At the close of my last post, I was awaiting the 27th June installation date. The day arrived and around 2:45pm, I got an automated call from AT&T that my tech was running a little late, but that he’d be at my “unit” (townhouse/two-story apartment) within an hour. He (let’s call him “A”) arrived around 3:14pm, ready to get started. He looked around for some sort of “wiring box,” slightly worried that it might be outside (“if it’s outside, it’s probably locked, and you’d need complex maintenance to open it”). Thankfully, mine was inside, in my pantry. Next came the hunt for a suitable phone jack. Having had Comcast for the entire four years I’ve been here, I had no clue where they were (with Comcast, the main cordless base plugs into the modem, and the two satelitte bases just have power cords). A bit of hunting later and we discovered that, for some ridiculous reason we cannot discern, there are no jacks in my living room, but two — two! — in the kitchen. He decided to use one above the counter (behind the microwave, which I had to move. Fun times!), and told me he’d have to drill into the wall and put the modem et al in the front closet, which shares the wall. Uh, okay. Fine; whatever. Just get it done.
“A” continued to tinker with wires and then packed up his things, telling me he’d just need to “head down to the box” and that he’d be back in “20 or 30 minutes.” Cool. He left; I waited. When he returned, he stayed in his truck. For half an hour. When he stepped out, he was shaking his head. Uh-oh.
His first words as he entered? “We have a little problem.” The system wasn’t letting him “do anything” because the system had an installation date of 31st December, 2036. Basically, the system wouldn’t let him install U-Verse because it wasn’t the right day for it. I wanted to bash my head against the wall.
On the 13th, when I was told there was a problem and an engineer would need to come out, the rep I spoke with changed the installation date to 31/12/2036 so she wouldn’t have to cancel the account, which she’d assured me she’d have to do otherwise. On the 17th, when I rescheduled for the 27th, the installation date was supposedly changed back to 2011. However, when I used the “check an order” feature on AT&T’s website, the installation date was always 31/12/2036. I called on the 23rd to check, was assured it was a glitch. Shortly after, the order page online reflected the right date. On the 24th, it had reverted to 2036. Called back; it was changed. It reverted again on the 25th and 26th, and I called back each day. On the 27th, I chatted online with a rep; same thing. So imagine my annoyance when it had reverted, again, by the time “A” arrived.
“A” made a call and whomever he spoke with assured him the problem was fixed “for good.” However, the change wouldn’t take effect in the system on his end for 2-3 hours, and they absolutely, positively wouldn’t let him hang around that long. I’d have to call back and reschedule.
I called back, irate but polite, and managed to get a new installation date for the next day, the 28th. The rep with whom I spoke said she’d usually reschedule us “at the end of the line” but that I deserved to “end the nightmare as soon as possible.” Agreed.
So the 28th arrives. I’m no longer cautiously optimistic; now I’m just plain pessimistic, thinking I’ll be stuck with Comcast until I die or move, whichever comes first. The new tech, “F,” calls around 1:17pm, says he’s on his way. He shows up around 1:45pm. He’s not nearly as gregarious or talkative as “A,” and I get a little uncomfortable. He’s strangely silent while he pokes at the box, leaves without a word. Disappears in his truck for about 45 minutes, comes back on the phone. He goes back to the box with not a word to me, talking to someone on the phone about the “weird problem.” Weird problem? Oh, Gods, not a new problem.
He fiddles with wires, “trying other pairs,” and disappears again, on foot. Twenty minutes later, he’s back. He “can’t get it to sync,” though it should because “the signal’s strong; you’re pretty close.” He fiddles some more, and I hear a quiet “Sweet!” from the pantry. Yay?
Out he goes again, but this time he returns with boxes of equipment. He’d gotten “it” to sync, and now he needed to run a cable under the carpet to the pantry. Sure, but what about drilling in the wall? “F” wasn’t sure why “A” had decided to “go that way,” but “F” assures me his way is easier. Sure enough, half an hour later, the cable’s run and the TV box is hooked up. I plunk down in the La-Z-Boy and watch some “Maury” (it was what he’d changed it to, honest!) while he went back to fiddling with things.
A few minutes later he’d placed the residential gateway (the “RG”) atop the cable box, and I could see a new Wi-Fi network on my phone. He showed me the basics of the remote and wrote down the Wi-Fi password, told me I could hook up the phone, and called it to make sure it rang. Ten minutes later, my bringer-of-AT&T was gone and I was gazing down at the sad, neglected pile of Comcast equipment.
The installation took just under three hours, an hour less than I was told to expect. Everything was working perfectly, so “F” had me sign some things and he was on his way.
All was well — until about 6pm. While watching “Troll” on Chiller1, I noticed the audio failing every so often, and the picture pixelating and flickering. It did this off an on for about an hour before the box finally failed entirely. No guide, no picture, nada. I turned off the box, waited a few minutes, and tried again. Everything was fine for about ten minutes, and then it started all over. I checked connections, unplugged the box, reset the gateway, etc, all to no avail.
By this point it’s 10pm, and AT&T’s customer service department is closed. Their CS-via-chat, however, doesn’t close until 11pm ET, so I started a chat, waited in the queue, and finally got a rep. I explained the problem, she verified that their was a “failure,” and asked me to reset the gateway again. She knew we’d be disconnected, so she set up a repair appointment, in case resetting didn’t help. Surprisingly, she had an appointment open for the next day, the 29th, between 12pm-4pm. I grabbed it, reset the modem, and… same problem. Fired up another chat, with another rep, just to confirm that the appointment existed. It did, and I ended the chat.
