You know, you’d think I’d have learned after writing How to Give Horrible Customer Service, but no. In an area of 1 million people (Jacksonville, Florida) the administration in its infinite wisdom has chosen to only allow two major competitors for our unlimited internet market: AT&T and Comcast.
Comcast service is slow as molasses during peak hours, drops you off line constantly, and while it gives a great introductory rate at first, that price basically triples after the first year. AT&T, on the other hand, “only” doubles its price after the first year. How generous. But for that privilege you have to put up with the worst customer service in the history of mankind. Gee, who to choose?
So despite my horrendous experiences with AT&T in the past, I held my nose and dove back into the vast ocean of ineptitude that is their indifferent and smug bureaucracy. Come with me, dear reader, and hold my hand as I am tossed about on their stormy sea of stupidity. I need you, because when all was said and done, I was forced to dwell on a desert island of internetlessness for seven, count ‘em, seven days. Without you, I’d be forced to talk to a soccer ball like Tom Hanks in Cast Away.
Monday, June 30th, 2014
1:20 pm: I receive the following text message: “AT&T Free Msg: U-verse internet active after 8pm 07-01. See self install guide.”
8 pm? When I ordered this service I told them that I’d no longer have access to internet as of midnight today at my old address, so I was hoping to have it with them on 7/1 so I could stay connected. Now I’ll have to go a whole day without internet? Sigh. Okay, whatever. It’s only a day. Let’s take a look at the self install guide. They say it’s really easy. All you need is a phone jack. It doesn’t even need to be active.
I’m standing in the middle of my new rental place, up to my ears in unpacked boxes and chaos, and it occurs to me… hold on… I haven’t seen a phone jack anywhere. I wander from room to room, my heart sinking. Nope. No phone jack. I go outside. No phone box. And no lines leading to the house from the telephone pole. Seriously? I’ve chosen the one house in the free world with no telephone access?
I call AT&T and tell them I can’t do the self install after all. There are no phone lines whatsoever. They say they’ll send a tech out. Their earliest appointment is the morning of July 2nd. I grit my teeth and say, “Fine, I’ll take it.”
Tuesday, July 1st, 2014
10:43 am: After being up all night because I work graveyard shifts, I am woken up by the following text message: “AT&T U-verse Free Confirmation: Repair scheduled for 07-02 between 8am-Noon.” It then urges me to visit their website for status changes. If I had the ability to visit their website, I wouldn’t be in this fix. And I already knew that the tech was coming tomorrow. They told me that on the phone. So they knew I knew, too. Whatever. Communication is good, I suppose.
I can’t imagine how I would have gone through this week if I had regular working hours. Because as you will see, it took no fewer than FIVE visits before they actually got their act together and provided me with the service that they had absolutely no problem taking my money for. If I had had to stay home from work each time, I’d have been in deep trouble.
Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014
9 am the tech arrives, under the mistaken impression that this is going to be a simple phone jack install. I disabuse him of that notion. He confirms what I’ve been saying all along to everyone, that there is no phone line leading to this house at all, and this is to be a complete install. He talks about placing a cable underground from the pole. I like this idea. No sense in having ugly wires going willy-nilly in your yard if not necessary. I go inside and let him get to work.
45 minutes later I peek out and he’s standing next to his truck, talking on his cell phone. I go out and ask how things are going. He tells me there is a slight problem. There is no signal coming to the telephone pole, so even if he installed everything, it wouldn’t work. So before he can get started, he needs to call an INR tech (whatever that is) to come out and sort out the signal. So he’s closing out his repair ticket, ordering one for the INR tech, and once that guy is done he will come right back out and finish what he, uh… never really started. Not to worry, though, once that line is sorted out, it will only take him about 20 minutes to do his part, and I’ll have internet in no time.
1 pm, the INR tech arrives. Much fiddle farting around and doing things that look complicated. I leave him to his work. At around 2:30, I see he’s on his cell phone. Sigh. I go out for a status update, and he tells me he’s almost done here, and then the other guy can come back. I ask him to knock on my door before he leaves and give me an estimated time of arrival. He says he’ll do so.
3:15 pm I look out and the guy is gone. Oh well, I figure the other guy is on his way. But he’s not there by 6 pm, and I resign myself to the fact that he must be coming in the morning. I try to get some sleep but I’m so irritated, I get 4 hours of sleep before working all night.
Thursday, July 3rd, 2014
I get home from work about 8:20 am, and there’s no AT&T truck out front. Great. Just great. Well, it’s not like these guys are the souls of efficiency. I figure I’ll give them an hour.
9:10 am: I receive the following text message: “AT&T Free Msg: Sorry we were unable to complete your U-verse repair. Still trouble? Please visit att.com/ufix or call 888-485-3310.”
