Last month I reported on how dealing with a DSL disruption problem led me to declare AT&T to be “the model example of how ‘knowledge technology’ can turn a mediocre service provider into a thoroughly stupid one.” Since that time I have had a series of further engagements with AT&T service providers, almost all of which provided me with little more than further warrants for my original declaration. Finally, I had to deal with a service provider in a chat room who tried to convince me to buy a new modem, which only convinced me that, for ATT, upselling was synonymous with customer service.
At that point I did what I should have done much sooner. I
consulted a friend who knew more about these matters. It turns out that he had
experienced exactly the same problems I was enduring, and he had been given the
same advice. However, another service provider suggested that this was
actually a power supply problem. If the modem was not getting the right level
of power, it would act up with exactly the symptoms I had been observing. As a
result, while my friend had already purchased a new modem, he decided to swap
only the power supply; so he would not have to worry about reconfiguring all of
the devices on the wireless side of his network.
Sure enough, this took care of his symptoms. He even brought
his new power supply over to my place; and I experienced the same improvement
in the modem’s “cold start” behavior. It thus seemed as if all I had to do was
order a replacement power supply. Using the URL given to me by the service
provider who insisted that I buy that new modem, I found the power supply and
ordered it. Today it arrived, I hooked it up, and all of the lights on the
modem remained dark, a condition far worse than any I had previously observed.
I did not need a voltmeter to tell me that the power supply was not putting out
To be fair, after making me wait the usual aeon, AT&T
wasted no time in initiating a replacement. Supposedly it will come with
paperwork for returning the defective one. Still, this raises some interesting
questions about quality control. The fact that they reacted as quickly as they
did indicates that I was far from the first customer to experience this
problem. Did they think that, having tried the cheap way out, my first instinct
would be to accept their advice to replace the modem?