It has been kind of a wild ride with summer and I am starting to get caught up with some of my favorite subjects ...... cell phone service
We are in Rapid City with two AT&T accounts. Since the transition we have made a few changes. We have one account which is our smartphone account with one iPhone 4 and three iPhone 3GS with a new AT&T plan and contract. The other account was for the not-too-smart phones. That account, old Alltel plan, has been modified by adding a data plan to the old Alltel plan.
We switched one of the free swap-out phones over to a Samsung Captivate, a smart phone. I was able to get the phone swapped out from the Pantech model to the Samsung without having to go with a new plan or contract. With this swap, and after the new phone was received, I was told we would have to start a new contract cycle since we had a new phone. With very little negotiation, I was able to get the contract issue resolved with no changes to our plan and using our original contract date. With that plan, we did have to add a data plan since there was no data on the old AT&T plan. So, we ended up with old Alltel plan intact and added the $15/mo data plan.
The other phone on the old Alltel plan/account is a Rugby. The Rugby has not been a problem at all. In fact, my father-in-law liked it enough that I ended up helping him get his phone swapped out for a Rugby. He is in Sturgis and other than a little trouble early on with calls not hitting his handset, he has had no trouble with the phone. The service issues regarding calls not hitting the handset were problems with his original AT&T flip phone and with the Rugby. The problems were resolved about 10 days after he started using the Rugby with no trouble since then.
I know that some people have been able to switch out sim cards and get their phones working properly. We haven't switched out any phones or sims cards for service issues as it appeared our problems related to tower hadrware breakdown, signal/frequency interference with towers and some programming issues with the towers.
The most recent (July) bill was the first bill we paid the full amount and had no service related discounts on the bill. While our service was much improved, there were still some issues. Those issues however were minor in comparison to our first two months.
Generally speaking the experiences in dealing with customer service have been very good too. A few times, I felt like I might be dealing with people who were new or did not fully understand what we were dealing with in regard to transition of services. In dealing with customer service, I've been able to get whatever I have requested without major hassles.
Overall, service has been great. I was surprised we had good service during the Rally too. In fact, we had to do a bit of traveling back and forth between Rapid City and the Ft Meade VA hospital during the Rally and we never had service problems anywhere along the routes we took.
We are all happy with the AT&T service. In fact, I am thrilled to discover that we have much better call quality than we did before.
My only complaint now is that we are racking up lots of rollover minutes. We are on a plan that has the A-list and unlimited mobile to any mobile calling. We are not using many of our minutes on the calling plan. I think it would be nice if we could use some of our rollover minutes as a discount on phone accessories or something. ....kind of like saving up the old S&H green stamps for goodies (gad, just realized that S&H green stamps haven't been around for years)
So it turns out that complaints with the FCC are taken very seriously by AT&T. Someone from the office of the president called me to see what they could do to resolve my complaint. Even they don't have a date for when my area should be up. They are willing to waive our ETFs though, since she experienced first hand what kind of issues our service has.
Now to deal with Amazon and figure out how best to go about their ETF, since we still have 2 months to go for them. Sigh, I really wish Verizon had a better Windows phone than the Trophy. They might by the end of the year, but that doesn't do much for me now.
Someone brought something to my attention I never previously for some odd reason thought of or paid much attention to.
I have an AT&T IPhone 4. A few friends I know have Androids or Blackberries. Most of them seem to have almost no problems with AT&T service where they go or live. Few to no dropped calls. Generally good data connections. Clear voice.
HOWEVER those that have regular 'dumb' phones (non-smartphones) seem to have more problems. More dropped calls, worse data speeds, etc.. In retrospect that makes sense and is something I never really paid much attention to. But most of the complaints I have gotten from customers have come from the cheaper dumb phones. Not all but a good chunk.
I drove from Sturgis to Keystone a few days back. Along the way I would do random speed tests and check the signal. Never once dropped signal and data speeds the entire way were around 2-2.5 mbps. I also did some talking and not once dropped the call.
Also, if you have a smartphone, download the 'Mark the Spot' app. Leave little notes when you submit too if you can. They DO get noticed I found out. And call and complain if you have an issue but do not call if you are upset or agitated. I've come to find that most of the reps do try to help but may have a limited set of tools to help. If you feel you are getting nowhere thank them for their time and get a hold of someone different a few minutes later. And don't be afraid to escalate the issue.
