Thursday, August 21, 2008

Why AT&T and I have a hate-hate relationship

So, the first time I called AT&T to get phone and internet services in my new (new!) apartment, they directed me to small business services for Ohio. This was not very useful, since I was looking for residential service in California. The second time I called AT&T to get phone and internet service in my new (new!!) apartment, they hung up on me before I could talk to anyone about purchasing new service.

The third time, I got through, after a not-so-long wait on hold, and they said that they could start service on August 19, the day I really moved in, and I thought the worst was over.


When the technician came in at 2 pm on August 19, shocking me out of a nap (I had been up since 5 am Maryland time: 2 am California time) he announced that everything was working just fine (or, as characters in "Midnight's Children" say, tickety-boo) and although my DSL line was still flashing ominously red lights in my face, I should wait a couple hours and it would all resolve itself.

In the morning of August 20, when my DSL was still clogged up, I called AT&T again. After talking to a friendly and helpful DSL tech support person, call her 'J' ("For some reason, your account is still pending. I'm going to transfer you to account services") and waiting on hold for something like half an hour (it felt like an eternity, and I got another chapter of "Midnight's Children" read) J picks up the phone again and apologizes for the wait, saying there's a queue, I'm in the queue, and someone will pick up soon. I say "Okay."

And mystery (and angry) account services lady answers "Okay what?"

Surprised, I answer that I have just been transfered from tech support, that I spent quite a while on hold, and that the person from tech support had just finished explaining the wait. Hence, "Okay."

"Who were you talking to?" she snaps.

"I'm sorry, I've forgotten her name."

At which point, she begins to berate me for something or another. J steps in and tries to bring her attention back to the account -- "her account is pending, we were wondering why", and she starts berating J, finally saying "Let me speak to your supervisor!"

J apologizes, although none of this is her fault as I see it, and I'm put on hold again.

After another ten minutes, I, frustrated, hang up.

An hour or so later, I work up the courage to call back. This time I ask to be sent directly to account services, since nothing seems to be wrong on the technical end. I start to explain my problem -- DSL is flashing red at me, no signal -- and the person on the other end responds immediately that I can't be promised service until after eight pm. Never mind that the technician came on the 19th, when my service was supposed to start, and it's now the 20th. Sighing, I resolve to wait until 8 pm, at which point I can only call tech support in the morning anyway.

At 9 pm, the "DSL" light on my router is still flashing red, and it's beginning to be all I can see.

At 6 am today, two days after my service was supposed to start, I receive an automated phone call telling me that my service request "has been completed".

At 10:30 am, the router is still flashing red. I have now plugged in my phone, and cannot get a dial tone either. I call AT&T back (my seventh interaction with them -- seventh time is the charm?) and they finally admit that, yes, my service should have already started, and yes, there is something wrong -- they can't call me! -- and they say they could send out a technician to check out the line, but if it's a problem on my end, I have to pay, and that could be "very expensive". I sigh and tell them to send the technician, remarking that the technician who came two days ago said everything was, well, tickety-boo (I love that idiom), so that if everything was not, actually, in working order, perhaps he could have told me on Tuesday instead of waiting until Friday?

So the second technician visit (eighth time's the charm!) is scheduled for tomorrow morning. And some time in the next century, maybe I'll have home phone and internet service! Until that eventuality, I am blogging from coffee-shops, and thus updates will probably be sparse.

The good news, of course, being that everything else about the apartment (gas, electric, water, two shipments from Ikea and one from UPS, new appliances &c &c &c, even getting the deposit back from Mr. Quinn) is moving along just spiffingly. The hanging-silks-from-a-four-poster-bed looks, well, like something out of a (n animated) movie or a storybook novel and not real life (which is more of what I wanted than I could even say I wanted, more fantastical than the leaf, and more adult at the same time, and absolutely amazing) My current "needs": A grill for the outside, spoons and spatulas and tongs, my CD player (comes tomorrow), my paintings (come sometime? a framing store is on the way to the grocery store) and help putting together the sofa that is currently in three big boxes in my living room. Pictures as soon as (1) sofa is put together, and (2) camera cord is retrieved.

Also, I learned that I moved some two or three blocks from two of my friends in the area; in a fit of coincidence (or fate!) I am some 120 house numbers away from James and Michelle, a five-minutes' walk. And within shouting distance from a swimming pool (the sound of diving boards bouncing wakes me up in the morning, thunk-thunk-thunkity-thunk). As James said, "I have this whole social circle in the neighborhood, which I am not taking advantage of!" There are promises of get-togethers and barbecues on the horizon.

Hopefully I will take advantage of it. Hopefully I will.


Neen said...

We had similar problems with AT&T (they invented an imaginary apartment, and then had to create a new account for our actual apartment with a 8 day waiting period...), right down to the blinking red light. It turned out that, in our place, the internet only works when it's plugged into one special socket in the wall (which you can find by tracing the DSL wires outside the building). Since this oversight constituted "our fault", the tech charge was $60. Beware if he wants to set up your internet for you on your computer -- they charge another $70. Sigh. Good luck!

ayn said...

We'll just assume that you're dead until you have working intertubes.