Frustrated and without any form of U-Verse TV, I reconnected the Comcast box for the night, repeatedly telling the box that “this means nothing; we’re not getting back together, I just need you for tonight.” It made me feel a little dirty, like I was sleeping with an old, abusive ex.
The 29th arrives, and around 3:45pm, the repair tech, “G,” arrives. Unlike “F,” “G” is talkative and friendly, and within twenty seconds of turning on the box, he knows what the problem is: there’s a problem with the HDMI connection to the box. He’ll just need to swap out the box and all will be well. He does it, and by 4:15pm (after ten minutes in his truck noting the change in the system), the new box is hooked up and all is well. Better than well, actually: the lag I’d dealt with and assumed was a general U-Verse issue was gone.
Before “G” left, he wrote down his name and number, and told me to call him directly if I had any problems. He asked if “F” had left his number, which he didn’t. He chuckled and told me “F” would be pretty mad about the problem — since I’d had to have a repair tech come out within 24 hours of installation, it would “be a negative” against “F.” But, as he said, “it’s F’s fault because he should have left his card or number and instructed you to call him.” I feel bad about that, as “F” did everything perfectly, but I had no idea I was supposed to call him and not AT&T directly.
All was well technically, but after “G” left I had to ring up AT&T directly to address a few issues. First, the billing cycle problem: according to the online statement, my billing cycle began on the 17th, eleven days before installation. Uh, no. No way in hell. Easily fixed. The second issue was with premium channels. A “True Blood” fan, I’d ordered HBO, and one CS rep had told me he’d be adding Cinemax and Showtime free for three months because of the grief I’d been going through. Again, easily remedied, and I now have all three. The third issue: when I signed up, I signed up for the unlimited phone plan, as opposed to the 250-minutes-a-month plan. However, the online account indicated I was signed up for the latter. For a third time, easily fixed.
Finally, the HD issue. When I signed up, I signed up for HD. While on the phone with one rep or another — one in retention, I believe — I was told he could “give (me) HD free for the life of the account” as compensation. HD is $10 a month, so I happily accepted it. However, I had no HD channels. This rep, however, had “no record” of that, and couldn’t sign me up for HD without adding the $10/month charge. I’d need to call back to speak with retention (why she couldn’t transfer me I don’t know). Fine, fine. I hung up, but I just didn’t have the energy to call back that day. I’ll call back today, and hopefully get something resolved. Normally I’m not the “compensate me for XYZ,” but the shit AT&T has put me through since I first signed up on the 4th is just ridiculous.
It’s been just under 24 hours since “G” fixed my issues, and so far, so good.
So far, I’ve been pretty impressed with the services themselves. The TV guide is miles ahead of Comcast’s (I especially like the picture-in-picture preview of each channel as I scroll through said menu), as is the DVR. Like Comcast, AT&T offers the ability to display a “XX is calling” pop-up when the phone rings; unlike Comcast, AT&T’s actually works. True, I lose the Hallmark Channel (which means fewer Golden Girls reruns for me), but I gain Chiller. I lose FearNET, but hey, FearNET sucks. I could never (ever) get my Comcast remote to work with my TV (to raise and lower volume, etc), but the AT&T remote works perfectly. As for the internet, AT&T’s VDSL is actually faster here than Comcast’s, which tended to lag terribly at times, especially during the afternoon and early evening. As for the phone… well, phone is phone, right? I barely use it (I use my AT&T mobile/cell phone most of the time), but it’s good to have.
I’m also a huge fan of the “U-Bar,” a scrollable, customisable bar one can use to check weather, sports, traffic, and more on the TV. Awesome thing, that bar.
The only thing Comcast has over U-Verse is its On Demand service. Simply put, AT&T’s On Demand, well, sucks. I can’t find any movies on it, and the list of shows is paltry at best. Comcast, on the other hand, offers hundreds of free movies, as well as “premium channel” movies. It wasn’t until I started poking through the On Demand section that I started to miss FearNET. But, I do have Netflix and my Blu-Ray player (which I can connect to my external hard-drive to run downloaded content), so the loss of On Demand movies isn’t a deal-breaker.
The main thing is this: I have U-Verse, for a much better price than Comcast has ever offered me. I keep looking at the Comcast equipment on my living room floor — the cable box/DVR and the modem — with the smug satisfaction of knowing I’m finally free of the Devil I Knew. Certainly, AT&T will, at times, become a devil for me, but right now, I’m pretty fucking happy. I’ll be cancelling Comcast tomorrow and dropping the equipment off at the local office, and then, hopefully, I’ll be done w/Comcast for good. I’m sort of looking forward to calling up Comcast to cancel, just to see if they’ll try to offer me something to stay. Unless they can offer a huge discount, with a lower monthly fee than AT&T, it’s sayonara to Comcast. Hell, even if they can price-match with AT&T, I’d still stick with them, if only for the crazy-awesome $200 Visa card and the fact that they’re Just Not Comcast.
- Which Comcast doesn’t offer and which, as a horror junkie, I adore. [↩]