Consumer Complaints and Reviews
AT&T is a disaster. My phones are down frequently and their attempts to restore them are a joke. Different person each time I call. They are all equally incompetent.
We responded to a special offer of Home Phone & Internet on July 29, 2014, installing both on August 6. The offer was for free installation and a phone plan of $40/month with unlimited calling to Mexico. Rewards were also involved. I was charged for installation and had to call to get it reversed. The plan offered was not what was installed--they gave us unlimited to Canada. When the correction was made on October 13, we lost long distance altogether. Attempts to call Mexico receive a recorded message that "service is not authorized, call the Collections Department."
We called Collections and they confirmed there is a zero balance on the account. They are unable to resolve the issue of being unable to call out. First they insisted it was the modem and sent out a technician. The technician listened to the message and said it was a Billing & Collections issue. Billing & Collections insists there is no problem, but has been unable to take off the block. So far, since October 12, we have been on the phone with AT&T for over 8 hours and had the technician here for just under 2. Not a great start for U-verse service. Incidentally, we did not go with TV service. It was supposed to be included in the original package, but someone at AT&T cancelled the entire order, requiring us to reinstate it, at which time we limited AT&T to just phone and internet--otherwise, this story may have been even worse!
AT&T installed u-Verse to provide a single u-Verse voice line (we have a second line left on POTS) and u-Verse internet. This was to replace our 1999 AT&T DSL running on the same POTS line we have moved to u-Verse. We have had two POTS lines since 1988 and chose to keep one of the POTS lines on the AT&T Telco copper pair to the central office, mainly because we are in a hurricane prone area and power losses tend to cripple all AT&T services (including all other carrier's landline and wireless services) except POTS; otherwise we could become isolated from a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) during an emergency like a hurricane.
Since making this change from DSL to u-Verse several months ago, we have had several u-Verse technicians and several Telco technicians out to solve the white noise on the remaining POTS line. When I am on the POTS line for extended periods, I develop a headache. This white noise is present whether we originate or pick up a terminated call to the POTS line. Some days I have call forwarded the POTS line to the u-Verse line just to guaranty all terminating calls to us are free from the white noise only observed on the POTS and never on the u-Verse line.
Last week we developed a worse noise problem on the POTS line and called the AT&T Telco technician in. He observed the noise went away when we disconnected the u-Verse voice line from the HomePortal 3801HGV. So he had us call the AT&T u-Verse technician in (who asked for help from his supervisor who also came out) who measured a ground issue on our POTS line and told us it was an AT&T Telco issue.
Although they did replace the 2-Wire HomePortal 3801HGV with another 2-Wire (now labelled Pace) HomePortal 3801HGV without considering the Belkin BBU (Battery Back Up) as a contributor to the white noise. The Telco technicians refused to come back out until the u-Verse technicians took care of the noise induced by the u-Verse modem. The u-Verse technicians refused to come back out until the Telco technicians resolved the ground issue.
Eventually after responding to an AT&T email asking about our satisfaction with service, I received a response by phone whereby I reiterated the above. Believe it or not, the AT&T person following up on my dissatisfaction with my service rescheduled each technician, but each department independently cancelled their own appointments. Eventually the AT&T customer service person found a person in the Telco group to at least resolve the ground issue on the Telco pair to satisfy the u-Verse technicians. So last Wednesday, the ground issue was resolved, but the white noise persisted.
The Telco technicians (now working as a pair) and not the original Telco technician continued on last Wednesday's service call to resolve the issue by addressing the grounding issue they discovered between pedestals toward the central office, though not between our home and the first pedestal; apparently all the temporary cabling to address earlier problems we have had never were permanently addressed by the wiring group.
Our earlier problems were a result of other utility company contractors digging up telephone lines and / or our lines at a pedestal being disturbed as technicians addressed other lines. By the way, we are in a very well established, buried cable location in a 50+ year old residential area in the middle of town. Finding the grounding issue did not resolve the white noise, they then replaced some inside wiring and isolating all of our telephones, that coincidentally are AT&T two line telephones; we have no wireless phones or any phones not of AT&T origin.
The two Telco technicians complained that ATT no longer sends a ground wire from their own network interface box's ground to the customer's service ground rod that certainly would allow the Telco installation on the Telco side to meet the National Electrical Code recommendations for telecommunication installations that among other electrical protection reasons, helps to protect home computers, telecommunication devices, televisions, etc. from electrical strikes. Now six hours later that day plus several months prior, we still had the white noise.
Now the technicians dove into the Pace HomePortal 3801HGV2-Wire modem and Belkin BBU (Belkin calls a UPS), and did a temporary replacement of the Belkin BBU UPS to help isolate the white noise issue. What they discovered was that the Belkin UPS does not have a "grounding" (not ground) wire to provide the plug with independent hot, neutral and ground lugs into our wall sockets.
