AT&T Means Well

Can They Deliver?

My troubles with AT&T are new in the sense that they’ve only been going on for about six months. I tweeted about it (@michaelvsprague) recently, and received a response from the AT&T Customer Care Department indicating they could help. Of course, every single time I have contacted AT&T that has been what the CSR has said, and yet the issues continue.

So, for the benefit, mainly, of the AT&T rep who tweeted back to me, here is the short version of why I am not happy with the care that AT&T is currently providing it’s customers, especially the ones at my address.

Historical Context

To begin with the most recent foul up first – my email address. I have had the email address since ~1998 iirc, when Pacific Bell, one of the Baby Bells created by the federal government when they broke up the illegal monopoly that the old AT&T constituted, installed my fancy schmancy DSL modem. I was so excited! A persistent connection and ADSL (!) meant that I wouldn’t have the long wait times, that I didn’t have the annoying fax-machine-adjacent digital scream, which I somehow still heard even after setting the software switches to off, so it was almost inaudible.

My email Debacle

So, – flash forward – at the first of this year AT&T wrote me an email stating point blank, either I accept a new modem/router or I’d not be able to connect to the internet via AT&T any more. So, arrangements were made, a tech named Corbin came over and installed a new modem, assuring me that my existing email address would continue to function, no changes, it would just work. A number of other assurances were made as well, but we’ll save those for later.

Mostly, it is true. I get my email. I have always read all my email through my Gmail account. I have always had several email addresses, and I have never had any problems getting them all forwarded to my Gmail account, or just setting Gmail to grab them from those servers. I had asked if that would continue to work, and Corbin assured me it would. Again, that is almost entirely true. I have sent myself test messages to that account and verified that I am receiving them in a timely fashion. But…

… ever since Corbin went away, I have been getting error messages in gmail re: my pacbell email account. In addition, I have been getting messages from people saying they have received bouncebacks from my email. It’s affected my relationship with my broker, and not in a good way.

Funny how people get around money when it seems that their communications might not be functioning as expected. I do not want to call the Security folks at TD Ameritrade paranoid, since they actually know what they are up against and it is not pretty. So, let’s instead call them intelligent.

Especially in light of all the poorly reported scams and exploits in the tech world. People don’t know what to think, and who can blame them? Everybody doesn’t have time, inclination, etc. to go out and become a network security expert. Mostly people just want their email to freaking work, and be secure, and NOT cause problems.

So, mostly my email is fine. Except for the ways in which it is just fucking me up. Thanks, AT&T.

Phone Harassment

Also lately, I have received numerous phone calls from AT&T’s robocall department. I am not entirely sure that there is such a department, in fact, I expect there is not, but I keep getting robo called by AT&T and when I start feeling a bit ticked off, I tend to get snarky and start renaming corporate divisions with silly names. Be thankful that is where I try to draw the line. There are others in the world who use other types of behaviour as outlet.

I have mostly stopped picking up at this point, as I have come to be able to recognize the 866-948-xxxx number as not a good one to answer. I have answered it a few times, though, mostly to see how AT&T will mess up this time. The first time it started talking and I got distracted, but then caught the end that said something about not calling me any more because I was on the internal Do Not Call list. I thought that was grand.

Then I got another call, and picked it up. This time it said I should press “1” on my touch tone keypad to stop getting phone calls, so I did that, and the recorded message said I would get no more calls from AT&T. Huzzah! Oh frabjous day! Kaloo kalai!

Oh, wait… That was easily a half dozen calls ago from the same Jabberwocky – ALL 866-948-xxxx numbers.

I suppose I should write down the number each time I get the call, or otherwise try to remember what the last 4 digits are, or just review the call log the phone maintains, but I don’t particularly relish the idea of playing amateur detective for AT&T. And obviously, when I say “… don’t particularly relish … ” etc I mean I am starting to get snarky, again.

I have answered a couple more of these calls, and they are just creepy.

“Hello?” I say, and the response is a click.

Make Me New COO?

My conclusion is that AT&T is not able to control it’s technology. I am not suggesting this is Skynet coming alive to subjugate and then destroy humanity.

This is just an unmanageably large corporation that was better off after the formation of the Baby Bells.

I am not advocating that the feds step in again.

Better still for AT&T to recognize that they need to figure out how to get their own house in order.

Hire someone like me to come in and set your policy right, so that you can manage your various commitments.

I suggest me because I can see what is wrong, and I could devise a plan to set your ship on a better course. And because I need a job, preferably one that pays reasonably well and has some real challenges involved.

Righting the course AT&T is on would be a profound challenge, but I can do it.

