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AT&T : Still Having Issues With This Whole “Customer Service” Thing.

ATT-Gateway-on-Fire-ROH Roughly three months ago, we began to get pixelation on our television, slow transfer rates on the internet and some scratchy noise on the telephone. These three things had one thing in common: they are all AT&T U-Verse services.

We started to document the issues for a few days so if we had to call AT&T, we could be precise with them as to when the problems were the worst. We also knew that no matter what, AT&T would ask us to reset and reboot the various devices here at home.

The situation got worse, so checked the connections, we warm booted the television box, we cold booted the television box, we cold booted the UVerse gateway box, and we cold booted the gateway and the television box together. Nothing changed.

On a Saturday night, we called AT&T.

AT&T’s system is “funny” in a not so good way. You first get to “talk” to a automated voice who doesn’t seem to remember anything that you say. For example, the voice asks for your phone number but yet if you make it to an actual person, that person asks you again for your phone number. AT&T reps say this is because they cannot “bring up the account” without the phone number, but that is a lie as we shall see. Also, the recorded voice will ask you to reboot your system equipment if you have not done so. That information is not transferred to a live person either. Excuses can be made as to why this happens in other companies, but this is AT&T – a communication company. The irony of a communication company that cannot communicate within itself is not lost on us.

When we finally got a representative, we lucked out. We may have gotten the only technician who listened and could think rather than following a script. We told him the problem, told him what we had done with the connections and the equipment.

He laughed.

“Well, I guess we don’t have to go through those steps, do we? Most people call in and haven’t done those things, so it is good talking to someone once in awhile that does it. Let’s see what I can find out for you.”

What he said was important, but what he didn’t say was important as well. He didn’t say “I am sorry you’re having a problem.” The “I’m sorry” line is overworked and overused and at this point in our lives, it irritates us because there is no sincerity behind it. Far too often it is said by rote, not because the person is actually sorry or even cares.

We hear some typing and the guy says “Wow. I did a line check on your system and you are getting thousands of errors a minute. There is a problem with the line. We need to send someone out there.”
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More Fun With AT&T.

ATT-Fire-ROHOur friends at AT&T recently announced they were making changes to their web based email system. We received a lot of emails on what they were doing, but key to the whole thing is that there were to be no changes to the system if you were accessing emails by any email client such as Outlook, Thunderbird, Pegasus, or Outlook Express, which is what we happen to be using.

A few days ago, we started having problems with accessing the email sub accounts. Thinking it was a temporary glitch, we let it sit for a day and then called AT&T.

The first person with whom we spoke could not differentiate between web based mail (their term) and mail accessed by a mail client. They continued to tell us that getting email via Outlook Express and signing into the att.com site to get email were the same things.

Obviously, they are not.

The second person we spoke to asked us to do something to verify the sub accounts. When we went to the site he gave us, any attempt to update the settings resulted in an error message saying the system was down for maintenance. He didn’t believe us, so we let him try and sure enough, there was the error message. This becomes important because the call center technicians have a screen where they can check the status of the servers. That screen, according to the tech we spoke with, said all servers and services were up and running.

When we asked why if all servers and services were up, why were we both getting the same error message, he couldn’t answer.

We gave up.
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We Can See This Not Ending Well.

ATT Home-Security ROH AT&T is rolling out a “smart” security system plan for homes.

We kid you not.

A year after announcing that it’s getting into the home security and remote monitoring business, AT&T is announcing the first markets where the service will be available, plus how much it will cost.

On Friday, AT&T will announce that its Digital Life service is available in 15 markets: Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Boulder, Colo.; Chicago; Dallas; Denver; Houston; Los Angeles; Miami; Philadelphia; Riverside, Calif.; San Francisco; Seattle; St. Louis; and select areas of the New York and New Jersey metropolitan area. The company said the service will be available in up to 50 markets by the end of 2013.

Digital Life lets people monitor and manage home security and energy systems from afar using a smartphone, computer, or tablet. AT&T provides and installs Internet-connected cameras, along with sensors on doors and windows, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, door locks, thermostats, and moisture sensors. The devices and sensors are all hooked up to a home broadband connection and can be controlled from a computer or mobile device. The Digital Life application is available on most browsers and there are mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone devices, AT&T said.

Somehow in our minds we can see a frantic homeowner calling AT&T for support as alarms are going off all around him and getting someone in some other country. After yelling “THE ALARMS WON’T CUT OFF!” we can hear some service rep saying “I don’t know how to handle the alarms for your AT&T system. Is there anything else I can do for you today?”
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Where Is Florida? Now Updated! Twice!

