An Open Letter To AT&T

Dear AT&T,

My name is Grant. I’ve been a customer of yours for a while now. I’ve have your phone service in my house, use your mobile service and DSL as well. When people bash AT&T I never join in as my experiences have always been good…until this past week.

BACKGROUND
In May, I will have been in my current place, in Unit 7 in my building, for three years. During this time I’ve had an AT&T serviced phone line and AT&T DSL. It’s been great. The speeds are fast and the phone, when I use it instead of my cell (also AT&T), works great. I will say about the DSL that the original modem (which had lasted years) failed and I did buy a new one, but things wear out so no big deal. Finally I’ll say that, as you can see by my site, I’m a freelance New Media Producer and the internet is a HUGE part of my work. Oh and I always pay my bill. On time. Okay, here’s the story…

LAST WEEK
At some point last week, say Friday March 4th, I received a phone call on my land line from a woman from your company. I don’t remember her name, but she said she was calling because a neighbor of mine was getting DSL service but according to her records, his unit, Unit 10, already had DSL service and it was in my name. I told her that I am not in Unit 10, I’m in Unit 7. She asked if I was sure. I told her I was speaking to her on my land line (same line the DSL is connected to) in Unit 7. Not 10. She thanked me for my time and said she’d make the address change in my file and bid me farewell.

TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2011
On the morning of Tuesday March 8, 2011, I had no dial tone on my landline and no internet. So I looked up the number for AT&T and called (from my cell) and the automated machine made me make an appointment for a technician. I then remembered the phone call from the week before and called back to speak to a live operator. I explained my problems and then told her of the call from the week before and said, “I just want to make sure that in the Unit # confusion, you did not turn off my service.” I was told there was no way that could happen and I should just wait for the technician. The earliest appointment would be Wednesday between noon and 4.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9, 2011
The morning of March 9, I realized I had a dial tone! Happily I tried to get online and still could not. So I again called AT&T DSL Tech Support. I gave the man my info and he said, “You don’t have internet service with AT&T.” I explained that I do and have for years and he told me, “No you cancelled it the other day.” I explained to him I did not and told him about the Unit # mix up. He said he understood but he couldn’t help me with that, but he could transfer me to someone who could. He gave me a case number and transferred me. When I got the new person on the line, she asked how she could help me. I said, “I have a case number.” She said, “We don’t use case numbers, sir.” I said, “The man who just transferred me to you said I could give you this case number so I wouldn’t have to explain the situation.” She deadpanned, “Sir, we don’t use case numbers. How can I help you?”

I then explained the entire situation again. The phone call about the Unit #, the no dial tone and internet. The turning back on of the phone. The no internet. She told me, well they wouldn’t just turn off your internet. I said, “Well, they did.” She was quiet for a moment and then said, “Oh my. They did. Why would they do this? This is silly. I’m so sorry sir. Well, we’ll have to sign you back up for internet. Good news is you’ll get a promotional rate. Bad news is that we can’t have it on ’til Friday.”

She did tell me she would ‘expedite it’ and it might come on on Thursday, but probably Friday. I said that was fine. I would make do. She told me I’d receive a phone call on Friday with instructions on how to sign up and when I did, just to use my old AT&T email. I thanked her.

TOTAL TIME ON PHONE: 39 minutes.

THURSDAY, MARCH 10 2011
No action on any front. Curiously pondered what happened to the technician who was supposed to come yesterday and hoped he was okay.

FRIDAY, MARCH 11, 2011
This morning the DSL light on my modem burned a beautiful, solid green! All week it had been flashing! I tried to go on the web and I got an error saying I wasn’t connected. I then noticed I had a voicemail. The voicemail was from AT&T telling me that my internet was now on but I’d have to follow some steps to get it set up correctly.

So I followed the steps, which included downloading special software, which I did. Letting it interface with the modem, which it did. But I kept getting error messages that told me to call AT&T tech support. So I did.

When I got through, I got to explain the entire situation again. The phone call about the Unit #, the no dial tone and internet. The turning back on of the phone. The no internet. The ‘mistake’ made by AT&T in turning my internet off by accident! The promise to have it back on by Friday. The not being able to connect.

