CA - AT&T AtHome tracks down service snafu : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

AT&T AtHome tracks down service snafu Customers complain of lack of communication

By Kathy Schrenk STAFF WRITER

FREMONT -- An AT&T AtHome Internet service outage has been attributed in part to customer service problems in adjusting to a software upgrade.

On Monday and Tuesday, customers were complaining of being without service since Thursday and getting little help from the company.

By Tuesday afternoon, AT&T seemed to have pinpointed the problem -- an e-mail message sent to AtHome customers Aug. 2 and Aug. 14 that both subscribers and customer service representatives apparently misunderstood.

The same e-mail was sent twice to customers telling them to change some settings on their computers, or they would lose service Aug. 17, spokesman Andrew Johnson said. The changes were necessary for completing a software upgrade, according to the e-mail. Aug. 17, last Thursday, was the date the customers who called and e-mailed The Argus said they lost service.

Unfortunately, staffers on AtHome's help line didn't make the connection between the outages and the e-mail.

"If they haven't (made the configuration changes)," said Johnson, "that would trouble-shoot their issues pretty quickly. That still does not answer why they got a customer service representative who couldn't give them the same information. Obviously that's a training issue we have to address."

Johnson said that if there are any customers still having problems they should double check to make sure they have followed the instructions in that e-mail.

Across the board, customers have had the same complaints during the past two days. They said they called the customer help line daily and got conflicting answers about why the service is down from different help line staffers.

They were also angry that Johnson said in Tuesday's Argus that the outages lasted no longer than 3 1/2 hours when their service had been down for several days.

Mary Lynn Roth and Robyn Braverman are among those who agree that AtHome's customer service issues need to be addressed. "We've called since last week two or three times a day and every time we get a different answer," Roth said. "My husband telecommutes and it's really hard. It's very frustrating."

Braverman was similarly upset. "The way that they've handled their customer service is astonishing. It's not even funny," she said. "They act like the want to care but they really don't."

She said it seems like the customer service representatives are frustrated as well and don't have the answers customers are looking for.

Johnson said his statement about outages lasting less than 3 1/2 hours came from customer service records that may only reflect major outages and not individual problems.

"It's never as clear-cut as it appears at first glance," Johnson said. "I can understand the frustration in why they feel there's an inconsistency but we'd be avalanched with calls if there was this widespread kind of thing."

Kathy Cote, environmental services manager for the city, said officials have received many calls from residents with similar complaints in the last few days.

In light of Fremont's ordinances requiring AT&T to provide certain levels of service, she said officials will be considering the possibility of fining the company or implementing more customer services standards. She said such a resolution could be before the City Council in a month or so.

-- Doris (, August 24, 2000

Moderation questions? read the FAQ