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Goodbye AT&T
By Dave Winer on Sunday, September 04, 2011 at 10:16 AM.

Yesterday morning, very early, I got a text message from AT&T confirming that I had changed the passcode on my account, and to call them (number included) if I hadn't done this. Very typical security measure, and useful too -- because I hadn't changed the passcode on my account! #

I called the number, was told they aren't open yet, and I should call back during business hours. Hmm. #

A picture named iphone4.jpgI then forgot about it, until I got another message as I was getting ready for my bike ride, saying that my passcode had been changed, same number -- call them if it wasn't me. This time there was someone there. I waited and waited. Finally talked to someone of indeterminate gender with a fairly heavy Philippine accent. This person couldn't understand that I wasn't the one who changed the passcode. Hshe kept saying "But you called us..." and I kept saying "No I didn't." For this I got noted as a difficult customer, and was referred to a supervisor. Who came on the line after 15 minutes on hold listening to insipid marketing for AT&T telling me that if I was like them I was always forgetting things, and they could help by taking money out of my account automatically. Thanks. Along with a half dozen other similarly ridiculous bits of personal advice delivered by a robot. The supervisor comes on, same deal. No clue as to gender, kept referring to me as "David" (a name only my mother uses), and kept saying over and over that I made the call changing the passcode. How does it know I made the call, I asked. Because you had the passcode. I said this is a security issue, please transfer me to security (thinking of credit card companies and how they clamp down quickly as soon at even a hint of a security issue). More complaints from this person that I was interrupting, and wasn't being a cooperative customer, and it was just trying to help me. So I said help me out and get me to security. Silence. I look at the phone. No call.  #

I call back. This time the operator sounds like she's in Dallas or St Louis, maybe Seattle, and is definitely a woman. After explaining both issues (the security issue and the impossibly bad service) she apologized and said she would be right back. Another 15 minutes listening to the same insipid messages. While I'm on hold, I remembered that I was borderline about cancelling this account, and didn't do it because I didn't want the hassle. Since I am already on hold, putting up with the hassle I was trying to avoid, why don't I just close the account? I decided that if there was the slightest difficulty I would.  #

When she came back, she said some nonsense about how it wasn't a problem. The person had changed my passcode (I still wasn't clear what aspect of my relationship with them the passcode covered, I was talking with them, they accepted I was who I was when I gave them my old passcode. I was able to access the website, where I paid my bill while on hold to be sure I could cancel the account). I asked for an explanation of what she said because I didn't understand. She just read the same nonsense words to me again. So I said I want to close the account. I figured that would be something they would know how to handle. She started to do it, put me on hold, then the line went dead, again. (It occurred to me later that this is a phone company and they keep losing the phone connection. Anyone else see a problem here. Also I bought the phone from Apple. They were the ones that chose this incompetent company to do their phone service.) #

So I called back, and this time got the rentention script. Sorry to see you go Mr. Winer. We'd love to keep you as a customer. Etc. I said no, I just want to close the account. She puts me on hold, another 15 minutes. I wonder if this is part of the script. Put them on hold, a certain percentage will give up and we keep the revenue flowing. Eventually she comes back on the line, and says the "Customer Service Team" wants to speak with me. I bet they hired a psychologist to come up with that term. The team is interested! Yeah. Another ten minutes on hold, same insipid adverts, finally this intelligent-sounding deep-voiced woman comes on. I don't know how the intelligence was conveyed, but it was there. She said blah blah sorry to hear you're leaving us (make it personal) first I need to ask you why. I said no comment. She insisted. I asked if it was possible to close the account quickly without a long discussion. After a few backs and forths she agreed to close the account. I wanted it to be done immediately. She said I had to wait for the end of the month and then there's a period of 60 days when I can turn it back on without penalty. Thanks. I got off the line. #

Then I realized there are 60 days for the person who hacked my account to call back and re-establish the service. #

I wonder if it was really a hacker or if their computers went crazy. #

Anyway, hopefully, I'm now down to one phone line. I have an iPhone 4 in fairly good condition that will be useless in a few days, with any luck. The Verizon Droid that's still connected has totally worn out, and often doesn't work to make or receive calls. I need to disconnect that one too, and then go month-to-month, probably with TMobile on the fully-paid-up Nexus S that I bought in April (and use for nothing now) and wait for the iPhone 5 to come and the must-have drool factor to take over. I've gone from three lines to one, for now. And it occurs to me that from now on I should just be month-to-month, makes terminating easy, just don't re-opt-in. Yeah I think that's right. #

Previously: I terminated my Verizon Mifi in August. #

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