Auf Wiedersehen, AT&T!
Saturday, August 2, 2014 at 4:38PM
Joe Reiter

After seventeen years, I-can't-count-how-many calls and complaints about service, several dozen emails involving the office of the president and members of his inner circle, a visit from a senior level engineer, and a dispute over $45, I'm in the final hour of my days as an AT&T customer.

The story has been documented so many times before so I'm not getting into it. 

Instead, I'm going to post an exchange I had with someone from the office of the president not long ago in regards to lack of service. This was one of the deciding factors in leaving AT&T, but not the final one. 

In a nutshell: I sent a frustrated email to the office of the president (Randall Stephenson) in December regarding a continuous lack of signal in the city. I was contacted by one Kim Scott from the president's office and found that she didn't like putting anything in writing (probably for fear of it being used against the firm in the event of a lawsuit.

So, first up, the initial email I received from Kim in response to my email:


Thank you for choosing AT&T as your service provider.  As a valued customer, your complete satisfaction with the wireless service we provide is our first priority. 

I recently received notification you have an unresolved issue regarding your wireless account.  I appreciate you taking the time to advise me of your concerns and welcome the opportunity to address this issue. 

Please contact me toll-free at 866-220-8446 at your earliest convenience regarding this matter.  I look forward to working with you. 

Kim Scott | AT&T | Office of the President - Northeast Region

My response a few hours later on the 15th:

Hello Kim

As I've mentioned several times, for whatever reason (most likely the fact that AT&T's network coverage in NYC sucks), I spend 3/4 of my day without cell phone service, so if you're the one who has been leaving voicemails, keep in mind that I usually get these messages late in the when I go downstairs and finally get service on my phone...and by that point, chances are you're no longer in the office.

I assume this is in reference to the emails I have sent regarding the horrific service on my iPhone; I'm just not really sure what a phone conversation is going to do at this point. I've missed dozens of phone calls over the last year (and it's gotten worse lately), many of which were important. As I stated before, I've been a long-time customer, and I think this is the breaking point. I'm not going to continue paying $200+ a month for service I can't use, that's just not acceptable.

And if you think I'm kidding, I have dozens of photos, taken daily, showing my coverage as SEARCHING. I've been documenting this for my blog.

Like I said, I'm not sure what a phone call is going to accomplish, but if you're adamant about talking to me, try me in the morning, before 11AM. 

After speaking with Kim on the 16th and getting a promise of a resolution and a follow-up within twenty-four hours, I reached out a day later after hearing nothing.


Hey Kim,

What is the current status of the investigation you said you were going to be kicking off yesterday as far as the service coverage issues for the iPhone in midtown NYC, specifically at <location removed>? 

After more lip service about having the issue investigated by a "top AT&T engineer, my ticket (which Kim opened) was closed. I found out via text message:


Hi Kim

I just wanted to let you know that whatever engineer you assigned my case to closed the ticket because, as I learned last night, "he couldn't reach me by phone during business hours".

Considering the fact that my problem is a lack of service (and therefore an inability to send & receive phone calls and texts during MY business hours), and considering that you in all likelihood explained this problem to said engineer, I have to wonder exactly what is wrong with AT&T that simple things like intelligent comprehension are a problem.

The only reason I learned my ticket had been closed was due to the (amazingly) dilligent work of an engineer named Andre Vegas, who has been the only bright spot I've encountered from your organization to this point. He checked around after I received a text message last night after 8PM EST informing me my ticket had been resolved, and found that whoever was working on it did indeed close the ticket without speaking to me.

We've gone now from my being annoyed with AT&T's service to my being disgusted with both the service and support. I'm glad I refrained from buying my wife an iPhone for Christmas because it's one less headache to deal with next year.

After another call and a re-opening of the case, I sent more emails to Kim for answers. She never responded with anything other than "I will look into it." That prompted this email from me after two weeks:


Hi Kim

I understand you're not big on email communication...but I'm putting this in writing because I want there to be a written record of this.

One of your engineers, Angelica Mendoza, called to let me know that there were a couple of "cell towers adjacent to my building with 'issues' which has been going on for the last couple of days." I'm not clear on exactly how this has been the problem for me over the last nine months, and at this point I'm going to call a spade a spade and state that your engineering team has failed to come up with a real, clear, viable reason for me to not have service on two separate occasions.

What's left now, as far as I'm concerned, is to come to some kind of resolution where AT&T makes this right by me. I have withheld payment on my December bill, and I find it amusing and sad that your billing department is quick to ask for money, but your engineering team is deathly slow to provide answers to the question of why there's no service.

As I've stated before, I see no intelligent reason to continue paying for service that's not being provided. If AT&T cannot/will not resolve this issue (which I believe is more to do with the fact that your network in NYC is subpar, as is the case with SF), then we need to discuss major discounts on my service or, if need be, allowing me out of my contract to go to a carrier that works.

We have gone well beyond what should be a normal time for a resolution, and quite frankly I don't want to continue wasting my time attempting to make phone calls on my device without service for your engineers to study. Obviously it's not working, and I have better things to do.

Let me know how you want to proceed.

This prompted a call from Kim in which I was told they would be sending one of their 'top engineers' to do a site survey to determine the cause of the problem. 

The engineer, Alex (not his real name), showed up and informed me that he was well aware of the issues in the area with coverage for AT&T because they didn't have enough towers in the area. There were two towers located two blocks north and two more located two blocks south of me, and the problem was getting a signal through the buildings. There was no immediate answer to this problem as it was up to AT&T to work out deals to place more cell towers on more buildings in the area. 

Alex was intelligent, well-informed, and well-spoken. This made him a rarity at AT&T. I emailed Kim to inform her about Alex's findings, though he had mentioned he was under orders to report his findings to her directly.

"You really rattled some people with your emails, man," was the last thing he said before leaving. 

After a week without a response I emailed Kim again.


Hi Kim,

I haven't heard from you this week, but I imagine you have heard the update by this point. Your engineer was here on Monday afternoon and confirmed to me that AT&T does not have a cell tower for coverage on the south side of <location removed>, and that this is a known problem with other personal and business accounts in the building. In point of fact, the business account rep for my company was made aware of this more than six months ago. The engineer stated this was 'on the radar' to be fixed, possibly with an in-building solution of a tower being added to this building for coverage, pending the account rep's approval.

Since we've now clearly established that this is:

A) A specific AT&T problem, and
B) This has been a known issue for at least six months

what I'd like to do is go back to what you asked me during our first conversation and turn it around: What is AT&T going to do about this to make me, your customer, feel confident in staying with you?

It took two weeks for Kim to respond.


Mr. Reiter,

 I have some additional information regarding your account.  Please give me a call today so we can discuss this information further. 

Thank you.

Kim Scott | AT&T | Office of the President - Northeast Region |

Unfortunately, her answer was given over the phone so there's no documentation of it. I'll have to paraphrase how the conversation went.

Me: Hi, Kim. So you've talked to Alex?

Kim: Yes I have, Mister Reiter.

Me: So how do you want to handle this? A credit to my account, or....?

Kim: Alex was mistaken, Mister Reiter. Your issue is not with towers. We've determined your phone is the problem and we cannot take any further steps to help you. Our suggestion is you upgrade and get a new phone.

Me: Whoa. Hold it. You sent a senior engineer to my building who CLEARLY confirmed your service was at fault. Now your senior engineer was wrong?

Kim: We are unable to provide any further assistance, Mister Reiter. We value you as a customer and hope--


Welp. The joke's on them. I'm now a former customer.

Go fuck yourself, AT&T.


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