You don’t have signal

My DSL and phone service is due to be activated today. When I got up I had dialtone, which is a good sign. But a few days ago I had an interesting encounter that was just too humorous not to share.

On Thursday the DSL modem showed up but since I was spending the night at my parents’ house I didn’t tinker with it too much. Friday night I unpacked it and hooked it up. To my surprise it actually found DSL signal, but obviously failed on PPPoE authentication since I did not have my account information. I went out and got a cordless phone to see if I had dialtone, hoping to call AT&T customer service and get my DSL account name and password early. Of course I forgot that I needed to let the handset charge for a day. So I copied my order number and other info down and headed into the back room where I get good enough wireless signal from my neighbors to make Skype calls on my Pocket PC and called them up.

After giving her all the relevant numbers I explained the situation — that I had DSL signal and would like to try to connect. Hilarity ensued. This is a rough paraphrase of the conversation:

Me: My modem says I have DSL signal. Can I get my account info early?
AT&T: Hmm, I see here your line will be set up Monday, correct?
Me: Yes, that is the scheduled date.
AT&T: Do you have a dialtone yet?
Me: I have no way to check that yet. I don’t have a working phone.
AT&T: Well, if you don’t have dialtone then you cannot have a DSL signal.
Me: My modem says I have DSL signal. The DSL light is green and the modem diagnostics report that I have signal.
AT&T: What happened when you plugged the modem in?
Me: The DSL light flashed red for a few seconds, then it flashed green, and now it is solid green.
AT&T: Ok. It was flashing red — that means you don’t have signal.
Me: Well, it changed. It is not flashing red now, it is solid green.
AT&T: Yes, but it was flashing red when you plugged it in, and you don’t have dialtone, so you don’t have signal.
Me: I never said I don’t have dialtone… the modem is telling me that I have signal.
AT&T: That’s not possible, your line is not connected. You don’t have signal. That’s why the modem light was flashing red.

Around this point I gave up. Not so much out of frustration but I just could not believe what I was hearing. I could have understood refusal based on policy or simply that the person responsible for creating accounts had not yet created mine. But blatant denial of information presented to me by my equipment is ridiculous.

At least it makes for a good story…

3 Replies to “You don’t have signal”

  1. AHHHH that’s unfortunately so typical these days it hurts. I went through complete hell taking a bullet for my dad by dealing with weekend support for DSL (which routed to india). They had this weird combination of reality-denial and refusal to want to let me get out of the conversation. i’ve never encountered anything like it.

  2. It certainly was bizarre. Last night I called back because my line was supposed to be activated by 8PM and nothing had changed, and the guy I got was very helpful and got me set up in under 15 minutes. (I have a feeling that if I had the directions he gave me I could have used them Friday.)

    But the first call just left me dumbfounded.

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