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AT&T to Leave Residential Business 194

Herve writes "Just got it from a press release on the AT&T website: 'AT&T will no longer be competing for residential local and standalone long distance customers. The company stressed that existing residential customers will continue to receive the quality service they expect from AT&T; however, the company will no longer be investing to acquire new customers in this segment.'"
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AT&T to Leave Residential Business

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  • That's funny... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:03AM (#9778146)
    I just got a holographic postcard that must have cost a buck each from them advertising their *residential* VoIP service. Maybe they don't want to raise the ire of the feds and their competitors by saying "Hey everybody we were given a thorough beating with a clue stick and now realize that digital delivery to the end user is the way to go."

    The end of analog phone service is here.
  • Markets (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mfh ( 56 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:04AM (#9778150) Homepage Journal
    This spells a desolate future for AT&T residential subscribers. When a company isn't actively going after business, they aren't actively *keeping* business, and therefore the quality of service rapidly declines until that segment is folded. I give it two years of hell and then a skillful withdrawal from the residential market.
    • Desolate? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by w.p.richardson ( 218394 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:08AM (#9778166) Homepage
      Not really.

      If you are still using AT&T for home phone service, you deserve what you get. This should give these folks the impetus to go out and shop around. Using AT&T for phone service is like using AOL or MSN for internet access (at least from a price perspective). There are soooo many better deals available, why would you even want to use AT&T?

      The execs are just reading the tea leaves here, and they have decided that they can't compete. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say!

      • Re:Desolate? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        AT&T offers perfectly reasonable long distance plans, as long as you actually pick one instead of getting the default. I use AT&T. I'm still on a plan for several years ago, and I get 5 cent weekend minutes, 9 cent weekday, no monthly fee. I haven't seen any other of the major brands that match that. (10-10-etc and calling cards certainly might.)
      • Re:Desolate? (Score:3, Interesting)

        Unless I am wrong about what you are referring to as "home phone service", you are wrong here at least regarding the long distance plan level I have. I pay $2.95 per month and get 5 cents per minutes 24/7. This monthly fee/per minute combo is the lowest I have seen. I was paying $3.95 per month for the same per-minute charge through IDT America until AT&T called. AT&T may have even given me a check for $X when I switched.

        -Slashdot Junky
        • Re:Desolate? (Score:3, Informative)

          by Cereal Box ( 4286 )
          A monthly charge AND you pay five cents per minute? That sounds crazy compared to calling cards. You can walk into just about any store and pick up AT&T calling cards that are ridiculously cheap, like under two cents per minute. No monthly charge either. Considering all that, it baffles me as to why people still get long distance service considering how mind-bogglingly cheap calling cards are. Is there something I'm missing? Is there a reason people continue to get long distance service? Is there
        • Bah. Why pay a monthly fee?

          I used .03/min and no monthly service charge.

          Steven V>
        • With Qwest, I get .05 a minute, in state and out of state, with no monthly fee, no monthly minimum, no per call minimum and a $20 cap. Once I reach $20 then it's free after that.
        • Qwest Choice(TM) Long Distance
          5 cents/minute, no monthly fee $25/mo max in long-distance charges

          ($25 max means, after you've spent $25 worth of long distance that month the rest is free. And yes, that is in and out of state, 24/7/365)

        • There are better deals. If you are paying a monthly fee, you negate any "low" per cent charges.

          I got a deal with Verizon thru their web site (an internet only offering) for 7 cents a minute, no service fee.

          They send you a seperate bill, but how diffucult is it to write a check?

          I've had statements where the check amount was less than the postage since I barely make any calls from home.

          I could use my cell phone which give free long distance but the calls cut in and out, especially if the other person tal
      • I have a $40/month plan that allows me unlimited calls to the UK (24/7). I've not yet found anyone else that has such a plan...
      • Their local service plans undercut verizon's, or at least they did until Verizon started upping their line charge fees.

      • Re:Desolate? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cswiii ( 11061 )
        I'd have to disagree, at least from my perspective.

        I was sick of Verizon [] continually giving me the run--around [] concerning DSL in this area, changing their story on me all the time, so I sent them the letter you'll see there in the first link. I told them that if they couldn't get their story straight, they weren't going to retain my local phone business, either.

