My experience with AT&T -
Is StarBand any better?
We live in Houlton Wisconsin and because it is an older community and the infrastructure is old we don't see any upgrades in the immediate future. The cable company that serves us is stuck in the 70's with only analog and 17 channels, so it is impossible to get cable Internet. We are about five miles from the telephone company switch, (AT&T-SBC) so we cannot get DSL. (Note: June 6, 2009 - In 2008 our telephone company which just happens to be AT&T came through with Broadband, of sorts. Because we are at the distance limit from the switch we can only get 1.5mps down and 384k up, which is still better than satellite.) We moved here in 2003 from a city where I've had cable broadband for almost ten years and I've been completely spoiled so immediately after our move we installed Dish Network for our television service and their "Starband" as my satellite Internet service. In May of 2006 I received a mailing that AT&T - WildBlue was coming to my neighborhood. I called them at that time and asked some questions, including if I would be able to play on-line games. My son lives in Phoenix and is really into playing World of Warcraft and Call of Duty on-line "first person shooter" games, has cable Internet with 3.5gig speeds and would like me to play these games with him. The person I talked to at AT&T WildBlue said I would be able to play, but I asked if the lag with the satellite signal having to go up to the satellite, then back down to earth would make that impossible. At that point the person I spoke to kind of hmmmmed and hawwwwed and I decided to wait. In June I received another offer in the mail, with a price of $79.95/mo for 1.5meg down and 256 up, which would be wonderful as I was at that time paying Starband about $70/mo for 256k up and 58k down. So I decided to call and ask the same questions again. Here is my story:
"TT" = Talked to
06/12/06 called and talked to a sales person. Asked tons of questions. Was assured that they have a 99.9% up time, fast speeds, that it CAN be used for on-line gaming. Told her that these would be shooter games and she assured me that is no problem. I had a hard time believing as I still can’t account for lag time.
06/14/06 Called again, talked to sales and asked the same questions again, same answers. The guy says that he plays shooter games, but he didn’t sound at all convincing and I still have doubts.
Called 06/19/06 to sign up,
once again this guy assured me about all my questions. Finally after everything
I did sign up, but with reservations.
06/20/06 Unit Delivered Fed-X!!! Fast service!!!
06/21/06 Received voice mail from "Thompson" who apparently do the installations in this area, returned call immediately upon returning home. Guy told me they could schedule me for installation yet this week, but had to talk to his installation guy and would call me back in a bit. No return call. Called back 06/22, 06/23/, 06/26, 06/27, 06/28 leaving messages each time and no one called me back.
Installation Department - 800-728-3819
Thompson installation??? -- 920-833-0155 Guy named "Dell"??? He said his name so fast I couldn't catch it for sure.
06/28/2006 Called AT&T WildBlue customer service, on hold 12:25 to 12:45 TT Candice and she is calling them while I am on hold. She says that they had a note entered on the 23rd that they were looking for a calendar opening. She also said that I should be hearing back from Thompson today. (28th) Never heard from them.
06/30/06 left message,
07/05/06 left message.
06/10/06 left message.
07/12/06 TT Shirley at AT&T WildBlue Customer Service- She says she knows someone in the installation company relations department who has the bosses cell number at Thompson - she will e-mail her and have her call them directly and I should be hearing from them in the next couple of hours.
07/14/06 TT Amanda at Sales & Service - She will once again try to contact the installation company. She is going to send a ticket to tech support so that they can check with installation also. If not called, call back on Tuesday or Wednesday.
07/16/06 finally got a call from Bob at Thompson to schedule my installation for the 18th at 8:00 a.m.
07/18/06 AT&T Wild Blue Install - 920-833-0155 Installer "Bob". Actually got 1.5 down 256 up while he was here. Seemed like an nice enough guy and fairly knowledgeable. Took him an hour or two and he was out of here. So far so good...
07/19/06 getting speeds of 384 down and 36k up. Incredible!!! What did they do, put on a show for me at install then give me my real speed? Called, talked to tech support, did not get name, no help at all.
07/20/06 Down half the day... Called... did not get name. Can't figure out what is wrong
07/21/06 Barely working.
