AT&T's U-verse Really, Really Sucks…Really

There’s actually a tenuous connection between this post and real estate. You see…my wife and I became intimately aware of this issue after our recent move and since other people may be moving at some point I feel it is my civic duty to warn them about the epic failure that is AT&T’s U-verse – a package offering of telephone services, Internet, and TV that simply is not ready for prime time. In fact, if the Three Stooges collaborated with Homer Simpson to develop a competing telecommunications offering it would blow U-verse out of the water.
Consider the following sample of our experiences:

  1. U-verse is incompatible with at least one Philips TV model, which we happened to have just bought. You get no picture if you use the HDMI cable.
  2. U-verse was not aware of the incompatibility issue despite the fact that it is discussed on AT&T’s Internet forums.
  3. AT&T’s technical support staff is not familiar with even the most fundamental features of their offering. When you mention a feature odds are they never heard of it.
  4. The technicians they send out to install the service are not familiar with the features either. We had to pull up the product information on the Internet to convince the guy that you should be able to pause a show from any TV.
  5. We briefly had Comcast phone service (long story) in our new home and they were able to utilize the existing wiring in the home without problems. After the AT&T guy spent an entire day playing with the wires they were never able to utilize the existing wires and there is now a hum on those lines. For the time being all our phones plug directly into the modem.
  6. In transferring our existing phone lines to the new service AT&T failed to activate one of our phone lines and we went without that line for 2 weeks.
  7. During the transition AT&T established a temporary phone number for us but then we couldn’t get rid of it.
  8. Between my wife and me we spent roughly 30 hours thus far (this is not an exaggeration in the least) with technical support.
  9. When you call technical support you will be disconnected about 50% of the time and then have to start all over. I once got disconnected 126 minutes into my call. Fortunately, the next technical support representative was able to find the notes from my previous call.
  10. That 126 minute phone call was necessitated after I tried their combined messaging feature for land line and cell phone and I was no longer able to access my messages from my cell phone. Ultimately we had to disable the feature.
  11. With my old AT&T phone service we could get all our voicemails emailed to us as attachments, which we could then forward. Apparently U-verse only permits this through their own email system. I’m afraid to inquire further about it.
  12. One of our two phone lines was filled with static, which went away when they sent us a different model modem. From the directions accompanying the replacement it appeared that this was the modem we should have received in the first place.
  13. Rebooting the set top box is the solution to all problems.
  14. If you change a telephone service setting you need to hang up before it takes effect. We went through 2 – 3 tech calls before they figured this out.
  15. If you have two phone lines they default to a single voicemail box.
  16. In order to set up separate voicemail boxes for each phone line you need to log into the Web site, set up a new subaccount and then establish the voicemail boxes. The process for doing this is extremely convoluted and not documented very well. It took one of the better support reps one hour to figure out how to do it. The instructions available to her were virtually useless.
  17. When my wife called about the voicemail problem the support rep disconnected our phone service. It took about 2 hours to get it back.
  18. The wireless set top boxes routinely disconnect from the main transmitter in the house. Even if you can still watch TV you will not be able to record, pause, rewind, or play previously recorded programs.

Having spent a good portion of my career working with major system implementations I can guarantee you that the U-verse product offering was clearly not built from the ground up with a master plan. They basically cobbled together existing products and technology with duct tape, baling wire, and if-then-else code and ended up with a bowl of spaghetti that no one understands. Do not…under any circumstances…sign up for this service. If you do you will quickly discover that you have entered the 10th circle of hell that is U-verse.
At approximately 11:15 this morning I was contacted by someone in AT&T’s PR department in Chicago offering to escalate our problems to the office of the president. I appreciate the effort and look forward to the help.

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