OpenFiction [Blog]

Another deeply unsatisfied AT&T customer–or, “Why I’ll be switching to Verizon, even though I hate them too.”

Posted in Personal by scarsonmsm on March 4, 2011

I think AT&T sits around thinking up new ways to piss off their customers. Since moving to Sharon from Norwood last summer (all of ten miles), I’ve been delivered into AT&T hell. I am apparently part of the 3% of America they don’t cover at my new location (I get one bar at the house, if I am near the window). I can kinda forgive a little b/c Sharon is tough on allowing cell towers.

I switched train lines as well, and have come to discover that fully half of the line from Sharon to Boston (the main track from Providence to Boston that the high-speed Acelas run on) has no AT&T coverage, although the computer trains are emblazoned with bright orange messaging advertising the Wi-Fi that AT&T provides on Boston commuter rail. I have to say the Wi-Fi is the only truth-in-advertising I have seen out of AT&T, because it never works. A perfect sample of AT&T service.

Coupled with that, the AT&T service in Kendall Square and on the MIT campus—the place to have your technology work if anywhere—is marginally adequate. I can’t have a cell conversation in my office (admittedly a large cement structure, but I am right on a window) and it takes minutes for the phone to acquire a signal when I leave the building.

Despite all of the above, I’d decided that I should get a Microcell for the house, and started looking into it. I came to discover that AT&T had begun offering free Microcells to selected customers to keep them on board, so I called “customer service” to ask about getting a free Microcell for my house.

After cheerfully thanking me for being a loyal customer since 1997, the agent told me I “didn’t qualify” for a free Microcell, and she couldn’t authorize it. I asked her who could, and she said she didn’t know. In Orwellian fashion I do not qualify because “the system” says I don’t qualify. So with 15 years as a customer, four iPhones purchased (two operating), two kids who will be getting phones in the next five years, and a fairly visible tech-related position and a major technology university, AT&T is going to piss me off over a $100 piece of equipment that will partially make up for their inadequacy as a company? Really? They’ve invented a whole new way to make the point that I’m not a customer they care about.

It’ll cost me about $375 to break my contract with AT&T, from which I can immediately deduct the cost of the Microcell I apparently have to purchase if I am going to remain an AT&T customer. On eBay, it looks like I can make about $800 selling my and my wife’s phones, so net $525 leaving AT&T. It’ll cost about $400 bucks for two new iPhones through Verizon, so I am more or less making money on the transition (or at least breaking even on the transaction if you ignore the Microcell cost).

And all of this after I was so relieved to get away from Verizon in the move, who kept insisting my landline plan was $35 bucks a month and billing me $65.


One Response

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  1. ATTJason said, on March 4, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    Hi Stephen,
    I’m very sorry to hear about your experience with us. I’m a Customer Care Manager with AT&T’s Social Media Team. If you’d like to shoot me an e-mail, I’ll be happy to look into your situation and try to help!
    Thank You,
    Jason – Manager, AT&T Customer Care/Social Media

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