Nearly a year ago, I called AT&T to take advantage of their constantly advertised bundle deals to initiate service in a new apartment. After three disappointing hours on the phone, I ended up with a special offer that differed from the advertised rates for which I had called, but the package included the land-line phone service and DSL internet service that I wanted. So, having no other alternatives, I settled and waited.
The equipment arrived shortly thereafter as promised and my services were promptly activated. For a time, things were at least tolerable - and functional!
Six weeks ago, I received a sales call, offering the same bundle deals for which I was previously unqualified. I politely stopped the representative mid-sentence declining the offer, and asked them to refrain from making such calls again. In order to fulfill this simple request, however, the representative needed to transfer me to their sales and billing department.
After ten minutes or so, a representative finally answered the call and asked me to verify the information on the account. So, I gave her the requested information. The representative, cunning as she was, realized that the name on the account differed from my own. When I identified myself as the account holder's adult son and explained that I managed her accounts for her, the account was indeed for her, and that I should be listed as a billing contact on the account, I was again placed on hold. Another ten minutes passed, and I waited patiently. When she returned, she explained that she could not speak with anyone except the account holder and to have my mother call a toll free number. Despite my attempted explanations, the representative ended the call and I was left, frustrated, to call this number and try to sort things out with yet another representative.
Several days later, after exhaustive and unresolved call after call, the services are disconnected entirely. Aggravated, I make a final call, getting short with several supervisors, only to subsequently discover that the account had been flagged as being fraudulent and the services terminated for security reasons. It takes several more hours on the phone to reactivate the account and services, having to create an entirely new account in the process, but I am assured that everything will be restored as it had been before the disconnection and that there would be no further inconveniences.
48 hours later, the phone service is finally restored. But the DSL service is still not working. So - again - I call and - again - I endure representative after representative. This time around, it takes a supervisor from the technical department to determine that the cause for the DSL connection not working is that it was never reordered as the previous supervisor claimed. When I ask him to clarify, he continues to explain that when the DSL service is completely disconnected, it must be reordered and a work order must be opened to have a technician come to re-enable the service at the box outside the apartment. Furthermore it will take another 5-10 business days to have the service reinstalled.
Three days later, the connection is reestablished. The DSL modem reports the connection is working, but the PPP authentication has failed. Assuming this problem is due to the service still pending on the account, I call and am told that I am correct, but until 24 hours after the estimated completion date of the work order, the services cannot be initiated. So, with the estimated installation date 2-7 business days away, I have no choice but to again wait.
The day after the estimated installation date, I AGAIN have to call technical support, this time to have them create a new username and password for the modem. Fortunately, this call takes only around a half an hour, and the services, by the end of that call, are indeed working.
Almost immediately, however, we realize that the connection is extremely sluggish. But having been told by the representative that it may take several days for the modem to begin functioning at top performance, and not wanting call again, I wait on my own volition.
Fast-forwarding to today, we've gone through and exhausted all of the self-help and technical support avenues available, including hiring technicians to diagnose and resolve the problems, still with no luck. SBC/AT&T stubbornly maintains that the problem is with our equipment and environment, despite evidence to the contrary - including the fact that this issue didn't occur until AFTER their mistake and the disconnection and subsequent reconnection of our DSL service. Before the incident, everything was fine, and we were as satisfied with the poor service as we possibly could be.
What makes the problem worse is that every call to their technical support department results in even more agony. The calls are always answered by people from the Phillipines with only a mediocre ability to speak and comprehend English. Further still, these people are very rude, disrespectful, and condescending - seeming to believe that all customers are complete idiots. The same troubleshooting steps are repeated over and over to the point that I can perform them in my sleep and recite the representative's script for them. And when the call isn't "mysteriously" dropped while waiting on hold for 15-20 minutes (sometimes hours!), the same reply is given: "Please allow 24 hours for [their] tests to complete and call back if the issue persists".
On a good day now, the throughput hovers between 150 and 250kbps downstream and 400-500kbps upstream (a total reversal of how it SHOULD be). The AT&T Yahoo! Highspeed Internet PRO Plan for which I subscribed promises speeds of "up to" 3mbps, a long shot away from the speeds I am actually getting. In fact, the speed is even less than that of the lowest plan. So, having been told there is virtually nothing more that can be done, I've tried to downgrade the package to avoid paying for something I wasn't receiving, only to find that the speed decreases as well even further to the point where it is consistently worse than a 28.8k modem.
Unfortunately, this service is installed on rental property that was initially wired for satellite cable. If it weren't due to this fact, we'd be using our local cable provider for our services instead and would have kicked AT&T to the curb a long time ago. But the simple fact of the matter is, our only other options are dialup or satellite - both equally as slow, undependable, and simply unsatisfactory.
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