Back On Point

But, I digress. This post is primarily aimed at the Customer Care Dept. employee who happens to be manning the Twitter feed monitoring station when I link this post back to them hereafter referred to as the Poor Unlucky Sod (PUS). I’d like to have as many facts about my relationship with the corporate person that AT&T apparently, per the SCOTUS decision in Citizens United, is, to know as much as they might possibly need to know to be able to help me to fix this without necessitating another hour or three on the phone or stuck in a fruitless web chat “help” session.

  • Allow me to parse that for you.
  • I do not want to call AT&T again.
  • I do not want to initiate or accept another web chat with another Leslie or Debbie or Chad or Steven, whether they are in Belarus or Boston or Mumbai.
  • I have spent WAY TOO MUCH TIME already, trying to help you try to help me.

You can use this post to communicate with me re: information that is not sensitive. You can email me for information that is. If you have generally helpful information NOT specific to my situation, put it here and link to it on your barely navigable AT&T.net web site (att.com or att.net, w/e) so that others can benefit from your sage wisdom.

(Yeah, I guess I am getting snarky again)

… and Furthermore!

So, the connection is crappy. Sometimes, it is very good. Other times, not so much. It really only qualifies as always on if that connection is dependable on all the devices that are attached to the network all the time.

For crying out loud!

It’s not like we’re running a huge web farm and transiting Terabytes of data out to the world.

We are a simple married couple, living in the Los Angeles area where there are many choices for network infrastructure.

We watch some Netflix – don’t get me started on that mess again – and do email, surf the web and occasionally use Amazon Video or HBO Go and a few other services. We don’t even watch Youtube much.

Regularly and consistently we are disconnected, or, while still connected the throughput is throttled, and the networking software on our computers is wasting cycles “Searching for networks…” when the network is attached, but apparently not the external network, the “Internet.”

Should NSA Offer Backup Services to Tax Paying Citizens Cost Free?

I’d like to understand why the number of available IP addresses is constrained to way less than what they reasonably should be on a private TCP/IP hub. I presume it’s related to how you share my private info – not mine, particularly, as we both must know, if my guess is at all accurate, just how boring that is, but every AT&T customer’s info, and again, I digress – with the NSA. I do not know the details of that and do not want to know, but it seems a bad design, if that is what it is. Kind of makes it obvious what to monitor, if you want to defeat such a scheme, I imagine. Anyway, I obviously do not need to know about that; it is just an idle curiosity thing. God knows I welcome Big Brothers’ intrusion into my life, if only to verify I am not an al-Qaeda operative or worse.

Next Steps

You need to work on clarity. Device Code doesn’t automatically translate to Password for most normal people. But, that is water under the bridge for me, unless you – AT&T mucky mucks who I expect will never even see this post, let alone actually read it – decide to hire me as your new COO, in which case it would just be one of many small adjustments I would mandate to make AT&T a better, more consumer usable brand.

I would go on, but this is long enough to get you started, I think. Please try to be pleasant, and remember, this is intended as good clean fun infused hardcore information, because I want AT&T to fix this. I poke a little fun, but I get that it isn’t an easy job. At the same time, it isn’t impossible.

– 30 –

Two Week (ish) Warning

In about two weeks I will delete all registered users who I deem to be “Likely Bots or Otherwise Exploitative.” This is a judgment I will make largely at my own whim.

If you are a hotmail user, well, that’s to your detriment. If you are registered with an obviously fake or fraudulent domain or user name (Mr. President, I am looking at YOU!) your registration as a user will disappear. Sorry, Cousin Barry, it’s a cold cruel world.

You will be welcomed back, should you choose to run the gauntlet now required for registration, but if you do not post something to register your sentience with mine, you will likely be booted again.

Good-bye, good luck and don’t let the firewall door hit you where your maker split you.

That is all, for now.

Attention Robots, and Others…

About a month ago I started noticing an alarming surge in user registrations.

There has been no corresponding surge in posts.

This makes me think the user registrations are actually robot users, and up to some nefarious scheme, and makes me want to respond with some sort of scorched earth policy based action.

For this reason, everything on this server will be deleted, beginning with users from known or suspected spam domains, beginning as soon as I get a major site overhaul completed, or some other future time tbd.

If you are a legitimate, human, reader and wish to remain a registered user, please post something soon, otherwise, you will be deleted. (Unless I actually know you, IRL)

I am specifically referring to those whose email address ends in @hotmail.com, or @outlook.com or @126.com and other @*******s, depending on my mood on the day I begin doing that cleansing thing.

Please post on a thread here to avoid deletion, if you want to avoid deletion.

To be honest, I am not sure what the negative consequences of being deleted might be. So, I am not sure why you might be concerned about it. Of course, chances are most of the registered users are bots of one sort or another, so I am apologizing to software, consequently.

How like me.

Anyway, really no specific, set schedule for this yet, but I do have a local version of the site up and running under MAMP, so it is a work in progress.

More will be forthcoming as I know more.