Sunday, March 11, 2012


The dictionary defines the word bamboozle this way. . .
1. "to deceive by underhanded methods"
2. "to confuse, frustrate, or throw off thoroughly
or completely"

The Thesaurus offers these synonyms. . .
"deceive, delude, dupe, con, fake out, fool, misguide, mislead and misinform."

In my own lexicon the synonyms start with "sucker, scam, shaft" and get dramatically more colorful. I'd love to share but, this being a family show, I won't.

And yeah you're right, this is gonna be an ArtMan rant.

About 3 weeks ago, I was happily working away at my smoothly running computer when the phone rang. Without looking up at my caller I.D., I instinctively picked up the call.
It was a sales dude from at&t. I don't normally answer sales calls but this time they snagged me and sure, I could have ended the call really quick but he seemed warm and personable and I guess I was having one of my very rare mental moments of weakness so I listened to what he
had to say.

He wanted to offer me an upgraded service that would make my internet speed faster than a speeding bullet, give me wider access wireless networks and, the best part, would lower my phone bill by $25 - $30.
Well faster speed and wireless didn't thrill me but a smaller phone bill?
In this economy, what the hell could it hurt?
So in my moment of weakness, I agreed to the upgrade.

The product is called "U-Verse" and it was gonna be the best thing since sliced bread.

Two weeks later UPS delivered and I installed the new, unnecessarily large modem, a phone guy came over and strung a new wire from the pole to the house. Was I back in business as usual?
Well, not so much.

While I could still get on-line and still receive e-mail, I couldn't send e-mail. (I was e-mute).
Now, among the pile of papers that came with all this crap was a customer support number; I called it. . .
The "tech" on the other end told me I couldn't access the
e-mail server because I hadn't closed out my DSL account by paying the final bill. (no one had mentioned that before. . .)

Wasn't I dealing with the same company?
Well yes, but we do separate billing.
My thought was "you've been bamboo-zled."
Then the games began. . .

I logged on-line to the BellSouth website (which is how I've paid my bill for the last 10 years) but the bitch wouldn't let me in. So I called BellSouth but my call was automatically routed to "U-Verse". All I wanted to pay is my last DSL bill to clear the way for the new service and get back to work.
Long story short, it took, I kid you not, a half a day to finally find someone who could handle the transaction.

At that point it was 4:30 in the afternoon and the bill was paid but I was more aggravated than I'd been in a year.
It was time to just let it go, crack open a cold one and find something to eat.
"U-Verse" will keep until tomorrow.

The next morning, in much better spirits after a good night's sleep, I'm back at the computer checking the incoming e-mail (like I do every morning) and start drafting replies. No soap; the server isn't recognizing any of my addresses.

I'm back on the phone to customer support. . .

I explain the problem and suggest that with the "upgrade" maybe the port settings have changed. The customer support guy agrees (no one had mentioned that before. . .) and he gives me the new numbers.
While we're talking, I ask him how often he has to walk customers through these pain-in-the-ass problems. "Every day, 10 times a day, we have problems with the system" was his exasperated reply.

New settings in hand, I ended the call, punched in the numbers but still, no soap.
I was receiving e-mail but still couldn't send.

By now I'm in the heavy workload part of my week and it's time to "out-think the machine". I log-in to and access my e-mail from there and from there, it turns out, I can send. (improvise and overcome)

Confident that I've found an effective stop-gap solution to get me through the rest of my work week, I called it, a day.

The next morning, again in much better spirits after a good night's sleep, I'm back at the computer checking the incoming e-mail. I log on to (just like did the day before) but it won't let me in.
So much for my pleasant morning mood; now this is all a real pain-in-the-balls!
I've got a dozen clients looking for answers and I can't reply.
I could lose a few bucks over this!

Back on the phone to customer support. . .

After 10 minutes of "please hold muzak", a dude comes on, I explain the problem and now he's directing me to a Yahoo website to try and get at my e-mail.

A Yahoo website?? WTF???

Keep in mind, I'm not running a "dinosaur of a computer" system over here. It's a MAC 10 point something, running Adobe CS4 programs and I have 2 e-mail programs. Every thing works, every thing is backed up and the back-ups are backed up. The problem is not on my end!
I tell the support dude all that, ask him a few tech questions and he says, "we're not trained to deal with those kinds of problems" and gives me yet another number for the "Connection Specialists" (already another half day is lost on this mess).

I call, get another 10 minutes of "please hold muzak", some one answers and I explain my problem again. The voice on the other end confirms that they get calls like mine very often and they can help me. But for that help I'd need to subscribe to a maintenance service contract for $15 a month with a commitment for 12 months and would like to put that on my credit card today?

I think to myself, now let me get this straight. . .
I've been told by 3 separate support people that at&t knows "U-Verse" has problems only at&t can fix them. But to get them fixed, I've got pay for the privilege.
In my head that translated to, "you were dumb enough to get bamboo-zled into this sub-standard upgrade scam and now we're holding your internet capabilities for ransom."
This I could not abide.

Come Monday, all my on-line and land-line services will be moved to Comcast.
Going forward, I'll keep you all up to speed on
address changes.
And o sh*t, I'll have to reprint my business cards.


James Winstanley said...

Art, next time, give me a call. I used to work for AT&T when they started putting out U-Verse in Dallas. It sold like bright green colored bricks of crap. As in, not well at all.

Remember, you do have a little brother who's a techie/geek. :-)

Arthur Winstanley said...

James, I might have called you if it were a "tech" problem but this was about piss-poor customer service and extortion.
I just put my business elsewhere.