Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Black Hole at the Center of the Uverse

Scientists have theorized that there is a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, devouring suns and interstellar hydrogen at a truly prodigious rate. It is further theorized that such a black hole is likely to be found at the center of most galaxies.

I theorize that a similar black hole can be found at the center of AT&T's Uverse, specifically their dispatch. I will detail the evidence here. You decide if my theory is valid.

On or about, October 28th or 29th, I telephoned AT&T and ordered their Uverse service, including DSL, 200 channels and two set top boxes. I was told then that the earliest install date available was Saturday November 22nd. Yes, almost a month later. I agreed, thinking that the delay was a result of manpower being diverted to repair Ike damage. I was to discover later that in fact, this is typical.

On November 22nd, I was to have a installation window between 8 and 10 am. at 8:15 I get a call from "Jerry" the Premesis Technician ("premtech") that he would be there shortly. At about 8:30 I recieve another call from him stating that he is being delayed at the office but would be there soon. At about 8:45 I get another call stating that he is being dispatched to an urgent (but minor) repair for a very unhappy customer before he gets to me but that he would be there before 10:30 at the latest. At 9:45 Jerry arrives. He is a personable young man who quickly starts planning how and where he will install the equipment. About 10 minutes later, after he has worked out where he plans on installing everything and how he plans on utilizing the existing wiring, he leaves to go two streets over where the local node cabinet is located to "move a couple jumpers" and put the Uverse signal onto my line. In the process he disconnects my DSL service unknownst to me at the time. Jerry returns about 15-20 minutes later and begins by connecting his portable network analyzer to the line coming down from the pole to verify that he has network connectivity before he begins wiring up the equipent. He discovers that there is no signal. None.

At this time I discover that Jerry has not been trained, and is therefore not allowed to, climb the pole in order to trace where the signal is being lost. He must instead call and open an I&R (Installation and Repair I must assume) order ticket to have someone who IS trained to come out and diagnose and repair the problem. Further, I&R will not say how long it will take to dispatch anyone, So Jerry, being an ambitious young man concludes that it is pointless for him to stay there and wait on I&R because he could be sitting there two hours or more doing nothing useful waiting for I&R. Of course he COULD have gone ahead and done his wiring while he was waiting but that I suppose would have been asking too much of the young man. At any rate, he did not wait, he instead left, saying that he would be re-dispatched when I&R had completed their repairs. It was by this time about 10:45 or so.

Around 11:45, when I had not seen hide nor hair of an I&R technician, neither at my house nor at the local node, nor anywhere in between, I decided to call AT&T to find out what was what with the order. The first number I called was high speed internet tech support, thinking that they would be the ones handling repairs and installations. I was mistaken. Apparently they handle DSL, not Uverse. But they WERE kind enough to give me the number to Uverse's dispatch. I called Uverse Dispatch and after navigating their screening system I was placed in the hold queue awaiting a human operator. After sitting on hold for the beter part of half an hour, I was finally connected with a human who assured me that the ticket was in the queue but that no technician had yet been dispatched but that he was sure that it would be dispatched that day. And if the I&R ticket were closed that day that they could dispatch another premtech first thing Sunday. They also made a point of stating that I would be unlikely to see the I&R tech and that I was therefore probably not going to know if they had completed the job or not until I got a call to reschedule the premisis technician.

At 3:30pm Saturday, when I had not heard from anyone, I called dispatch back to check status on the order and after waiting another 20 minutes on hold was told that the order had still not been dispatched. So I informed them that I had an appointment and I had to leave but that I was putting my dogs inside, leaving the gate unlocked, and that I was leaving my cell phone number as well as my wife's cell number with them so that the technician could contact me if needed. Nobody called during the 2-3 hours we were gone. When I got home I attempted to check the order status again but was unable because the office had closed.

Sunday morning around 9:00am, I contacted Uverse Dispatch and was told that the order still had not been assigned to a technician.

Sunday at around 12:15, I tried to call dispatch again and sat in the hold queue for half an hour before I gave up. But Jerry the technician had told me that he was working Sunday, and that he didn't even come in until 11:00. So I knew the technicians were working Sunday. Sunday evening around 5:30, I finally spoke to someone who seemed to be able to find his ass with either hand. He recheduled the I&R technician for Monday between 12 and 4, and then scheduled a premesis technician for between 4 and 6. I got a confirming email that a premesis tech was scheduled between 4 and 9 pm (they apparently assume the install with take 3 hours.). I left work at lunch, skipping out on the Thanksgiving lunch put on by my coworkers, ran home and put the dogs in. Then left at 3:45 and raced home to meet the premesis technician. And waited... and waited.... and waited.... at 5:50 I called and was told that the technician was running a little behind but that he would be there and that a supervisor would be calling me back shortly to verify that someone showed up. That call never happened. At 7:05 I called and was told that no, no technician was coming that apparently I&R had not closed the ticket and that they didn't know why anyone would have told me otherwise. A supervisor named Mike was very apologetic, and he promised to call me back first thing in the morning with an update since dispatch closed at 7:00pm.

