Friday, January 28, 2011

AT&T Sucks!

AT&T.  The American Telegraph and Telephone company.  An American icon.  A government supported monopoly.  As clear a case of an over-bloated, incompetent, bureaucratic, don't give a damn corporation as there is.

Some may be too young to remember when AT&T was the standard of the world.  The best service, the best customer service, at the best price of any other communications corporation on earth.  True, you have to be pretty old to remember that, but it was true.

Some of you may be too young to remember when there were hundreds of telephone companies spread throughout the land.  In the years following WWII, Eisenhower pushed to secure the U.S. by developing the interstate highway system and by consolidating communications systems to assure rapid and dependable communications nationwide.  Thus did AT&T and the "Baby Bells", the Bell Telephone Companies, gain government support for taking over every small town mom & pop telephone company in the country.

And here, 50 years later, is the result.

In an effort to consolidate my personal communications systems and possibly save a little money, I contacted AT&T (my land-line and internet server) about their new U-Verse bundle.  Here's what happened:
  1. Tech comes out to the house to see if I can get Uverse and determines I can.  (My brother, three doors down has it, but I'm on the fringe, about 300' away)
  2. We set up the appointed day for the big switch.
  3. Tech arrives and disconnects my land-line and DSL.
  4. After several hours of work, tech can't get Uverse to work.  Calls in diagnostics team, meantime... no land-line phone or DSL for me.
  5. Two days later diagnostic team determines signal not strong enough for me to get Uverse.  Still no land-line or DSL.  (My wife and I have a home office and depend on email and fax, neither of which now exist.  We run our business out of Panera Bread Co's. wi-fi)
  6. Can't get old phone or DSL turned back on because work order in progress.
  7. 4 days and dozens of calls later ATT decides we have to start over as new customers.  We lose the phone number we've had for 15 years, the one all of our business associates use.
  8. 6 days later we re-establish phone and DSL service with new number.  Which means we have to contact all of our contacts to change contact information.
  9. No apology, no nothing from ATT, but since we're "new" customers we get DSL at a discount for 6 months.
Would have dumped the whole thing and gone to Comcast which is our TV provider except that we lose the Comcast signal every time it rains, or if I hold my mouth wrong.  Need phone and internet more dependable than that (again, home office).  Can't use satellite as too many big trees in the way.  Direct-tv suggested we cut one down, a 100-yr old Live Oak.  Right. 


Time for me to renew my cellular service - AT&T.  Want a free or cheap upgrade as the phone I've got from the last time, an LG something-or-other "smart phone" is a piece of crap.  Here's how it goes:
  1. Online looking at upgrade options when chat window opens, "How may I help you today?"
  2. Me, I want a non-smart phone that will give me basic phone service but I want it to synchronize my MS Outlook calendar and contacts with phone and computer.  I don't need nor want any texting/internet/gps packages.  Do you have a phone that will do that?  (something my old Nokia did years ago)
  3. Rep, Just a minute I'll check.  (5 minutes pass)  Yes sir, we do have a phone that will do that.  It's the AT&T something-or-other.
  4. Me, Are you sure?
  5. Rep, Just a minute.  (5 minutes pass)  Yes sir.  I checked with my supervisor and the AT&T something-or-other will do that.
  6. Me,  OK, I'll take it.
  7. 3 days later phone arrives.  Follow instructions for charging and activating simm chip.
  8. Plug phone into computer to synchronize calendar and contacts.  Nothing.  Phone sits there.  Computer says, "What's this?"
  9. Take the whole thing to local AT&T store and am told phone won't do that, I'll have to buy a smart phone and pay $15 monthly data package.
  10. Pissed, I send the phone back and cancel upgrade.
  11. Go back home and move new simm chip into old phone, connect to computer to download and sync calendar and contacts.
  12. Event deletes half of contacts from computer (of 100 or so, remember, business) and duplicates those that are left on the phone and computer.
  13. Takes over an hour to delete duplications, still haven't restored all contacts.
This was a month or so ago.  Last week got "offer" from AT&T on phone that would do everything I wanted.  Stupid me, I gave it a shot.  Same result as above, only this time I did not activate the new simm chip so was able to keep all of my data.

If it weren't for my wife and I having a "family" plan that adds my phone for only $10 a month, I would have dumped them.

