This isn't a rip-off story so much as it is a tale of incredibly bad customer service. To begin with, I've been trying to get DSL at our house for nearly seven years. That's right. SEVEN years!
I call these cretins about once a week and I get the same answer as I've been getting for the last 7 years: to wit, It's not available, and there's no indication that it will be available in the foreseeable future.
About a week after I had my lawyer send BellSouth a "letter of concern" (this was about 18 months ago) stating how much we'd like to have DSL at our house, I got a phone call outsourced from... oh, I don't know: Pakistan? Ethiopia? and the fellow - addressing me by name - sounded as if he failed his ESL class. Twice. He told me three things in his fast-paced spiel:
1) Our satellite TV account will be discounted by $5/month (nice, but pointless)
2) We had a new offer for a discounted long-distance service (useless to us, because we keep in contact with out of state family mostly via email and what long distance we use is off a 3rd party prepurchased card),
And the one which really got my attention: 3) DSL would be available within two weeks from the date of this call. I pressed "Habib" (or whatever his name was) no less than 6 times in this 30 minute call on this one issue regarding the upcoming DSL service and he repeatedly assured me that DSL would be available within 2 weeks from the date of this call (March 17, 2007).
He kept trying to play up the long distance service and I kept pulling him back to the DSL issue and each time I did, he repeated what he'd said before: DSL in no more than 2 weeks. Well, 2 weeks come and 2 weeks pass and still I get the same response I've always gotten from BellSouth - getting bounced between the FastAccess call center and the Sales call center back and forth with no forward movement and still no DSL. In the barest essence, this Habib guy was instructed to LIE to me (although our satellite bill did go down by the stated $5). I was sufficiently disgusted by the whole thing to leave it alone for about a year.
Fast forward to Feb 2008. I tried again to check on the availability of DSL. I was again told just what I've been told for the past 6 years, 9 months and (mumble, mumble) 12 days - its not available and there's no indication that it will be provided in the foreseeable future. (By the way, my next door neighbor- a mere 600 or so feet to the east of this house has both cable TV and DSL. We are stuck with satellite TV and dialup).
Anyway, the bimbette I was talking to said there was another option: wireless broadband access. I asked to talk to someone about that service. After a nice 12 minute wait, I was connected to another bimbette who started her spiel. After she outlined the preposterous ($80/month including state, federal and local taxes) pricing and service plan she asked if I had any questions. Yes.
> What is the model number of this card?
> What is the connection speed with this wireless device?
> Is it home network compatible?
> No model number
> 3 to 4 MB/sec
Based on her answers, I went ahead and ordered the card. $80/month was a little high, I figured but if my wife and I could use a router on the card with a 3MB/sec connection it wouldn't be so bad...
The timbre of the conversation left me a bit uncomfortable nonetheless, so I then called the guys at the local PC shop from whom I can always get dependable information about anything computer related. I asked about the Sierra wireless cards and whether or not they were, indeed, home network compatible. He said he wasn't entirely certain, but probably not. After profuse thanks, I then called the AT&T wireless service dorks again and asked for tech support. This particular bimbette who took my call apparently came to work without her cerebrum. When faced with a tech question, I listened to her mutter and hum to herself while going clackety-clack on her computer keyboard for 15 MINUTES looking for the answer to my questions before she finally admitted defeat and switched me to the actual tech support department.
A competent-sounding guy picked up and his very FIRST question was "what model number card are you asking about?" I told him I was told there was no model number given. He said there were 17 different kinds of Sierra wireless cards, NONE OF WHICH were network compatible! Further, being in the rural location I was in, I'd certainly not see anything close to a 3 or 4 MB/sec connection, but rather a 128 to 256KB speed instead.
After thanking this guy for accurately answering my questions, I told him I wasn't at all interested in the card after all and I wanted to cancel the order. He transferred me to another call center. I gave them my information and my intentions. They couldn't find the order, so I got transferred again. Again, I gave them all my info and my intentions. THEY couldn't find the order so guess what? Yep, transferred again! Over the next 2 hours and 44 minutes (yes, I timed it) I was transferred no fewer than 13 times - once talking to someone in San Francisco California (I'm in Florida) who asked me what I was doing calling them! I was switched to call centers in New Mexico, Idaho and Tennessee who also A) wondered why I was being transferred to them and B) couldn't find my order, either! My aim was to avoid having them waste time and fuel shipping a card I had no intention of using after all, but I was finally told to just refuse the delivery when it arrived, which is what I did. And THAT was just round one with the wireless people.
Round two my wife started. She called asking about wireless service (this was about 3 weeks ago) and asked the guy to call me to get some specs about my computer, etc. He sounded pretty enthusiastic about the service and said that in the several months since I had first called they had improved the signal coverage out here so where I still wouldn't see connection speed in the megabyte range, I'd likely see something about 750KB. Against my better judgement, I went ahead and OKed this order. Again.
I was told it would arrive within 3 to 7 business days. FOURTEEN days later, I call to check on the status of this order and was told it hadn't even shipped yet! I sang a few choruses of the 4-letter serenade and ended the call with instructions to just cancel the whole thing... again.
Third and final round: This Monday (8/4/08).
I ended up having second-thoughts about this. Maybe this wireless card will actually be worth trying out after all so, once again, I called. This time I outlined the bizarre handling I went through the last two times and told them in no uncertain terms if the card was not here in my hands before this week was out they could forget it. Thursday Aug 7, the card came.
I installed it as per all instructions - both hardware and software. My system promptly crashed. I rebooted. Crashed again... and again... and 15 more times between yesterday and this morning. In between the crashes, the connection manager software would tell me I was connected at 675kb/sec, but I was unable to connect to any webpages ("THIS PAGE CANNOT BE DISPLAYED") and my p2p fileshare programs told me there was no active internet connection.
Literally all night, I wrestled with this issue solo. I uninstalled/reinstalled both software and hardware several times. I'm no computer dummy and was even in my registry trying to locate the cause of the crashes to no avail. My system has more than the minimum requirements stated on the documentation provided with the Sierra device so I knew it wasn't that.
After 2 hours on the phone with tech support the following morning (Fri Aug. 8) with no resolution (and leaving the guy on the other end of the line utterly baffled as to what was going on) I yelled "uncle" and asked him to transfer me to the folks responsible for canceling this abysmal "service".
This was the only good call I have ever made to BellSouth/AT&T. The guy told me he'd waive the normally nonrefundable $36 activation fee as well as the pro-rated service fees normally charged when the 30 day trial return period was invoked because I had so many problems with the "service".
So, now the virus of a connection manager is uninstalled, the piece-of-garbage wireless card is resting in it's return box while I wait for them to send me the prepaid return address tag.....
...and I'm still on dialup. BellSouth dialup.
nw panhandle, Florida
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