I then had to go through the whole process of resetting the modem, restarting the computer all the way up to unplugging and plugging in my modem and checking to make sure filters were installed even though I hadn’t even touched them from last week when the internet worked FINE before YOU turned it off on accident!

Nothing worked. She told me to she’d send out a technician. I said, “Good, what time will he be here today?” She said, “The earliest appointment would be Sunday.” I said that was unacceptable. She then she said she’d transfer me to someone who could help fix my situation and I was given…wait for it…a brand new case number! A new case number! I was ASSURED that all I had to do was give this new case number to the next person I spoke to and they would know my whole situation!

Once I was finally connected to that person, she asked how she could help. I said, “I have a case number!” Can you guess what she said? GO on, guess. She said, “We don’t take case numbers! That’s a Tech Support thing.” So guess what I had to do?

I explained the entire situation again. The phone call about the Unit #, the no dial tone and internet. The turning back on of the phone. The no internet. The ‘mistake’ made by AT&T in turning my internet off by accident! The calling of tech support and all the tech support that didn’t work.

The woman I was talking to now said she’d be glad to help me. We troubleshooted, we adjusted settings, we tweaked this and that. Then she asked, “What kind of modem are you using sir?”

DANGER! DANGER!

I told her. A Zoom ADSL modem.

DANGER! DANGER!

“Oh sir, that modem is unsupported by AT&T. We can’t help you with that modem.”

I explained to her, this modem worked just fine with AT&T service for a year ’til your company turned off my internet ‘by mistake!’

She said she understood, and offered to transfer me to another tech support person to try to work through it but she couldn’t promise anything because that brand of modem is not supported by AT&T.

So she transferred me and guess what I had to do? Yeah.

I had to explain the entire situation again. The phone call about the Unit #, the no dial tone and internet. The turning back on of the phone. The no internet. The ‘mistake’ made by AT&T in turning my internet off by accident! The calling of tech support and all the tech support that didn’t work. The transferring of me to the last lady who transferred me here. To Gwen.

Well Gwen did her darndest. We fooled with settings some more. She pinged my modem. She had me, even though I protested, check to see if the filters were installed correctly. And after over an hour, she told me that it must be the modem as it’s not supported by AT&T.

Then I had a idea! I had a stupendously, wonderful idea. I simply said, “Wait, I have technically just signed up for NEW internet service right? I mean I’m getting the promotional deal and all. How about you guys send me a modem, the same modem new customers get and we’ll try that! Then we’ll know that I’m using a supported AT&T modem.” At this point, I’d been on the phone TWO AND A HALF HOURS!

She said that sounded like a good idea but she’d need to…say it with me…transfer me to another department. I’ll give her credit though, she stayed on the line with me the whole time. She checked back in with me from time to time as we both listened to the horrible on hold music. Finally we connected with Donna.

Gwen explained the situation to Donna. Donna sympathized. She wanted to help me. I said, “I need a new modem Donna.” She said, “I’ll get you a new modem Grant.” Then she said, “Now why did they do that? That’s just stupid.” The visions of my new, AT&T approved modem were vanishing quickly. She then informed me that while she COULD get me a new modem and WANTED to do so, she couldn’t do so because my ‘record was not downloaded into her system yet so she couldn’t authorize the sending out of a new modem.’

I said, “What do we do Donna?”

Donna said, “You call back on Monday.”

Donna was very sweet. She gave me a magical ID number (I was just happy it was not a case number) that she promised when I called the 1-800 number and gave to whomever answered, would put me in touch with her and she would get a modem out to me ASAP. On Monday.

By this point I was defeated. Defeated and wanted to punch something. It was time for me to go on a run. SO I thanked her and hung up.

TOTAL TIME ON PHONE: 3 hours 16 minutes.

So my question to you AT&T is…Why? That’s it. Why? Oh and, How? How to we fix this?

I will say that during my time on hold I tweeted about moving in to hour two of a phone call with AT&T trying to fix a mistake THEY made and Twitter User @ATTJenn said if I followed her and DM’d her about the problem she’d be more than glad to help. I’m very sorry @ATTJenn, but the above is a bit more than 140 characters. I hope you understand.

I eagerly await your reply AT&T. And will gladly post it here. I’m still eager to defend you, but my confidence is fading.