07/22/06 Troubles, called talked to tech support, did not get name, and they did something and then system came up. I keep suggesting they send a tech out to check my installation but it seems their installers are so tied up doing installs that they may never get to me.
07/24/06 Troubles all evening. Called. Cole had me disconnect my Linksys and the system came up. Seemed like a coincidence to me but he is convinced that my wireless router was the problem.
07/25/06 still having problems with the router out of the loop.
07/26/06 3:00 a.m. tried to call them but their 24 hour tech support is now only open from 6:00-10:00 pdt. Very frustrated. I think I shall jerk it out. Tried to log on with dialup but it would not take my username or password.
07/26/06 TT Brittany -- she gave me a different number for 24 hour 888-278-6858 Said she would put through a trouble ticket
07/28/06 7:15 Danielle - Told her whole story.... Put me on hold while she "thumbs through the notes and then see if we can get this resolved." ... She came back and said she was transferring me to "Care Escalation" who would take care of cancelling... I got cut off... Called back... Tiffany... She will credit my account, have someone pick up the equipment. Everything is cancelled. Order number 107056324 for equipment pickup. She said it would be going up to the finance department for refund and it would also be a full refund waiving the cancellation fee.
08/10/06 1:01 pm TT "DSI" Nathan - He said he will call "up there" and check on that Order Number and see what he can do to get this resolved. Said that it looks like my account is still active!!!!!! Said he would call me back that afternoon but never heard from him, but see below.
08/11/06 received e-mail confirmation of the order. Order number 107132602
08/15/06 12:55 p.m. TT 1-866-798-4787 Sally She can't find anything under my telephone number, name, cell number or account number. Finally found it after ten minutes, and putting me on hold several times. Her only answer once I explained the whole thing again is to "send you to the service department. TT Christina... Told her whole story, and she said she "had Tiffany there" and they would talk. Put me on hold. So far this call has been 23 minutes... Tiffany came back this time, and she told me she would "connect us with DSI"... She had to enter a new order number, AGAIN!! Put me on hold... Call now at 35 minutes... Tiffany came back on finally and told me that "one of their systems just went down". Said she would call me back on my cell number in 15-20 minutes... 15 minutes gone... 20 minutes gone..... 35 minutes... No return call....
08/16/06 Received e-mail confirmation of another entirely new order number: 107161230 These people throw order numbers around like they were candy. But then they seem to loose them as fast as they throw them. Order numbers under these circumstances seem pretty meaningless if one were to ask me.
08/22/06 Received an e-mail that "My bill is ready" and they are billing me another $84.35 I do love their e-mail header, "The new at&t". Kind of wish I were dealing with "the old at&t" instead.
12:55 p.m. TT Vickie Brown in
Sales... She cannot help... Will connect me to Customer Service...Ruby...
Explained the whole thing for the second time today... She put me on hold
while she "researches the problem"... 1:05 p.m.... 1:10,,,, then when she came
back here only solution was to connected me to "Monique"...
Explained whole thing again... She put me on hold while she see which order
number is the most recent, will make sure that the ticket gets to finance, and
then get a ticket to DSI... Said to hold while she takes care of this... said
3-5 minutes... 1:21 p.m.
While on hold from Ruby to Monique I pulled up my Capital One statement and disputed the $406.21 charge…. 1:32 Monique came back and said everything has been sent up and has a new ticket number for the refund; 120254 and an order has been put through "system solutions" to "push the order through"... she said she would "follow through" on this and that she will be calling me "tomorrow". Also said that it appears that even though I received the e-mail saying my card was being charged again there was no actual charge that went through. We shall see, eh? She also all but flat out told me there was no way to get a refund until they got their equipment out of my house.
08/24/06 Had message from Penny at Thompson to call them to schedule pickup of the equipment. Called back, TT Tom, scheduled for the morning of 08/28/06. Eureka?
08/25/06 After being told by two people at Wild Blue that there would be no further charges today I checked my Capital One on-line statement and on 8/22/06 I was charged another $84.35!!!!!!!!!! This is getting to the point of being the worst customer service experience of my lifetime. I will call them Monday morning and also put in a dispute at Capital One.
