Outrageous Outrages Shedding logical light on ridiculous and annoying things

AT&T: I have money. You have DSL. You want money. I want DSL.

Posted on March 21, 2010

In Virginia I have Internet at my home, and Internet at my office.  If anything goes wrong with the Internet at my home, I can just drive down the street to the office and continue working from there.  In California, however, I work from home, so luckily I have two providers or I wouldn't be able to write this blog post.  However, they are both horrible for their own reasons.  This post is about AT&T, so I won't mention the horrible quality of my Time Warner Roadrunner cable modem service, I'll save my discussion of 1,000ms+ ping times, intermittent drop outs for 1-5 minutes every 15-30 minutes, and other issues for another post.  Here I'm dedicating my time to discussing how outrageously difficult it is to deal with AT&T.

I'd say its my own fault, because even though I swear I was on auto-pay, I should have bothered to read my paper statements just in case my auto-pay stopped working, right?  Frankly I just got distracted and took it for granted.  I've flown over 30,000 miles so far this year back-and-forth, my wife is pregnant again, and we've added a puppy to the family for our two kids to enjoy.  So I haven't been checking, and my AT&T DSL got cut off for non-payment.  Oops.  No problem, I switched over to my other connection and got the house back online, fired up my Vonage phone, cand called AT&T Customer Service.  After entering my information and navigating menus for a few minutes, I get a voice recording which says, essentially: We're sorry, but our offices are now closed. Please call back Monday through Saturday to pay your bill.  That's right folks, AT&T is closed on Sundays.  Outrageous?  It gets better.

So I think I'm pretty smart and I head online to pay my bill there.  I get to the website and try to log on, only to discover I haven't registered my account yet.  I hit the AT&T Home Page (follow along if you'd like), click "Register for Account Management" and then select "Register" under "Internet and Home Phone."  Because my service is dry-line DSL and I don't have any other services with AT&T, I enter my zip code on the next page.  That brings me to this:

Step 1 of 3: Enter Account Number and Online Registration Code

Enter your main phone number or AT&T High Speed Internet Direct account number What's this?

(Example: 555-555-5555)
Enter your online registration code What's this?
> Request online registration code
(required to register for an account

The instructions are pretty  clear.  Enter your phone number, or if you're like me and are DSL-only, enter your account number.  Then enter your online registration code.  Don't have one?  Me either.  Let me click "Request online registration code" to get one.  So far so good.

Enter Account Number

Enter your main phone number or AT&T High Speed Internet Direct account number What's this?

Example: 555-555-5555

Verify Account Information

Choose one option to verify you are the account holder:

Option 1
Phone Bill
Enter your 3-digit
customer code
, which
can be found in the
top corner of your bill.

Example:
555-555-5555

Or
Option 2
Last 4 Digits of SSN
Enter the last 4 digits of the primary AT&T subscriber's Social Security Number associated with this account.

Example:
123-45-

Enter Billing Address ZIP Code
ZIP code of your billing address

Again it asks me for my main phone number or my account number.  I enter my account number, enter the 3 digit code and my zip code for verification, and click "continue."  Here's where it gets interesting:

Delivery Method

How would you like to receive your online registration code?

Phone call:

091-011-XXXX

By selecting this option you agree to receive a phone call for your online registration code within approximately 10 minutes. If it is an inconvenient time, please select another delivery method.
If you are using a dial-up connection, you will need to disconnect if it is the same number as your Primary Account.
If this number cannot receive calls because it is used for billing purposes only, please select another method.
US Mail: Sent to billing address on record
Please allow normal delivery time for U.S. Mail.

I'm greeted with that on my screen, telling me they can either snail mail the code to me, or they will call me in 10 minutes at my registered phone number.  Unfortunately it pre-populates this with the account number I entered, which obviously is not a phone number.  Oh, sure, I can follow number 3 and use another method, but the only other method they provide is US mail.

That's right folks.  AT&T, a multi-billion dollar company, is not there to take my money--they are apparently too corporate for their own good. Closed on Sundays.  Technical oversight preventing online registration.  Apparently nobody at AT&T has ever been a dry-line DSL client, or at least not one who has a bill to pay.  As an old friend of mine might have said, "I have money.  You have DSL.  You want money.  I want DSL.  Let's do business."  Tomorrow I'll be on the phone with them to give them my money and make sure I'm on auto-pay because quite frankly, the DSL service from AT&T is great.  It is only 6 Mbps, but it is always 6 Mbps.  Time Warner Roadrunner, on the other hand, can barely hit 200 Kbps.  When it can transfer bits at all.  So I'm certainly not complaining about the quality of AT&T's product, just the manner in which they do business.  And I'll give a special shout out to @ATTJohnathon on Twitter who works in the AT&T Customer Service Executive Division for all his help in the past just getting me to the point where I can complain about this.

If it wasn't for him, we'd have no damn phones.

I should also add that on each of the pages I pasted from above, it says:

©2010 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved. AT&T, the AT&T logo and all other AT&T marks contained herein are trademarks of AT&T Intellectual Property and/or AT&T affiliated companies. Privacy Policy

as I'm certainly not looking to get sued.

Posted by Reed

Filed under: General Leave a comment
Comments (5) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I can understand why they’d want to call you or snail mail your registration code. Quite frankly, I’d be a bit upset if I had AT&T service and they let just anyone sign in with my credentials. If you’ve thrown out even one phone bill, all of the information required to be “you” on their site is on that piece of paper. So, they want to call you directly, at home, or send you snail mail with your code. It’s poor service, but decent security.

    On the other hand, it shouldn’t be too difficult, at some point in the future, to attach a cell phone number or e-mail address to your account (and, since you have their DSL, don’t you have an @att.com e-mail address), so that they could e-mail you your code.

    • I agree. I value my security, and don’t want anyone hacking into my account, especially to pay my bill. And you’re right–at the very least, given my social, the 3 digit code, the account number, etc, they could perhaps email the code to me. Whether it is my @att.com or the email address they have on file, it at least provides an option for the DSL-only customers.

  2. You’ve gotta love big companies. My phone company rings me up and says pay now. So I get online and make a payment because they don’t accept cash. Then they want 4 days to process the payment so they cut me off after I pay them until it’s processed. That’s 4 days where they’ve got my money and I can’t use my phone. Doesn’t seem right to me. Why do these companies that want to sell you a service make it so hard to give them money?

  3. Banks are getting incredibly picky about transferring money between banks. Why should it take 4 days for a check to clear my bank? Even the post office moves faster than that.

    As for manning the phones they probably don’t consider residential DSL a high priority service. I bet their business line is manned 24×7 and most of the reps on that end of the line have 12 character names that are all pronounced John!

  4. CWA. Union.
    AT&T WANTS to be open, wants to collect your payment but union rules prohibit it. It’s in the agreement.
    Verizon (Fios/home phone) has similar deal here in Florida . Their “communications” (home phone) stores close at 6pm Mon-Fri, and ALL weekend. They even CEMENTED the mail drop slot so you can’t drop off a check! Verizon Wireless stores, on the other hand, are technically a separate company so they’re open and can take payments at their “machines”.
    A little research can verify this.
    It’s pretty simple, really: if you could’ve easily made that payment, the company would need fewer high-paid workers. Great deal for the employees. Time off, jobs and incomes protected.
    Outrageous, indeed.


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