Still trouble? What the hell do you think? I have no phone line! So I call them. I explain everything that has transpired to date. They say they will send someone out. But the next available appointment is tomorrow. Are you kidding me? The guy told me he’d be right back! Sorry, ma’am. That’s the next available appointment. Apparently the INR tech didn’t submit a ticket for the first guy, and the first guy just dropped me like a hot rock.
Fine. I hang up and sleep the fitful sleep of the supremely irritated. Then at 10:39 am, I’m awoken by the following text message: “AT&T Free Msg: Your U-verse repair appt time has changed. Your tech will arrive 07/04 btwn 8 am- Noon.” Again with the visiting of the website for status changes.
Changed? What was it before? For crying out loud. Well, at least I’ll have internet tomorrow. And the office person swears to me that they do work tomorrow, even though it’s a holiday.
Friday, July 4th, 2014
The guy arrives relatively promptly and asks to come in and check it out. I tell them there’s nothing to see. There’s no phone jack, no phone line to the house. Nothing. He is stunned. He seems to be under the impression that he was just coming out to help an idiot customer do her simple self install.
He tells me that he’ll have to do a full install (I know) and that there will, of course, be a fee (We’ll just see about that), but no, he will be doing an above ground cable, not a buried one (Whatever it takes).
But this time I don’t go about my business and let him work in private. I’ve learned. So I sit on my front stoop and watch the show. He goes over to the telephone pole. He opens a container and pulls out a mass of tangled cables that looks like an electric tumbleweed from hell. He takes a photograph with his cell phone and makes a call. He’s on the phone for a long, long time.
He comes over to me and tells me that the INR tech yesterday did not fix the signal problem. Well, actually, he may have, but since he didn’t label which of the 5 cables in that mass of 1,500 cables belongs to my house, he has no way of determining which ones to use. So he has scheduled another INR tech to come out to the pole down the block and rewire it entirely. Once that’s done, he’ll come back and set me up.
I say, “You don’t understand. It’s been 4 days. You’re the third person that has reassured me. I still don’t have internet. People probably think I’ve died. I’m afraid that if you leave here, I’m going to be back to square one.” I seriously consider holding the guy hostage.
He tells me not to worry. He says he’s working tomorrow, and that his boss who he was just on the phone with is working tomorrow, too. They will take care of it. He will come back. He leaves. It occurs to me that I can’t even see down the block, so I’ll have no idea when/if the INR tech comes and does his part. And one wonders why I have abandonment issues.
I fall into such a tense and uncomfortable sleep that when I wake up I can no longer raise my left arm without excruciating pain. I work all night like that. Every time I try to move my arm I’m reminded of what a pain this situation has turned out to be
Saturday, July 5th, 2014
I get home at 8:45 am, and again, there is no one out front. I call the phone number and get another indifferent employee. I explain the situation, and she tells me that the INR tech who came out on the second fixed the telephone pole problem, and I explain to her that no, he did not, and they had to send a second one out. She seems quite confused. I tell her in any case, no one has been out here since, it’s been 5 days and 4 techs and yet there is no progress. She says she’ll look into it and call me back.
I want to take a pain pill for my arm, but I’m loathe to do so because I may miss the call. So I toss and turn for 2 hours in considerable discomfort until the phone rings around 10:30 am. She tells me that it appears that the ticket got “lost in the system”. She tells me that she’s place another. She tells me that they work until 8 pm today, and that they also work on Sundays, so someone will be out soon.
5 pm. I call for a status update. Once again I am treated as if this is the first anyone has heard of this situation, and after leaving me on hold for a half hour on my pay by the minute phone, they schedule a technician to come between 4 and 8 pm on Monday. I have to work at that time. My head explodes and I ask to speak to a supervisor. She says that she will have one call me back after hearing me cry tears of utter frustration.
5:50 pm I receive a text. “AT&T U-verse Free Confirmation: Repair scheduled for 07/07 between 4 pm – 8 pm.”
The supervisor never bothers to call back, which tells you all you need to know about AT&T’s utter indifference to customer satisfaction. I am forced to beg my irritated supervisor for Monday off so I can be there when and if someone actually decides to show up and do something.
Monday, July 7, 2014
A brand new tech arrives at 4pm. He has to be brought up to speed, because God knows his company didn’t tell him what was going on. I feel subdued, apathetic and devoid of even an ounce of fight, which is probably just how AT&T wants its customers. But the good news is that this guy, bless him, was able to complete the job, and it only took 2 ½ hours. If I had had the strength to pucker, I’d have kissed him.
So to recap, 7 days with an average of 4 hours of sleep, 1 missed day of work, 5 techs (3 of whom looked me straight in the eye and made promises they had absolutely no intention of keeping), and several rude phone calls later, I’m finally back on line. And I get to pay them an installation fee for the hell they just put me through. They ought to be paying me.
Matter of fact, once I’ve regained my strength, I may try to fight that bill. Yeah. What’s the worst that could happen?
[Image credit: phandroid.com]