[warning - long customer service rant ahead]
I really want to like AT&T. My grandfather worked for them back in the days of telegraphs, and I still have an old telegraph unit he was given on his retirement back in the 1960’s. And I have fond memories of our old Bell rotary dial monstrosities from my childhood. But unfortunately I have had nothing but bad experiences with them for the past several years.
I used to have cell service through them, but coverage was spotty, and customer service was poor. Still, coverage is very location-specific, so I wrote that off as just a function of where I traveled, and moved my cell service to Verizon (which has been great for me, especially with my Mexico fieldwork), but kept my ATT landline. I know, I sound like a luddite maintaining a landline, but I have done so out of safety concerns - I like the comfort of knowing 911 operators know exactly where I am, and having a landline that works even during power outages is comforting. We had an incident a few years ago with an active shooter, and it was nice knowing that even if I dropped the phone, police would know where I was and what was happening. So we have dealt with the crazy cost for a basic landline ($50+/month for the most rudimentary line they will give us).
And then - a couple of weeks ago, our landline dialed 911 in the middle of the night. We didnt know it until two police cruisers showed up, asking to walk the premises to be certain there was nothing nefarious going on. The police were professional and friendly, but also clearly perturbed that they were taken from other duties to come wander through a house at 3 am. Our phones had been acting up the last few days, so we unplugged them, thinking it was our wireless phones, and used an old corded phone.
The next night, the same thing happened at midnight. The police were still professional and courteous, but a bit more put-out by the interruption. So the next morning, I tried AT&T’s online help service - as soon as you select “connection problem”, you get told to call their service number. So I tried their service number, which yields a long series of phone tree decisions that ultimately lead to…an automated system that sets a service call appointment. Ours is set for Jan 8. Thinking that is a long time to be harassing the police, I turned to Twitter. I have had great luck with Cox and Verizon using Tweet-based customer service, and AT&Ts Twitter handle is “ATTCares”, so how could I go wrong?
Apparently, their naming scheme is irony-based. They responded reasonably quickly (a few hours), asked for my account number, and said “You came to the right place, Drew!” followed by “give us some time while we look into your account”. That was two days (and two police visits) ago, and not a word from ATT, either on email, Twitter, or my cell phone. But this story does have a happy ending. Since I already have Cox for internet (Gigabit internet, no less), adding internet phone service will cost me only $3 a month over my current payment. SO I save over $50 a month by being able to dump AT&T. And with e911, dispatchers will know where I am calling from, AND the IP modem has a backup battery, so works in a (reasonably short) power outage.
Saving $50 a month, saving the police from making needless trip to my house, saving sleep not having to let them walk the house in the middle of the night, and knowing that I am not sending >$600 a year to a company with such awful customer service? THAT is a great way to start 2019!