        I never heard back from them.

        Meanwhile, looking for new carriers... I don't need anything on my land line except for unlimited local calling.
      • If you are still using AT&T for home phone service, you deserve what you get. ... There are soooo many better deals available, why would you even want to use AT&T?

        Nearly all of my long-distance calls are in state, which means $0.10 per minute. Period. I got the same quote from several providers. When I asked if they had calling plans for cheaper rates, they all said "not in state." Due to regulations, there simply isn't a better rate available for in-state long distance on a land line. Allege

      • Re:Desolate? (Score:2, Informative)

        Actually, I switched to AT&T for local and LD a few months ago. Their prices were competitve (better than the gouging I was getting from MCI). And -- I've seen no-one mention this -- there are the frequent-flier miles. Maybe I'll feel differently when I need to deal with their customer service, but it's been smooth sailing so far...
      • You are uninformed.

        This announcement refers to AT&Ts residential long distance service. AT&T's service is at very competitive rates and provides very good fidelity compared to their competitors. I've tried several phone cards, Sprint & MCI and AT&T by far provides me with the clearest international long distance calls - all this for a price that's cheaper than what Sprint or MCI offer in their best plan.
    • Re:Markets (Score:2, Informative)

      by grocer ( 718489 )
      Well, according to the press release, AT&T will actively pursue VoIP and other emerging technologies for both residential and commerical it appears to be a switch to a data only company.
      • It's really only a matter of time until they're all data companies. In most places your signal is digitized within walking distance from your origin and doesn't get decoded again until it reaches walking distance from the destination.

        I imagine the biggest change will come after they decide to quit pussy-footing around and give you digital to the jack. Let the phone to the conversion and compression.
    • This spells a desolate future for AT&T residential subscribers
      Well, maybe not for CURRENT subscribers, but it's great news for FORMER subscribers. Now maybe the bastards will stop calling me at dinner using that convient "existing business relationship" loophole in the do-not-call law.
  • by thoolie ( 442789 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:04AM (#9778156)
    Just wondering, 20 years ago all you could get was ATT, now they are selling off their arms and legs left and right. Can paraphrase exactally what has changed in the last 20 years and how it happend? (I think we all know about the anti monoploy suit and the baby bells, but there must be more?)

    • Competition is just doing its job. :)
    • Not exactly. Twenty years ago, ATT was THE phone company, encompassing what Verizon, SBC, Qwest, etc., are today. When they were split up, all those companies could only do local phone service, and ATT was the long distance company.

      Now everything's been all jumbled up, and everybody can do everything. So this incarnation of ATT is more like MCI or Sprint than it is Qwest or Verizon.
      • Got to correct you.
        Qwest was never part of AT&T, U.S. West was and Qwest merged with US West and the new company is called QWEST.

        This whole debacle goes back to 1982 and the setlement AT&T offered.

        All the govermnment was looking for was the removal of AT&T's exclusive manufacture or control of equipment and allowing resale.

        What AT&T offered instead was a breakup, spinning off the Local Exchange Loops (percieved as more expensive to operate and less lucerative in profits).

        So far it l
    • by presearch ( 214913 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:16AM (#9778211)
      Since divestiture in the 80's, technical expertise took a second seat to
      climbing the managerial org chart. PHB MBAs rose to the level of their
      incompetency, and investment in the future was traded for the next quarter's
      profit numbers. Real talent, the people that actually invented things and
      did the creative work, either retired or left for greener pastures.

      AT&T had deep enough pockets, so they could stumble around and
      sell off assets for almost twenty years. It's finally reached the point that
      that business model can no longer sustain itself. Shame really.

      One Bell System. It Worked.
      • by twbecker ( 315312 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:49AM (#9778382)
        A big part of the reason for that is that the Bell Labs division went to Lucent when it split off. I think it's terrible that Lucent is on it's last legs, most people have no idea how many innovations came out of that group of people.
    • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:22AM (#9778244) Homepage
      Can paraphrase exactally what has changed in the last 20 years and how it happend?

      in a nutshell? Poor Management.

      They made really bone-headed decisions. They bought TCI an dother cable companies in an attempt to get into the cable biz but lacked the management that understood cable (and let go all the top management from those cable companies.) They acquired MediaOne cable in 2000 and that caused a HUGE amount of infighting because the mediaOne people were not made to conform and join the team which created a huge us/them inside the company further ripping it apart until Comcast acquired the cable arm and started to fix what was wrong.

