Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Who knew? Musings from the dial-up ghetto

Or, trying to upgrade internet in the 21st century.

I will name some names in this post only because the last time I blogged about a banjaxed product, someone from that company actually saw my post and sent me a free widget. So, with that in mind… AT&T, listen up and pay attention!

I sent the following letter this morning to Randall L. Stephenson, the CEO of AT&T:

Dear Sir:

I am writing to draw your attention to a serious deficiency in your system.

Let me state at the outset that your sales representative named T*** in New Mexico is a credit to your company. He has worked very hard on my behalf, but all of his best efforts (and those of his supervisor) were not enough to overcome the flaw in the ordering system.

I have had DSL internet for many years through R*******, a local provider. While they are a very good company and I do prefer to use local businesses as much as I can, their DSL is just too slow for today's needs, so I made the decision to upgrade to Uverse internet plus voice. I placed an order online on Friday, September 19, 2014.

On Saturday, September 20, 2014, I received an email informing me that due to existing service at my address, the order could not be completed, and that I needed to have the existing service disconnected.

I used the online chat feature of the website to converse with someone in tech support, who suggested I call the sales department. I did so, and was connected to T*** in New Mexico. By the end of our conversation, we had concluded that I was essentially stuck in an endless loop; the ordering system at your end would not allow scheduling of installation until the existing service was confirmed to be disconnected; but needless to say, because I work online from home and I take online classes as well, I could not schedule disconnection of the DSL until I knew when the Uverse installers were coming. But the installers could not be scheduled until the sales and ordering system was satisfied, by its own internal criteria, with no overrides able to be done, that the existing service was gone.

Do you see the problem here?

T*** called me back yesterday (Monday, September 22) after speaking to his supervisor. He brought in a support technician named E* from R*******via conference calling and explained the problem. E* said that in his experience, all the Uverse installers needed to do was hot-swap the wires when they got here, and that would turn off the DSL and turn on the Uverse. However, despite every trick that T*** tried to get through the system at his end, he was not able to move the process forward to the point of scheduling installation, and no one in his vicinity had the ability to override.

Thus, while we waited, E* put us on hold and disconnected the DSL at his end, gave T*** a cancellation number, and set me up for a temporary dial-up account. (T*** was horrified at the very thought, as he should be.)

I had to go to B*** B** to purchase a modem because nowadays, laptop computers do not come so equipped.

When I got home from that excursion, I found a message from T*** indicating that the DSL cancellation had not yet filtered through the system, he was still unable to complete my order and schedule Uverse installation, and he would check on it as soon as he got in on Tuesday (today), and call me.

Meanwhile, I sit here in the dial-up ghetto, unable to get any significant work done. The public library does not open until noon; but even so, any public wi-fi is going to be a problem because the nature of my work involves transmitting HIPAA-protected medical information.

In summary, from a technical standpoint, my internet service should have been able to be switched in a manner that would minimize my downtime. This can be easily accomplished by the Uverse installation technicians, and apparently this was how it was done in the past.

However, due to a serious design flaw in the sales and ordering system, I am stuck with dial-up internet for at least the next week. In this day and age, that is unacceptable.

At this moment, when I attempt to check my order status online (at the glacially-slow dial-up speed) I find that the order was last updated 3 days ago.

Again I would like to emphasize that T*** is a credit to your company, and has gone above and beyond in his efforts to resolve my dilemma. However, his hands are tied by the system.

If I didn't hate C****** already for reasons I won't go into here, by this point I would have told AT&T goodbye and gone with another internet provider.

I would urge you to investigate this flaw in your system and take steps to ensure that future customers do not wind up in the same boat as me. I would also boldly request that since I initially placed the order last Saturday, I should be bumped to a position in the installation queue commensurate with that date.

Sincerely,

Update from later in the day:  When I got back from my afternoon coffee shop sojourn, I found a message from T*** on my answering machine. He said that the DSL disconnection STILL has not made its way through the system, and therefore he still cannot schedule me for installation, but he will follow up again tomorrow and keep me informed.

Incidentally, I had to e-mail the above letter to the CEO because his fax machine just rang and rang and rang. Nice.  /sarcasm

Goodbye for now from dial-up purgatory. How did we EVER function in this environment?? (I should have timed how long it took for Blogger to simply load the page for me to paste in—after writing it offline--and post this entry. My best guesstimate is about 10 minutes, including all the times I had to refresh the timed-out page. Ouch.)


 
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