Alligators 'n Roadkill

Alligators 'n Roadkill
On The Road


Thursday, March 5, 2015

Home entertainment ain't.

How do I go about obtaining a decent television signal, with channels that I might actually want, for a fair price?  Or,  failing this, why can't I get a good internet connection at a fair price?
I have AT&T's UVerse for television and for internet.  Internet is very important to me, since I spend a lot of time online.  And, there are some television programs that I like to watch on a regular basis.  I have now had this UVerse for about two years, and was OK with it at the price I was paying.  All of a sudden, last month's bill arrived (always weeks before the due date, by the way), and it had jumped from just around $109/month, to over $150.00!  When I called to see about why this had happened, and what I could do about it, I encountered what I consider to be a real problem.
I have been advised that simply telling your provider that you are thinking about changing should get you better deals, but what I encountered was a very long online chat that went nowhere, and then was compounded when I tried to find any alternatives.
 Since I was so unhappy with my encounter with the AT&T online chat to India (I know damn well these people are located in India, so don't try to tell me otherwise), I then tried to talk to both Time Warner and to the people at DISH.  That turned out to be just more time wasted.  Apparently, no one is willing to offer the consumer only what the consumer might want, and no matter what television choices one might make, the internet connection usually turns out to be a deal breaker.
Time Warner says their internet speed may be "up to" 30 Mbps, they do not guarantee any particular speed, and they obviously utilize some form of throttling, to keep your speed down, unless you pay extra money.  But, since they will not guarantee any speed, that seems to be self defeating.  The do offer a package that includes "over" 200 channels of television programming, plus the internet for $89.99, but that does not include the equipment, or the extra fees and charges and taxes, which take it up right to close on what I am now going to be paying.
As for DISH, I thought their offer was pretty good, and I spent a long time on the phone with something called PlanetDISH (a retailer authorized by DISH to sell their packages).  I agreed to a package that included the channels that I want, plus internet for another (I thought) $29.95 per month.  After I agreed, I received emails confirming what I had agreed to and lo and behold, the internet price turns out to be only good for six months.  After six months it would go up to something $42.00 per month!  So, I quickly got back on the phone and cancelled the entire order.
Ultimately, it appears that it is just not possible to get a fair price for only the channels that I want, and it is also not possible to get a good rate for a decent internet connection.
I went for (and was temporarily stuck with) what UVerse calls their U450 package because, if you can believe this, it would cost me less to get more channels than it would if I stayed with my old U200 package.   I have no idea how this could be.  I only know that this price is only good for three months,  and if I do not call and stop it, after that time, my cost would take yet another jump.
On Sunday, Feb. 22, I decided to check my current bill to see if the online chat people had yet posted my credit from the other day.  Imagine my reaction when I found that the bill was still for $151 and change.  So, like a fool, I started up yet another online chat, to see if I could get any satisfaction.  Ultimately, it became necessary to call into their 800 number instead.
Meanwhile, just for the hell of it, below you can see the transcript of my online chat with AT&T's representatives.  Unfortunately, their chat window failed to show times, so while this may look pretty short and sweet, there were numerous long wait times, while I had to wait for them to finish whatever they were doing with other customers, and/or to respond to my questions (Please note that the transcript of Sunday's online chat has been appended):
Thank you for choosing AT&T. A representative will be with you shortly.
You are now chatting with Joseph B.
Joseph B: Hello my name is Joseph B. Thank you for allowing me to be your specialist today. How may I assist you?
John Dungan: You don't see the information I just submitted? I want to know why my bill is growing and growing and growing, but my services have not changed!!!
Joseph B: I can help you with that!
Joseph B: I apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced.
Joseph B: John, I see that the promotion in your account is expired that is why the bill is high.
Joseph B: I will help you with the best promotion availabe to me.
John Dungan: This is not just an inconvenience! It is frightening! What promotion? My bill was set at about $102 per month, then it jumped last month to $111 (and, I let it slide), and now it is up to more than $151????
Joseph B: I understand. I will help you with this.
Joseph B: As I am from the billing department I do have limited access to promotions I assure you that I will help you with the best promotion availabe to me.
John Dungan: Please
Joseph B: I see that the promotion you were having was the first one year promotional pricing for the new customers it expired on 02/06/2015 and now the price is the actual price on your account for the service.
Joseph B: I will help you with the best promotion available to me at the time.
John Dungan: Stop saying you will help me, and help me!
Joseph B: Sure!
Joseph B: I have an amazing offer for you
John Dungan: ????
Joseph B: I can provide you U450 includes up to 490 of the best digital channels, Total Home DVR, and everything included in U300: Access to over 135 HD channels , Exactly 21 sports channels, Up to 52 premium movie channels with HBOGo/MAXGo on the go access to watch from your smart phone, you double your channels and include HD, Sports, and HBO/Cinemax. You will also recieve free HD.
Joseph B: And your monthly bill will be $119.95.
