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AT&T's incompetent technicians


  15:34:00 by Joe, Categories: General

I've written about my mis-adventures with AT&T before on this blog, but my recent episode tops it all...

My U-Verse DSL Modem (a Motorola/Arris NVG589) started to reboot at random times, several times a day. This was on-and-off for a while, but in August, this was a daily occurrence.
Apparently, the modems reboot when they lose synchronization with the servers in the AT&T switch building. Shouldn't happen here, I'm only 2000ft or so from the building.
Needless to say, this made Internet usage pretty much impossible. Downloads failed, watching video failed, browsing failed.

So, a technician came out, couldn't find anything, and left. A few hours later, the modem rebooted again, I called AT&T support, another technician was scheduled; lather, rinse, repeat...
The modem got replaced several times, which didn't improve anything, either.
Technicians were scheduled nearly daily to look at this.

At one point, a technician moved my outside connection to a different hardware (they call it "port".) That improved things a little bit (2 daily reboots instead of 4-5...) It also resulted in me being assigned a new IP address (that became important later in the month.)

Since this didn't get fixed, I decided to file a complaint with the FCC. That gave this issue much higher visibility. All of a sudden the technicians had pressure from their management.
Of course, some technicians don't quite like that, and resist it...
BTW, getting calls from "AT&T Office of the President" is much nicer than having to call their tech support line all the time, and having to explain things over and over... (phone # and passcode for 2nd-tier support is a bit better.)

Towards the end of August, one technician claimed he couldn't find anything in the outside wiring, so he "concluded" that the problem had to be with the wiring inside the building. Very convenient, because that would mean it was no longer an AT&T problem, but a problem of the apartment management. I asked him for a written statement, but he said (not surprisingly) that AT&T doesn't do that... So I would have to take his word for it...

Obviously, that guy didn't understand that I never just take somebody's word for it.
And very important, his own actions proved that the outside wiring was the problem: I said above that a technician earlier had moved my outside connection to different hardware. Now, this technician moved my connection back to the previous hardware. My proof of that is that I got the old IP address back. Since DHCP works by mapping MAC address (essentially a hardware serial #) to IP address, getting the old IP address means that the DHCP server saw the old MAC address.
Having all the log files from my Linux box is a good thing ;)

Of course, things got worse again, 4-5 reboots in a day. Next day, another technician came out, also trying to claim that the inside wiring was the problem ("I have been doing this for 20 years", yeah right...) I presented him with my proof that the outside wiring is the problem, he then left, saying he "has to call his manager", and never returned... These guys don't like customers with a clue ;)
I filed a second complaint with the FCC...

And then a miracle happened :)
A few days later, a young technician came out, a guy who probably didn't yet have the "f-you" attitude of the older guys who are "doing this for 20 years"...
He spent 2-3 hours on the box at the curb and the box next to the building, put me on yet another hardware at the curb box, and a different line to the box at the building.
I admit I was skeptical, but lo-and-behold, the reboots stopped.

So, the problem was in the outside hardware and wiring all along, and most of the AT&T technicians are just completely incompetent and try to avoid doing the actual work of fixing problems.
Getting the one good guy is hit-or-miss (mostly miss.)

This episode took a whole month to resolve. And I think it would have not been resolved at all if I hadn't been persistent and hadn't filed an FCC complaint. Companies like AT&T don't fear anything more than having their incompetence made visible.
Incompetence, thy name is AT&T.

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