Why Alltel Sucks

Okay, so I took on Greyhound and I guess I was victorious.  My next target: Alltel, or perhaps they should be called AllHell, as that is what my experience over the last 10 months with them has been.

Complaint 1: Initial Service

So, let's start by explaining my concerns.  First of all, on August 16th, 2002, they refused to give me telephone service.  It wasn't until I went to my rental agency home office and they had a BellSouth Technician who lives in one of their apartments explain to Alltel that I was, in fact, an Alltel customer and not a BellSouth Customer.  It also took the owner of my agency to step up to bat for me and say that if they would not give me any service, then he was having BellSouth come in on Monday to rewire the complex as BellSouth territory, which would make his life easier.  My agency also pointed out that the previous occupant had Alltel phone service and both of neighbors did also.

Then, after 6 hours on the phone with them, they finally agreed to give me service, but it took until August 28th before I had a dialtone, some 14 days to push a button somewhere and give me a dialtone.  Completely unacceptable.

Complaint 2: DSL Installation

Still stemming from my "fun" on the 16th, in that intial phone call, I request DSL service.  It took two additional phone calls before I received DSL service on September 20th, some 34 days after the intial call.

Complaint 3: DSL Connection

And about that DSL service, I don't know why I am paying for it; it does not work in any acceptable manner.  If it rains, which it does alot in Winston Salem, my DSL goes out; If I sneeze too hard, I get disconnected.  It is completely and utterly unreliable.  Don't believe me?  Try talking to me on AIM.  Or, check out how long I have been online, never more than a day if I even make it that long.  I keep getting disconnected.  In short, my DSL service, or lack there of from AllHell has been Š#††.

And I'm not the only one who thinks so.  Check out the BBB for Alltel or DSLReports (and I am going to subscribe to DSL reports to have them monitor my connection, I'll post data later).

Complaint 4: Billing Problem 1

So I open my October 2002 bill and see that I owe AllHell $296.88.  What the ƒk?  Appearently my "free" modem and installation was not quite free, not quite as in $200.  Note, this is only my second bill from them and already it is wrong.  I call and have the correction made (what would have happend if I hadn't called?).

Complaint 5: Billing Problem 2

I open my November 2002 bill, my third bill from AllHell.  there is a $3.26 charge for a toll call made on October 17th.  Now, think back to that date.  Oh, right, that was my Fall Break, the day I tried to drive home only to have my car explode on the side of the interstate in Virginia, where it is illegal for cars to break down.  I have a receipt that says I paid $144 to get my car towed back to Winston Salem that night.  I'm sure Aamco will remember the 4 messages I left on their answering machine.  Heck, I bet AAA has me in their records somewhere since they weren't quite sure which office should handle my situation and I spoke to 5 different offices.  I never made it back to my apartment until well after 2:00am.  You can check my phone records AllHell and see what time I used my calling card to call home and let Mom know I was back in my apartment.  I called and had to have this charge removed from my bill.

Complaint 6: Billing Problem 3

You would think that by December, AllHell would have figured out my phone bill.  No dice.  I received my December phone bill, which was almost two times as much as I was used to paying.  The problem was this $30.00 charge, with taxes and other fees, for basic service from 11/20-12/16.  Let me check my November bill... Oh wait, I already paid $50 in November for basic service for 11/16-12/15.  I called to complain and was told, "It's like when you go grocery shopping, you have paid $100 but when you look in your cart it is almost empty."  WHAT?!?  That was a load of crap.  So I ask to have the charge explained to me and I was told these charges appear when you change your phone service.  I never changed my phone service!  That initial phone call was unsatisfactory.  I called them again a few days (maybe a week or two) later to ask again.  "These charges appear when you change your phone service."  Sorry, lady.  So I emailed them a few weeks later.  No response was ever recieved.  So I filled out their little web form for complaints and inquiries.  That complaint is no longer listed in my profile!  It just disappeared.  Another email a few weeks later, again, no response.  This issue has yet to be resolved, thus I have involved the Better Business Bureau.  I gave them 6 months already.