John Dungan: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO I cannot afford that many channels (especially when I cannot possibly watch all of them)! I do not want some special that will suddenly disappear only to find my bill doubled! I am happy with what I have, but do not believe it is worth a hundred fifty dollars!
Joseph B: I assure you that no additional charges will suddenly appear on your bill this is the best way to reduce your monthly bill to $119.95 for all the services.
John Dungan: It won't go up to $200 after one year?
Joseph B: No this is for $119.95 I will also add $20 for the current month bill.
John Dungan: And, you're now saying that I can get premium channels (which I really don't want), plus what I now have, for less money???
Joseph B: Yes you are correct.
John Dungan: Why can't I get fewer channels for less money, then?
Joseph B: This is the promotion available for upgrade and with this package $9.00 reciver fee on your account can also be removed.
John Dungan: If it is a promotion, isn't it time sensitive?
Joseph B: This tv promotion is for three months and you will get a call after 3months to add the next promotion before the expiration of the promotion.
John Dungan: So, it is only good for three months, and then I have to fight with y'all all over again! That's not what I want! I want fewer channels, for less money! What's so difficult about that?
Joseph B: For that you will have to downgrade .
John Dungan: to what?
Joseph B: If you downgrade for U100 still the price will be $128.95.
John Dungan: ????? That is totally insane! Why can't AT&T just offer a fair number of channels for a fair price?!
Joseph B: The current charges are the actual price of the package all the customers will be charged it after the first 12months.
John Dungan: So, you can't answer my simple question, can you? Let's see if I understand this: You offer me more channels than I currently have - even though I do not WANT them - for less money, but my current bill is going to be about $171???
Joseph B: I am happy to  answer all your questions.
Joseph B: I will add credit for the previous month bill.
John Dungan: I'm really talking to a machine, aren't I? You're not a real person, are you?
Joseph B: Yes I am a real person.
John Dungan: So, how much would my current bill be, if I go for this ridiculous "offer?"
Joseph B: I will add a credit for $20.00 and your last month bill will reduce to $131.77.
Joseph B: Will that be fine with you?
John Dungan: FYI, one does not "add" a credit. One deducts a credit. So, how much will my total new bill be, beginning next month?
Joseph B: Thank you for correcting me. It  will be $119.95.
John Dungan: There won't be any additional taxes, charges, surcharges? It will be less than this month?
Joseph B: It will be less the current month and the taxes will be applied.
John Dungan: So, it will NOT be only $119.95, right? How much will the additional taxes and charges add to it?
Joseph B: I am sorry to say that taxes it varies from state to sate I do not have access to the amount usually it will be around 10.00
John Dungan: Did you now see my current bill? The extra fees and charges take a basic fee of $105 up to over $151! That's forty dollars, not ten.
Joseph B: I see that the internet charges were also added on your current bill.
John Dungan: Yes, my basic internet and 200 channels total around $105, and all rest of my bill is fees and charges!
John Dungan: So, once again I ask you: How much will that $119.95 monthly bill really total?!
Joseph B: Let me check that for you.
Joseph B: I see that AT&T U-verse TV U200 is  80.00
Joseph B: HD Technology Fee is 10.00 and Receiver Fee is 9.00
Joseph B: And the Internet charge is 24.95.
John Dungan: I know all that....y'all charge for every little thing!
Joseph B: And it is $124.
John Dungan: I am not at all happy with this "chat," Joseph. I think I will end it, and try to call a live person. Thank you for your time.
Joseph B: Let me check what
Joseph B: Best can be done for you Allow me a moment let me quickly go and  talk with my supervisor. Let me see what best can be done for you.
John Dungan: OK, I will wait a couple of minutes.
Joseph B: Thank you.
Joseph B: Thank for being online.
Joseph B: Allow me a minute or two more.
Joseph B: I am asking him for the best offers availible with him.
Joseph B: I am sorry for the delay.
Joseph B: He is checking for the best offers available from his system please allow me a minute.
John Dungan: One more minute.
Joseph B: Thank you
Joseph B: Let me connect you to my supervisor.
Please wait while I transfer the chat to Sean B.
You are now chatting with Sean B.
Sean B: Hi, I’m sorry for any delay in reaching me.  I see that you have been speaking to another representative. Please allow me a moment to review your previous conversation and I will be happy to assist you further.  
John Dungan: Sean, I am tired of waiting, so unless you have something meaningful to offer, I am out of here.
Sean B: Hi, John! I am Joseph's manager.
John Dungan: You better type faster there, Sean.
Sean B: I have reviewed your account and see that, I can get you U450 TV package and 12 mbps Internet at $107.25 + taxes for next 3 months.
Sean B: Would that be fine for you, John?
John Dungan: I don't really want more channels, and I don't want to have to go through this fight with y'all every three months! I want fewer channels for less money! What is so difficult about that?
Sean B: John, since the promotion is ended, you will not get the same promotion again. In order to lower the bill, the only option for you is to get the upgrade package.
Sean B: I am sorry. I do not have any other promotions apart from this to lower the bill.
John Dungan: You do realize that this is insane?! So, I have to fight with you again in three months, right?
Sean B: John, you re not required to fight with us. You can just contact us and request for the new promotions and we will check it for you.
Sean B: However as of now, there is only 3 months promotions available for you.
Sean B: If you wish, I can get this signed up immediately.
John Dungan: Funny, this feels like a fight. One that I cannot ever hope to win. OK, you win. Please sign me up, and we'll talk again in three months' time.
Sean B: Thank you for confirming.
John Dungan: Are we done?
Sean B: Yes.
Sean B: Is there anything else I can assist you with?
John Dungan: Thank you, have a nice night there.  (This was the afternoon, for me).

