AT&T Accepts Me As Customer Only After 3-Week Battle

In jumping from Comcast to AT&T for his internet service, J figured he was stepping up in the world of customer service. But he was actually switching over to a company that operated against the rules of capitalism. Try as he might, he could not get this phantom business to hook him up with service and take his money. For he was ordering service from a company that operated in… the Twilight Zone.

He writes:

I just wanted to share my awful experience in the last 3 weeks of trying to switch my high speed internet service from Comcast to AT&T. My account of this whole experience is not 100% accurate because I’ve made so many calls to AT&T that I can’t remember how many times I called and exactly what was said in every call. I also won’t elaborate on the long hold times, countless transfers, numerous dead end transfers and all the misinformation that I also experienced. Sorry if this is too long to read.

Some time end of August: I saw a good deal on AT&T for DSL and decided to switch from Comcast. I set up the service for September 9th (might have been the 8th, I can’t remember) because that’s the last day of my Comcast service. Then, I called Comcast to see if I can get my current month pro-rated if I cancel early. They said it was fine, so I call AT&T to reschedule my activation date as soon as possible, which would be on September 3rd. In hindsight, that was a HUGE mistake.

September 3rd: I called AT&T to make sure activation was going to be on schedule. They said I should be able to go online by 8pm. When 8pm came along… internet!! I called technical support and they told me that it hasn’t been activated yet and I needed to talk to a different department about it. I called the number that he/she gave me only to discover that this department only works from Mondays to Fridays. I spent the whole Labor Day weekend without internet access. Yay!

September 7th: I called AT&T and they told me that after I rescheduled the activation date, somehow I had two accounts and therefore, they couldn’t activate my service due to the conflict of information. The rep told me that he/she would fix the problem and gave me a new account number (my third one) and said that my activation was still scheduled on Sept 9th. Between this date and Sept 9th, I called AT&T several more times to confirm my activation on Sept 9th. They kept telling me that everything was fine.

September 9th: No internet by 8pm!! I called AT&T tech support again. They told me that my account was already active and should be working. They diagnosed the problem to my third party DSL modem which I bought online, saying that they don’t support that model and I needed to reconfigure it to receive their signal. The rep then transferred me to another department where another rep tried REALLY HARD to sell me a technical support service for $15 a month so that I wouldn’t face so much trouble the next time I needed help. I had to decline MANY TIMES. She then offered to guide me on the phone to configure my modem to work with AT&T for a one-time fee of “ONE TWENTY NINE”. I asked why I should be paying $15 a month when I can get this done for a one time fee of $1.29? She then corrects me that it wasn’t $1.29…..but $129!!! I was furious and declined and asked for an alternative. She then told me that I could try to configure it myself. Before I hung up, she “spoke to her manager” and managed to get the one time tech support fee cut down all the way to $50! What a deal!! Too bad I declined it yet again. I stayed up until about 3am in the morning and leeched off my neighbor’s unsecure Wi-Fi (sorry!) to find instructions to configure my third party modem. Sadly, I couldn’t figure it out. Before I gave up, I tried to do an online chat with AT&T tech support. Long story short…..I found out that I still wasn’t getting a signal from AT&T. The nerve!!! How dare they try to “help me” configure my modem for $129 when they still haven’t activated my service? It wouldn’t have worked anyway!

September 10th: I called AT&T and found out that all three of my accounts still exist!!! That was causing the pending status for my activation. This time I made sure all the accounts were canceled except for one….which would be activated on Sept 14th. Between this date and Sept 14th, I again called AT&T many times to make sure my activation was going to happen.

September 14th: I received an automated phone call from AT&T telling me to go to their website to get instructions on how to register my account once it’s activated. I looked up the website and downloaded the manual. Within the manual were instructions on how to configure third party modems…..FOR FREE!!! I got home again that day and…. surprise surprise….no internet access!!

September 15th: I called AT&T again and this time was told that there may be wiring issues that’s causing the problem and they would send a technician out on Friday to take a look at the problem and activate my account. Why wasn’t I told of this problem the other hundred times I called AT&T?

September 17th: The technician didn’t show up and I still didn’t have internet access by 8pm. I decided to cancel AT&T even though it would mean that I have to go back to Comcast.

September 20th: I called AT&T several times and was told different things every time. Some would say my status is still pending while others say it’s active. When I questioned them about their inconsistency, the rep did more research and told me that my account was still pending and there was no order in the system to have a technician come over last Friday. Awesome! I told him I wanted to cancel my order. He told me to let them send a technician over on Tuesday to fix the problem before considering to cancel. Fine. This time he gave me a case number for the technician visit.

