AT&T: Competing with Comcast in All the Wrong Ways

I’ve been a Comcast customer for more than a decade.1 I had little in the way of other options until AT&T sent a flyer letting me know that their 1Gbps fiber service was available at my house. The next time I started having internet problems, I knew just what to do:

On September 19th I signed up for AT&T “Gigapower” service. I learned that I would have to wait almost a week for the installation. This seemed like an eternity. That was just the tip of the iceberg.

The Initial Hiccup

Like Comcast, AT&T provides a two hour service window. My installation appointment was from 9am – 11am on September 25th. They missed that window. I was notified that my new window was from 11am – 1pm. Dean finally showed up around 1:30pm.

Dean was finally there, in my living room, with the modem and DVR. I was getting fiber and getting rid of Comcast. This was going to be awesome.

Halfway through the install, he told me that he was still waiting on the crew to do the outside work. He left, but kept in touch that day, but nobody seemed to have a straight answer. I started a DM conversation on twitter with their @ATTCares account.

Last I had heard, someone was coming to finish the installation. At 4:45pm, “Blake Y” sent a response to say that they would “get right on this” for me. Two hours later, I still hadn’t heard from anyone. I wrote again to ask for an update. More than an hour after that, around 8:00pm, “Jared M” responded. He told me what I had already guessed: nobody was coming. I would get a “higher priority” the next day (Saturday). They appreciated my patience.

Testing Said Patience

Nobody came on Saturday. Or Sunday. On Monday afternoon (September 28th), I contacted AT&T to check the status. “Reno G” said that they had expedited the ticket for the next day. As you might have guessed by now, nobody showed up or called that day, either. I called in. They told me that the appointment was “still” scheduled for October 3rd.

Still?

I sent another Twitter DM. The next morning I get a reply that they “cannot expedite the time” due to the workload in the area. I had to wait until October 3rd. That day, an outside tech actually came to my house! It was happening! Goodbye Comcast; hello gigabit fiber!

Not really. The outside tech showed up late. She took forever. We had to cancel our afternoon plans. Before leaving, she dropped one last bomb. It turns out that the line work still wasn’t done. I got another service window for later that day: 1pm – 3pm.

I waited.

At 2:45pm, having still not heard from anyone, I called. The support person, in what must have been an attempt to lower his average call time, rushed me off the phone. The tech wasn’t technically2 late yet, so I’d have to wait until after 3:00pm. Fine. At 3:10pm, I called back in. This time, the support person tells me that AT&T cannot dispatch techs after 3:00pm.

Cancellation Times Two

By that point, I’d had enough and I ask to cancel. I’m transferred to a “retention specialist” who says all of the right things. He convinces me that Monday would be different. Everything will be ready. Like an idiot, I believe him. Monday, October 5th from 9am – 10am they’ll get it done.

For the fifth or sixth time in this saga, AT&T misses that appointment. For the third time, they do so with no notice whatsoever. In my calls that day with AT&T, I discover that they knew on Saturday evening that they wouldn’t be coming. Rather than tell me that, they had me stay home from work and wait on nobody.

I call back in to cancel.

Insult to Injury

The woman who helped with my cancellation we’ll call “Tisha”3. Tisha worked with an admirable efficiency. One achieved only through not giving a damn about anything except getting the call over and done with. It was the least painful cancellation experience I’ve ever had. No empathy or attempts to convince me to stay. Moments after I hand over my account details, she’s finished.

There was one more thing, though. I had to get in my car and drive my equipment back to them. This, despite the fact that I had never once actually had AT&T service. Despite the fact that they had missed half a dozen appointments. Despite the fact that I’d already wasted 20+ hours of my life waiting on their technicians. If I didn’t, they were going to charge me $150. I had to physically return the boxes to them or they were going to bill me. For equipment they never let me use.

Conclusion

AT&T: I wanted to love you. I wanted to experience the thrill of fiber internet. This poor experience cost you a customer, but that’s not what should concern you. Rather, you should be concerned that you can’t compete with Comcast’s lackluster customer service.

All there is left for me to do is wait for Google.


  1. Condolences will be accepted in the form of cash. 

  2. I’m not sorry. 

  3. Because that’s what she said her name was