This morning around 9:00am, Nov. 25th, when I did not recieve a call from Mike (as I suspected would be the case), I called to check on what happened. I was transferred from the order center to dispatch where "Laquisha" answered and informed me that a technician had been dispatched at 6:15 this morning and that they would be at my house between 8 and 10 am this morning. I told them that they would find nobody home because nobody had bothered to contact me and let me know they were coming. Additionally I told "Laquisha" that this was unacceptable and that I wanted to speak with her supervisor. Instead of her supervisor however, I was sent back to the beginning of the telephone queue where I had to start all over again. I finally spoke with a person who did seem to give a crap but was unable to connect me with dispatch because they apparently no longer accept calls from customers (funny how that happened after I read "Laquisha" the riot act), but he did confirm that a technician is scheduled for today between 4 and 6 (which means I have to take off work AGAIN to meet them) and they gave me some additional discounts to make up for all the crap I've had to put up with. We'll see if they bother to show up this afternoon. I'll update when I find out.

Therefore I posit that Uverse's dispach system, being impossible to obtain any information from, and impossible to get any work out of is in fact a black hole. It sucks in orders and spits out nothing, not even light.

Update 1: Mike just called (apparently he works in a later time zone and just got in to work) and says that dispatch is telling him that I&R has NOT completed their work and that they are sending someone this morning. and that the crew has been paged to be told to call me on my cell if they need access or to tell me that the work is completed. "Rico", the supervisor I spoke with last who assured me that they were coming today between 4 and 6 was supposed to have sent me a confirming email, that has not yet occurred.

Update 2: apparently I&R DID do their thing. "Ron" arrived this afternoon at about 4:15 and started work, and had another crew member come to help him shortly thereafter. They completed their work by about 7:30. Now there are just some issues of how to connect the DVD and VCR in the bedroom and getting my notebook connected but we are making progress....


Anonymous raiderdav said...

My installation was a nightmare as well, but after the 2+ weeks of service technician visits everything will get a LOT better.

I recommend that you call and complain a bit once it works completely and make sure they don't start billing you until the day it was acceptable. They tend to give free upgrades for your troubles, ie max out the internet speed.

I love the service I have now - way less Comcastic and way more HD + uptime.

November 26, 2008 8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We received an enticing flyer, and my wife asked if it was better to get this service instead of the satellite service.

I told her it didn't matter. When we upgraded to HD in May, they automatically extended the service contract for another two years.

So AT&T can't screw us untill the satellite TV service is finished with abusing us.

I don't care what Rush said earlier this week. These bastards are screwwing the consumers at every opportunity, and the government needs to limit service contracts to 1-year, if not less.


November 29, 2008 11:42 AM  
Blogger Cory said...

"the government needs to limit service contracts to 1-year, if not less."

Wouldn't a "free market solution" free from Gov't interference be the "best" thing?

I'm sorry to hear what you are going through, all I can say is I've had U-verse for around a year now and have been very happy with it. Of course, to be fair, I didn't have near the problems you're having with installation either.

Hopefully they can work it out for you and get your service up and running.

December 01, 2008 1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

whats going on with the layoffs, why would at&t lay off people where there is such a long wait to get the service installed!! I cant wait over a month for cable tv-even if they are better than comcast and have a better DVR "total home DVR" and more HD channels

December 07, 2008 5:57 PM  
Blogger Marilynn said...

I've been planning to cancel Comcast and get U-Verse for a couple of months now, but your experience sounds horrendous. I don't think the change would be worth the hassle. The prices aren't that much different.


December 31, 2008 6:33 PM  
Anonymous P. Stinner said...

Please don't shoot the messenger but...your troubles have only begun. When people try to cancel with Uverse, many have suffered a run around in getting equipment returned and credited. Do No Auto Debit with this company!!! They habitually refuse to collect their equipment and then charge their customers for the same. Example: I cancelled my Uverse TV in Oct. '07. By contract I am obligated to return their equipment with boxes and return labels Uverse provides. They have yet to provide the boxes and labels and have charged me $367 for unreturned equipment. I have called 2x per week requesting the materials for over a year!! If I had been on auto withdrawal they would have just taken the money from my acct. Instead they sent my bill to a collection agency. I am only one of many.

January 09, 2009 5:15 AM  
Blogger Metsys said...

Sadly enough, I am currently going through this right now. I also had to wait a month before I could get setup with uVerse on Feb. 14th, 2009. Long story short, it's been 11 days, 2 premtechs, 2 I&R techs, 1 Saturday wasted waiting on techs, 1 workday missed, and no uVerse.

The last I&R tech tested the NID outside my house and even cut the cable to test, but nothing. He said he couldn't fix my "line problem" and had to open a ticket to have someone dig up my back yard to test the cable. Called dispatch yesterday, 2/25/2009 and apparently my line was fixed, even though the cable the tech cut was still cut. I'm scheduled to have a premtech install the equipment again on Saturday, 2/28/2009, 14 days after the initial install was scheduled.

