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The grass is not necessarily greener on the other side… May 16, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices, Random musings.

I did a really dumb thing last week – I switched Internet service providers. I have been unhappy with my Internet connection through Time-Warner Cable for a while now. It has never been very fast and recently it started kicking me offline 3 to 4 times a day. The connection would be glacial until I was booted offline. I would then have to reboot my cable modem and router. I called a service tech, who came out and told me I was losing the connection somewhere on the line, but he never actually fixed the problem and I never heard from TWC again.

I was ripe for the pickin’ when a U-Verse salesperson came door-to-door in early May. I decided to sign up for Internet and cable through U-Verse. I should have left well enough alone…

After two install no-shows and numerous phone calls to “customer service” in which they told me they could install it in a little over a week I tweeted my frustration and a rep from AT&T contacted me and scheduled an install two days later. The tech showed up on-time and things looked promising. I loved the U-Verse set-up and the DVR that allowed me to watch the shows in the living room or the bedroom. The tech had problems getting one computer online, but Susanne Aldridge III quickly helped me solve that problem. The only problem that remained was my inability to send e-mail from my e-mail program.

Then my landlady came home from work – and had no phone or Internet service. After calling the supervisor and Mike at HQ I had two techs back at the house to fix the problem. They had turned off her service when mine was installed because there was a mix-up with our addresses. When they left everything looked great.

And then everything went to hell. My landlady had her Internet turned off Friday night, and after calling AT&T Saturday morning and them confirming everything with me I woke again an hour later to find I had no cable or Internet – and neither did she. She was on the phone with them for 2 hours and I was on hold for an hour trying to figure this out. Turns out some yahoo turned off our services pending “address verification” and it would take 48-72 hours (business hours – so starting Monday) to get service turned back on. As you all know, we can’t work without Internet so I called Time-Warner Cable in tears begging them to take me back and had a tech out this afternoon (Monday) who reinstalled everything. In the meantime, AT&T also turned off my landlady’s phone service in addition to her DSL. It was a looooong weekend…

Everything is working on my end again, and I am shipping the U-Verse equipment back first thing in the morning. I have a new “drop” (the technical term for the line from the pole to the house), so my Internet connection appears to be faster. I don’t have a DVR, but I can watch cable in my bedroom through my old VCR. I’m not complaining, because TWC’s customer service is a million times better than AT&T’s. I’ll live with it.

My landlady went out and bought a pay-as-you-go cell phone, and I will be hooking her into my Internet tomorrow until AT&T fixes her service. She is considering telling them to go fly a kite too.

So the moral of this story is even though it may seem like it, the grass is not necessarily greener on the other side. At least my blood pressure is back down, and I am calmer again.

Update: My landlady now has her phone and Internet working, but it took a week!!! That is simply unacceptable in this day and age.



1. May - May 17, 2011

Glad to hear everything is back to normal, Jill. I’ve always said that I would pay a premium to ensure that if there is ever a problem, that my service request gets priority. Internet is just too important. I have not yet resorted to tears (though I’d believe you if you told me they weren’t just a ruse…), but I do make sure to always offer the techs a cold drink when they have to come by.

2. Rodney E. Griffith - May 17, 2011

U-verse salespeople do not seem to take any potential outage problems under consideration. Our late friend signed up for U-verse after a door-to-door salesman came ’round our neighbourhood. The initial wiring was an all-day affair (and they had to return for another marathon session just to get things up and running). Before long, she was without TV (being elderly, this was disappointing and frustrating) and without any phone service (being elderly and frail, this was dangerous). I always thought the way they left her without phone service was unconscionable, and that is my impression of AT&T U-verse. They solicit us in the mail on a weekly basis, but whenever I see those envelopes, I think of our friend.

3. patenttranslator - May 17, 2011

Here in Eastern Virginia we have frequently power outages every “hurricane season” which lasts about 5 months. When the power is out, I have to monitor e-mail messages on my blackberry and should I need to work, I would have to take my laptop to a coffee shop or get a room in a hotel with Internet access. I have not done it yet, but the day is probably coming.

So every time when it rains pretty bad, which is like 5 or 6 times a months during the summer, I am frantically finishing whatever translation I am working on and breath a big sigh of relief when it is finally e-mailed to the client.

During the hurricane Isabelle a few years ago I had to cancel a translation because there was no power for 5 days. I still remember that I lost seventeen hundred dollars because of that.

4. Tom Ellett - May 17, 2011

When we moved into our last place, the only way we were able to get the phone and internet connected (after multiple installer no-shows) was when my wife challenged the phone and cable companies to a race against each other, telling them that whoever hooked us up first would get the account.

The phone company won, but that was only the beginning of our troubles. They then started billing us for a phantom second line we had never ordered, and the DSL connection was so slow and unreliable that we switched to cable three months later.

Our latest move went much more smoothly. This time we said goodbye to a conventional landline and went with Rogers cable internet and VoIP phone service from Vonage. So far, so good.

As an insurance against future internet outages, I recently bought a pay-as-you-go 3G mobile internet stick at half price in Office Depot’s closing down sale (the company is pulling out of Canada).

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