Dracula Is A Sparkly Vampire Compared To AT&T

So here’s the deal…Tuesday, June 15 I woke up early to pre-order my new iPhone 4. I had an iPhone 3g and being 2 1/2 years old, it was getting a bit long in the tooth. While the AT&T servers were committing seppuku for being unprepared for the onslaught of orders, I somehow managed to slip in my pre-order. This was followed a couple of days later by a reminder to be sure to show up the following Thursday, June 24 to pick up my shiny new toy from the local Apple store.

Thursday rolled around and I woke at 5am to get a shower and get to the line by 6am. I figured that they would have a separate line for those of us with pre-orders and an hour early should be good enough. The original single line wrapped around the corner and to the far side of the parking lot…with me right at the curb. A little free Chik-Fil-A and Krispy Kreme later (Apple stores know how to handle big launches) and they finally split us into the have and have-not lines. Fortunately the pre-order line was very short. Finally the doors open at 7am and people begin getting filed in. It only took 46 minutes from doors open until I was walking out with my fully activated iPhone4. I even made it to work on time. As I said, Apple knows how to handle things.

THEN…

My daughter had a piece of junk prepaid mobile phone. I didn’t even know that Sanyo made phones…if that’s what you want to call it. In light of the stupid amount of expense for the incredible lack of service…I decided she needed to have my old iPhone 3g. We could switch to a family plan with more total minutes and data and unlimited messaging for a grand total of $5 more a month than I have already been spending. And all she really had was unlimited texting. It’s a winner of a plan. This should be pretty simple: I call them and change my plan, tell them I need to re-activate the old iPhone as the secondary line with a new number…and pick up a new SIM from the local store (since you cannot re-use a SIM that’s been cancelled).

But I failed to realize I was dealing with AT&T.

So the nice lady on the phone supposedly takes care of all this and hands me over to sales to finalize the whole deal of changes she’s made on my account. The nice lady in sales kindly informs me that there is no way to do what I want over the phone and I will just have to spend the hours in the store it will require to get service because the old iPhones require a special SIM card that can only be obtained by rescuing the princess going to an actual AT&T store. I kindly inform her that she must be mistaken since the SIM in my iPhone actually came from my AT&T Tilt. She argued. I hung up on her. I cannot abide idiocy and that was the kindest thing I could do at that moment. This was, of course after she checked my account at my request and told me¬†unequivocally¬†that there were absolutely no changes to my account despite what the first nice lady told me.

Later that night…texting becomes disabled on my phone. WTF have they done to my phone? Well, I can’t find out because the almighty AT&T doesn’t have a 24/7 call center. They’ve closed for the evening and now I’m stuck without my main medium of communication. Beauty. Anyone else notice that the AT&T emblem looks like the Death Star?

SO THE NEXT MORNING…

…on the way to work I ring them up yet again. The nice lady that took my call apologized profusely for the inconvenience that my outage had caused me. She then found the problem and fixed it. I haz txts againz!!!!!! And apparently my account is mysteriously on the Family Plan that I was unequivocally assured was not added. Curiouser and curiouser this becomes, no? All of this prompted me to launch into my tales of woe and betrayal on my previous call. The nice lady apologized again and helped make the necessary fixes to my account so I could go to the local store to get my new number and SIM card. She even gave me a $16 credit for my troubles. This call ends on a happy note.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL…

I head out on my one hour lunch break to the closes AT&T store to finish up this whole ordeal. I show up and have about a three minute wait until someone helps me. This should worry everyone. No AT&T store I’ve ever been in has ever had less than a 45 minute wait to get help. The nice man whips out a SIM card and begins getting my new number set up for the old phone. After a bit of typing and clicking he gets a perplexed look on his face and announces that it appears his terminal locked while finalizing the new number. He starts over. The perplexed look returns and he picks up the phone to call someone at AT&T’s fully armed and operational battlestation. He spends some time on the phone explaining things and asks the stormtrooper rep to see if they can finish it for him since his station is on the fritz. Another minute or two passes and he gets an apologetic look. We are now 32 minutes into my lunch hour.

He asks if I recently closed another account on my name. I confirm that I did…back in April. He tells me that there is a balance on that account which is preventing the completion of the line addition. –Backstory to this: My ex-girlfriend’s phone was on that account. She missed a payment and the phone was suspended. I called and had them permanently suspend it as it was out of contract so she could pay it off and I could cancel it. All of that happened…in person…at an AT&T store. I was personally guaranteed by the nice people at the store at that time that there were no pending charges and there would never be another balance on that account as long as I live.– NOW, there is a balance. I get a phone number to call and retire to the exterior of the store because I didn’t want the people that have been so nice to me to hear what was about to escape my lips.

The nice lady that answered my call checked and confirmed that there was no balance on the day I cancelled. She also confirmed that despite my assurances otherwise, there was a bill cycle 3 DAYS LATER that put a $104 balance on said account…part of which was a RECONNECT FEE. I tried to reason with her and she was very understanding. She was also willing to work with me in any way possible as long as that way involved me giving them the $104 dollars I was assured I would never be charged. We are now 54 minutes into my lunch hour. I go ahead and pay it because it isn’t worth the rest of my workday to fight it.