Yours (but eyeing Verizon),

Grant Baciocco

UPDATE: Three minutes after posting a link to this on Facebook, Jason from AT&T Customer Care posted a reply asking me to contact him. So I will. Also @ATTJenn replied to me saying she’d look into it as well. I appreciate it and will report back on what happens.

UPDATE: So last night around 9PM I emailed ATTJason at the address he specified. I got an immediate email back that said: Thank you for emailing the ATTCustomerCare mailbox, we will be working on your request as quickly as possible and contact you within 24-48 business hours. Please be aware that the hours of operation for ATTCustomerCare support are currently Monday-Friday (7 am cst- 10 pm cst,) and Sat (7am cst – 4pm cst ).

Then at 7:15AM on 3/12 I received this reply: Grant, Jason is out of the office until Monday and will be in touch upon his return. Let us know if you need immediate assistance. Thank you. I replied saying read my letter an tell me if you think I need immediate assistance.

UPDATE: Sent an email to ATTJenn from the comments below. Said I keep getting ‘offers of assistance’ but no ACTUAL assistance. Also said I’m done talking on the phone and resetting my modem. I’m beginning to think AT&T has these ‘social media’ people reply to stuff like this so it appears they care and are working on it. Well, AT&T as you can see, I’m keeping folks updated on the situation here.

UPDATE: Sunday, March 13, 2011 –I have received no response from ANY of the people who offered to help and told me to contact them. I did exactly as they instructed and still…not a word.

This afternoon, I fixed the problem. On my own. Turns out that AT&T’s Password Changer Application I had to download and run reconfigured my modem, you know the ‘unsupported modem,’ and using info from the modem manufacturer’s website, I was able to reset it to it’s factory default settings and get on the internet.

Close to four hours on the phone with AT&T and several unanswered emails and I wound up fixing this on my own. Thank you for all your help AT&T. It will not be forgotten.

I’d still love to know why I had to go through what I did. I think I deserve n answer to that.

UPDATE: Friday, March 18, 2011 – On Monday I received a phone call from the ‘Executive Offices of AT&T. The man I talked to apologized profusely to me for my experience. I was credited $50 for my hassle.

I also received a call from Mark in AT&T tech support who gave me a direct number to him to call if I ever have problems in the future.

So there you have it. My AT&T experience.

14 thoughts on “An Open Letter To AT&T”

  1. First, I’m not the “Twitter Jenn”. I don’t Twitter. BUT I can sympthasize with your pain staking efforts with AT&T support. After dealing with 2 failed hard drives in my DVR within 2 weeks of each other which equated to countless phone calls, running the same tests, and oh so much more fun, I have learned that when calling support for anything AT&T related I immediately request to speak to the next level of support. I find that this method eases my frustration, lessens the amount of times I have to explain myself and does not require me to wait the 30 minutes for the new tech to reboot my system 3 times.

    PS-I find it hysterical that their chat support online immediately defaults to the Internet support folks. If your internet is broken how would you be able to have a live chat session on your computer?

  2. I’ve logged 9.5 hours with Verizon over 3 days with almost the exact same scenario. After the first couple of hours I learned Jenn’s trick, but I kept having to deal with India and the Phillipines. I eventually got a nice guy in Pasadena after throwing around the words “sue” and “lawyer”.

    Nowadays I just jump to the part where I ask for at least two supervisors in the US, or use the back door by calling tech support first and speaking directly to a technician. Techs can request all sorts of stuff it seems.

    I toootally feel your pain.

  3. I feel your pain! Only my experience was with Verizon. I have stuck with Verizon and I feel they have improved from when I first hooked them up. Did they make you test every jack in the place time after time? I wanted to just act like I was taking my extra phone around and checking the lines. “Yep, that one works too! Like the first 3 times I tried.”

    Great idea to document EVERYTHING!

  4. OhMyGod! That you have your sense of humor, let alone your sanity, after this ordeal speaks to your high level of patience and maturity. I’ve been happy with Verizon for years, but you need to find out who has the best coverage for your area. We have cable internet through our local Comcast and it has served us well for years also. I’m so sorry you’ve had to deal with this all week and I wish you better luck in finding a speedy, viable solution.

  5. AT&T has cost me more car sales than dead batteries . They plunge America into silence. You are lucky you did not have a billing problem… That’s like removing and reinstalling ones fingernail..