In other words, the BBU UPS violated the Telcordia Bellcore standards and had no frame grounding wire to isolate any noise produced from the Belkin UPS inverter (maybe just a rectifier) or the upstream Pace HomePortal 3801HGV 2-Wire modem from getting back onto the neutral before the neutral met up with the grounding circuit at the ground rod beneath our circuit box. All this resulted in the Belkin BBU UPS inverter or rectifier noise or passed on noise from the Pace HomePortal 3801HGV 2-Wire modem going from the socket all around our house before grounding at the circuit breakers ground rod.
Thus everything in our house, including phone lines and computers have been exposed to this back fed noise generated by the Belkin and or the Pace HomePortal 3801HGV 2-Wire without a grounding wire since Belkin did not have a grounding wire to drain the noise directly to the service ground without going through the entire house hot and / or neutral wiring. Interesting when we disconnected the Belkin's two wire plug from the wall, all the noise went away just as it had when we just disconnected the voice line from the 2-Wire modem. With the BBU UPS still on the Pace HomePortal 3801HGV 2-Wire modem, but disconnected from power at the wall socket, we retained both internet and no noise on the POTS and of course no noise on the u-Verse voice.
Conceivably, the Pace HomePortal 3801HGV 2-Wire modem may be by itself and / or its association with the Belkin BBU UPS the generator or additive generator of the noise, but because there is no "electrical bonding" between the Pace HomePortal 3801HGV 2-Wire modem and the Belkin and the Belkin has no "grounding" from its frame directly to the circuit breaker's ground rod at our service entrance via our wall outlets ground, the noise is being directly sent to the hot and / or neutral to seek ground and is contaminating any device connected to the common hot and / or neutral on the same circuit.
We are now waiting on AT&T's u-Verse technicians to resolve the issue, hoping they will displace the Belkin BBU UPS with the Pace HomePortal 3801HGV 2-Wire provided hopefully 3 prong (hot, neutral and grounding) plug and substitute a real BBU UPS meeting the Telcordia Bellcore "grounding" or "frame grounding" wiring specification like the more common UPS' you find for all other telecommunication, electronic and computational systems. And hopefully, the technicians will provide bonding between the Pace HomePortal 3801HGV 2-Wire and the UPS PLUS complete their Telco NID installation by installing a ground between the ground on the Telco side of the NID and our service entry ground rod as should have been done 50+ years ago.
As of this editing, we have heard back only from the AT&T Customer Service person several times, still apologizing for the u-Verse technicians cancelling each of the appointments she schedules for them to resolve their issue since they stated they could only return after the Telco technicians resolved the ground issue. The u-Verse technicians seem to be treating their AT&T Customer Service person as they did when they refused to answer or return the calls of the Telco technicians from my house. We are now waiting after a week of the Telco technicians holding up their part of the bargain.
We got AT&T Uverse in our condo a couple of years ago. It worked great until this year, when it degraded. Lousy speed tests on internet, choppy pictures on TV. They tried to change the settings, which helped somewhat; however, still subpar. People in our condo who have Uverse phone service have been out for days. They can't make emergency calls. I had to loan my Verizon cellphone to an elderly neighbor with severe medical problems in case of emergency. All I can say is if you have the choice of the old traditional land line and Uverse phone, stay with the old land line. The Uverse phone system requires a battery backup, which lasts only several hours. In an emergency storm situation, the old phone line is much more reliable.
We are a third world country regarding telecommunications. Even places like Turkey make our systems seem like the Stone Age. If I had a choice, I would have Verizon Fios, but Verizon's DSL at my summer residence really sucks. They don't want to invest a dime in the infrastructure there. How can the USA survive in a competitive global economy with subpar services while these companies rack up huge profits and huge bonuses for the top execs who are screwing their customers?
We have an AT&T landline phone in case of power outages. I called AT&T to add long distance and caller ID. They asked if we had UVerse and I said yes. Rep said we qualified for special rate of $35 and we were very happy. Next thing I know, we have no landline and only VoiP. I can't use VoiP with fax or without power. I cannot call police or family or anything without power. I tried calling several times and keep getting runaround. I just left last message for rep. If she doesn't resolve this, I will cancel service and try to get landline again in the future. It's so irresponsible of AT&T to put their profits ahead of customer safety. I'm living in Miami, hello? Hurricanes? It is common knowledge to have landline for emergencies.
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I tried U-verse Voice service. It was installed on 6/1/12 and is not compatible with my security service. I have been trying to get my landline back since then. It is very impossible to speak with a live person. A tech was to be here at my home this past Friday to fix the problem. No one came and my phone stopped working at about 10am that day, 6/8/12. I have not been able to get it fixed. Do I have to go to Comcast to get service? I am being billed for something that does not work for me and I cannot seem to get it fixed. My wife and I are old and my wife falls often and here we are, left with no phone service in case of an emergency.
Ellen MuraskinVoIP Contributing Editor
Ellen Muraskin has been writing about telecom and IT since 1993 when she joined the marketing department of Dialogic. In 1996 she joined the editorial staff of CMP’s Computer Telephony Magazine, rising to Executive Editor before joining Ziff Davis Media to launch the VoIP topic center of their eweek.com site. She served as senior copywriter for IT infrastructure company Raritan and has written and edited for several publications.
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