with Anthem Blue Cross. My credit card on file with auto-pay was expiring soon, and I figured since I was on paperless billing and probably wouldn’t hear from them, I should be proactive so my health care coverage can continue without a hitch.

    So, I registered for the Anthem account portal online, which has a fair amount of info about my coverage, changing plans, and even recently used services. But no place to update my billing account info, anywhere.

    So, I had to give them a call. Since, I hadn’t received my new card with the new exp date yet (thank you Wells Fargo), I thought I’d just use a different card. Turns out, if you want to use a different credit card, you have to print out a paper form that includes writing your full SSN among other things, and either fax it or send it USPS snail mail! And to top it off, even with things coming down to the wire, if you try and make a payment over the phone with an agent, that’ll be a $15 fee. Classic.

    I know we don’t have flying cars yet, but in 2010, you’d think that for-profit corporations would provide every avenue imaginable to ensure their customers can keep their billing info current. They do like money, right?

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