I get my confirmation number for the payment and return inside to the nice man that has been helping me. He tries again and fails to add the line. He again calls his cohort on the small moon. He then proceeds to argue with the disembodied voice on the phone that I did in fact pay that bill just now and it was completely fine to finish adding my line. The arguing continues for several minutes. We are now 1 hour and 7 minutes into my lunch hour. Eventually the soulless wretch on the phone gives in and pushes my new line through. HURRAH! Then the nice man looks at me and mentions in an off-hand manner that there will be a $25 fee for adding this new line.

So to recap, we are 1 hour and 15 minutes into my lunch hour. I have now spent $129 more than I was told I would have to spend. AT&T has now sucked my meager savings over the past few months dry. THEY CHARGED ME TO ADD A LINE THAT THEY WILL CHARGE ME FOR. Everyone was kind. Everyone was understanding. Everyone was apologetic. Only one made any effort to compensate me for being financially raped. AT&T is a death star vampire. They will suck your money and your soul and your will to live. I’ve been a customer of theirs for over 10 years with wireless and even longer with various land lines and internet connections.

I would gladly fire a pair of photon torpedoes up their thermal exhaust port.

Whoop De Doo, A New iPhone

Media is all atwitter (yep…a pun in the first sentence) about the launch of the 3G iPhone. Well I say whoop-de-doo. Apple finally released the device they should have unleashed upon the masses when it first hit the market a year ago. Seriously, why wouldn’t you make your ground-breaking new piece of hardware take advantage of the latest and greatest technology like 3G?

Think about it. One of the major selling points was online media a-la Youtube. What possessed the creators to settle for EDGE? We all know EDGE sucks. We all know 3G is much faster and makes the entire mobile online experience tolerable. We all accept 3G as the best thing to use next to WiFi and real broadband. But you settled for EDGE. 3G always wins because EDGE is dumb.

You touted how great it was to have online map lookups for places you might be interested in and yet you didn’t include GPS. So I can know where I’m going but not where I’m at? Who comes up with this stuff? If I’m using the map to find a place to eat, I am probably in a place unfamiliar to me so it would help to know where I’m sitting in relation to my destination. It makes it easier to determine my travel route. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just full of crazy talk.

You finally decided to let AT&T subsidize the price so more people can buy it. Why didn’t you do that before? Sure the whole profit sharing thing may have sounded interesting but did you not learn a lesson from Wal-Mart? It’s far better to get a dollar from thousands than ten dollars from hundreds. You make more in the long run that way. If you don’t believe that then you haven’t been to ebay lately.

You say it has wonderful Exchange integration. Like it or not they own the market. Why wouldn’t you support that right out of the gate? There are several clients that can talk to Exchange so it shouldn’t have been a huge deal to get working. Did you have some delusion that by offering this “must-have” device to the masses that corporate attitudes would change overnight? I certainly hope not. I really don’t understand what you were thinking there, Steve.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not an Apple hater. I adore my iMac and I use it far more than my Windows laptop. I really like the iPhone and I want to get one. But I think you goofed. You brought out a device that, while revolutionary, lacked in many key areas. You also flubbed the pricing and had to offer some compensation to stifle the ire of the masses. The intial offer seems more and more like a beta and popular opinion would say that doing such a thing is a Microsoft thing, not an Apple thing.

Then to top it all off you earn the Fail Whale trophy for activation. You had the stock out there. You really should have known what kind of bombardment you were going to have as AT&T doors opened. But it’s okay. You aren’t the only one that loused it up today. AT&T is right there with you. They had the gall to allocate every last store rep to iPhone sales. Every last one. I needed to get a phone for an employee today…a Nokia…before he left for a job out of town. I was told point blank that I couldn’t and I would have to wait until this afternoon or tomorrow. You know, AT&T, you aren’t the only game in town that offers standard ho-hum phones. I can get one somewhere else if my business isn’t worth 10 minutes of one rep’s time.

All in all I say that the Fail Whale award for today goes to Apple with support from AT&T.

AT&T Business Care(less)

I was on the phone the other day with AT&T. I manage wireless phones for the company I work for and I needed to upgrade one employee’s phone and remove two numbers from suspension so I could issue phones to a couple of new employees. That should be simple process. It should take less than five minutes per task to complete. The problem is that there is a difference between “should” and “is”.

Let me take a quick moment to explain how business accounts work. You have a Foundation Account Number or FAN. This is the master account. Under this (like subfolders on a computer) you have Billing Account Numbers or BANs. These are where Subscriber Lines (phones) are located. This allows you to separate groups of numbers by department or region or manager. Now that we have that down…back to the story.

Apparently AT&T has decided that we need a new FAN but didn’t bother to tell me or give me access to it on the Premier site. For the past week or so I have noticed that I haven’t been able to pull up information on voice lines (our air cards are on another BAN and require far less maintenance). Any time I tried to get into the information or perform an upgrade I got a notice about technical difficulties with some long unintelligible string of characters in pretty red text. I tried to give it a little time because I knew that Premier isn’t exactly known for being the most reliable system out there. Go Java!