Online Chat on 02/22/2015:
Thank you for choosing AT&T. A representative will be with you shortly.
You are now chatting with Adam B.
Adam B: Hello my name is Adam B. Thank you for allowing me to be your specialist today. How may I assist you?
Adam B: Hi John!
Adam B: How are you doing today?
John Dungan: Adam, I spent a great deal of time online in a chat with Joseph B. and his supervisor, Sean B. Now, after he promised me a credit, I see that no credit has been applied to my account. I am not happy with UVerse, and I am getting ready to cancel my service. What do you think about that?
John Dungan: For the record, it is now 1219, my time, and I have now been waiting for about three minutes.
John Dungan: Today is Feb. 22, 2015.
Adam B: I apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced.
Adam B: John, Please do not worry.
Adam B: I can help you with that!
Adam B: To make sure I understand you correctly, you have a question about the credit to be applied in your account;  Is that correct?
John Dungan: 1220: I have other concerns, but that would be my first reason for contacting you today.
Adam B: Thank you John.
Adam B: I will do my best to help you so that you will not have to contact us for the same issue again.
Adam B: Please allow me a moment, while I access your account.
Adam B: May I know what was the credit to be applied and the reason for the same, so that I can help you to get that.
John Dungan: 1222: He said that it was to be only $20.00, and it was because I am so upset at the sudden large increase in my monthly bill.
Adam B: John, Please let me check the notes on your account so that I can help you with this .
John Dungan: @1225: I thought you were going to check my account about five minutes ago!
Adam B: John, I have checked your account notes and I am sorry to say that I did not see any notes, howevver please do not worry. Let me check with my manager what best can be done for you.
John Dungan: @ 1227: I can provide you with a copy of the entire interaction from the other day. Just let me know.
Adam B: Sure, John. If you provide me the reference , I can apply the credit on your account .
Adam B: As we need some reference for the credit to be applied.
John Dungan: @1228: what reference? I have the entire transcription from my online chat on my PC.
Adam B: John, could you please provide me the chat history, so that I can apply the credit on your account by referring that chat, as I see there are not any notes on your account regarding the credit.
Adam B: John, I also see that promotions are applied on your account on 02/17 and bill has been reduced.
John Dungan: @ 1231: Meanwhile, since he was no help, and I am getting more and more unhappy, why don't you check with your manager/supervisor and see if you can't get me a better monthly rate. My Bill was indeed reduced, but then, this month it has taken a big jump! Here is the transcript of my chat with Joseph B & Sean B:
[entire previous chat copied and entered into this chat window]
Adam B: I completely understand your frustration, John. Please do not worry.
Adam B: Thank you for the information, John.
Adam B: I am sorry for your time.
Adam B: I will go ahead and provide you the credit as promised. Please allow me a minute.
Adam B: John, I have successfully applied the credit on your account. you can check it once you log off and log in again.
Adam B: I sincerely apologize for the mistakes from the previous agent.
John Dungan: @1238: And, what can you and your supervisor do for me about adjusting my monthly payment down to a manageable size again?
Adam B: Let me check with my supervisor about that. Please allow me a moment.
Adam B: John, While I was  working on your account, I would like to inform you that as you have Internet, Television  with AT&T in case if you go ahead and bundle up the services with our  Cell phone Services  and   Home phone   I will be able to work out some fantastic offers for you. Because I want to make sure I give you the best help possible. You will not only save money, but also enjoy best of the Entertainment experience.
John Dungan: @1239: We no longer have a home phone, and our cell phones (two lines) only cost us about $49.00. So, can you beat that?
Adam B: Not a problem, I appreciate your decision.  

