Tag Archives: AT&T

A New Frontier In Phone Service

Last Friday night, Frontier took over Connecticut telephone service from AT&T.

Many customers were unsure what that would mean. They found out quickly.

Karl Decker — an avid “06880” reader, and former English instructor at Staples — lost internet service until 4:30 p.m. Saturday. He was not the only one.

ATT FrontierFrom another phone — and after countless renditions of recorded “We are aware…thank you for your patience” messages – he managed to reach Frontier. A techie described what was happening as “all chaos.” He added, “thousands are offline.”

On Sunday, Karl was in Westport (Country Curtains had a 15%-off sale). The store still had no internet. Folks from Greenwich said they were still out too — along with everyone else they knew.

At noon on Monday, staffers at the Monroe Y noted that many friends remained without service.

“Is this news or what?” Karl asks. “When there’s an electric failure, it’s ll over the papers!”

Hear hear!

Controversial Cell Tower Moves Forward

The cell tower planned for 92 Greens Farms Road moves one step closer to reality next Tuesday.

According to a news release from 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, a “balloon float” test is scheduled for June 3.

Marpe added:

While the formal application to the Connecticut Siting Council has not been filed, nor has the required technical report been submitted to the town, North Atlantic Towers apparently intends to do this preliminary balloon test. I was surprised and disappointed to receive this announcement. I have been in touch with a representative from AT&T, and he was unaware of this particular test.

Working with the neighbors, I will still be pressing AT&T and North Atlantic Towers to pursue other locations and technologies that are better suited for the town and this neighborhood.

Marpe’s press release quoted attorney Julie D. Kohler of Cohen and Wolf, representative of North Atlantic Towers. She said they would float 2 balloons. One is 110 feet high (the height AT&T needs).

The other is 150 feet. That provides “a focal point well above tree line and other obstructions during the field reconnaissance so we can locate the site in those areas where the 110 foot balloon may be at or slightly above/below the canopy (particularly helpful this time of year).”

Whatever that means.

The cell tower is planned for the house on the left: 92 Greens Farms Road. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

The cell tower is planned for the house on the left: 92 Greens Farms Road. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)


Cell Phone Controversy Towers Over Green’s Farms

5 RTM members — including 4 from Green’s Farms, the center of this issue — sent this letter to “06880.” Don Bergmann (District 1), and District 5 members Seth Braunstein, Peter Gold,  Paul Rossi and John Suggs write:

An AT&T cell tower may be located in a Residence AA Zone, close to the intersection of Hillspoint and Greens Farms Roads. The tower will be 120 feet tall. It would loom above the tree line at this “gateway” intersection leading toward our beaches. The address of the site is 92 Greens Farms Road, a private residence.

The house on the left is 92 Greens Farms Road. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

The house on the left is 92 Greens Farms Road. (Photo courtesy of Google Maps)

We write to engage the public, and to express our abhorrence of a 120-foot cell tower in a residential zone. A citizens group has been formed, and all avenues of opposition are being explored.

Cell phones are part of day-to-day living. They are convenient and, in emergencies, important. Nevertheless, the adverse impacts of a cell tower resonate with most citizens.

Cell towers generate health risks. Also, the size of cell towers, particularly their massive foundations, requires and impacts upon a large land mass.  That will be particularly so at 92 Greens Farms Road, since there are water courses that flow into a nearby pond and also under I-95 to the Sherwood Mill Pond.

The cell phone industry managed in 1996 to secure the passage of very favorable federal legislation. As implemented in Connecticut by the unfortunate creation of a State Siting Council, local communities are severely constrained in their ability to impact upon cell tower siting. Those constraints preclude challenges based upon the adverse effects from electromagnetic fields and radio waves generated by cell towers.

An AT&T cell tower.

An AT&T cell tower.

Those dangers, particularly for the young and those with certain genetic pre-dispositions, are well known, but must be ignored in any site determination by reason of the law. The law also pre-empts local zoning regulations, for example a regulation adopted by Westport’s Planning & Zoning Commission in 2000.

Our P&Z regulation makes it clear that Westport does not want any cell tower in a residential zone. Sadly, the law negates the effectiveness of our regulation, except as a public declaration by Westport in opposition to cell towers in residential zones. We believe Westport does not want a 120-foot tall cell tower looming above the trees at 92 Greens Farms Road.

First Selectman Jim Marpe is pursuing avenues that he believes appropriate. However, whatever the town undertakes, public interest and concern is crucial. We need to stop this before it gets to the Siting Council. So please join in this battle. Let us or others on the RTM know of your support. Even better, contact the citizens group by e mailing: notowerat92@gmail.com, or Hope Hageman, hhagema1@gmail.com.

Please engage. Like Joni Mitchell’s “tearing down trees for a parking lot,” this cell tower will also be a blight.