So anyway, I get tired of this and call the Premier support number. I run through the voice menu options that make the most sense and finally get a person on the phone. This person is not in Premier Support. He advises me I should call this number to get to the proper department…which was the number I dialed that sent me to him. AT&T – Your World Delivered (to the wrong place). We argued back and forth about whether I called the correct number or not and eventually I convinced him that I did indeed dial the correct number and that he should try to get someone on the phone from the correct department to help me out. This results in me being put on hold.

About twenty minutes later I’m finally back on with this guy who tells me the proper option sequence to select in the voice menu system to get to the support department. Someone tell me why the number dedicated to Premier Support puts the option to actually get Premier Support down at option three. Apparently when it asks if you are having trouble with your service on the Premier Support line it doesn’t mean Premier. AT&T wins again with great design. Okay, enough digressing…the guy informed me he had the right place and was transferring me now. I thanked him and heard myself transferred…to the call queue. Yep, stupid music met my ears and the recorded voice thanking me for my patience. Apparently he failed in locating a fellow human being. At this point we’re nearly forty-five minutes into the call when all I wanted was three little things done. Oh, those tasks still haven’t been completed.

Here I am in the call queue of what I can only hope is the right place. I’m not really holding my breath because I usually get transferred incorrectly at least twice before I get to a person that can actually help me. I started all of this at roughly three o’clock. I hit the queue just a little before four o’clock. It is now four forty-five and I am still listening to stupid music and annoying recorded voices thanking me for my patience. I hung up and haven’t gotten my problem fixed yet. And don’t bother trying to get help from your account representative. That’s not his job any more. He’s there to put contracts in front of you and to tell you which useless numbers to call for help. This isn’t like the old days when a rep actually tried to get problems resolved. Nope. He’s a paper and responsibility pusher.

I’d like to thank AT&T for this absolutely wonderful lack of service, confusing voice menus, and absolute most retarded customer service restructure in the history of man. If the guy in charge of my account isn’t really there to service my account. Then call him by a different title. I suggest going with something like Corporate Rape Specialist or Blame Pusher.

iPhone Pricing – Some Restrictions Apply

Well the net is all afire with the just released pricing plans from AT&T for the iPhone 3G. Jobs announced that the phones would be retailing for $199 for the 8GB model and $299 for the 16GB model. What he failed to mention was the specific circumstances at which these prices are valid. Yes, I know it is shocking to think that AT&T might make things complicated and that they might have their own pocketbooks in mind rather than the customer…but it’s true.

See, the prices are for a specific group. To get these prices you must have purchased an iPhone before July 11, be activating a new line of service with AT&T, or be eligible for an upgrade. If you don’t fall into these categories, then be prepared to pay the same old $399 and $499 prices for these phones…with a two-year contract. Isn’t it great to be the customer? They will also be offering the phones without a contract but that’ll run you $599 or $699 depending on storage size. Now, I like Apple. I also happen to like my AT&T service. I want to like the iPhone. But man are they making it hard for me to consider giving up my Tilt.

Jobs failed to put the tell-tale * in the slides with the pricing during his keynote. I can understand how this information could dampen the response to his company’s new toy. But I can’t stomach the special “customer service” that’s going on with this pricing. Well, it really isn’t the pricing itself that I find annoying. Most AT&T phones have two prices, the upgrade and the non-upgrade price. It’s the deceitful way that Jobs presented it to the world. I think my Tilt has plenty of use left in it even though it is a much bulkier device.

Thanks so much for saving me a few hundred dollars AT&T. I couldn’t have done it without your special touch to what was a wonderful offer from Apple. Oh, and don’t forget kiddies, AT&T data plans no longer include an SMS package. You’ll have to add that piece of overpriced fluff separately.

AT&T Tilt Software – Revisited

In my previous post, I did a very high level overview of what software changes I made to my phone for better usability and performance. This time, we’re going to talk ROMs. The Tilt/Kaiser/Vario III/TyTN II/etc is a versatile piece of equipment. However, I have yet to find an owner that didn’t have a few pet peeves for things that were on there or things that were left out. Now many of these gripes can be addressed with just installing the programs we want. Removing provider bloatware is another matter. It is usually cooked into the ROM itself and does not show in the Remove Programs app. Enter XDA-Developers and the Kaiser ROM kitchen. Continue reading “AT&T Tilt Software – Revisited”

The Noreve P4550/Tilt Case Dilemma (updated)

I spent a lot of time researching the various case designs for the Tilt. There is a reason for that. A phone where the top half slides out and then tilts up is not going to be the easiest product to design for. I had some specifics that I wanted in a case. So I began my search for something that met these criteria: Continue reading “The Noreve P4550/Tilt Case Dilemma (updated)”

AT&T Tilt Software

Well I’ve had my Tilt for a while now and I think I have pretty much gotten everything right where I want it. With that in mind, I figured I would write up a little post reviewing some of my software picks and settings tweaks to make it more user friendly. After all, the greatest technological device in the world is nothing more than a paperweight without the right user tools. Continue reading “AT&T Tilt Software”