Complaint 7: Billing Problem 4

May 2003.  I'm impressed, from January through April, four whole months, no billing problems.  Alas, it was too good to last.  On my May bill, I have charges to some phone number I do not remember calling.  Not only that, but three calls all to the same phone number, are listed as going to two separate cities and I was charge different amounts from the same phone call, which I do not think I made.  It's only 42 so I won't worry too much.  However, another proration shows up on my bill.  Again, I did not change my service.  25 for NONBASIC 05/01/03 to 05/15/03.  Whatever.  Go ahead Alltel, Try to recover your losses 67 at a time.

Complaint 8: Billing Problem 5

Not official yet, but I expect some problems with my June bill.  See, I was subscribed to the super-mega home phone package.  Like I get enough calls to make call-waiting worthwhile.  Repeat Dialing?  What's up with that?  Call Return?  Isn't that just lazy Caller ID?  Speed Dial?  Uh, my phone let's me store like 100 numbers.  On top of it all, they never told me what features I have or how to use them.  So I called and cancelled that for the VoiceMail with CallerID basic plan.  Now I save over $7.00 a month on my bill.  Do you think they will straighten that out, or more phone calls from me?  I'll post an update in a few days.

My June bill seems to be more or less okay.  There was a slight change in some of the charges, but again I'm not going to complain about a few pennies.  Hopefully I will be out of Alltel area before they can nickel and dime me into poverty.  But I'll be damned if it doesn't look like that is what they are trying to do.

Update: July 8th

Two Alltel Service people came knocking on my door today.  Actually, one service person and one regional manager (Is he a big shot, or is that a title they pass out like candy on Halloween?).  Either way, they checked out my internet connection. Of course, it was not raining or anything so everything was working fine (Complaint 3).  I was given a new phone number to call if there is a problem; this is a direct line to the local office and they will send a crew out within a few minutes of my call.  We also talked about the fact that it took 34 days to get my DSL connection.   Basically we just agreed that somehow my order got lost in the shuffle and they were sorry about that (Complaint 2).   The guy is going to look into my bill (Complaint 6).  Complaints 4, 5, and 7 were taken care of as they arose.   I guess this will more or less resolve all of my problems.  I'll let you know tomorrow.  Afterall, that is really what I wanted, an explanation of my charges and reliable DSL service.

Update: July 10th

The service proration charge was explained to me.  It had to do with the DSL.  I got three months free.  Appearently that three months was from the day I requested service, not the day I received service.  Okay, so I got cheated out of a few days of service.  And at $1.65 per day for DSL, maybe I should point this out and try to claim my refund.  Or, maybe I should just accept that Alltel is trying, for some reason, to nickel and dime me out of all of my money.

Update: July 19th

Things were going more or less well.  I was averaging about 60 minutes of downtime a week, just about 99% uptime.  My packet loss was within the normal range (packet loss represents the quality of the connection, think of it as static).  My ping time was a little slow on occasion, but for the most part was in the acceptable range.  And then, at 1:53am on Saturday, July 19th, things go bad.  Well, though, now I have a "special" phone number to call, the local office, to complain to.  But, before I call them, I call to get a check on the service.  A dreaded pre-recorded message, "We are currently experiencing equipment problems.  Our technicians are working on the problem.  We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause."  Yeah, so calling the local office would not do me any good.  However, they told me to call them, not the 800 number.  Should I call?  I won't, but I will include this weeks' line monitoring report when I mail them a letter complaining.  And, poetic justice at its best, I had just been queued for a detailed connection analysis when I went offline.  That means my test will come up all blanks and that will really bring down the reliability score of Alltel, appearing in my report so I can complain is just icing on the cake.  It's really kind of funny because I thought I hadn't had problems in awhile, so I'd give my line a check to give Alltel credit for fixing their problems.  Oops.

You know, if Alltel just conducted routine maintenance, things would be better.  First of all, they could announce service might be out for periods between 2:00am and 5:00am on Saturdays, or something like that.  Secondly, they could plan for the maintenance and have a backup plan to provide service during the maintenance.  Thirdly, routine maintenance would probably keep the unscheduled problems down to a minimum.  And that is all I'm asking for, reliable service (and reliable billing).