My wife and I moved to a new house last December. During the utilities setup routine, I researched our Internet options and was attracted to AT&T’s “Basic” DSL package (“up to 768 Kbps” for $20 a month).
Once my equipment arrived and my activation date reached — which by the way, I had to wait another week after receiving the equipment for it to be activated. What the hell? — I found the service to be borderline useless. My DSL downtime was approaching almost 12 hours each day, and when it did happen to work, my download speeds were crawling below 100 Kbps.
Hoo boy. Time to complain.
I contacted AT&T through their online “Live Chat” support, where I was given tips for placement of my modem within my home — which I tried to no avail. I tried the “Live Chat” support once more and they reluctantly sent out a technician to my home. At this point, between the equipment shipping, activation delay and troubleshooting, I was beyond the 30-day “no ETF” cancellation window.
One rainy Friday morning, a tech showed up at my house, looked at some wires outside (he didn’t even step inside my home), said that he saw what the problem was and needed to schedule another technician to fix it. The issue should be resolved soon, he told me.
Weeks and months go by with no improved service. Full disclosure: during this time, I discovered my neighbor’s open WiFi and had been blissfully enjoying the uninterrupted high-speed Internet, so the annoyance of my own network was forgotten for a while.
Eventually the guilt of “borrowing” my neighbor’s Internet engulfed me and I tried once again to resolve my AT&T DSL woes. Being such a nice guy and all, I decided to try upgrading my service, hoping a faster package might boost my signal. I called AT&T and was directed to their sales department. While the sales person was “happy to assist me with upgrading my service”, they quickly discovered that my house was ineligible for any service other than the “Basic” package. Apparently my home was too far to the main DSL line. “That’s too bad,” I told him, “Then could you please cancel my service?” He transferred me to someone else and my service was canceled without any objection on AT&T’s part. I had Time Warner High-Speed Cable Internet within a few days and couldn’t be happier.
Weeks later I received a $100 early termination fee from AT&T. My eye twitched.
I spent an afternoon on the phone going through the AT&T billing center. I calmly explained my situation:
- My DSL service was not working,
- I contacted AT&T support,
- They sent a technician,
- The problem was not fixed,
- I tried upgrading and was told I couldn’t,
- I had no choice but to cancel the service,
- And I would like this $100 fee removed.
After a few rounds of “sorry sir” and “let me speak to your manager”, I still received no resolution; the $100 fee stands.
Here are some interesting bits of information from “Lauren”, the highest-ranked person I was able to talk to.
- There is no record of any technician coming to my home. I must be lying about this.
- AT&T acknowledges that my home is far from the main line; my home cannot support faster DSL packages. According to Lauren however, I apparently meet the minimum requirements for the “Basic” package
I know that this “up to” portion of advertised speed gets a lot of press lately, so I was shocked to hear the following from Lauren:
- If AT&T were to provide a constant speed of 0 Kbps (e.g. no service), this still qualifies as service within their contract.
Okay now here’s the real kicker: I later noticed that if I “Check for Availability” on AT&T’s website, my home address is now listed as “Unavailable” for ALL packages, including the Basic. That is correct. If I were to ask Lauren to restart my service, she would not be able to because my home cannot support it.
AT&T Live Chat representative “Shirley” also confirms this.
Look, I’m honestly not trying to screw AT&T out of money here. I’m paying AT&T ~$100/month for my damn iPhone already; this isn’t about the money. This is a principle thing.
If I had to move suddenly or some unforeseen event forced me to cancel my service unexpectedly, I have no problem paying the early termination fee. My point here is that AT&T advertised a service to me that they could not provide. And now they are charging me $100 for canceling this broken service.
I am 25 years old. I hopefully have a few more decades of “potential customer” in me. And frankly this whole incident leaves a really bad taste in my mouth.
Any tips? Any horror stories with AT&T DSL?