Friday, August 04, 2006

AT&T = bringing SBC down the drain

The Monk recently moved to a neighboring city (aka, suburb). The Monk had SBC local phone service in his old house because SBC basically ran things pretty well and he'd had the service since he moved to the Dallas area in 1995. What else determines brand loyalty? Works well, repairs swift, customer service good and accurate. And that all fit for SBC.

Last November, AT&T merged with SBC. SBC had made itself the biggest of the "Baby Bells" that emerged from the Big Bang in the 1980s antitrust ruling that split AT&T into various regional entities. The post-merger company is still called AT&T.

Late last week, the Monkette tried to switch our phone service from the old address to the new one. So she called AT&T for setting up a local connection because SBC had been our phone and DSL provider. After jumping through entirely too many phone hoops, she got the company to agree to switch over the account and set up a line in our new house (which really just means completing the necessary administrative details and switching on the line). AT&T told her that would take 7-10 BUSINESS days. Bad, but not too terrible to her. The Monk sought to light a fire under AT&T's rear and said he'd be more than willing to switch his account to another provider that would hook up earlier. And, as we discovered earlier this week, AT&T doesn't provide DSL at our new address.

The Monkette called AT&T earlier today.

Result: Scheduled for service on August 25.

Three weeks from today.


Worse yet, AT&T claimed it had told Monkette that earlier -- no chance, she'd have told them to stick it.

Monkette called The Monk, The Monk called Verizon. Result: Connection on Monday (i.e., next business day) and Verizon also has superfast internet available in the area for LESS than the only other reasonable option for broadband that The Monk had found (satellite broadband is not reasonable -- $300 install fee doesn't wash). Even better. The fast Internet is scheduled for install next week after they run a new line to our house. And the Verizon local plan includes free long distance!

Here's the deal: This is a service economy and that means as a company you must provide GOOD service. I signed up with Verizon 90 minutes ago and have had two follow-up calls from them regarding scheduling situations and clarifications. So now, I happily give them my business.

AT&T should feel bad. It is in some non-elite company -- the other two service providers I just fired.

First, Time Warner Cable for charging me entirely too much for cable internet and too long of a wait because I don't have (and won't subscribe to) its subpar TV service.

Second, DirecTV. The "Movers Connection" ads are pure crap. DTV told me on Tuesday that it couldn't do an installation of service at the new abode until August 17. No real apologies either -- one operator said sometimes the set-up delay is 1-2 MONTHS and that this is a busy season because of the football package. So hire more contractors -- it's not like DTV is doing these installations by itself.

The next day, Dish TV told me it would install on Saturday and it has 2x as many HD channels and better technology than DirecTV (MPEG4, not MPEG2). I still get the baseball package. I still get FSC and GolTV for my nascent soccer fix. Oh yeah, the HDTV DVR I'm getting (think TiVo equivalent) is $100 bucks less than the DTV offer. So I'm sacking DTV this weekend too.

Some companies need to smarten up.

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