February 25, 2009 3:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an employee of the dispatch center. You should not call the dispatch center a black hole because we work VERY hard everyday. It is unfortunate that you were sent to the dispatch center to get your issue resolved however, it is true that the dispatch center does not talk to customers. We are not trained in customer service... we are only supposed to speak to technicians, sales agents, and customer service agents. We work very hard each and every day to get your orders out on time and get the technicians out to your home on time. The reason that technicians dont show up on time has nothing to do with the technician or the agents its because of the customers that demand that they get their services escalated so we have to push back others in order to accomodate others. It is very difficult to say no to someone when they are cussing you out. You will never understand what we go thru as the dispatch center. However, 90% of our orders go out on time and without hassell just some slip under the radar. Unfortunately yours was one that did slip under. The reason that our call queue is so long is because we get so many calls that we are not supposed to get as a dispatch center and when we tell the customers that they have the wrong number they do not care and they hold up our lines when we could be assisting a technician with getting to their home.

January 07, 2010 8:55 PM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

To the Anon AT&T employee, I would submit that the truth on the ground would suggest that the 90% statistic you cite is either made up from whole cloth or is at the least inflated. Nobody said you guys didn't work hard, but working hard and being effective are two very different things. AT&T has made a corporate decision to set the system up the way it did, that system is not effective, regardless of how hard the individuals working within it actually work.

Currently my internet connection sucks, requiring gateway reboots nearly every day and 3 and 4 clicks on links before they work, sometimes even more. And at least once a day I have to reboot the gateway in order to even obtain an IP address even though my wireless connection shows full bars for signal strength since the gateway is 20 feet across the room from my computer. My neighbor who also has Uverse, has similar issues with links not working on the first half dozen tries. This would indicate the problem resides within AT&T's backbone, not with our equipment.

January 07, 2010 10:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The statement that i made regarding 90% had nothing to do with your equipment. I never said that the equipment didnt have its flaws. I was simply referring to us (the dispatch center) geting technicians to customers homes at on time. That is all the dispatch center is there for is to make sure there is a technician at the premise. I do not think it is fair for you to insinuate that the dispatch center is a black hole if you do not have enough information to back it up. I do not know anything about the uverse equipment because i am not technical support but I do know that the dispatch center is NOT a black hole.

January 10, 2010 4:15 PM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

I'm not here to be "fair", I'm here to state the truth. The truth is that the 90% statistic you cite is not compatible with the truth on the ground. The lead time for a technician installing service is running more than a month. That is a fact. The coordination between premtechs, I&R, and other support groups is non-existant. That too is a fact.

Frankly I don't care how hard you work or if your feelings are hurt. If you cannot provide proper service in a reasonable time frame you have failed in your duty. As Yoda says "Do, or do not. There is no try."

January 11, 2010 1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm currently on day 4 of my scheduled installation. After already waiting 2 and a half weeks for service. Took off work from 12-4. No tech shows. Or 5 or 6. I called and after waiting 20 min on hold finally get ahold of Patrick. Patrick informs me the tech had just left citing no one was home. I left the house at 550pm to pick the kids ip down the street. Returned at 6. And "just missed him".

When there is absolutely no reason for me to be home in the first place. My home qualified for the self install. Which I did. Only to run a multimeter at the termination block outside and determine that no voltage of signal I'd coming from the otfm or nid. I do the typical complaint and Patrick does the typical compensation and "reschedules" the tech to be at my home between 4 and 9 pm. Seriously? It now 7:59pm and nary a sight from anyone. And I seriously doubt I'll see anyone at 9pm. This is a problem that goes beyond simple dispatch agents and is on whole a part in he general corporate logistics and planning. If the issue is not resolved by tomorrow. I am cancelling and switching to time Warner. It's sad I've had to rely entirely on my iPhone as my sole form of Internet connectivity. (typing this rant on if now. ) I run a communications company and have never seen such a lack in customer service. We are just supposed to take it as the consumer. With no suitable reprieve from the abuse. F- for everything thus far.

March 11, 2010 8:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Update from previous anon poster.

Called dispatch at 812pm after being hung up on twice. I finally get ahold of Lynette. She informs me that a note was left in my account last night from Patrick to schedule an appointment for today as we had agreed. Yet no appointment was officially scheduled and that no one would be coming. I asked why I had to be there for the premtech. And was told she could not disclose that information. What the hell?

So now they have rescheduled for tomorrow March 12. 8am to 12p. And the tech is supposed to call me as soon as he leaves on the dispatch. So I can meet him at my home. So yet again I must take off of work. Unacceptable.

March 11, 2010 8:59 PM  
Blogger erin galey said...

Does anybody have the current phone number of the uverse dispatch center? I'd like to cuss them out and get them over here as fast as possible after being without Internet for over a week. Thanks. -- Erin

May 14, 2012 10:16 AM  

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