September 21st: A technician did show up today and I assume he fixed some wiring outside the house. When he was done, I spend about 5 minutes configuring the modem WITH FREE INSTRUCTIONS. When I was done, I could go online…just like that! By my calculations, their tech would have cost me up to about $1,550/hour if they charged by the hour!!

When I wanted to switch from Comcast to AT&T, I thought I could take my business away
from a horrible company to a better place. Little did I know that I was jumping out of a lion’s mouth into the jaws of a crocodile. Thank you, AT&T for a great start to our new business relationship!

There’s no reason to believe that J was actually speaking to undercover agents from
Comcast the entire time, but if he had been doing so, the results would have been the same.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I almost want to blame the OP for trying so hard to give money to a business that clearly doesn’t want him. But he was trying to get away from Comcast, so I really can’t say anything about that.

    Out of the frying pan and into the fire!

    • jonroknrol says:

      Agreed. I tried to get ADT to install home security for me this week. When the guy didn’t show up for the install and no one at the 800 number could even tell me what company was contracted to do the installation, I told them “no, thanks” and am currently looking for someone else.

      There’s no way I’m signing a 2 year contract with a company that can’t get the installation right.

    • BobOki says:

      I want to make it clear that no matter what the voters here say, AT&T is by far above and beyond of the worst companies in existence.
      I work for a IT company in my local area and resell both AT&T and Comcast, amongst many others, and I would suggest comcast over AT&T any day, any situation, no matter what without a second thought into the matter. I have not had a single AT&T install, T1, DSL, T3 happen without an issue, massive over charging, and under performance. Their support is worse than Dell’s derka support, the techs hang up even on business partners, even platinum business partners! AT&T’s other services are pretty much the same, worst phone service, worst cell service (I got over 75% dropped calls), worst everything! USe AT&T at your own peril.

  2. Dre' says:

    “But he was actually switching over to a company that operated against the rules of capitalism.”

    What a dumb statement. Any government granted monopoly operates against “rules” of capitalism. This include both AT&T & Comcast & is a very large part of why they both suck so horribly.

  3. anime_runs_my_life says:

    AT&T has always been one of those hot/cold companies for me. They can be good for one thing, but completely suck for another. You just can’t win with them sometimes. After all this hassle, it makes me wonder why he wants to stay with them.

    • IThinkThereforeIAm says:

      ..good at what exactly?…. Adding charges and fees for everything they sell you?

      disclosure: I do have a bad history with named business entity.

  4. Southern says:

    With DSL, as far as I know they always have to roll a truck, to install the DSL filter at your Demarc. They then either split off the DSL line onto the 2nd pair, or they run a new line up to where your DSL modem is located.. So if they never rolled a truck that first day/night, it would make sense that you couldn’t get connected.

  5. dulcinea47 says:

    That is much like (though slightly worse) than what I went through trying to get AT&T DSL set up. Their customer service is ridiculously bad. The good news is, I have had no problems at all with the DSL itself.

  6. Dutchess says:

    Granted, it’s been a long time since I’ve had DSL 5+ years but I do remember it sucked butt.

    It would constantly disconnect me and the speed was slower than my cable and I had to constantly log into it every time I wanted to connect to the internet. LAME. Oh, and if there was even a HINT of an electical storm don’t even bother trying to log on.

    I was also within 1/2 mile from a substation so I should have had great service (according to Pacific Bell).

    I wouldn’t switch to DSL even with Comcrap’s bad service. .

    • Conformist138 says:

      You think logging in when you wanna use it is bad? Try the DSL my parents had about 8 years ago- you had to log in every 2 hours! It wasn’t a mistake, that’s just how they were set up- every two hours, you’d get a pop up asking if you wanted to reconnect and, after a few reconnects, dead serious here: You had to WAIT 5-10 minutes. You pay for the service, then have to go on time out if you use it too long at a stretch. This was also a “Christian” ISP, so it had external filters. I still remember having to write them a note about how a map of Mexico wasn’t pornographic material.

      Granted, this was better than the old dial-up *shudder* but I still wept tears of joy when they ditched the Chinese-esque DSL for standard unfiltered high-speed cable.

      (The Christian ISP was called, if memory serves, “Sterlink”)

  7. smo0 says:

    I really did a TL;DR on this one… because I couldn’t get over the fact that people actually want to do business with this company.

    On a side note, it has already been determined that high speed internet is a monopoly and people, generally, do not have a choice.

  8. toolverine says:

    This is business as usual over at AT&T. I recently changed over service from their dry loop to their U-Verse service and it was/ is a nightmare that kept me at home two days straight. My connection which used to be rock solid, is now spotty with pages often loading incorrectly or not at all. They managed to screw up my last bill on the old account and my “reward” a rebate that I had to call in to get because my installation date wasn’t in their system. It seems like their accounts and billing situation is so screwed up, otherwise why change your account number every time you move or change service in any way?