  6. I have never had a problem with Verizon. When I have a problem, I shut my HP down and start up again. Sometimes, I have to go to the basement and check the thingy which I shut off for 15 seconds and turn back on. Hmmmm…works for me.

  7. Feel your pain, Grant, though am not surprised. Have been through similar experiences with Verizon and Charter. With Verizon, I had bundled service (internet, phone, & DirecTV) and cancelled it all when we moved. Got new service at new place, everything fine until 6 months later when we try to refi hubby’s car loan. Apparently, they had continued billing me for internet for 6 months, NEVER EVER SENT ME A BILL, and then sent it to collections! Spent hours and hours on the phone, many tears over the ding to my credit, etc.
    We’ve sworn off Charter forever for experiences like yours, shutting off service on accident (we cancelled cable, not internet), then took forever to come back out, then charged reconnect fee, etc…
    Good luck to you. And yes, I know how you feel about wanting to punch something! What a waste of your time & energy! grrrr.

    1. Hmmmm….another offer of assistance. I’m beginning to get a weary feeling about these ‘offers of assistance.’ My story is above. What do you think? Do I need assistance? When do the offers of assistance go to ACTUAL assistance?

  8. I originally had Midwest Wireless and ClearWave Internet through them. Wonderful customer service. They were bought out by Alltel. Horrible customer service, and they didn’t bill me for the ClearWave for almost a year until I went in and beat them over the head with it (which was quite a feature, actually). Alltel was purchased by Verizon, and customer service was nonexistent.

    By the time it got to Verison, all I had was the ClearWave. When you call Verizon, you must have a phone number to get any support at all. ClearWave has no phone number, so I finally just keyed in all zeros. Obviously slows things down. I’d have to be transferred six to eight times to reach someone who even knew ClearWave existed.

    The other “fun” thing was that Verizon immediately decided that I was a month behind in my payments. I was on time for all my payments to Alltel, but my first bill from Verizon included two months and a late fee. I called and they said that I’d always been a month behind but Alltel never did anything about it. Ok, I went ahead and paid the whole amount. The next bill was for three months and a late fee. I called again and they said they didn’t get it. I said, “That’s funny; You cashed the check.” They made me have my bank prove it before they’d look into it. When it was proven, I had them send me a final bill and cancel my service entirely. They lost that payment too.

  9. You know, I have Earthlink for DSL, Verizon for cell, and AT&T for land line. Occasionally I think “Wow, maybe I should simplify and get a bundled service.” Your cautionary tale have convinced me never, ever to get a bundled service. If one form of communication goes down, the other two will still work.

    I can’t stand it when a customer service person tells you, “Well, this SHOULD happen.” Obviously it should, but it didn’t, and that’s why I’m calling, so fix the problem, you horse’s arse.

  10. Grant,

    If this was me I would definitely send a report to corporate stating the problems I had and how everything got messed up. I have always had great service with AT&T and they are supposed to take “notes” on the situations between each person so that they are updated each time your record is pulled up.

    This company utilizes Six Sigma Management for improvement and quality; however, this is not the correct way to implement this within their customer service and tech dept. Corporate definitely needs to know about this issue so they can do something to improve this.

    I am absolutely floored to hear about such an awful experience with this company. I had a similiar experience with my university in which I kept contacting until I drove them crazy and they fixed my situation. My advisor said he saw where they fixed my situation and said “thank God”.

    Persistence is key, Grant. Keep on them until something is resolved. If not, post it in the paper.

    Have a great day and I hope everything is resolved soon.

    Randall
    Twitter: @rspceo85

  11. OMG. Welcomse to MY world. And I thought it was just AT&T Uverse. So glad to know I’m not the only one! 🙂 I’ve gone without internet service and phone service for days recently – no reason ever discovered after calling and calling AT&T and having a tech come out. Had to go through the whole reset thing over the phone with a tech one night. Time on phone with AT&T customer service – two hours!

    The week before I was losing service intermittently and the phone line going down would cause my security alarm to go off at 2:30am, 5:00am, 5:30am. Lovely.

    Plus, they are bleeding me to death with their bills. I will be looking for a better rate with them or without.

    What gives, AT&T? You are too damn big for your own good. Hope you get it together.

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