Tuesday, January 2, 2018

AT&T Fiber: Faster Internet, Same AT&T

AT&T Fiber is fast. If you have access to it, look into it. Fast is good. Fast is not what happens if you need service or want your gift card for signing up. Then you get the normal AT&T you've known for years and that you swore you'd never go back to. Like that ex from high school that you see later on Facebook and think, "Two divorces don't really mean (s)he's still a possessive, overbearing psycho."


We were supposed to get a gift card for signing up. Probably the $50 I just saw when searching. But there's a catch. AT&T waits for a month and then mails a postcard. Then you go online to claim the pseudo credit card. Why don't THEY mail it? Why isn't it cash? Well, it's because very few people ever claim these cards, and my (this) experience is why.

My wife called about a month after the initial installation. They told her the rebate was not ready yet. My wife told me about three months after the installation that I should call, and I said it often takes several months for these big companies to get their act together. So we waited.

When the internet went out six months after the initial installation, I figured AT&T had been given enough time to send the postcard with the numbers to claim the gift card. But how do I contact anyone? Eventually, there's a rewards area on the website. Account number? Is it the one I see everywhere on my page? That one does not work, so maybe it's elsewhere? On the paper bill, but we're paperless. So I download the pdf, only it does not open. Chat also does not open in my new Google Chrome installation. I check email, and it says to login to view the pdf, which does not open. And it's probably the account number I'm seeing, anyhow. On phone or online, no record of my reward. Lots of waiting on hold once I finally tried to talk to a human person. Lots of reminders to go online and not bug them in India--25 minutes worth, and then my phone DIED!!!! Then I got on a chat that worked. But it wasn't the rewards one.

What does this all mean? We never received a postcard. Probably no one ever does. The postcard gives a code to redeem online, along with an expiration date. If our card was ever redeemed, then it was redeemed by someone who works for the company AT&T hires to set up this convoluted scheme. Perhaps our reward expired because we did not check online, at the hard-to-find rewards center during the time the card was valid. I don't know, and that's the way AT&T wants it, just like I didn't know until I looked closer at my account that my $10 "discount" would be gone after one year. I'm already paying $10 more than Google Fiber, but now I'll get to pay $20 more after a year, all without the stupid gift card.

Most of us in Jacksonville just take this abuse. We're happy with working internet. Some will change providers every couple of years, only to be disappointed with that new company shortly after the switch. I can't believe we're at a point where $80 a month is not enough on its own to just pay for the fast internet that has the infrastructure there. Why am I getting scammed by a gift card thing? Why am I paying an extra $10 after a year? Why am I getting pressure to bundle? Why does Youtube get throttled when I'm getting speeds as fast as my Google Fiber? It just seems to me that if you provide the fastest internet in the area, tell everyone, and let them be happy with it at the price they signed up for. Don't offer gift cards you don't intend to mail or promotional prices that will lead to people switching to the competition.

If you do not receive your AT&T reward, are you surprised? If you want to get it, be prepared to spend around two hours figuring it out.  And, after all of that, I disabled a pop-up blocker and was able to connect to chat for rewards specifically. The result: even though my wife specifically asked for the reward BEFORE service, asked the technician DURING installation, and called again AFTER we'd had it for a month, AT&T never even got us to the point of losing the postcard, signing up improperly online, never getting the gift card, never activating the gift card, forgetting to use the gift card, or losing the gift card. Here's the "rewards" center's response: