Nailed by ATT

I’ve been engaged in battle with ATT for a week or so after receiving a letter from them saying that I was not supposed to be using my dial-up line to access the internet and they could discontinue my service with no further notice. That’s kind of threatening.

A little background. We hooked up to the landline in 2001 or 2 when we were snow birding from Utah. We had local service only and used calling cards for long distance when necessary. When we moved in full time in 2003 we found that the local area did not allow us toll free access to AOL. The closest access point was Daytona Beach which was outside our call area – same area code, same county but outside the calling range. So we added what was called extended range which got us to Daytona and solved the problem. Fast forward to 2007. ATT called and said that if we wanted to add unlimited long distance calling, it would only add a couple of dollars to what we were paying. It sounded too good to be true so I questioned it aggressively and was assured that this was an ok upgrade. Sure enough the bill went up a couple of $$ but we have had unlimited long distance coverage. Fast forward now to April. We received a vaguely worded letter from ATT saying that we were perhaps not using our telephone service per the contract. I called the toll free number suggested and a customer service rep told me that everything was fine and the letter was sent in error. And, oh by the way, for $1/month I could add voice mail, caller ID and a few other goodies. So i figured the letter was really a back door way to get a sales call in and not violate blocks on telephone soliciting. I did buy the added service. Monday we got another letter from ATT saying that we could not use our phone to access the internet and that they could discontinue our service with no further notice. Definitely sounded more serious so I immediately called the toll free number. I kind of expected they were going to try to sell me something again. Instead the service rep told me that you can’t use a personal voice line to access the internet and never could. It was, supposedly, in the fine print of my contract with ATT -I don’t ever remember seeing a contract. He said he’d put me on some kind of access + and that might work but he didn’t really think so.

My next move was to call the Florida Public Service Commission. The gal there was quite helpful but said that the state had no control over anything internet. I asked about the FCC and she said they were brain dead and would just send me back to the state. She said she could connect me to the Executive Admin offices of ATT which she did. The person there identified herself as Brandy Alexander, and said that something didn’t sound right and that somehow a computer was spitting out the letter when it shouldn’t but she would turn it over to a techy type to look into it further and get back with me. True to her word, I got a call the next day from a Customer Care Representative that seemed to understand what was going on. He asked what my AOL access numbers were and found that, according to his system, the Daytona numbers I was accessing were within my range and should be normal, toll free calls. He asked if I was putting a “1” in front of the number – I do – and that if I just put in the 7 digit phone number, the problem would go away. Nope – when I do that, there’s an intercept that tells me I have to put a “1” or a “0” as a prefix to complete the call. That generated a big hmmmmmmmm from the guy. So he said he was turning this over to the repair department since I should be able to dial Daytona as part of my standard local calling range. If that’s true, I never needed to go the extended range from the get go. He also checked on the other, non-Daytona, exchanges that AOL lists as ok access points for me; that would be Orange City and Debary. Both are in Volusia County, have 386 area codes, and are physically about as far from me as Daytona. But it turns out that those exchanges are not ATT. Upon closer examination, I noted that I was calling those two exchanges more often than Daytona because of heavy traffic into Daytona. I didn’t realize any of this – that those two were not ATT or that they were any different than any other exchange. I also didn’t realize I was using them.

The repair dept called as promised and said that indeed I had to dial the 1 to get to the Daytona exchange and more importantly, that the original letter was generated because I was using Debary and Orange City. I deleted those numbers from my dialing sequence So I think the problem is solved. Not sure how they thought I would know which exchanges are ATT and which are not or that unlimited long distance calling doesn’t really mean unlimited long distance calling.

I’m trying to get my arms around Obama’s words so I can understand him better. For example, not sure which of these two statements is more tougher: “I am deeply concerned and going to try to get the UN to put out a new resolution” or; “I am gravely concerned and going to try to get the UN to put out a new resolution.” I’m fairly sure both mean that we’re not going to do anything but not sure exactly what words he would use to mean something is actually going to happen. All the analysts say he is sending a message. Ok, what’s the message? Hillary said we’re thinking about putting North Korea back on the list of bad guys – that’ll show em we mean business.

The administration has boxed itself in a bit by totally denouncing the Bush foreign policy and essentially saying that the NK’s and the Iranians are not really evil folks and that you just have to approach them with open arms and an open mind. They are both now driving tanks through the open arms. I think the Reagan and Bush approach is fundamentally easier – you are all evil jerks, now prove to me that you’re not. That way if they respond positively, as in the case of Gorbachov, you’re a hero for holding tough; if they stay in character as bad guys, you’re still ok because you had already predicted that and based your policy on them staying the course. Obama comes off looking naive which is exactly the charge against him from the get go. He’s also trapped into not being able to say anything really nasty about them because it was only a few months back that he was talking them up as being really ok guys. So again he looks wimpy. My gut tells me he’s going to have to shoot down an NK missile or something to put that behind him. It’s even worse when France, the wimpiest of the wimps, is sounding tougher than the USA. Clinton tried lobbing a couple of cruise missiles into tents in the desert and wiping out an aspirin factory but could never shake the Blackhawk down image. I’m starting to smell another Jimmy Carter administration.

But on the plus side – nice catch. I was impressed seeing Obama catch the pesky fly during an interview. It cracked me up when PETA or some other animal rights group got on his case for being cruel to animals.. These folks never met fire ants. I got to wondering if that move was made to impress the NK’s with his speed and ferocity – you know an Asian marshal arts move. I was pretty impressed with NBC’s journalism too – home in on the dead fly so we could see it was a real event. I don’t think McCain could have moved that quickly.

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