Living in Cell Phone Hell

2002 > America

I love AT&T Wireless Cell Phone Hell!

customer dis-service rep
where they should be
punk-ass ryzan
what I want to do
blue for bummer?
Great! (when it works)
How long have you waited on hold when trying to speak with a customer service representative? My record was about 30 minutes while trying to talk to Verizon’s DSL technical support once. That is until I tried to reach an AT&T Wireless customer representative last night.

When I first called, I went through the usual automated menu tree and was told there would be six to ten minutes wait for the next representative. After two (2) hours on hold, I finally gave up. Luckily, I was using a speakerphone and while I waited, eating dinner, reading, and surfing the net, so I kept my sanity.

I did not keep my patience though, and first thing this morning, when I got to work, I called AT&T Wireless again. This time, with them on speakerphone and me on hold, I was able to get through after only 30 minutes in Musak hell, but my torture didn’t stop there.

Actually, I don’t think its torture as much as a worldwide conspiracy against me by the Cell Phone Gods (or just AT&T Wireless), for I am now on my fourth Nokia 8260 in four months, yet I still have a litany of problems and I’m starting to suspect the network more than the phone.

It all started in June, about a month after I signed up for an AT&T Wireless deal where I got 400 regional anytime minutes that started at 8pm on the weekdays. I was in California & I wanted to switch to a nationwide plan, but move back to the regional plan when I went back to DC. Even though the customer service rep assured me, three times, that I could go back to the plan, when I returned to DC, no amount of bitching could get my old plan back.

So there I was, on the national plan with only 350 minutes that started at 9pm, and I would’ve lived with it except I can’t even use those 350 minutes, not to mention the 3,000 night & weekend minutes, because the cell service is so bad here.

I can only complete about 25% of the calls I make in the metro DC area due to three continuously and very annoying problems:

  • I get a fast busy signal about a third of the time, which means that we sidewalk yappers in DC overtax the AT&T Wireless system. Oh, and I’m not just talking about the after 9pm set either, but any time of day, any day of the week. Its ridiculous the number of times I have to redial to get through even at 2am!
  • Then, if I actually do get through to the number, about 15% of the time I can hear them, but they can’t hear me. This means that the cell tower can send to my phone, but my phone can’t reach the towers. Since the towers are stronger than my phone, I can understand that this might happen once or twice, but its so common that my friends are now used to my silent calls and just hang up.
  • If they can hear me, we try to keep the conversation short, for we never know when a call will be dropped, but we can always bet it will be about three minutes into the call, right when the gossip gets juicy.

Finally, if all the planets align and the ionosphere dips down just enough, I can actually complete a call. Its these rare times, when I’m chatting to Deans as I shop for vodka, or coordinating a club-kid rendezvous with Matt, that make me love my cell phone no matter how much it pisses me off.

But piss me off it does, especially since I had great service for the first few months on this plan (with the little service plan bait and switch exception) and my housemate, with the exact same plan from AT&T and the exact same Nokia phone, doesn’t experience any of these problems.

Now you know why I spent so long on hold last night and I’m not excited that AT&T Wireless’s solution seems to just send me yet another Nokia 8260. I’m beginning to think it’s a worldwide conspiracy against me!

2 Comments on “Living in Cell Phone Hell

  1. I don’t have a cell phone, so now worries.
    You could always switch to Verizon wireless. I hear they have much better service.

  2. Wayan

    We just moved back – to Canada. We have learned that when it comes to phone technology, North America is in the dark ages. It is much better in Europe than here – even Siberia is miles ahead of us here.

    It does not help that the phone has only the 1900 GSM band. I switched to one with both 850 and 1900 and it rocks. Plus the GSM network is being upgraded significantly in Canada (the US lags behind – sorry), so that helps.

    Like the site.