“06880” readers, what do you think? Dangerous? Unsightly? Necessary? An issue of one property owner doing what he wants with his property, or one where the wishes of a majority of neighborhood residents should take precedence? Click “Comments” — and please use your full, real name. If relevant, include your neighborhood too.



Staples Junior Part Of World Record At London Olympics

Okay, so Knox McKay wasn’t exactly in the pool in the 200 meter breaststroke. Rebecca Soni is the one who lowered her own world mark.

Still, the Staples rising junior starred in an AT&T commercial celebrating the feat.

According to Business Insidermuch of the commercial had to be filmed after the race, such as Knox writing Soni’s world record time on a white board (as inspiration). With the tape-delayed broadcast, AT&T had just 9 hours to create the commercial and get it on the air.

Knox’s commercial is one of several in AT&T’s “The New Possible” campaign. The idea is for actual Olympians’ achievements to inspire younger athletes. The innovation — and challenge — is that actual award-winning performances are integrated into the ad.  To read more about how the ads were created, click here.

Click here to see the rec0rd-setting performance. And the commercial that is sure to be watched by millions too.

Don’t Call Us; We’ll Call You

The amount of mail I get has dropped dramatically in the past few years.  That’s one small reason why the Westport post office is moving from an actual building downtown to half of a former day spa in a shopping center.

In fact, if it wasn’t for AT&T and Cablevision, I wouldn’t get any mail at all.

I’ve been a valuable customer of both behemoths for years.  I pay my bills on time — and they are not unsubstantial amounts.

A sampling of mail from the past couple of months.

But like clockwork — at least once a week — they send me stuff.  Not only is the message the same — add services!  pay more! — but sometimes it is the exact same letter I threw away the previous week.

It’s like they were little children, who think that by repeating the same message over and over and over and over, they will get their way.

Here’s my response:  Stop mailing me crap.  I am not interested in being upsold.  Please take whatever it costs to send me weekly mailings, and credit it to my bill.  Then I will know I truly am a “valued customer.”

The Fine Print

Alert — and squinty-eyed — “06880” reader Dick Lowenstein recently received the new AT&T “white pages” phone book.  He writes:

Last year it covered Westport (including Weston) and Fairfield.  This year, it adds Norwalk and Wilton in a book about the same number of pages.

How do they do it? Well, for one thing, the type size is 1-2 points smaller.

One reason is fewer subscribers, as more people drop their land lines.  But the small type size? It’s hell on the eyes..now I must use a magnifier.

Of course, I can also use the internet.  The trouble is that more of the so-called free sites are charging for phone numbers.  Even the Westport Library reference department isn’t certain what sites are still really free.

Is using a phone book old-fashioned?  What do your readers think?

Feel free to weigh in on this issue — though you’ll probably take this discussion in some other AT&T, free market economy, or what’s-wrong-with- education-today direction.

Click “Comments” to contribute to the discussion.

Who Shall Provide?

Cablevision has been my internet provider since the day they came to Westport.  In fact, I remember watching a demo of something called a “cable modem” on the 2nd floor of Klein’s department store (!).  I realized how much better it was than a dial-up modem (!!), and became one of their 1st dozen or so customers here.

I’d already had Cablevision TV, since the early ’80s.  I still remember the thrill I got watching news that was “as local as local gets,” and realizing there was a whole universe of channels beyond 13.

Which doesn’t stop Cablevision from mailing me — every 2 or 3 days — urging pressuring me to upgrade, consolidate and/or bundle all my communication needs together.

Despite recent “06880” posts to the contrary, the US Postal Service is in no danger of going away.  Cablevision keeps them hopping.

AT&T helps too.

They’ve been my phone provider ever since I’ve had a phone.  Now I’m an iPhone customer too.  I’m not one of the millions of Americans who complains.  I find AT&T service perfectly fine adequate.

But they too mail me with stalker-ish frequency.  AT&T also demands all my internet, TV and phone business.

I don’t plan to change internet providers — or drop my landline — for one fossil-sounding, but important, reason:  Too many people know my email address and phone number.  Both are out there in Rolodexes, contact lists and cyberspace — and on dozens, if not hundreds, of websites — and have been for decades.  For someone who is self-employed — and depends on people finding him me for work — changing them is too daunting a task.

That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Faithful “06880” reader Andy Yemma has a similar story — with a different ending.

He says:

I’ve been a customer of both AT&T and Cablevision since we moved to Westport nearly 2 decades ago (I think it was actually SNET before it was SBC before it was AT&T).  Back in the ’90s it was simply AOL for email and SNET for phone calls.

I remember installing my first high-speed cable modem, purchased at “Nobody Beats the Wiz” (remember that?) on New Year’s Eve 1999, showing my faith in my notion that Y2K would be no big deal.

In recent years the technology of television (digital and hi-def), internet (WiFi and cellular) and phone (VOIP and cellular) have evolved with increasing speed.

