What I'm Doing

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I Really Don't Like AT&T

This is going to be a long one, so I apologize in advance. As I mentioned in my previous post, I moved into an apartment recently. One downside to this is that, in the apartment, my only choice for Internet access is AT&T's DSL service. So, I call AT&T to get DSL set up last Wednesday, and thus began my ordeal.

Grievance 1
It all started when I asked to set up a DSL account. The lady I was speaking with looks up my area on the computer, and comes back, telling me that there are no DSL ports available in my area at the moment. I was somewhat stunned, as this was totally unexpected. "What?" was all I could say. She explained that there are only so many ports available, and they were all taken. So I asked if she could tell me when a port would become available, and she didn't know, but she could put me on a waiting list and they'd call me. I pressed a little, and she checked some other system or something and said that "they" were working on it, and there should be more ports available in two weeks.

At this point, I began thinking that I should cancel the phone line I had just set up and call the apartment complex to see if there is any way I could get Internet access with another company. It seems to me unacceptable for a company to make an exclusive agreement with a property, and then not be able to support that property. With this in mind, I explain to the representative that I would like to cancel the phone line, get put on a waiting list, and get everything set up when DSL is actually available. She says that she doesn't think she can put me on the waiting list if I'm not a customer (nevermind that I had mentioned earlier in the conversation that I am already an AT&T Wireless subscriber). So, I decide to forgo the waiting list and call back in to weeks (assuming I can't get the leasing office to let me use a different provider).

When I tell her that I'll just call back in two weeks, she finally decides to check something else, and puts me on hold. I wait for 5 or 10 minutes, and she comes back saying that, for some reason or another (I forget exactly why), they do have a port available. I decide to jump on that, and I set up my account. She explains that my DSL modem will be shipped UPS and should arrive on Monday, and that my access should be connected then, as well.

Grievance 2
Fortunately, Monday is a holiday, so I didn't have to take off of work. I did have a couple things I needed to do, but I made sure to be in my apartment as much as possible so as not to miss UPS when they came with my modem. However, that afternoon, instead of my modem, I get a call from another AT&T rep. explaining that my order has been delayed, and they won't be able to get my access connected until Wednesday. Also, my modem will not get shipped until Wednesday, and it should arrive at my apartment on Friday.

I'm a little annoyed by this, especially because I'll have to take the day off of work to wait for the modem. So, I ask if there's any way to send my modem to my office instead of the apartment. Apparently, there isn't. The order was already in the system, and they couldn't change the address. What the rep said they could do was send a second modem to my office, and when I got the first one at the apartment I'd send that one back. Given that the second modem would likely show up later than the first (since they'd have to process the order), and I still have the problem of a modem being delivered to my apartment when I won't be there, I decide to just plan on taking the day off to wait.

Also, because I didn't really trust AT&T to actually get the modem to me on Friday (they'd already failed to do what they said in not delivering it Monday) I ask if I can get the order tracking number, so I can track the order. The rep said she didn't have the tracking number yet, but if I called the next day, I could get it.

The next day (Tuesday, aka yesterday), I call to get the tracking number. What I didn't realize, though, was that the automated system only knows how to look up information based on the home phone number, which I don't know and didn't have written down with me at the office. Of course, the automated system makes it difficult to just speak with a person, but when I finally got to talk to someone, he also couldn't look up my account without the home number. So he forwarded me to another department where they could look up my home number, from which I would have to be transferred back to the DSL department to get things taken care of. However, I was on hold there until I didn't have any more time and had to hang up.

Granted, I'm not counting the above as a grievance, since I should have had the number with me.

Grievance 3
When I get home last night, I check my mail, and am slightly excited to see the first piece of mail addressed to me (as opposed to the various previous tenants). It so happens that this mail was "detariffing" policy information from AT&T, which is rather boring, but it's my first mail at my new place. When I looked at the address again, however, I noticed something: my last name was spelled one letter off. Now, this would normally be something I would laugh at, and happily call the next day to get fixed. However, thanks to the issues I'd had up until this point, this was, instead, yet another annoyance added on top of everything else. Icing on the cake of customer disservice, if you will. This was yet another problem I have to deal with, and more time I have to spend on the phone with them.

Grievance 4
And that brings us to my phone call today. I call up the customer service number given on the letter I received (this time, I wrote down the home number and brought it with me) and explain (kindly; I really try to be patient when first talking with a rep, since I know this person isn't at fault for whatever is wrong) that my last name was spelled wrong on the letter, and I'd like to get that fixed. The rep fixes the problem, things go smoothly and I'm happy. When he asks if there's anything else he can help me with, I explain that the situation with the modem shipment. He doesn't have the tracking number, but he's happy to send me to the DSL service department where they can help me. I thank him for his help, and he transfers me.

When I reach a person at the DSL service center, I confirm my number for him, and explain to him that my DSL modem was supposed to be shipped, and I would like the tracking number. He looks up my account, and says that the modem has not yet been shipped. Beyond that, my Internet access has not yet been connected. What?

He explains that they are having "technical difficulties" or something, and they won't be able to connect my account until the problems are fixed. Since they haven't been able to connect the account, they haven't shipped the modem. I ask about the ports to make sure that it's not that they lost my port, and he confirms that I have the port, the account is set up, it's just not connected yet.

So, I ask for a timeframe when the account will get set up. He doesn't know, but there's apparently a work order for a few days from now, and if I call back on Monday, they should be able to tell me when the problem will be resolved. Notice that he did not say, call back Monday, and the problem will be resolved, he said, call back Monday and we'll tell you when it should be fixed.

In other words, for all I know, it could be 2 more weeks before I can get Internet access, but I won't find out about that until Monday.

To Be Continued...
At this point, my patience is wearing thin. I have until Monday to decide what my plan of action is, in case the answer I receive is unsatisfactory. Right now, I think that, at the least, I am going to insist that I not be charged for any service (including the phone line, if I can, since I've been very clear that I'm only getting that for the DSL) that I've not been receiving. I also, if necessary, will escalate my call as high as it needs to go.

Right now, I am finding this service unacceptable. What makes it worse is that, because of the apartment situation, I don't have any other choice. If I were in a house, I could drop AT&T and move to another provider. I don't have that luxury. On the upside, I only have a 6 month lease. God-willing, by then, Kristen and I will have found a house, and, at this point, I know that, once I have a choice again, I will not be using AT&T.


JW said...

Fun, fun. I cancelled my Bellsouth contract a few months back because I didn't want a phone line and for the same price would just as well get cable instead... However, when I called to cancel they told me that they could get the DSL without paying for the phone line. I had already made up my mind, but they apparently can do that. So that might be something to try to save the $20 or so of the phone line. You might have to sign up for the account first and then try to cancel and go through Customer Retention, but it might be worth a shot...

wezlo said...

nothing like a monopoly to screw people over. What the heck does the complex get in response for being screwed by AT&T?

CoderForChrist said...

JW: Yeah, that's sort of an unspoken grievance: I've been very clear that I don't want/need the phone line: all I want is DSL. And, yet, no one at AT&T has even mentioned the option of DSL without the phone line. It's just sad that I've had to hear about that from friends. They're really pushing for customer satisfaction...

wezlo: That's what I'd like to know. One of my next steps, I think, may be talking to the management at the leasing office. If nothing else, they need to know that this is a problem; it may not benefit me in the end, but maybe it'll benefit others...

I just keep telling myself, "It's only for 6 months...6 months dealing with AT&T..."