Aaron N. Tubbs bio photo

Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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I’m sorry to post again so soon whining about my Internet again, but I’ll keep this brief and include photos to keep it interesting. I got a new camera, finally.

My dinner last night:

I got AT&T back on the line after 8AM when they opened. I got rejected by their automated prompting system because none of my phone numbers or order numbers would correctly get to my account. The guy that picked up said he needed my virtual phone number. Which doesn’t exist on any of the documentation I talked about in the last post. He insisted there should be a number somewhere in my documentation that starts with 203, representing a fake phone number.

There are, as I mentioned, a myriad of numbers in my box of stuff from AT&T. None of them start with 203.

A picture of my ceiling fan:

He put me on a “brief hold” to try to figure out which department could help me.

The brief hold ended up taking fifteen minutes. Of silence. Not even a looped jingle and promise that my call is important. The quality of service is just dropping these days, you can’t get anything without paying for it.

The operator that transferred me, but stayed on the line, coaching the new operator. He begged the transfer agent to take a callback number from me. She indicated she couldn’t do that, her department doesn’t call accounts back, so if we got disconnected I’d need to start over. He seemed startled by this. They had a conversation. I’ll spare you the details, but it’s probably stuff that shouldn’t be happening when a customer is on the line.

He then proceeded to offer to get off the line, but first requested a survey, while I’m still on the phone with this technician.

Let me repeat that for emphasis. With different words. Because I’m having a hard time describing it. I’m on the phone with operator A. And operator B. Operator A is done with me and ready to hang up and leave me with operator B. But first he starts asking me survey questions about his performance. About how I would rate AT&T and my service today. This takes minutes, and I just play along, because it’s too absurd.

Last photo, this is the When It’s Working Internet Ingress and Egress Department (WIWIIED) of the Tubbs Center for Advanced Computation. Featured in the photo are the cable and DSL modems (with prominent red FAIL light blinking), both of the hot routers (warm spares are ready, but not featured in the picture). Also not featured in the photo are five gigabit switches, 600 feet of patch cables (including two 75-foot runs from the WIWIIED to the TCAC equipment rack) throughout the apartment, two additional uninterruptable supplies to run the rest of the switch fabric, and the dedicated cablevision support terminal (an old powerbook that has been left on top of the WIWIIED for cablevision to play with whenever they visit).

So I’m then talking with the new operator, and she asks for my DSL number, like the agent from the previous night, and then puts me on hold. This time I get a catchy jingle, at least. Maybe there’s still hope for the universe.

She indicates that there’s a problem in the plant office related to my order, and they do not have an estimate of when things will be done. She indicates that my service activation date was only an estimate, and not meant to be a guarantee that I’ll have service by that point, and that, when the department that’s responsible for my order gets in (in two hours), they’ll escalate my issue. And call me back with a new estimate of when the work might be completed.

Then we chatted a bit about why they couldn’t pull up my account in the automated system and get me to the correct department. Why, I ask, doesn’t my cell phone number (“the phone number associated with the billing address of this account”) pull up my account?

“It should.”

Well, it doesn’t. So she suggests that the automated prompt system probably wants my dry line phone number, instead of my billing phone number, and the prompt is just wrong. But I’ve tried that too by this point.

“Oh,” she says. “Since your dry line number starts with a zero, it is automatically rejected by the voice prompt system as being an invalid number. And if you provide it without the zero, it won’t be able to look it up either.”

My brain. Exploded. It’s in my hands. Squishy. Or maybe that’s the cat. I can’t tell anymore.

Okay then, I tell her. I’m also allowed to give my order number, except that doesn’t work. I manage to get her to give me my order number. This string of letters and numbers is a new one, and exists nowhere on anything I have in email or paper form from AT&T. How might I have known that this was my order number, I ask?

“You wouldn’t, we don’t normally provide customers with that number.”