    • ahleeeshah says:

      I had a completely different experience with Uverse. We ordered it, they came out that day, they set it up, and everything worked great. The one time I’ve had a technical issue, I called the number, the automated guy “ran some tests” and they sent someone out within 30 minutes (this was at 6:00).

      The only problem I have ever had with Uverse was when we first got it, watching videos was really hard. They wouldn’t load at all. My boyfriend spent some time in the settings and now the only one that won’t work is zshare.

  9. nallanos says:

    i work in a corporate store (wireless) and we have people come in all the time with these issues so we call in with them and help out…it takes hours. our customer support over the phone blows and the inconsistencies come from talking to stupid people who fail to do their job. they assume too much and don’t delve further to fix issues. they setup new accounts to steal the commission from the previous rep too and that is shady as fuck. then they mess up and don’t get paid, which they deserve.

    for future reference: never listen to them when they say they have to create a new order or account, it is almost always a lie. don’t call tech support, call customer care. and never give up. sorry man.

  10. kethryvis says:

    One thing for the OP… when i was swapping off of Comcast to ATT, the ATT rep told me, numerous times, to NOT call and cancel with Comcast until my ATT was up and working so that i’d still have service in case there was a problem. i already had ATT DSL, but since i was going Uverse they brought all the equipment i needed and off i went. i didn’t have any problems (well, a few annoying ones having to do with their cable boxes timing out after 8 hours which wreaks havoc with the Tivo. Sigh), and after the ATT serviceman left my house, i called Comcast and canceled. Very smooth. Next time OP, don’t cancel your old service until your new service works. Yeah you won’t save the money, but you’ll save a ton of headache.

  11. anarkie says:

    Didn’t read the whole thing, but I had a similar problem. Then, when I was configuring my modem, they blamed me, the modem, and everything else. Only to learn they never set up the signal. A few days later and several phone calls, I cancelled the order. They wanted me to re-order the service. They couldn’t fix the existing order.

    Even after the order was cancelled and deposit refunded, I recieved a bill in the mail, 3 times (to the local upper management rep). And was even sent to collections. I made them send me a statement that it was their error and will keep an eye on my credit report. Thanks AT&T!!

    After that, I vowed never to do business with AT&T. I pay more for Comcast, but at least it WORKS. Don’t get me wrong, I think Comcast is run by trained monkeys as well. However, they screw up less than AT&T and unfortunately, that’s as good as it gets.

  12. ludwigk says:

    That’s nothing. Same story, except I’ve been waiting 4.5 weeks and counting. Still waiting. AT&T’s procedures are beyond horrible.

  13. parrotuya says:

    Yet another reason to not deal with the 100% pure evil AT&T!

    DOWn, baby, DOWn!

  14. Difdi says:

    At least they didn’t charge him an ETF on those two extraneous accounts he canceled!

  15. operator207 says:

    I had to fly to another state to setup DSL at one of our production plants. It was Business DSL, and we were switching to another Tier. This required a different modem (the account was so old, it didn’t do PPPOE, but to change to a higher bandwidth, we were told we had to switch to PPPOE)

    I get there, and start the conversion. After 2 days of being there, the conversion was finished. We had the bandwidth, but not using PPPOE. They had screwed up so much (changed half the config in RedBack, moved the line 3 times to other lines etc) that I called them at 9pm and just started bitching. I had to move 4 other sites in that area that week, using 4 other vendors, and NONE were this difficult.

    I finally got a guy in a upper tier in the business department, that could actually look at all the parts of the account. He put them all back together, manually, and the DSL was up within 5 minutes. The entire problem? Tier 1 had put one setting in one part of CPSOS, and another in the ticketing system. They were “in conflict”.

    Ya, the guys on the front line are either purposely kept in the dark or incompetent. But the guys at the backend are pretty good. Hell, on my own DSL (also business) I needed PTR records pointed to my DNS server. I filled out the request, but apparently you cannot copy/paste and the idiot who took the information out of the email put the wrong IPs in. The level 2 guy that called me back (he wanted to make sure I wanted it pointed to their routers IP and not mine) was able to fix it asap, and PTR’s magically started working. A week after they told me the issue was solved.

  16. Not Given says:

    When I switch, I intend to wait and make sure the new one is working well and use it heavily before I have the old one turned off.

  17. JakeChance says:

    Almost the same thing happened to me when I saw this deal. However, I had fewer calls but more technician visits before something was working only to find out I had two accounts too. One was canceled after a phone call (which required another technician visit, but I didn’t have to be home so I didn’t really care at this point) but I somehow doubt that’s the end of my problems. For the DSL only I was charged the original rate instead of the promotional rate. When I spoke to customer service I was told that it would be like this for the first two months of service and credits would then be applied to my account. I don’t understand why they would do it this way but I really don’t have anything more I can do except wait for my third bill and eventually call them when it’s wrong (though I’m still hopeful they won’t screw up).

