Good Grief–The Internet’s Down

It’s tough to quantify how important the Internet is. We’d go a little crazy if removed from it, even for this one evening.

att-u-verse-logo-600x400Testing 1-2-3. Can you hear me? I am coming to you via alternate means tonight. My Internet connection is gone!

This started a few days ago. Our AT&T/Uverse connection began shutting down for no apparent reason.

Sometimes it was a few seconds or a minute. Later it stretched out to a few minutes. No rhyme nor reason. All the modem lights were blinking as if it was all OK.

I spoke to an AT&T tech last night. An ‘in home’ tech was dispatched today. Four hour window. He was here 3:30 in.

Everything was working when he got here. He wanted to swap out my modem, but the system wouldn’t let him. Intermittent problems suck.

He called for an ‘outside’ repairman to check my fiber interface. I had to go, but he didn’t need me.

When I returned a Sharpied note inside the box said it had been swapped. My dad said service stopped when the guy began the repair. It never came back.

My problem had been fixed until it was broken!

This evening I spent 45 minutes on the phone with JC in the Philippines. Booting AT&T’s modem takes a L-O-N-G time. Three boots while on the phone. Once before.

We tried valiantly, but couldn’t resuscitate it.

Christmas Miracle 2014 — AT&T is sending a tech Christmas morning.

Meanwhile, no Uverse means no Internet and no TV!

John and Veronica next door have lent us their WiFi. Helaine’s on that upstairs. Based on WiFi they are Arcadia Fire fans.

Let me add, great neighbors are hard to find. John, Veronica and their three kids are great neighbors.

My dad’s iPad wouldn’t connect, but he’s reading a book he brought with him.

I’m on my laptop. It and my tablet are online… I can’t tell you how.

It’s tough to quantify how important the Internet seemed when it was gone. We’d go a little crazy if removed from it, even for this one evening.

When Companies Shift The Burden To Their Customers

att-u-verse-logo-600x400Having a blog allows me to kvetch, even about small things… like what happened this morning.

My experience was shared by many. Consider this a class action kvetch. I represent the thousands, possibly millions, affected by today’s nationwide outage on AT&T U-verse.

My local TV stations remained. Everything else disappeared. I didn’t know that at the time.

The tuner was set to 1202, CNN. Black. I tuned up a few. I tuned down a few. Nothing. The channel number and program synopsis was still there. No program.

Downstairs, Helaine was watching GMA on 1007, KABC. She was problem free.

Both our cable boxes were acting the same way, but because I didn’t tune a few hundred channels down I didn’t know it! Just enough knowledge to be dangerous.

I rebooted the cable box. The box must be the problem, right?

I did this three times. No change.

There was nothing on AT&T’s site, nor on their social media accounts. Later, I realize this was because they were maintaining ‘radio silence.’ They were getting tons of complaints and not responding.

All signs I could grasp pointed to a problem in my house. But I was being gnawed at. My logical computer mind was bothered by the way the signal died. It didn’t fit. The problem didn’t correlate with the box’s internal hardware.

I rebooted the hub. AT&T sends channels to my individual cable boxes via IP. It’s just data. I have one TV with a WiFi box and three connected via Ethernet. And, of course, there are computers and phones and printers and tablets and who-knows-what connected too!

Rebooting the hub meant stopping Internet and TV throughout the house. Didn’t help.

I tried calling the AT&T phone line. Fast busy. A fast busy indicates the circuit, rather than an individual line, is busy. Probably call volume.

That was actually reassuring! Maybe I wasn’t alone?

I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. Cable has gone down before. I started doing deeper searches.

No news organization had picked up on it. I did a Twitter search for people tweeting to Uverse. Bingo. My story, a thousand times.

I tipped off @LanceUlanoff at Mashable

When reached for comment, an AT&T spokesperson explained the outage, “Due to a power-related issue triggered by a third-party at our video hub, U-verse customers may be experiencing a loss of national channels. Technicians are working to resolve the issue and we expect to have service fully restored by early afternoon. We apologize for this inconvenience.”

By keeping off social media and failing to post something on the company’s website, AT&T hoped to keep this quiet. They mostly did.

However, they shifted a real burden to their customers. My troubleshooting time might not be individually valuable, but multiply it by all the people who did just what I did and we’re talking big numbers.

I understand there will be glitches. I still consider the service reliable. The bone I pick has to do with 21st Century communications.

AT&T valued their own concerns over mine.

If you’re wondering why customers sometimes dislike companies, here you go.