John, let me connect you to my supervisor who will help you with this.
Please wait while I transfer the chat to Philip.
You are now chatting with Philip.
John Dungan: @1241: I should mention that our cell phones utilize the AT&T system, and we have found too many dead spots. What can you do about that?
Philip: Hi John!
John Dungan: @1242 - Hello
Philip: As I checked your account, I see that you have been upgraded and bill has been reduced by the promotions on your account.
John Dungan: @1243: I do not consider my new bill to be anything remotely resembling a reduction.
Philip: John, as we are from billing team, we do not have greater access to your account. However I will provide you the # of our special promotion team who can help you to lower your bill for the longer period.
Philip: I recommend that you speak with a U-verse Customer Relations Specialist. Please call 1-800-288-2020  and a specialist will be able to assist you with your request. This number is available Monday - Friday, 8:00 am to 7:00 pm and Saturday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Philip: I will note your account with your request, so this information will be available to the specialist.
Philip: I apologize that I am unable to help you directly with your request.
Philip: Is there anything else I can assist you with?
John Dungan: @1246 - Think of the time I might have save[d] (not to mention the frustration) if Joseph B., Sean B., and Adam B. had bothered to suggest that I might do better by calling that number! No wonder I am unhappy with AT&T!
Philip: I apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced.
Philip: Thank you for being an AT&T customer; we care about you so please don't text and drive. Please use the CLOSE button when you are ready to exit our chat session.

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Ultimately, I did call into AT&T and spoke with an American female, who let me go back to the plan that I had before (U-200), at an admittedly higher price than I was paying before, but still less than what I would have had to pay, after this jump in February.  This new plan is also supposed to be good for two years.  We'll see.