In Spearfish where I work there is a 2 mile or so radius where the voice is great but the data is horrid. After numerous phone calls and some credits I was told that if the problem continued, to call and have them do a network refresh. Whatever that is. This was a few weeks prior to the Rally and had been like this a few months.
My pings were extremely high and downloads were no more than a few hundred k and uploads not even useable. So I eventually called and had them do the network refresh. They had me turn my phone off for about 5 minutes while they did it. (I called from a landline.) When they had me turn it back on it went from the speeds above to 1-1.5mbps download and no less than 500k upload and in many cases 1 mbps upload. So the network refresh fixed the problem. Until Rally.
Rally killed it all again and the fast 2-3 weeks it was pretty un-useable again. So I called AT&T last night and told them to do it again. (Had my phone shut off the whole time.) The lady didn't seem to know what it was. She contacted her supervisor. The network refresh was done and speeds were good again. That area of Spearfish is the worst I have had to deal with thus far. And it seems to be sharing a tower with Verizon as those on Verizon have the same speeds and issues there.
So if you have problems don't give up. Keep hammering away. Some people may have more luck than others. And while I know there is a lot of bad stuff out there said about AT&T my experiences show that they do try. Sometimes you have to try different approaches and reps, but that can be said for any carrier or business.
I know someone that lives in Lead, SD. There AT&T service can be pretty bad. When he called in they told him it would be fixed. He called every few days or so. 2 months later the problem still was ongoing and he would now be hit with an ETF if he cancelled. Because he wasn't able to use his phone, they ended up waiving the ETF so he could switch carriers for the time being until AT&T fixed things in Lead. And it sounds like it's on their radar.
The Alltel/AT&T transition was far from smooth. And some people had better luck than others.
But all-in-all I have seen a noticeable improvement and attempts by AT&T to fix problems. And if they can't for that time being, they work at letting you out of your contract.
With all of the bad things said about AT&T by some people, I have to say they haven't been any worse customer service wise than any other carrier or business I have talked with.
And their coverage and 3G coverage appears to be greatly improving nationwide. A simple google shows that by looking at various local online newspapers and magazines. About time? Maybe.
But my experiences thus far have been very good. I've noticed many improvements in coverage and service. When it comes to the Black Hills Verizon will have better coverage in some areas than AT&T and vice versa. It's just a matter of where you are and how much time you spend there and how it affects you.
Some people don't have the patience to deal with issues repeatedly. I've come to find many times it's also about how you approach things. I've had 1,000 rollover minutes added, 100 bonus minutes added, and a handful of credits. As well I have noticed things improving.
So hopefully they keep at it.
I'd say this sticky is dead.
This past month, AT&T closed their store here in Hutchinson, MN. This store was previously the Unicel store, which got transitioned to AT&T. Now the closest AT&T corporate store is 50 miles away. Previous Verizon/Unicel customers in the area that are now AT&T customers have been left in the cold with no local store. Nice going AT&T. Nothing like alienating your new customers. Doesn't seem like AT&T really wants to make a commitment in supporting rural areas.
That was my very first thoughts as well, that maybe it was an under performing store. I had asked the same question to the Radio Shack store manager that is in the same mall. From what he heard, the store was doing OK. Pretty much the employees at the AT&T store had no idea that they were closing. Here one day, gone the next. I don't think we'll really ever know how that store was doing.
I only dealt with that store a couple of times. The employees were past Unicel employees. They really did not know the AT&T products. I mentioned that I am having problems getting a signal where I work and that the AT&T Microcell is not all that great in interior spaces in large buildings because it needs a GPS lock. They had no clue what I was even talking about. They had no idea that the Microcell has a GPS receiver in it. They didn't even have any idea where any of the AT&T towers are in town. Pretty much they were just a bunch of sales monkeys.
So this past Sunday, Verizon moved in with a big store. Sort of like pouncing....
I'm kinda thinking this forum should be dealt with. It's pretty well dead and is no longer relevant.
Well Alltel is still alive and well in certain parts of the country. Albiet in a new form