08/27/06 4:30 p.m. Sunday received a call from “Lance Anderson” wanting to switch my appointment to the 30th. He said he “didn’t understand how he got the ticket.” Asked who did the install and had never heard of “Bob” as this is his territory. Sounded like he didn’t want to do the pick-up at all. Told me that he has installed hundreds of these and this is the first pick-up he’s ever had. I told him OK after we talked for about five minutes and I explained the whole thing again. He assured me that I will be his “first stop” on the morning of the 30th.
08/28/06 received a call from Adam. Asked if Lance picked up my equipment. I told him that Lance had called and asked to change the pick-up to Wednesday. He said he would have to "get that changed" and said "goodbye". Strange, one hand doesn't seem to know what the other is doing. Great system.
08/30/06 Lance picked up equipment. Said the only reason he can see for my slow speeds was that it was getting interference from trees. But… If you look line of sight the trees should not have been a problem. I just think that because they are a newer service they are having teething problems. He was making all kinds of excuses and pretty much trying to blame the installation by Bob, but if that were the case we would not have gotten the 1.5 down and 256 up that we were getting on the day of installation. Just does not make sense at all. It was funny because when I first talked to him on the phone he was saying that he had never had to take any out. Today he said that he had only taken one out, then he let something slip about the “others” that he has had to take out. One has to wonder what the real story is. I got the feeling that he was hoping I would says, “Ah heck, lets just move the equipment and give it another try.” At this point that isn’t an option and I was glad to see it go. Now it is going to be interesting to see how long it is before I have my credit card credited the $406 and $84.
08/30/06 Set up a web site, http://www.sheldonaubut.com/wildblue to tell my story, titled “My Experience with AT&T WildBlue”.
09/02/06 The saga continues. Received the below e-mail confirming my “order” to have my equipment picked up and that someone will contact me within 24 hours. I suppose now I can expect a call from them and I'll still be waiting for the refund of my money.
09/26/06 A month now and I'm still waiting for my refund of $406.41 + $84.35 + $84.35
10/05/06 Decided to try e-Mail to the account that had been e-mailing me… Sent this today:
This equipment was removed a long time ago and I have not yet seen a credit for the $406.21. I have received the credit for the two months after, but have yet to receive the credit for the original $406.21. Could you please advise. Please read the attached word file. I'm quite frustrated with AT&T Wild Blue as you can see.
Houlton WI USA
10/05/06 E-mail to them was returned, no e-mail accepted at that address. So, called 1-866-798-4787, talked to Autumn and e-mailed her the entire above file to her. 11:53 a.m. put on hold while she researches things….. Came back to phone at 12:07. Gave me another ticket number 185938 to Finance for $321.13 from Alexis in Care Escalation dept. Said they did not have a record of the third monthly charge. Yet here it is above in the e-mail from them and my credit card had been charged.
In checking my Credit Card statements it looks like my challenge of the last charge was quick enough so it was removed from my record. So it appears that I was originally charged: July 21, 2006 = 406.41 then on August 22, 2006 another $84.35, total of $490.76.
WildBlue credited my Credit Card, on Sept 18, 2006 $84.35 and $85.28, total of $169.63.
The balance due to be credited to my credit card is in fact the $321.13 that is the same as what they show, so now we shall have to see how long it takes before, or if, the credit shows up on my credit card account.
I also asked if there was a mailing address for the corporate office so that when this is totally resolved I could write to them and let them know how much I’ve enjoyed the excitement and mystery of dealing with their lovely company and she gave me the below. The anticipation of a reply from them will make for some very exciting winter days.
Greenwood Plaza Blvd
Greenwood Village CO 80111
06/12/07 Never did write to them. They still owe me $75 but after all of the above I just plain got tired of the fight. If anyone at AT&T WildBlue would see this maybe they would consider making things right with me. After all the frustration and time I invested in this they owe me a heck of a lot more than that.
05/10/09 Update. AT&T DSL is working just fine. (See my StarBand page to find out how I got to that) Have had little problems with the service but it has never been down for more than a few minutes. I only get 1200-1500 up and 256-480 up but it is still way more than double the speed of Satellite and meets most of my needs. All around us people are getting ComCast Cable speeds that are many times faster than what I get but it will be many years before those speeds get to me.
StarBand any better?