AT&T Took Me Offline For Nearly A Week When I Upgraded Internet Service

Since you’re reading this on Christmas Day, there’s a reasonable chance you’d agree that losing internet access for a week is tantamount to going without food or showering.

Thus it’s tough to feel anything but deep sorrow for Graham, who in trying to improve his home business’s online access by upgrading from standard DSL to AT&T’s U-verse service. He says was told he’d be cut off from modern society for a few hours, max, but the outage mushroomed into over a week.

Graham’s story is long, but indulge him, if only out of respect for his suffering:

I thought this fit the typical posting on Consumerist nicely. I included an image of the junction box that is in front of our house as it sits now 2 days later. I figured you could slap an image over it that says “Completed” or something like that. You’ll understand after reading further.

We recently decided to upgrade our internet speed with ATT. Because we already had the fastest DSL offering available, we were told that we would need to upgrade to their new UVerse service. The operator on the phone noted that because DSL and UVerse use the same phone line to provide service, the DSL would need to be deactivated before they could install the UVerse. Because we run a business out of our house, we were concerned with the fact that we would be without service for any amount of time. The operator however reassured us that they could deactivate the DSL right before installing the UVerse service. We should only see an outage of a couple hours.
The tech was scheduled to start the installation at 9am on 12-23-09. At 2am that morning, our DSL service was deactivated. We were working late to get ready for the Christmas break, but figured 2am was a good quitting time anyway.

The install tech arrived fairly promptly just after 9am and was very professional.

However he told us fairly quickly that his tests were showing we were just barely outside the functional line range of their UVerse service. He said they would try a different line and that another tech would need to come out to see if it would be at all possible to install the Uverse service. We were told that they should be able to come out and complete the followup test within 30-40 minutes, but certainly no later than 2 hours.

About 5 hours later, the followup tech arrived at our house. He worked with the junction box in front of our house for about 30 minutes and then drove away. Considering the box was left open with wires hanging out to the weather (as pictured), we simply assumed that he would be back. We were wrong. At 530PM we decided to call and see when they were going to be done with the installation or simply reactivate our DSL service. We were told that it wouldn’t likely be down for more than a couple hours and it had at that point been down for about 15 hours.

Customer support pulled up our order and found that the installation ticket showed to be “Completed”. Considering that there was never an installation in the house, no service active, and the junction box was still torn down in our yard, we figured this was a little odd. After over an hour and a half of being transfered around between their UVerse and DSL customer support depts (they’re not the same apparently), we were finally told that we aren’t capable of receiving the UVerse service. Now it was 7PM and their offices were closing. The last rep we spoke with (who sounded genuinely concerned) told us there was nothing they could do for us except RE-install our DSL service on the 29th over 5 days after our DSL service had been deactivated. She kindly noted that she would ask to “Expedite the Order” and that we should call back the next day first thing in the morning to speak with a Supervisor and explain (again) the error that ATT had made so that they could push up the installation date.
The next morning we talked with ATT reps for about 3 hours trying to get them to restore service. None of them were concerned that it was now snowing heavily into the junction box or that our service was still down. The “Best” they could do would be to reinstall the service on the 29th. That will make about 135 hours during which we’re without service. Far from the 2 hours the initial rep suggested.

We have at this point given up trying to get them to correct their error in a timely manner. Our business is suffering because we cannot provide service to our customers until SEVERAL DAYS after Christmas. We have employees scheduled to work Sat, Sun, Mon and Tues – but wont have anything for them to do because ATT doesn’t care to make correcting their mistake a priority. We cant force those employees to take 4 days off – they need those hours to pay for their own Christmas holidays.

I suppose in hindsight that I shouldn’t have accepted any amount of downtime being that our business depends on our internet service in order to function. Unfortunately hindsight is 20-20 and “Completed” is considered exposed wires covered in snow.

So sad. What’s the longest you’ve had to go offline in the past few years?

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