Sunday, April 25, 2021

My quest for fiber provided by AT&T

When I moved to a new house about two years ago, I was disappointed to learn that there were no options for fiber-based internet in the area so I would have to take the step down to cable based internet. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised in September of 2020 that AT&T Fiber had added support of my area.

First try in September 2020

I ordered it as quickly as I discovered it, even though I was a bit hesitant about having people in my house as COVID cases were on the rise (I have a person in my household who is in a risk group). The person on the phone with AT&T assured me that all AT&T personnel involved with the install would be wearing a mask though, so I proceeded regardless.

The day of the appointment I was excited and had cleared my schedule. The first person to show up was not the technician, but just a salesperson that wanted to make sure I didn't have any trouble creating my AT&T account (Which I had already set up days before as per the instructions in the AT&T communication). This person also assured me that they get in trouble with AT&T if they do not wear a mask which felt reassuring to me.

About an hour later, still during the appointment window the installation technician showed up (Still within the assigned service window). We tried to figure out where the AT&T connection at my house was and eventually found it. Unfortunately, there was no fiber pulled to my house and it needed to be pulled around 100 feet from a neighbor's access point. He tried snaking the existing conduit but failed. He needed to call in a specialist that both had better snaking equipment and if that failed, they might have to do some digging to fix the conduit.

The second technician made an appointment and showed up around a week later. He also had a helper with him. They spent a good hour trying to get through the conduit. They also failed and I was told that they now would have to bring in a 3rd party company that would try again and might potentially had to dig a new conduit.

The third technician just showed up with no appointment. He also had no mask and did not have one to put on when I asked about it. I told him to come back when he had a mask and at an appointed time. After this interaction I called AT&T to complain and was told that the mask mandate only really applied to AT&T employees and since this person was a 3rd party contractor there was nothing they could do. At that point I told the representative that I only wanted this after I had gotten the expressed promise that everybody involved would wear a mask and since that was not true, I did now want to cancel the order. The AT&T rep told me that they did not have the authority to cancel my order, but instead that had to transfer me to a loyalty specialist. I told them that they could either cancel the order or not but that I would not open the door or let them on my property and hung up.

About a week later another man showed up from AT&T, also not wearing a mask. I told him that, no I had not ordered any AT&T Fiber and that he should go away through the closed door. A week after that an additional person showed up from AT&T, this time with a mask. I explained to him what was going on and he apologized and said that he knew how to make this issue go away for me. And in fact, it turned out that he did because that was the last I heard from AT&T for the time being.

In total this first try involved 7 visits from AT&T with a total of 8 people visiting my house.

Second try in March 2021

Skip forward to March 2021, as I am now vaccinated, I decided it was time to make another try. I also happened on an ad for AT&T Fiber with a good introductory offer, so I decided to try again with an order placed online on March 8th. I got an initial appointment for the morning of March 18th. About an hour after the appointed time with no visit I called AT&T customer support. I was told not to worry. The technician was just running late, and he was still on the way. After another 3 hours I called again and was then told that the technician had gone to the wrong house and since nobody at that house had ordered internet he had left. At no point during this had AT&T proactively reached out to me to let me know what was going on.

Slightly miffed I rescheduled the appointment for a week later. That day came around and no technician showed up that day either. At around 2 hours after the appointment window ended, I called support again. The first person told me not to worry, the technician was just running late. I told them about my experience last time and was put on hold to a second operator. This operator said the same thing. At this point I told the operator that this is no problem. However, if the technician does in fact not show up then they do not have to try again. At this point the agent transferred me again to a "Loyalty Specialist".

This third person that I spoke to did in fact do some digging and figured out that when the technician who had gone to the wrong house and left, he had in fact cancelled the entire installation. And me rescheduling it with the support agent did not actually reopen that ticket so there was no technician coming. He then proceeded to say that I shouldn't worry, he knows how to restart the process again properly. At that point I said "Thank you, but no thank you. You gave it the old college try but couldn't even get a technician to my house in 2 tries so I am done".

