11/7/09 - AT&T and there stinking modem

Recently, my XBox360 died. Although that is a story all in itself, short story is that I went ahead and bought a new Xbox 360 Elite. I got it home, hooked it up and realized I couldn't connect to XBox Live. I went and checked our modem and sure enough, we had red lights.

I went through the typical troubleshooting but couldn't get it work. At this point, I was forced to call tech support. Typically, this is a nightmare, but this time around they were very straight forward and told me that I would have to buy a new modem. There is a 1 year warranty and mine lasted 1 year and a few months. Apparently, after reading several reviews online and seeing if I could buy one outside of the AT&T network, this is quite common with this particular modem. So, if you have AT&T DSL service, started saving some extra cash, because it appears that after about 14 months, they just stop working.

After weighing my options, I decided to go up to the AT&T store to see if I could talk them down on price for a new modem ($100 for wireless, $75 hard-wired). Knowing that new customers get a rebate for free equipment, I was hoping to at least get the price reduced by half. I didn't think this was too far out of the question especially after walking in and seeing a large advertisement for the free equipment deal (after rebate of course).

Once I was able to speak to a salesman, I went straight to the point. I explained the situation and told him that basically, I wanted to get my internet back up and going, but I didn't feel that after being a loyal DSL customer for nearly a year and a half, I should have to pay for a crappy piece of equipment that they required you to have. He quickly explained that there was nothing he could do, and amazingly, there was no one he could talk to about it (this of course, seemed like a big fat lie, but we continued anyways).

Next, he suggested U-verse. I think I have written about this before, but the television service that u-verse offers, in my mind is priced higher than just about any other package I have compared. To get the same setup we have now with Dish, u-verse would be an extra $36 a month. This immediately rules out getting tv through u-verse and since we don't have or need a home phone, we don't need that service either.

The salesman explains that if you get internet and tv, there is no installation charge, but if you only get internet, they will charge you $150. I'll repeat that, $150 if you only get internet. I attempted to negotiate the price on the installation, but he again stated that he could do nothing and there was no one that could.

Timing on these also came into play. Basically, he explained that with u-verse, you had to shut off your DSL for 5 days before they could setup an appointment to come setup the u-verse service. This makes no sense to me, but I'm not familiar with this technology, so I can't comment on the validity of this statement. Of course, their scheduling was about 10 days out, so I would be without for over 2 weeks. With DSL, in order to maybe, try to get the rebate, he said I would have to shut off DSL service for 5 days, and then sign back up and hope that they don't notice I just canceled service. Basically, I could wait 2 weeks with no internet and get u-verse for $150, wait 5 days with no internet and hopefully get a free wireless modem, otherwise I could get it that day and pay the $100 and be good to go.

Being frugal, I still felt there was a better way. After not giving the guy an answer, he finally came back with a deal he "just found" that gave a $100 rebate for u-verse internet setup. Immediately, this was the best deal in regards to price. However, Cristi and Makenna were leaving in 3 days and considering my time alone would be spent playing video games online and surfing the web, I couldn't be without for 2 weeks. Finally, the guy said that I could just buy the modem that day, and bring it back within 30 days.

So, with that said, here is how it was supposed to play out. Mind you, this conversation with the guy took 20 minutes or so. I purchased the modem that day. I kept all the receipts and boxes ready to be repackaged and sent back to the store. When my family got back in town, I was going to be taking the modem and canceling my DSL service. As soon as possible, I would request the u-verse internet installation and wait for that to be turned on. I planned on making one last attempt at getting the entire installation fee waived, otherwise I would have just covered the $50 fee (after rebate) and moved on. The price for service is identical so I would have been gaining the option to upgrade speed and have AT&T take responsibility for the hardware. Sounded like a win-win to me.

On the 3rd of November, I decided to put my plan into action. But, before doing so, I thought I would just hook up the old modem, just to make sure it was really broken and it wasn't have a bad day when it "broke". Guess what, it worked just fine. However, I was using the new power cable, so I'm guessing that something was actually wrong with the power cable, and not the modem. I quickly packaged up the new modem, put it back in the box and took it back to get a full refund. That part of the plan went flawless.

I made the mistake however, of trying to get more information on U-verse. I asked how long it would take to get U-verse internet turned on. The lady quickly responded with, "You can't do that". So we had a nice discussion about how u-verse is a package deal and you have to get at least two of the services. I objected stating that the previous salesmen had tried to sell me on just the internet and I had a friend who was using only internet service under the u-verse label. She insisted that you had to get internet packaged with a home phone (which we don't need) or a tv package (which is grossly overpriced).

To summarize, I now have internet, it works fine and for the most part at no out of pocket cost to me. Had I needed to get U-verse, I would have been out of luck (according to the saleslady I talked to), I would not have been happy. For now though, all is good.


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