The person who blogs at MichiganTelephone just tried to help his friend sign up for DSL from AT&T last week. Their experience was so full of fail that now his friend doesn’t even want to bother trying anymore. Yes, a customer came to AT&T ready to sign up, and AT&T drove him away. Michigan telephone wonders, “Does AT&T have a death wish, or are they really just that incompetent?”
The biggest problem — and this is a telephone company, remember — was that it was almost impossible to reach someone at AT&T who they could hear clearly, and who could actually help them. Were they dialing old phone numbers from out of date phone directories? Nope. They were dialing the number AT&T gives out in the television spot.
The first thing we did was to call the number that is advertised on the AT&T commercials for $19.95 DSL. That, apparently, is your ticket into the seven circles of telephone hell. If I’d been playing a drinking game, taking a drink every time we heard the phrase “your call is important to us”, I would not be drunk – I’d likely be quite dead. We heard it from female voices, male voices, and disembodied voices that sounded like they were continents away. I’d guess we were transferred at least half a dozen times, sometimes by voice response systems that didn’t even wait for a response and just seemed to randomly transfer the call. The last time we were transferred, it was by some guy with a distinct accent – it sort of sounded Indian, but by that time the quality of the connection was so poor it was hard to tell – who told us that if we got cut off, we could call the AT&T DSL department directly on 877-722-9337 (my friend repeated the number back TWICE to make sure he’d heard it right, and I copied it down also. That number may have belonged to AT&T at one time, but now it apparently belongs to an “enhanced” directory service (that has a web site at http://www.callingten.com/). When their recording first answers, it almost sounds like you are being charged $4.95 (or some amount, it was hard to hear) for the call (I think you actually have to call a different number for that to happen, but it wasn’t really all that clear).
As we noted yesterday, Verizon is currently offering naked DSL for $20 a month with a free router and a one-year commitment. If you have the choice and you’re in the market for DSL, you might be able to save yourself a lot of headaches by avoiding AT&T entirely.