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AT&T Makes Customers Pay for Reception Problems: The MicroCell Controversy

Phillip Dampier February 6, 2012 AT&T, Competition, Consumer News, Wireless Broadband No Comments

AT&T 3G MicroCell

AT&T has lost another customer.

PC World‘s Tony Bradley noticed reception on AT&T’s network in suburban Houston has been losing bars in more places than it has maintained over the last few years.

“[...] for reasons unknown to me the AT&T network in my area has been getting steadily worse. There have been a couple of weak spots in the same location for years. Rather than improving and eliminating those weak spots, the weak spots became dead zones…and then proliferated.

I don’t live in the boonies. I live in suburban Houston in a community that is very near a major highway, and yet there are four or five areas with literally no service. I could almost understand if the signal decreased, or if it switched from 3G to the older Edge network in places, but in 2012 in an affluent suburb near a highway there is no excuse for a company like AT&T to have any area where my phone literally displays “No Service”.

Even with the growing dead zone epidemic, I was still reluctant to switch. I maintained that the grass is always greener, and that I was better off to stick with the devil I know. That is, until I moved.

I only moved four miles, and I am still in the same community I was in before. However, in my new house the AT&T signal is too flaky and unreliable. I have to walk to special places in my house to get a workable signal, and even then I am told constantly that I am “breaking up” by the person on the other end of the line. I often miss calls because there is no signal and my phone doesn’t even ring. I don’t realize I even had a call until I receive the voicemail.”

AT&T’s response to these kinds of reception problems is to suggest customers purchase one of their 3G MicroCell units, which delivers a wireless signal inside your home or business connected through your broadband account.  But Bradley took exception that AT&T would charge him $200 (negotiated down to $100) and a monthly service fee just to mitigate the company’s own reception problems.  AT&T has since lost Bradley as a long-lasting customer — he took his business to Verizon Wireless, which offers better reception in his neighborhood.

The columnist cannot understand why AT&T would treat a long-term customer so poorly.

“AT&T could have kept me happy, but chose to let me leave instead,” Bradley writes.  “So, let me get this straight. AT&T isn’t capable of delivering the service I am already paying for, and the proposed solution is that I spend $200 (or $100 after a lengthy and heated debate), plus additional money every month for the privilege of routing my calls over the broadband Internet service I am also paying for? That was really the last straw for me with AT&T.”

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