Major outbreak of AT&T disables population, no end in sight

Recently, I have come down with a serious case of AT&T. The last time this happened was in 2010 and both times it lasted over 3 weeks. What is AT&T and how can one acquire it, simply by attempting to access reliable internet service from the telecom giant known as American Telephone & Telegraph company.

Here were my common Symptoms:

  • Desire to tear out hair when hearing digital voices
  • Outbursts when encountering elevator music
  • Serious mental fatigue from being on hold (often referred to as “fried brain”)
  • Aversion to calling any “helpdesk”

My most recent case of AT&T lasted for 3 weeks and ended in a very unsatisfactory conclusion. From that experience I decided to do some number crunching to compare my cases in 2010 and 2012. The measures I used were:

  1. Number of people involved in my case (direct contact)
  2. Personal time spent: on hold, waiting for technicians, and during technician visits
  3. Internet speeds promised by representatives and speeds actually accessed (only 2012)

My first measure was based on how many people that I was in direct contact with regarding my case of AT&T. Direct contact is defined as an in-person technician contact or human-over-the-phone conversation. My case in 2010 involved a high number of people because AT&T had not yet developed its digital voice system to direct “helpdesk” calls to the right place. As a result I had to talk with many people and be transferred often during my 2010 case. In 2012, the number of people I spoke with didn’t spike until my issues involved billing and my call was dropped twice (9/28). I know there were also a higher number of people dealing with my 2012 case from the main office and technical team, but had no way to track those numbers.

The company has given greater control and access to representatives to be able to deal with “helpdesk” issues, reducing the number of transfers. I am happy that I don’t have to deal with as many people, but this seems to have increased the personal time that I need to spend dealing with my case because it never reached the right people and my problem persisted.

Unfortunately, in both cases, my personal time spent managing my cases was abhorrent. My case in 2010 took almost 20 hours to reconcile with the majority of this time being spent on hold or in transfer. In 2012, my personal time went over 24 hours after being asked to block a 12 hour window for a technician to be able to come and work on my line. My 2012 case involved AT&T “chronic facility issues” which sounded like a systemic issues with poor quality internet connectivity.

It wasn’t until after the 6th technician who came out to my house told me to call billing that I was then informed that the internet speed promised during my first call (08-24-12) was completely impossible because my area was on “lock” for 6 mbps.  Three weeks, 24 hours, and the first representative I talked with couldn’t even tell me accurately what was available in my area? Shouldn’t this be basic?

A healthy dose of prevention could have saved me a lot of trouble and the company a lot of money in both my 2010 and 2012. I was compensated $370 in 2010 and roughly $280 in 2012 (not including technician pay). This telecom giant needs to be more receptive to customer needs and increase the reliability of both their “helpdesk” system to tell customers honest information and their technical systems for delivering good internet.

A study has found that American consumers are paying higher prices for slower connections. It’s an epidemic and truly there is no end in sight.

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outsource to detroit: it’s like brazil

I caught a recent news brief from the Detroit News reporting from the Mackinac Policy Conference put on by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and was surprised by the headline.

“Outsource to Detroit”

That’s a bit different than Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” tagline. I’ve been following this idea and imagery of Detroit. I’ve written previously about how misinformed the image of Detroit is, some critics call this “ruin porn,” while others (some academic professors) call Detroit Michigan’s “third world” city.

For these reasons I am not too surprised to read a headline that is generally associated with sending jobs to developing countries (“third world”). The article highlights the growth of businesses moving into downtown Detroit because of the low cost of office space and the surplus of technical talent. The technical talent may be reference to wider metro Detroit and the many existing technology companies, but I know that I often see billboards in Detroit promoting web and technology job opportunities.

In an interview with Tim Bryan, GalaxE Solutions, the CEO said,

“A hundred percent of the work we’re doing in Detroit is health-care related and is coming from outside Michigan. It validates our model to outsource to Detroit.” […] enable[ing] GalaxE to serve customers for roughly the same cost as operating from Brazil.

I would not call this outsourcing, since the primary idea with outsourcing is that the job leaves the USA for another country where business is cheaper. There are plenty of examples of companies shifting locations because of varying economic climates in different States. Case in point, GM moving production from Michigan to Tennessee because of different business regulations and tax breaks. Brazil is an up and coming developing economy with its hand in many international markets – is it bad to be like Brazil?

Detroit is quickly becoming an technology hub for Michigan, which is an amazing reversal from its manufacturing past, as well as innovating for better health care. Wayne State University School of Medicine is leading incredible research projects to improve health care along with the Detroit Medical Center’s (DMC) nine specialized hospitals, Henry Ford Health System, and Michigan State University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine.

If this is the future for Detroit, then things are looking good. This is an excellent example of economic growth in a downturn via two growing industries: health care and technology. If Detroit lawmakers play the cards right, everyone in Detroit could get the best of both worlds: job creation and city revitalization. These are important steps to pay attention to for a better Michigan future.