Thursday, June 10, 2010

AT&T takes suckage to a whole new level

I've known for a while that AT&T sucks but they just took suckage to a whole new level. We recently moved to the Bay Area from Los Angeles, where we had two phone lines. When I called to move our phone service I asked for forwarding recordings to be placed on our old lines. They said no problem. It took us a week to actually get hooked up to our new phone lines (a story for another time), so today was the first day that we were actually able to make calls from our new house. I called our old numbers to make sure that the forwarding recordings were up and had the correct number on them. They weren't. They just said, "You have reached a number that has been disconnected..." So I called AT&T and asked them to fix it. They said that they could only put the recording on one of the two lines.

Say what?

Yes, that's right. It's obviously not technically impossible for them to do it, it's strictly a business decision. Because the two numbers were on one residential account, I can only get one forwarding recording. I can't even pay to get a second one. I have no choice but to have one of my numbers come up as "disconnected or no longer in service."

Un freakin' believable.

On the plus side, this makes it a lot easier to decide whether or not to get a second line from AT&T this time around. I can't wait for my iPhone contract to expire so I can get a Nexus One. I've absolutely had it with AT&T. (I'm none too thrilled with Apple nowadays either.)


Unknown said...

You may be able to transfer your old/disconnected phone to GoogleVoice (yea for number portability), and have *that* forward to your new number.

The your callers will just get you, instead of getting a recording to call the new number :-)

Unknown said...

Google Voice just opened up to everyone, no invite needed.

Forwarding, transcription and group based greetings. No complaints so far and you'll never have to give out a 'new phone number' again!

Anonymous said...

I wish we'd known one another, and that you saw me as expert in this area (which, by the way, I am) before you even called AT&T; and that you had called me first.

I would have told you that virtually no phone company will mess with custom messages like that; and that when you talk about a forwarding recording, they only know how to think it terms of a recording like the one you heard.

You, as the owner of the line, must always take responsibility for what the caller hears, and/or for how the caller is switched, based on what the phone company offers as normal, everyday services.

In your case, when calling AT&T to handle how you'd like your OLD numbers to behave, I'd have first asked for a supervisor (since front-line customer service people at telcos pretty much only know how to do the mundane, run-of-the-mill stuff).

Then I'd have asked if AT&T still offered, as it certainly offered in the past, the ability to terminate the old lines at the central office (CO) rather than in your home, as they were at that point. If s/he said "yes," and quote the associated fees, then I'd have simply placed an order to so do.

In addition, you'd also, at the time of the order, instruct that both voicemail and a thing called "remote call forwarding" will be working on the lines after they're terminated at the telco CO.

Once they're terminated at the telco CO, you dial-in to the SECOND line's voicemail and record a greeting telling your callers that you're moving, and that you'll be either updating this greeting with your new phone numbers in San Francisco, or maybe just forwarding all calls from the old numbers to the new ones... you haven't decided yet. And then ask the callers to just be patient for a week or two.

Then you dial-in to the first line, and set it to forward all incoming calls to the second line.

Then you move to San Francisco and whenever the new lines there are operating, you decide whether you want the old lines to merely tell calles what your new SF numbers are, or you will just have those two numbers forward to the new ones.

Of course, the latter method both causes you to incur long-distance charges to the old numbers each time someone calls the old numbers and they forward to the new ones; plus, forwarding doesn't teach the old callers anything... doesn't ask them to please cross out of their address books your old numbers, and write-in the new ones.

For that reason, I recommend just updating the old second line's voicemail greeting with the new SF numbers; and asking in said greeting that the caller please take a moment to update his/her address book.

Let it sit like that for one (1) year (paying for it, of course), and then turn off the old lines. Anyone who doesn't call you in a year and learn of your new location in the world can just twist in the wind. And that's in keeping with AT&T's way of doing things, in any case, since the longest that you can typically have a "this number has been disconnected" recording before AT&T reassigns the number is a year.

During that year, though, to make sure that even those who only call you once every two years or longer get the news, you need to but a bunch of blank post cards and address them to anyone and everyone who could possibly need to know and send them out with a brief notice of your new address and telephone information, and asking them to please update their records.

That's how to do it. It's the only way that really works.

Hope that helps.

Gregg L. DesElms
Napa, California USA
gregg at greggdeselms dot com

Ron said...

You completely missed the point. I wasn't asking for any kind of a custom message. All I wanted was the standard "The number you have reached ... has been changed. The new number is ..." recording. And this was of course *technically* possible to put this recording on both lines, but it was an AT&T business policy not to allow it because the two lines were on the same account. I asked if it was possible to pay for the second recording, and was told no.