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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

AT&T Update

It's been a full week since the madness with AT&T started. Their systems suffer from conglomeration and poor integration. There's a point where economies of scale break down under the weight of too much to manage. This seems to be a big part of the problem for them. I've logged another four hours on the phone with AT&T trying to get things up and running, and several times I've thought, "Okay, that should do it" just to have things break down again.

Case in point: Sunday night the internet went down at home. I was expecting this because the DSL modem is dumb and verifies it's password once a week or so. When it went to check, the password was different, and blammo, no internet.

So I went to the page and typed in the password. It said it was wrong. I was puzzled and tried 3 other potential passwords and finally gave up and called AT&T. I was not in the mood to deal with them. But we worked through it, and sure enough, that first password I typed was the right one... eventually. I'd tried it twice, but after they kicked the system, then it suddenly started working. Oh you say, you must've typed it wrong, except that it's not dotted out in this interface, so I saw exactly what I typed and it was saved in the field memory. Grumpy.

Anyway, it worked for all of one day. Then it died again. After another hour and a half on the phone with AT&T last night (and a nice conversation with a very flummoxed tech support dude in Mexico City), we think the DSL modem may have died. I'm bringing home an alternate computer tonight to finally rule out any issues with my computer. He suggested that I could just buy a new DSL modem. No, they don't provide them. I explained that if I was going to be investing in new hardware, I don't think it will be hardware to work with this system.

So, in my favorite game of "Ask the Internet," I've got a few questions:
- Does anyone have an spare DSL modem lurking about?
- Does anyone have any special advice about wireless broadband cards or their providers?
- Do all wireless broadband cards work with a Mac? Or would I have to buy a special Mac wireless broadband card?
- How about wireless access points that can be used with a wireless broadband card? (I know they exist because Mr. Fezziwig has one that made me go "oooooh.")
- Are there any alternate DSL providers I should look into (or avoid)? I'm a low volume user who doesn't need super fast speeds. Just basic DSL, reasonably priced is all I want.

Remember - all of this started because I just wanted to review my bill and see why I was now being charged $25 a month. (Why yes, their DSL service cost has gone up 60% in four years. Isn't that lovely?) Turns out I was doing it all wrong by trying to log into their site to see my bill through I should've been on, though I can't see my complete bill there, so there's another issue since I'm paperless for bills now and I can't see the phone portion of the bill on the site and I can't get into the site. Also, there was nothing on the site that said, "AT&T Yahoo DSL Customers: Don't click here! You'll mess up EVERYTHING!!!" Because really, that would've been nice.


  • For wireless stuff: Get a base station that can do 802.11g. Your Mac either has support for that built-in, or can add it pretty cheaply.

    When our DSL modem died, AT&T was similarly insistent that I pay for a replacement. I decided to screw them and got DSL service through, no complaints yet.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 1:29 PM  

  • I bought my own modem when I got our current service. They wanted to charge me $5 a month for one. I got a linksys one from amazon for about $40.

    By Blogger Alison, at 8:52 PM  

  • You can get AT&T to give you a new modem. My wireless modem died and they gave me the same crap about how I'll have to buy another one for $80.

    I called them back to cancel the service to give them one last chance to make it right or I would switch to Comcast on the spot. When they asked why I wanted to cancel, I told them I'm not paying $80 to replace it the modem, and then overnighted me a new DSL wireless modem at no charge to save me as a customer.

    By Blogger Kevin, at 11:05 AM  

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