An Open Letter To 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.
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…
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?”
I told her. A Zoom ADSL modem.
“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),
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 â€“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 stillâ€¦not a word.
This afternoon, I fixed the problem. On my own. Turns out that AT&Tâ€™s Password Changer Application I had to download and run reconfigured my modem, you know the â€˜unsupported modem,â€™ and using info from the modem manufacturerâ€™s website, I was able to reset it to itâ€™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.
Iâ€™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 â€“ 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.