AT&T: We Suck Therefore We Are

get smart shoe phoneLovely. Just lovely. I had the pleasure this afternoon of chatting with ‘Ariel Jay Wade’, an AT&T Representative, about the dismal AT&T coverage in Norwich.

Ariel Jay Wade: Hi! Thank you for chatting in to AT&T. We’ll be more than happy to assist you with your inquiry.

Ariel Jay Wade: What questions do you have regarding your coverage?

Me: when we signed up almost four years ago, coverage in our area (zip 05055) was spotty. we were told that was going to improve now that ATT had taken over from Unicel

Me: two years ago, when we renewed, nothing had changed — we were told it was coming soon, though.

Me: today, i still get zero to 1 bar at my house — that goes for all three of our phones (incl. two smartphones)

Me: our contract expires in a few months, and i’m trying to figure out why we should renew w/ ATT now that Verizon has rolled out 4G in our area. Is ATT’s coverage going to get any better here any time soon — or is there anything that can be done about it?

Ariel Jay Wade: I apologize that you are still having issues with the coverage in your area. What AT&T can do today is to look at this for you and if it’s alright with you, I would like to do some troubleshooting to possibly get to the root cause of this issue. Will that be alright with you?

Me: sure

Ariel Jay Wade: You mentioned that you are getting zero to one bar when inside the house. Does it also apply when you are outside?

Me: gets a little better (1-2 bars) up the road a bit.

Ariel Jay Wade: Alright. I just need to verify the level of coverage that you are getting in your area. May I please have your street address?

Me: 37 Turnpike Road, Norwich VT 05055

Ariel Jay Wade: Now based on what you told me, the issue is worse when indoors. It’s possible that the building materials of the house is affecting the coverage inside. I also checked that you are getting a moderate level of coverage in your area. I just need to look at a few more details. Thank you for your patience.

Ariel Jay Wade: Since you are located in an area with moderate level of coverage, what we can do is to submit a network incident report. Submitting this report will not result in immediate network updates but will be considered in future network planning. Her are possible ways to improve your signal: While indoors in a moderate signal area, it is possible to achieve better signal by moving closer to a window or changing rooms if possible. It is also a good practice to power your device off and on occasionally to renew the device registration with the network.

Me: Seriously… that’s it?!? Then I would like to thank you so very, very much for your help. My friends in the area with Verizon phones get five solid bars inside my (wood framed) house. If the best AT&T can do is suggest that I “move closer to the window” or turn off my phone, then the choice has been made for me. After four years of “moderate level” (aka “miserable”) coverage at “full coverage” price, I’m ready to move on.

Ariel Jay Wade: I’m sorry to hear that you are considering to discontinue service. We have a special department who might be able to provide you with further assistance since the issue is still occuring even after doing basic troubleshooting. We have our customer relations team which can be reached at 800-331-0500.

Me: Okay… but what can they do other than suggest I move even closer to the window? Will they perhaps suggest that I open it, too? It’s cold in New England this time of year…

Ariel Jay Wade: They might be able to offer you some other options on how to get better coverage which basic troubleshooting cannot resolve.


So I called 1-800-SUCK-A-BAG-O-DICKS, AT&T’s crack squad of elite customer service wizards. The phone ninja I got in touch with checked the coverage in our area, told me that we have one (1) single AT&T cell tower up here, but that an additional AT&T tower might be coming sometime in December. Until then? Yes, we’d be stuck with the big, fat nothing that we’ve got. And would I like fries with that?

When pushed on possible options apart from switching to Verizon, The Godess of Wireless Wisdom informed me that I could purchase an AT&T micro tower for a mere $199 that would boost AT&T’s signal using my high speed internet connection. I hear that the solution actually works quite well, but I flat-out refuse to spend our money (and our pricey internet connection) in order to mitigate AT&T’s coverage woes. 

I do, however, greatly admire the cojones of the AT&T marketing guy who casually shrugged and said, “screw it, let the suckers pay for it themselves!” when asked what the company should do about their completely inadequate coverage. An inspired move, good Sir, not unlike a hotel selling you an overpriced room, and then — when you complain that it is, in fact, completely empty — proceeding to show you the list of expensive options for buying a bed, a chair, a set of curtains etc.

So, it looks like we’re switching to Verizon — a bit like trading a bad dose of the clap for chronic diarrhea and a jolly round of smallpox. I”m sure it’ll be fun and not at all cringe-inducing. I feel terrible for the guys at Advantage Wireless, the AT&T reseller shop on 12A in Lebanon. They offer simply amazing customer service and are genuinely great people to deal with. Why they are cursed with flogging the suckiest product on earth is not clear to me — they deserve so  much better.