Posts Tagged ‘support’

Fun with ATT Support

Since I know a few people follow my ongoing saga with ATT on this blog, I thought I’d chronicle the latest. Yesterday our U-verse phone service went out, though we still had internet service (the other day my wife was having poor internet service, so we rebooted the U-verse router and after awhile got both internet and phone back up and running, but maybe it’s connected). At first, we had a dial tone, but when I tried to dial a number, I only got static, no ring. So I went into the Status page for the U-verse modem and restarted the phone service. It said it restarted successfully, but it also said that it was “registering.” And it said that for over 24 hours (even after I’d contacted support). But at this point when I tried to dial out, I got a busy signal.

Since we still had internet, I went to att.com and tried to get support. Their support portal took me to the Troubleshoot and Resolve tool, which made me go through all the steps, like making sure my phone was plugged in. I answered appropriately and eventually got to a point where it seemed to be testing my phone connection, then it told me I needed a new modem and asked if I wanted them to ship me one for free (with U-verse, you rent your modem/gateway for about $7 a month—a good thing, since we went through several “crappy modems” (that’s what the tech guy called them) before getting one that worked for a couple of years. Now it apparently bit the dust.

I said “yes,” answered a couple more questions, and when it came time to get the shipment details, the support program crashed and I lost any info I had on it. So, I thought I’d ordered a new gateway/modem and had no idea how long it would take to arrive. I didn’t want to restart the modem because I didn’t want to risk losing DSL, so we were without a phone line for over 24 hours.

That brings us to this afternoon. As I was beginning this post, the modem arrived. Actually, before that, I was able to log in to ATT and this time saw there was a message telling me the modem had shipped and I could install my new equipment. That was great, but there was still no tracking number, so I had no idea when it would arrive until FedEx came knocking at my door.

In the box was a new gateway, about twice the size of our old one (a bit of an issue for the space we have it in, but I’ll deal), and a very basic setup guide. Basically, it said to remove our old cables and put them in the same ports on the new gateway. I did that, and it didn’t take too long — would have taken less time, but I decided to replace one cable that looked suspicious, which meant rerouting at the back of my cabinet.

I powered up the new gateway and waited while it got booted up and made its connection, which can take up to 15 minutes initially. Eventually the phone light turned green, so I tried to make a call, and it worked. Then, once broadband was up, I logged into the new wifi and tried to restore my login information, following the instructions.

Unfortunately, ATT didn’t have a backup of our old login credentials, but I decided to try chatting with an agent to see if they could restore them from my records. I gave her our old router’s network name and the old password, and she sent it to the new one. That worked. Now all of our devices can still login to the wifi network without changing every login and password.

So was the new user experience better or worse than before? On the one hand, it was a little frustrating to never have contact with a human being until I chatted with the customer service about restoring our wifi info. On the other hand, I avoided long wait times on hold with ATT, and I got my problem resolved in a little over 24 hours. Besides waiting for shipment, installing the new equipment only took about an hour, maybe a little more, but since part of that time was messing with the wiring, it really wasn’t too bad.

Now all that I have left to do is take the old router to the UPS store and let them ship it back to ATT at no charge. If that goes okay, I’ll be happy enough. And if ATT would rather ship out a new modem/gateway overtime something is broken, rather than sending out a technician, which may be cheaper for them, then I can live with that. The only problem would be if the new equipment didn’t really fix the problem. Then it would feel like a waste of time. And if I had lost internet connectivity instead of our phone service, then I would have still been calling a support number, if I could find it! So my feelings are mixed, but ultimately, if it works, I won’t complain. So far, so good. The new gateway even has more capabilities, like U-verse TV, which we don’t want and isn’t available in our area, but if that changes and we change our minds, it might be nice to have that functionality.

ATT DSL Woes Resolved (for now ?)

When we came home from our Christmas travels, we had a little time on our hands and wanted to watch some Netflix streaming. Fortunately, we also had a couple of DVD’s to watch, since our DSL connection speeds had dropped to the point that Netflix wouldn’t load. I tested our connection using speedtest.net and got speeds that ranged from over 2 mbps (we should have 3, but 2+ isn’t bad for an average) down to .20 mbps. Typical scores were around .5 mbps. Clearly, something was wrong.

So I spent a couple of hours with ATT Support. Getting to the right person made me feel like the main character of a Kafka novel. We have DSL, but they still routed me to U-verse first, then to DSL Southwest, and finally to the Southeast division who needed to help me. This happened a couple of times, since I was disconnected whenever I tried ATT’s speed test. The third time, I got right back to the service rep who had been helping me.

When I was talking to the right guy, he was very helpful. He didn’t make me go through all the typical trouble-shooting, like resetting my modem, once I explained what I had done already. He listened well, and had some good suggestions, none of which solved the issue, but which did isolate the problem. He believed me when I told him (the truth) that I had the same problem when my computer was connected directly to the modem and not through my Airport Extreme, and he didn’t make me keep testing it that way. This allowed me to be on the chat line while others in the family were working or playing online. And he didn’t balk when I told him my modem is set to bridge mode. He did have me connect directly from the phone jack to the modem without a filter (disconnecting our phones), in case an old filter were causing the problem. For a brief moment, we thought we had fixed it when we got two or three high speed tests. Then it went right back to .40 mbps or lower. He tested the line remotely, but couldn’t find a problem other than a high ping-back rate. On the basis of this, he dispatched a service tech to our home  with the standard warnings that it could be expensive if they found something inside and I didn’t have inside line maintenance, which I don’t. He did say we could refuse that service and make the repairs ourselves if that were the case.

When the service tech came out the next day, he checked our line and replaced the line coming into the house since it had a splice that could cause problems (didn’t help) and checked our bridge taps (I think he called them this), which are connections on the line coming to our house from the main office that could cause problems. He didn’t find anything there either. Essentially, he said our wiring was perfect, yet our internet connection was lousy. He explained it as our sync rate (the ability of the copper wire to deliver a signal) was perfect, but our surf rate (our actual experience online) was lousy. He said there were two possibilities. On ATT’s end, our port could need replacing, and on our end our modem or possibly just the ethernet cable to the modem (or the router) could need replacing. Since our modem and router are less than a year old, I was confident they weren’t the issue.

The next business day, ATT replaced the port on our line, and presto, our speeds went back to 2.8 or higher (and this is testing over wifi, so I expect lower results than if everything was hard wired to the computer). FaceTime calls and Netflix streaming has been much better.

So what did I learn from this experience? The main thing is that when ATT support tests your line remotely, they aren’t seeing the whole picture. They test your line from the port to your house, but they don’t test the port itself. (And I learned it’s called a port.) So it’s worth pushing until they send someone out who can really check the line and then can put in an order to change the port if they can’t find another cause.

All in all, I was satisfied with this ATT support experience. It took longer to get to a resolution than I would like (wouldn’t it be great if they could tell your port is bad when you call in?), but with due diligence we were able to find and correct the problem. It helps to be knowledgable about your service and to do as much trouble-shooting as you can before you call. What pleased me was that ATT support believed I really had a problem and took my complaint seriously. This time. I’ve had good experiences when technicians come to my home and mixed results from phone support. Having used both phone and chat support, I prefer the chat option, mainly because I don’t have to listen to hold music and I seem to get through to a person sooner, even if I did get misrouted several times. You do have to be patient and calm, but remain persistent: your problem should be resolved. Hopefully, it will be awhile before we have any more connection issues!