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Another AT&T Fail

Posted by susabelle at 9:50 AM on July 13, 2010

For the second time in about five weeks, our home-based AT&T DSL went down.  I was in the middle of downloading the maps for our trip this week, and creating an email for our house-sitter so she’d know how to take care of the cats, plants, and pool.  Just like that, at 4 in the afternoon, we were down.  I completed all of the usual resets, then my husband called tech support.

He got a nice, but deluded, technician in India who kept asking for our password and proof of identity.  He hung up on her, and I called back and got, amazingly, a technician from California instead.  Another nice guy, who had me do all of the same resets I had just done, and kept putting me on hold to “test the modem” and “test the line” multiple times.  He assured me multiple times that we were the only ones in the neighborhood having a problem.

I live in an old house, with old phone lines, and I’m dreading the day when they all need to be replaced.

But once again, this one was on AT&T.  A technician was scheduled to come out this morning, and beginning at about 8:30 this morning, I saw AT&T trucks going up and down the street.  Finally one stopped at my house, told me they were working on a problem up the street, and that we should be back up soon.  And we were.  The problem was a technician working on a main box near the entrance of our subdivision Monday, installing UVerse.  He had switched some cable or other, putting about 15 houses out of DSL.

What bothers me is this happened at 4 in the afternoon, while, presumably, a technician was still on-site in our neighborhood.  But because my tech support call took more than an hour after “push one for this, push four for that” and waiting on hold for this and that other “test” to be run, a service call was not going to happen until the next day.  And 15 houses were without Internet for the night, and 15 people had to stay home from work to meet a technician.  I did not need to be home for this repair in the first place, and neither did the other 15 people.

This is almost an exact repeat of the incident that occurred about five weeks ago.  I stayed home from work, finally called when the technician didn’t show up, only to be told, “oh, this was a neighborhood-wide outage and you didn’t need to be home.”  This blatant disregard for the valuable time and effort of the customer is what bugs me the most, I think.

Is AT&T too big?  Is that why they can’t pull up our records and know that there was work being done in our neighborhood yesterday afternoon, so that a technician could be re-dispatched immediately to take care of what was at first a minor issue?  Does it take them all night to figure out that 15 people calling from a neighborhood of 60 houses might just indicate a more widespread problem than fifteen individuals being told that the wiring to their house is “defective?”  Is it really that hard to call those 15 people, even with an automated call, to inform them that they didn’t need to be home for the technician?

I wish I had a choice, a different provider I could go with.  AT&T is the lesser of two evils here; the other evil being Charter Communications, who have a worse customer service and uptime record than AT&T.  But when it comes down to it, we really have very little choice in providers, and that is, ultimately, what I think makes our service so poor to begin with.  There’s no need to provide outstanding service, you only have to be better than the other guy.  Kind of like you and your friend running from a bear in the woods; you don’t have to run faster than the bear, just faster than your friend.

3 Comments

  1. From HunterA3 at 1:20 pm on July 13, 2010

    This is similar to what I experienced with TWC about 8 years ago, only I was armed with Neotrace and could tell them down to the device IP address and host name where I lost connectivity. Still didn’t keep them from sending me to flowchart hell while they scratched their heads. As far as being asked to wait and then being told that I didn’t have to wait after all, I’d be livid and that would be the last straw for me.

  2. From Mike Wills at 6:44 pm on July 13, 2010

    I gotta say, I like my DSL provider, Hickory Tech. Good thing too as they are my only choice given where I live. They are much bigger than a local company, but much smaller than one like AT&T. Once I start talking smart to them, they immediately switch to geek mode on me. But I have had the opposite problem as well with other companies. I feel for ya.

  3. From Have I Reached My Limit with ATT? - Geek News Central at 8:34 am on July 22, 2010

    [...] the trouble I had with ATT’s wireless broadband. And don’t even get me started on the nightmare service calls I’ve had lately regarding the ATT DSL connection to our home.  But the straw that has broken the camel’s back for me was our recent trip to Wisconsin.  [...]