  18. JakeChance says:

    Almost the same thing happened to me when I saw this deal. However, I had fewer calls but more technician visits before something was working only to find out I had two accounts too. One was canceled after a phone call (which required another technician visit, but I didn’t have to be home so I didn’t really care at this point) but I somehow doubt that’s the end of my problems. For the DSL only I was charged the original rate instead of the promotional rate. When I spoke to customer service I was told that it would be like this for the first two months of service and credits would then be applied to my account. I don’t understand why they would do it this way but I really don’t have anything more I can do except wait for my third bill and eventually call them when it’s wrong (though I’m still hopeful they won’t screw up).

  19. webweazel says:

    It’s really weird, but AT&T around here kicks ass. They have treated me wonderfully in the 4 years I’ve been with them.
    I signed up online to be notified if/when DSL came to my neighborhood. A few months later, it did, and a rep called me with a signup offer. I declined his offer in order to shop around, and got a better rate through their website. They shipped me a modem, and I called for an appointment after it showed up. (I hooked it up myself.) The NEXT DAY, right on time, a tech came out to hook me up. He tested the modem and the line inside and out, and checked to make sure the modem/computer was online, to make sure all was well before he left.
    I got a rebate for the cost of the modem, so it was free. Plus, I get $5 off every month for going on 2 years now. I’m on lowest tier, 768 if I remember, for $15/month.
    I had one issue with drop outs during rainstorms for a while and was getting worse. I called them and they sent a tech the NEXT DAY, bright & early. He busted his butt all day out there to find the source of the problem, a corroded wire on the pole. He fixed it, and have had very close to FULL speed 24/7.
    Whenever I needed to call CS or ‘tech’ I was never transferred, and the person always helped me out with no problem.
    I’ve been waiting for them to pull some of this bullshit you guys complain about so I can do some “consumerist karate” on them, but so far, they’ve been above and beyond.
    I guess it depends on where you live.

  20. _UsUrPeR_ says:

    I used to work at an ISP in Michigan, and remember every T1 turnup as a harrowing experience. An interesting fact about the Detroit Metro area: AT&T is the only bandwidth provider with lines in Detroit. Every business that does not have the ability to lay their own line MUST use AT&T to some extent. Yes, I may be a Comcast subscriber, but my cable connection goes straight back to a main hub with an AT&T DS-5 servicing my cable loop.

    An interesting fact about T1s: they are expensive due to their FCC-mandated 99.99% uptime requirement. They are also guaranteed to have a professional working on them within an hour of a disconnection starting. That is not to be read as “time to fix”. More like “Time since we noticed a connection was down, and assigned a tech to take a look at it tomorrow afternoon sometime.” If a customer’s PRI (Phone system) was down, they could be down for a long time at that rate.

    This meandering comment brought to you by: my lunch hour.

  21. consumerd says:

    The DSL techs actually do have a support forum online. Might try to contact them for help. I have been told they do pretty good.

  22. SJ says:

    I always assumed it was common knowledge that AT&T will randomly choose not to offer goods and/or services in exchange for money; and that when that happens only divine intervention will change their minds.

    Serious. This is like someone complaining that they got bad service at walmart or best buy; duh!

  23. consumerd says:

    I said it before and I say it again. I would with these guys/gals. They seem to get better straight forward answers than the phone reps.

  24. bliss63 says:

    After soliciting me for six months with a letter that offered me internet for $14.95, I took the offer from AT&T.
    On October 15, 2010, the date I requested service, I plugged in the modem, with the expectation that I was online. No connection. I called the technical service; they reported there was no service into my 4-year old apartment building and they had scheduled to send someone out the next Tuesday (about 2 days). I said, “were you intending to tell me you were sending someone? What if I worked and wasn’t home? Why did you soliciate business, if you didn’t have service available?” No answer.
    I told them if they could be here within a few hours, they could retain my business. Otherwise, I would send back the modem. An independent contracted technician showed up in a few hours and spent 2 hours trying to located a connection.
    What I suspect is that AT&T does not have good coverage in many areas of the Sierra Foothills and were attempting to establish themselves. I wish they would have been honest.
    By the way, the $14.95 bill arrived in the amount of $54.+. I tried to get through to customer service but was disconnected, after 25 minutes of waiting. I don’t have the minutes or battery in my Verizon cellphone to solve with with anyone. So I am going to send them the correct payment and hope for the best.
    I am a 63-year old retired woman, under doctor’s care and just want a quality of life. This American corporation has commited extortion. Thankfully my social security and va benefits cannot be attached but I understand others will not be so lucky.