Aimee’s Dahlia Flower

Aimee’s Dahlia Flower

Isn’t this a beautiful flower? Isn’t it a marvel of technology that I am able to share it with you, no matter where you are in the world? This beautiful miracle though almost didn’t come to pass. Our eight year old AT&T DSL modem up and died last night. I first slogged through AT&T’s automated help process. The computer’s voice on the other end would ask multiple choice questions. Its voice recognition software was pretty good, but occasionally I had to repeat myself. Once it sent be back to the beginning of our ‘conversation’. All the while it was running tests. Eventually, the one test that really mattered, is it working, failed. The machine gave up and I was kicked over to a human, I mean tech support. 

The tech support guy, Mike, was immediately rather nonplussed about the age of my DSL modem. The timber of his voice and some of his speech mannerisms led me to believe that he was young. Eight years ago, when George W. Bush was running for his second term, maybe Mike was still in college? Maybe he was even still in high school? His final diagnosis was that my modem was kaput.

This led me to run out in a pouring rainstorm, the same one that delayed the Cardinals vs. Giants playoff game. I did get wet, but at least I didn’t miss any of the ball game. The Red Birds won and went up 2-1 in the series. I picked up a new modem at the local AT&T store and a Whole Food supper at their take-out bar, a bit of a treat for us.

Returning home, I found the easy to follow instructions and successfully installed the new modem. I had everything up and working again before AT&T placed their callback, to help me do what I had just done. We are all back up and running again and I am only out the price of a new modem, plus the outrageous 10% Brentwood sales tax. Still, it is a beautiful flower and it is a marvel that I am able to share it with you. Will miracles never cease?

A Gracious Hello, …

A gracious hello, here at the Phone Company, we handle eighty-four billion calls a year, serving everyone from presidents and kings to the scum of the earth. So, we realize that, every so often, you can’t get an operator, or for no apparent reason your phone goes out-of-order, or perhaps you get charged for a call you didn’t make. We don’t care! – Lily Tomlin as Ernestine in the ‘80

I am a “dear customer” of AT&T. At least I am told so. I must say that being a “dear customer” comes pretty dear to me. Most months, AT&T is my biggest creditor. I purchase from them, wireless service for four iPhone, DSL internet service and our reliable old land line. By far the biggest piece of the pie is the wireless bill for the four phones. I knew it would be going in and so am not surprised or complaining about those costs. Actually, after years of Sprint service, where a turn of the roulette wheel would have been a more consistent indicator of the next month’s cell phone bill, AT&T’s bill has been rock solid. No, I am complaining about the DSL portion of my monthly debt to AT&T.

What is precipitating this rant towards AT&T is an email that they sent us this week. In this email they updated us on changes in our DSL terms of service. Here are a few of the dozen or so changes that rather teed me off:

  • We have added email as a separate service. This means that they can charge for this service separately, like after you angrily drop your DSL service or more likely as an additional add-on if you stay with AT&T.
  • We have added language that will allow us to convert customers from our DSL network to the AT&T U-verse High Speed network, where available. Apparently, the two years of solicitations that has gone unheeded, has not deterred AT&T in their goal to wring more money out of me.
  • We’ve added a link where customers can go to get information about AT&T’s data usage policy and managing their data usage. Reading the fine print here says they will start charging you extra if you exceed their limits on uploading and downloading.
  • We have added language that allows AT&T to terminate the service of customers who repeatedly harass or abuse our employees. and We have added language stating that AT&T may need to modify or discontinue your service, either temporarily or permanently. If you don’t like these new rules, too bad, we don’t care.

I am seething about some of these rules changes, especially about the forced conversion to U-verse. I haven’t decided what to do, but at least I have thirty-day to think about it, before any thing happens. Maybe it is time to break up the phone company again? Before when it was divided, it was both innovative and competitive, now it is just a dictatorial monopoly. Time to send in the drones?

The picture with this post is from Chris.