The moral of the story:  Fuck AT&T! 


  1. Corporate America sucks, plain & simple.
    I have Windstream for cable and phone. They bent over backwards to make me happy and I've got a lifetime rate locked in. Not sure if you can get Windstream where you are. They don't carry/sell phones, but their service is great.
    Have you figured out yet how to hold your mouth so the computer doesn't go out?

  2. Got the mouth, computer thing figured out but still no progress with Comcast.

  3. I could feel your pain. Your breakdown was excellent. Makes me glad I cashed in that $1000 worth of AT & T stock I inherited from my Aunt back in the 1980s. I don't have feel responsible.

    Damn I hate the new gadgets. Really. But like you my business depends on being tied to the network.

  4. I have heard this many times, and from different people, but have no real proof that this is what you get when "business people" oversee the design of complicated systems forcing actual engineers to the sidelines.

  5. I can handle tempoarily losing any one (or maybe two) of my four communications channels. I wouldn't be able to handle being in business for myself :-)

    I like having a smart phone, but I wish I didn't have the particular one I purchased.

  6. Dude you have it all wrong...I've had U-Verse since it became available in the hood. The guy came out and wired the whole house. Took him 8 hours. Now every 6 months when my discount expires I call or the wife calls and they reinstate it.

    The VOIP phone was for shit...they said it was because we were 300' too far from the whatever, they switched me back to my land line for free and gave me $25 for my trouble, not a credit but $25 on a mastercard gift card..

    My PC & TV have never failed and when the power went out the battery they supplied worked for 8 hours. And they sent me another $25 when they had to come out and replace a wire that was unintentionally left out by the first tech.

    Comcast sucks ass, I know because one of my kids works for them and he will tell you they suck and why.

    How many minutes a month do you need on your cell phone because Consumers Celluar will give you a phone that does nothing but make and take calls with 500 minutes a month 2 phones $45--1000 minutes $55 no contract. haven't had a problem with them either seeing as they are reselling me At&t minutes, which makes it a nationwide plane. Use your AARP card and get a discount there too.

    U-Verse is the Mac Daddy of service if you complain the right way.

  7. They both suck balls Mr. C and you're right, this monopoly has us all by the short hairs. My friend has U-Verse....nothing but trouble. I have Comcast....the only thing I can praise is my high-speed, we have problems with the cable all the time. Thought about going to satellite but I don't hear folks being so in love with that either. Now that Comcast has purchased NBC their stranglehold will surely only tighten.

    Thank God for Panera! The chicken tortilla soup isn't too bad either. ;)

  8. I'll see if I can respond to everyone... We have AT&T cell phones because my wife has the full-tilt data, I-Phone crap. She uses over 2,000 minutes a month (again, business). She needs it. I don't. We don't have U-Verse because they couldn't get it to work no matter how I complained. My complaint is that not only did they screw that up but also my existing service.

    I like Panera too Steph, but it's not my favorite. Everything's too salty.

  9. It's nice to have blogs as a platform to express the utter frustration of dealing with these companies. One can only hope they're discovered and read by the people who make life so difficult for long-time customers. Husband is going through something similar with Sprint now. I did too. I'm a new AT&T customer, and it looks like I'm in for a fun ride. I'm sorry for your frustration. Lost time is beyond terrible. Add in people who are incompetent or reading from a script as they act paralyzed to help you, and it's even worse. Ugh.

  10. Have you tried two tin cans and a string?

  11. I do apologize for your horrific experience with AT&T and the problems you have with Comcast. Have you checked with DISH Network to see if you can sign up with them for TV? As a DISH employee I know that DISH not only offers the lowest prices in the industry, but DISH also beats out Comcast in customer satisfaction for 10 years in a row. I suggest checking DISH out and seeing for yourself.

  12. ATT sucks ass!!!!!!!!

  13. I use to be proud of my wife working for AT&T. She worked there for 20 years. She worked with the union and saved alot of peoples jobs that would normally be lost. Then the company decided (after they were bought out by SBC) she made too much money. The brought in a woman that had no people skills and told my wife to fire people that didnt deserve to be fired. My wifes numbers were great and in fact she won awards for them. Then her boss doubled her required numbers and fired her at the end of the month after not aquiring the unatainable objective. She recieved awards after she was fired for her numbers being so high. Then to make matters worse the people she thought were her friends completely shunned her and believed the things told to them by her ex boss trying to drive a wedge between people so it would be easier to fire anybody at anytime. Its a shame to work that hard for that long and end up so disapointed. The people she thought were her friends are the ones i feel the most sorry for because my wife is a incredible person and anybody that can call her a friend should realize they are a lucky soul.

