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"AT&T: Rethink Possible. Because Using the Internet You Pay Us For? Not Possible."

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Wildly Exaggerated: "AT&T: Rethink Possible. Because <i>Using</i> the Internet You Pay Us For? Not Possible."

Monday, May 30, 2011

"AT&T: Rethink Possible. Because Using the Internet You Pay Us For? Not Possible."

There's a good chance you will have seen some coverage of the recent storms that tore a hole in the midwest, and then proceeded to do same in the South. There's an equally good chance that, since I brought it up, you won't be surprised to find that I was affected, albeit in a rather minor way. Once the pool furniture was airborne, I grabbed my cat and my computer to wait out the storm in the bathroom. That was pretty much the extent of the life-threatening portion of my evening - not very noteworthy. But the sanity-threatening portion had just begun! You see, some time during the storm we lost power. And when we lost power, I lost the internet. Quick summary of the first 45 minutes:
- the modem was disconnected
- upon reconnecting it, I misstyped my login information
- my ISP's Opposite of Helpful Customer Service Site failed to help me recover my password, then locked me out and suggested I call the toll-free number

This is where shit gets real.

First, I was treated to a 5-minute wait, during which a computerized voice assured me of the importance of my call, regretfully informed me that all attendants were busy, and encouraged me to wait it out. After a while, an automated voice took my call. An automated voice. Why did I have to wait 5 minutes for the computer to speak to me? Did I just have to prove I wanted help badly enough to wait? FAIL, AT&T. FAIL.

ROBOT: Please describe the problem you are having in just a few words.
ME: Internet FAIL.
ROBOT: OK, you're having problems connecting to the internet. What brand of DSL modem do you have?
ROBOT: I'm sorry, I didn't understand...
ME: Sebastian! Shhh!
ROBOT: I'm sorry, I didn't understand...
(7 minutes of this farce, interspersed with mind-numbingly dumb questions regarding whether my modem is plugged in, whether my computer is on, etc. Finally, we get to this:)
ROBOT: Is the "ethernet" light blinking or solid?
ME: Solid
ROBOT: Is the "DSL" light blinking or solid?
ME: Solid
ROBOT: Is the "internet" light blinking or solid?
ME: Solid
ROBOT: WAIT - THAT MEANS YOU CAN CONNECT TO THE INTERNET! Thank you for calling AT&T. Goodbye. (Dial tone)

So yeah. Without so much as a "Has this solved your problem?", the AT&T robot hangs up and leaves me to fend for myself. And I've given a lot of thought to that last recorded message, because it is faithfully transcribed above: "Wait - that means you can connect to the internet..." To me, this phrasing suggests that it's basically calling me a liar. I called and said I couldn't connect to the internet, and this is the nicest way it knows how to say, "You stupid bitch! You said you couldn't connect to the internet, but I've just proven you can! BURRRRN!"

I was pretty mad.

I redialed the same number and listened to the same idiotic suggestions regarding how I could very easily I could fix my internet connectivity problems simply by using the internet, which had been conveniently rendered unusable by AT&T. This time, when the robot picked up, I tried all the usual methods. I dialed zero, but she just kept talking. I said "attendant", "human being", and "person" to no avail. When she said, "Please describe the problem...", I simply started saying, "Nope! No. No. Nonononononononononononononono..." To which the cheerful robot replied, "Please hold while I connect you with someone who can help you."

I want to make one very important point here, which is that the actual human being I spoke to was incredibly polite and helpful. We talked about my cat and the Masterpiece Contemporary retread of Sherlock Holmes and the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch's full name is entirely too long while we waited for the system to run various checks and updates. It took another 45 minutes, but that wasn't really her fault. It was just that - you know - AT&T bites. And to support this statement, I'd like to share with you the most illuminating part of our conversation:

ME: I tried to do the online password recovery...
HER: ...where you enter the last 4 digits of your SSN or your birthdate?
ME: Exactly. And I tried it both ways, but it kept saying what I entered didn't match your records.
HER: Hmmm. Let me pull up your information. Oh I see - yeah, we don't have the last 4 digits of your SSN or your birthdate on file. Can you give me those now?

I rest my case.



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