Yesterday, another day of no internet connection. Started at 6 a.m. M used all his techniques and tricks to try reconnecting, but no dice. Obviously, a repeat of what happened in January. But what made this time worse and more frustrating was that it was totally impossible to get anyone to answer the phones at AT&T! Some companies might have thought of doing things differently the second time such a major outage occurred by installing a recorded message regarding the problem. But no-o-o-o, not Ma Bell! (Well, we all know the old gal ain’t what she used to be!) We called repeatedly only to get the usual recorded message telling us how much they appreciated out patronage, thanking us for our patience, and advising us that our call would be answered by the next available representative. Yeah, right! At one point, putting the phone on speaker, we waited for more than an hour, and then AT&T disconnected us! So much for “customer service”! Once again, we discussed switching providers but put it on hold for the moment.

The more I thought about how dismissively AT&T was treating its customers, the more ticked I became. It got me thinking that, perhaps, the story might interest News 12, the NJ cable station. So, at around 4 p.m., with no end to the connection interruption in sight, I took out our area phone book to see if the station’s number was listed. Sure enough, it was! Just as I was about to pick up the phone, M called out, “It’s back!” Happily, he was able to re-establish the wifi connection without the problems we encountered last time. We then joked that AT&T must have gotten wind of the fact that I was going spill the beans to the t.v. station about the inexcusable behavior, so they hustled to fix the connection. Hey, whatever works….

Nice that we’re connected again, but we immediately discover that AT&T has posted a very important message. In an effort to streamline operations, as of March 31st, they will be discontinuing DSL service in our area. Dial-up will still be available (I guess we tend to forget that there are some folks who are still using it), and for thosse with a laptop, they can receive a special card which can be inserted to get DSL. Well, neither of us has a laptop, and we certainly aren’t going back to dial-up!

Suddenly, we had no choice in the matter. We were getting a new internet provider.

Since I detest Cablevision, we decided to check out Verizon. Though FIOS is not available in our neighborhood, their DSL service is. M called and was told that the rate would be the same as what we are paying AT&T. But from what we gather, the connection would not be any faster.

So, once again, I reluctantly said o.k. to calling Cablevision, aka Optimum. The rate was much cheaper (for one thing, they don’t charge tax). Since AT&T is also our phone service provider, M also asked about switching that and found that Optimum was way cheaper. With Cablevision/Optimum as our t.v., internet, and phone provider, we would now have what they call the “Triple Play.” M also decided to have them install a DVR on the HDTV in the family room. I’m still sticking with my old-fashioned t.v. and vcr in the bedroom – at least, for now. Overall, we will be saving a little more than $20 a month.

There’s a certain kind of irony in AT&T forcing our hand with regard to changing providers. Optimum advertises that its internet connection is 5 times faster than the phone companies. We can certainly attest to the fact that AT&T’s DSL is sl-o-o-o-w. Thus, if Optimum’s claim turns out to be true, I might learn to love Cablevision. THAT would definitely be ironic!


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