  14. Every time I talk to AT&T I feel like I'm dealing with one of these factories that sends a bus out to pick up homeless people and illegals to do day work in their business. I'm fifty. I am old enough to remember when AT&T was a first rate operation. I get the impression people at AT&T are trained on the fly and are told to say whatever comes into their heads if they don't have an informed answer to give the customer. Nothing is ever simple with this bunch.

  15. Working for AT&T as manager, I have come to realize that upper management sets these horrendous goals and fully expect you to reach them even when there is no traffic. People are looking to save money not spend more. Doesn't matter how good of a manager you are, if you don't kiss ass you don't go anywhere in the company. Managers are expected to write people up for everything. If your boss doesn't like you, you are doomed. They push for customer excellence but don't care how miserable their employees are. They hire all these college grads, put them on what they call a fast track, but won't promote those who have tenure and within 2 years the new employees are now your boss! They make up jobs for departments that got cut due to budgets, and all those people do now are lie about others performance ensuring their own job
    security. I am much healthier and happier now that I don't work there any longer.

  16. The job satisfaction level is trending downward steadily as AT&T continues to utilize measurement tools beyond a reasonable expectation. Micromanaging has become the norm. Field technicians must call their supervisors every 90 minutes to status heir work, otherwise the 1st level manager is harassed by his manager. There is a definite lack of trust, it appears that all employees are under the microscope and any autonomy that existed in prior years has gone by the wayside. The only concern is whether a minimum number of orders or repair tickets have been "touched". Under the new MSOT guidelines, technicians must dispatch on at least 3 or 4 jobs, often more, dependent on the type of work. To meet the daily quotas, technicians are taking short cuts; cable troubles that are isolated (within a 90 minute to 2 hour window) are often not repaired to an extent that further trouble might be alleviated. In other words, a technician may discover more than one fault in a cable, but time constraints only allow for the repair of one individual line, so say a corroded splice module is discovered in a manhole or underground vault, it will go un-repaired, only the single line is fixed, the splice is closed up and more than likely another trouble will arise in the same exact cable count and another ticket will probably be generated by another or often the same customer. This is what splicing technicians I have interviewed have told me; that they have been instructed by their managers to "fix the one pair and close it up." That is an exact quote of an AT&T field supervisor.
    Many of the problems are cumulative, perhaps encouraged by the adage, "if you can measure it, you can control it." This may be true, but at what cost? The customers may suffer because of inadequate service and attention to maintenance issues. Employee moral suffers because the only concern is whether a worker has got enough "widgets" for the day. Often, the only times and the only words from a supevisor are negative, usually regarding a low production day. Often times jobs overrun due to bad designs, or bad plant conditions. It is rare that an employee hears any praise when the bogey is met or surpassed. Employees complain that management is "shaking the tree to see who falls out." It is a belief among many employees, especially those with at least 30 years service, that they are being targeted. They feel they are being singled out and their daily work scrutinized to find some fault over which they might be disciplined. GPS installed in vehicles, surveillance of cell phone calls and internet usage are all examined for the sole purpose of deciding whether those things contribute to declines in productivity. " Out of route" vehicles are automatically flagged as are speeding trucks, extended idling times ( what do they expect in winter? the technicians say) are all reasons for suspensions. Accidents are generally the fault of the AT&T driver, even if they were hit by another driver. During accident investigations, it is usually brought up that "there must have some way that this could have been avoided... alternate routes, why were you there, etc.etc.) Remember what the Pastor said in Pollyanna? "Look for the bad and you will find it, but look for the good and you may find it too." Perhaps AT&T should start looking for the good for a change, get back to the way the company admired it's employees and trusted them, and took pride in the appearance of their buildings and their telephone and now data plant. Then maybe the happiness factor for everyone, including management.

  17. I am a wiretech and have no idea where to begin. All of this blog and comments are true and right now I'm so embarrassed i work for them. I have 5 years in. Here's hoping I don't see 6. It's the worst job I've ever had (not the work, the company).


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