More AT&T fail

In a previous blog entry , I complained that AT&T’s U-verse VIOP phone system was not read for prime time. They blacked out 22 states for over 4 hours, and they claimed it was caused by “a server”, which I found amazing. One item can fail and cause such problems? No backup plan?

And it is no secret that I am not a fan of their cell service. It is why I still do not own an iPhone as badly as I want one. I see too many of my friends complaining all the time about dropped calls and bad service. And last week, they raised their “quit” fee to the highest in the industry, $375 if you don’t like your service, or it does not work well, and you want to cancel your contract. VERY customer friendly, no?

But yesterday, I was struck again by AT&T, as my DSL service went off line for almost 6 hours. And that was following an outage the previous night as well.

So, last night, I called AT&T, was transfered to their “internet” service group, which, by the way, is NOT available for help 24 hours a day. If you work late at night (after midnight), and your internet goes down, too bad. But I digress.

I walked my way through the automated system, to finally get to the menu that said, “connection problem or no service” and I selected that option. In AT&T’s wonderful thinking, I was first played a recorded message that told me for faster service, I could simply go on-line to their website.

Wow, really? If your problem is no connection, just log onto their website to fix it! Why didn’t I think of that. Maybe I could send then an email with my question too! SIGH! It gets better…

In any case, after waiting some time, I finally got to talk to someone, somewhere in the world, who once again asked me for all the info I had just punched into the phone only a few minutes ago. Why do this ask this again?

The person asked all kinds of questions, and then insisted that she walk me through a number of things to try, like telling me to power cycle the modem for 30 seconds (did that several times already, but had to do it again) and reboot the computer (won’t help, did it again because she would not move on) and a few other checks and confirmations, all trying to point to something on my side. Guess what, nothing on my side. Then she asked me to tell her what the lights on the modem were doing.

After all this, she said she needed to put me on hold, and was gone for a few minutes. When she came back, she said, “Oh, I see that your service is effected by a large outage effecting a number of customers caused by a server failure.”

I am not quite sure just how loud I yelled “WHAT?” because she seemed startled at my reaction. “Is there a problem sir?”

“Uh yea, why did you walk me through all those steps, all of which are meaningless if your system could tell you that my service is down on your side? Why not check that first, before making me check a bunch of things I told you I already did anyway?”

“That is the process sir.”

“When will the service be restored?”

“The problem says server failure, and no time estimate is given.”

For the record, it took them over 6 hours to fix said server. So is “server failure” just a thing they say, or were these really server failures.

Now, I can see my next door neighbor’s wireless signal from some rooms in my house, so I went and tried his internet (because he does not have it password protected!) It worked. And who’s system does he have? AT&T DSL, JUST LIKE MINE!

So, a call back to AT&T to ask the question, “Why is my service down, but my neighbor’s service with AT&T is working fine?”

They could not answer that, and told me that I would just have to wait for it to be fixed. “And thank you for being an AT&T customer.”

I am assuming, given how the system works, that each DSL customer is assigned to one of several servers somewhere in the central office, and their are multiple ones, and they are load balanced. I am sure it would be easy to assign me to another, as simple as changing a few setting in my modem, but then that would effect load balance, so they say no. Perhaps I would have said no too. But again, no backup for a dead server problem? Or maybe, just maybe, “server failure” is just a stock answer that they think the public will accept, and it covers a whole array of real problem? In any case, it would be nice to be told the truth and not treated like some stupid child.

So once again, AT&T sucks at customer service, and this time in so many new ways. As sad as it sounds, maybe it is time to try Comcast again! What a scary thought that is!

Come on Apple, give the iPhone to Sprint and Verizon….PLEASE!

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