And, by the way, who uses voicemail anymore?  A couple of weeks ago my AT&T voicemail service quit working.  After several unfruitful calls to AT&T, I discovered that they had “upgraded” my voicemail box and I needed to start calling another number.  This of course led the AT&T representative to try to sell me on their bundled package of phone/internet/TV services, which she promised would save me a bundle over Cablevision.

Suddenly I realized that the monopolies of the phone and cable companies had gone kaput.  Now there’s competition for my business from Cablevision, AT&T and Verizon — all offering bundled packages.  The offers are tiered, depending upon the level of service and features and internet speed.

They’re very complicated, and almost impossible from my POV to compare side-by-side.   All of the competitors promise the best deal, and diss the competition.

I thought perhaps Dan’s loyal commentators might offer views on this — what’s been your experience with the various providers?  Should I take the plunge and switch providers — and if so to which one?  A kilobyte for your thoughts?

“06880 readers”:  Help Andy decide.

Or confuse him even more than he is now.

Take Back The Beep

David Pogue

David Pogue

David Pogue is a genius.

The New York Times technology columnist, “Missing Manual” publisher, Emmy-winning CBS correspondent and frequent NPR guest is a Westporter.  I’m proud to call him a friend.

I’m particularly excited about his latest crusade, announced today in his weekly (free) email column:  a nationwide effort to get US cellphone carriers to change the obnoxious, minutes-eating “instructions” we hear many times a day.

You know the ones:  “Record your message after the tone.  To send a numeric page, press 5.  When you are finished recording, hang up, or for delivery options, press pound.”

Has anyone, anywhere, ever sent a “numeric page”?  Considered other “delivery options”?  Or thought about holding on forever, unaware that it is possible simply to hang up?

Sounds humorous.  But those “instructions” are deadly serious.  We pay for them.  Cell executives have told David that they exist primarily to use up airtime.  He figured that if the 70 million customers of just 1 carrier — Verizon — leave or check messages twice a day, the company could rake in $620 million a year.

David wants to send a message right back.  He writes:

We’re going to descend, en masse, on our carriers.  Send them a complaint, politely but firmly.  Together, we’ll send them a LOT of complaints.

If enough of us make our unhappiness known, I’ll bet they’ll change.

I’ve told each of the four major carriers that they’ll be hearing from us.  They’ve told us where to send the messages:

* Verizon: Post a complaint here: http://bit.ly/FJncH

* AT&T: Send e-mail to Mark Siegel, executive director of media relations: MS8460@att.com

* Sprint: Post a complaint here: http://bit.ly/9CmrZ

* T-Mobile: Post a complaint here: http://bit.ly/2rKy0u

Three of the four carriers are just directing us to their general Web forums.  Smells like a cop-out, I know.  (As for AT&T:  Props to the guy for letting me publish his e-mail address!  Hope he knows what he’s in for!)

Yet all four carriers promise that they’ll read and consider our posts.  And we have two things going for us.

First, I have a feeling that the volume of complaints will be too big for them to ignore.  To that end, I hope you’ll pass these instructions along, blog them, Twitter them, and spread the word.  (Gizmodo, Consumerist and others have agreed to help out.)

And I hope you’ll take the time to complain yourself.  Do it now, before you forget.

Thanks, David, for trying to help save Americans millions of hours — and dollars.  I’ll contact all 4 carriers right now.

As for you “06680” readers:  When you have finished reading this post, you may scroll down for more stories.  To contact me with comments, tips or photos, click the “Contact Me With Contacts, Tips Or Photos” links at the top or right side of this blog.  If you do not wish to read any more posts, you may log out now.

AT&T: Customer Service, Soviet-Style

iPhone 3GSI’m ready to upgrade to the new iPhone GS.  But I’ve got a couple of questions, so I called the Fairfield AT&T store, where I got my (now obsolete) first-generation iPhone.

A perky voice said all staff members were busy assisting other customers.  I had 3 options:

  • Leave a message
  • Get automated information on store hours and directions
  • Place an order by credit card

I hit ol’ reliable “0” for operator.  No go.  I was hurled back to the original menu.

So AT&T — the company that promises “sophisticated solutions for multi-national businesses,” and which for over a century has “consistently provided innovative, reliable, high-quality products and services and excellent customer care” — can’t figure out how to let customers stay on the line, and wait for human help.

Although I’m sure if they found a way to do it and bill me, they would.

Phoning It In

SNET pay phone - Merritt Parkway exit 42, Westport, CT Where is this sorry place — so god-forsaken, even its phone booth has been abandoned?

Some backwater cowtown in upstate Connecticut? The Berlin Turnpike?

Surprise!  It’s the Merritt Parkway exit 42 parking lot, right here in Westport.

SNET ceased to exist in 2005. You’d think over the past 4 years AT&T — or SBC, or whoever is now in charge — could close down their phone booth division properly.

PS:  Today is Clean-Up  Westport Day.  Enjoy!