Third try using Sonic Internet

I had discovered that Sonic Internet also resold AT&T Fiber at my location and figured that at least in that case I would deal with a support department that was prompt and knowledgeable even though I would still have to deal with AT&T for the actual installation. The same day that I cancelled the second try with AT&T I ordered Fiber from Sonic instead.

The first appointment was scheduled on March 31st. Same as the original visit that I had in September a year earlier the conduit is broken and need to be fixed. This technician managed to get the specialist team to do the second visit the same day though. They showed up as a 2-person crew and told me in refreshing detail what was going to need happening next. First an underground survey needed to be performed after which a digging crew would be dispatched to fix the conduit. I should expect the survey to happen within a few days and then the digging crew would show up in a week or two.

On April 6th I had a second appointment scheduled at which time an AT&T technician showed up to install my internet with the assumption that the fiber had by this time already been installed. Of course, the underground survey had not even happened yet, so he had to leave without anything done.

April 8th 2 big trucks with a team of 5 people showed up. They started by taking an hour lunch and after that got down to the work of digging my conduit. When I pointed out that the underground survey had not yet been done, they got a bit flummoxed and told me that unfortunately they could not do any digging until this had been completed. But the foreman told me that he had put in a rush order to make sure the survey would get done as soon as possible.

On April 12th I got an email from Sonic telling me that they had been instructed by AT&T to check that my internet was working correctly. At this point of course, there had still not been any actual work done by AT&T, so I sent an email to Sonic support letting them know this.

On April 15th I got a notification from Sonic telling me that the installation of my internet had been scheduled for April 19th. Since this sounded strange, I contacted Sonic support to tell than that I am not currently waiting for an AT&T technician, but an underground survey. What I was told is that the last people who were here marked the installation as complete (Which is why I got a notification earlier in the week making sure my internet was working correctly) and because of that they now had to start over from the beginning. Which means that a person must first come out and assess that a dig needs to happen (So starting all the way from scratch again). Was told by Sonic rep that they had gotten into a discussion with AT&T that got so heated that the AT&T rep hung up.

On April 16th I got a visit from a cheerful AT&T customer service rep asking me how I was enjoying my new AT&T Fiber internet. She got an earful of what I thought of AT&T at that moment.

April 19th comes around and I get a visit from another AT&T customer service rep to help me set up my AT&T account. I explain the situation to him, and he promises to get on the phone with his manager to see if there is anything he can do to help. While he does that the AT&T installation technician shows up. The technician asks if I am speaking for Yvonne? I tell him that I have no idea what he is talking about and he tells me that his work order says that he there to install internet for an Yvonne from Florida through the third-party provider Earthlink (Not Sonic). There is literally nothing in the work order that is correct except for my address. I do manage to get the technician on the phone with Sonic support and both escalate the issue to their managers. In the end there is nothing AT&T can do to have the technician do the work, even though he is here. He has to come back at a later date when the order has been corrected. At this point the AT&T service rep steps back and says that he will take me under his wing and sort this out for me. I pointedly ask him if that means that I would become and AT&T customer instead of Sonic. He says yes and I politely refuse.

After AT&T leave, I spend some more time with Sonic support. They promise to get back to me when this is sorted out. While this is happening, on April 22nd, another AT&T technician shows up to do a fiber install for Yvonne of Florida. Later that same day I hear back from Sonic support and they tell me that they have sorted out the issue with AT&T and that I now have an appointment for April 27th (Next Tuesday) to get this process started.

To sum up

So far AT&T have made 15 visits to my house with a total of 21 people. That does not include the visit they made to the wrong house in the second attempt with AT& or the 2 appointments they scheduled for that try. There has been no progress made whatsoever to actually installing fiber and the person that is coming on the 27th is actually the first person AT&T is dispatching for this install from their perspective.

To be continued...