ATT-Globe-ROHLast night we had an issue with U-Verse. It was nothing major only that we were dropping internet speed and that the television was pixelating.

We did all the proper things: We checked wires. We warm re-booted the television receiver. We cold re-booted the Universal Gateway. We cold rebooted the television receiver. We cold rebooted the Universal Gateway again.

No change.

The television receiver has a little self diagnostic utility and when we got to that, it didn’t let us run any tests. It simple said “We’re sorry, but there is a problem with your service. Please call 1-800-XXX-XXXX”

Okay. No problem.

After calling and waiting a while for technician, we got a friendly guy by the name of “Don.” We asked Don where he was and he replied “Arizona.” We always ask where people are because during the lulls in the conversations when they are running a test, we can ask about their state. Don was a good guy who tried to be helpful and we truly appreciate his enthusiasm.

Don decided that the only course of action was to send out a technician who will be here early this morning. (That’s the plan, at least.)
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More From The AT&T Front.

Service to U-Verse was restored – sort of.

We were still having issues with the TV service and after calling the call center, we got the shock of our lives.

We spoke to someone who was understanding and fairly competent.

After telling him what we had done to address the issue (warm boot ups, cold boots, rechecking all cables, etc.) he said “you need a new box!”

Oh joy.

The guy processed an order for a new box that would be scheduled to arrive in a couple of days.

However, the box’s issues got worse. Much worse.

We have a extra box that is wireless and so we swapped out the hard wired box for a wireless box that we ran with CAT5 cable. We got it set up and after 5 minutes, it started to act the same way. Arrgh!!!

We called in again and spoke to someone who was just as good if not better!

We walked him through what we had done and he said “let me run some tests.” He came back and said “your box is not registering as being hooked up.”

I let him hear that the tv was getting some limited picture and sound and he said “we’ll send a technician out.” Shockingly, he said “we have an open appointment for 4 – 8 PM tonight.”

Before I could say anything, he said “I realize that it is 5 PM, but we have a tech that can get to you.”

SOLD!
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Unbelievable.

As we write this, we are sitting in the home of a friend who is graciously allowing us to us his internet connection.

Why are we doing this?

It is because somehow we are caught in the AT&T U-Verse outage that has struck the southeastern United States.

We were aware there was an outage but had read the outage was from the Florida panhandle west to Texas. So when U-Verse died on us today, we were surprised.

We borrowed a friend’s cell phone but before we called AT&T, he told us that there were AT&T trucks nearby working on lines. He suggested we go talk to them before going down the joyous road of the AT&T call center. We found the trucks and talked to a couple of nice technicians. We asked if they were doing anything that would effect our service. According to them, they were not.

“Okay, cool,” we said. “I guess we are suddenly caught up in the massive U-Verse outage that has struck the southeast.”

“What outage?” they asked.

They had no clue there company was experiencing an outage affecting lots of customers.

For a communication company, AT&T is not too good at communicating.

We returned home and borrowed a friend’s cell phone and called AT&T.
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Odds, Ends, And Meetings.

Satellite-Beach-Red-Wood-Wall-ROH Just some catchin’ up to do here…..

We are back. A friend stopped by to borrow a tool and we were telling him our computer woes to which he replied, “I just put a water block in my dad’s computer. The cooler we aren’t using should fit yours.”

Sure enough, it did and we appear to back and running smoothly. When we asked him how much he wanted for the cooler, he said “nothing. We weren’t going to use it.”

So we have this much better CPU cooler and fan assembly in our case now.

We won’t mention the guy’s name, but he knows who he is and we appreciate it.

Secondly, AT&T stopped by and installed U-Verse. We are now getting a faster speed on the internet and a quality picture on the television. As usual, the people in the field were great. They were knowledgeable, friendly and great to deal with. The unseen people who sit in a call center somewhere still are clueless.

All we can say right now is “so far so good,” even though we haven’t had much experience with the internet portion of the install because the computer went down.

Finally, there is another City Council meeting here in Satellite Beach tonight at 7:00 PM. The agenda for the meeting can be found here and the support packet can be found here.

If you want to be heard on the issues or any other issue, this is the place to do it.

The best thing for Satellite Beach is not this City Council, or any City Council. The best thing for Satellite Beach is an engaged citizenry.

Hope to see you there.



Pray For Us. – Now Updated!

Today, our “friends” at AT&T are coming to install AT&T U-Verse.

ATT-UVerse

This could go really well, or could be an unmitigated disaster.

We’ll let you know.

UPDATE: Yesterday we got a call from AT&T saying there were “engineering issues” with the scheduled installation and they were postponing the installation.
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