      Their advertising wing switched form giving the company a good image to the annoy everyone to hell with telemarketing. They refuse to keep tight reigns on their telemarketing companies so slamming by AT&T is a common occourance.

      Overall the management of AT&T is watching the company spiral the drain and have no idea how to fix it.

      It's the same cause at every failed company.
    • Losing FTS hurt bad (Score:5, Informative)

      by Evil Schmoo ( 700378 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:30AM (#9778279) Homepage
      A very, VERY big part of it was losing the biggest single phone contract in the world, the United States Government FTS (Federal Telephone Service), to MCI a few years ago.

      It is the maintenance of this contract that has kept MCI afloat despite its woes and which, coupled with AT&T's rapid expansion (TCI, etc.), has led to AT&T's dramatic fall in the residential marketplace.

      I would also guess that the extreme growth in cellphone and DSL use has hurt AT&T, since more and more people are using those technologies instead of POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) for home use.

    • by KC7GR ( 473279 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:57AM (#9778428) Homepage Journal
      Thoolie asks...

      "Just wondering, 20 years ago all you could get was ATT, now they are selling off their arms and legs left and right. Can paraphrase exactally what has changed in the last 20 years and how it happend? (I think we all know about the anti monoploy suit and the baby bells, but there must be more?)"

      There's a couple of pretty good books available that will give you some excellent ideas as to What Went Wrong with the Bell System, and much of it can be blamed on the U.S. legal system.

      For starters, I recommend 'The Rape of Ma Bell: The Criminal Wrecking of the Best Telephone System in the World' [] by Alfred Duerig and Constantine Kraus. It will give you divestiture and breakup from an engineer's perspective. You can find an excerpt from the book here. []

      Another good one is 'A Voice in the Wilderness' [] by Alfred Duerig. That one's more of a dedication and autobiography for Constantine Kraus, but it will also give you some more insights into divestiture and What Really Happened.

      Both books are out of print, BTW, but you should be able to find them either through Abebooks online, [] or from Ebay. I got my pair through finding used booksellers with copies on Abebooks.

      While I'm thinking about it, the Bell System Memorial [] site is a wonderful resource for both historical and technical info on the once-great Ma Bell.

      From my perspective: The divestiture and breakup of the Bell System was utterly unnecessary, along the lines of using an antiaircraft gun to kill mosquitoes. There had to have been other (and better) ways to go about allowing consumers to connect their own goodies to the lines, encourage development of alternative services, etc.

      Happy hunting.

      • If there were other methods, then please list them. Bell was a complete monopoly, and you either did it thier way or the highway. And I mean that literally. You either used the Bell phone, or sent your messages via the postal system (or walked them yourself).

        Do you like having a cordless phone? Or perhaps you would rather go back to renting your single phone.

        • Those problems weren't so much a quirk of AT&T so much as the result of regulation. I mean, I'm sure AT&T lobbied for those rules, but Congress and regulators bit on it, the blame deserves to be shared.

          The irony of that whole situation was that AT&T was a monopoly by law, but that it was broken up while leaving the enabling laws in place... so instead of one big monopoly, we had a handful of smaller ones. Worse, the distinction between "local" and "long-distance" calling was always an arbitra
        • swv3752 writes...

          "If there were other methods, then please list them. Bell was a complete monopoly, and you either did it thier way or the highway. And I mean that literally. You either used the Bell phone, or sent your messages via the postal system (or walked them yourself).

          Do you like having a cordless phone? Or perhaps you would rather go back to renting your single phone."

          Other methods? Let's start with a regulatory mandate that Bell HAD to allow competing devices to be connected IF they met Bell Sy
      • Lets see- our telephone service si still just as good (I haven't had a failed call in... ever), we have greater innovation (caller id, 3 way calling, voice mail, etc are now standard, Ma Bell resisted any of them), we have the ability to own our own phones (and better quality phones, cordless phones, etc), and we now have real competiton resulting in far lower prices (we would never have seen flat rate local calls or 5 cents a minute under a monopoly). Calling long distance was a major evern under Ma Bell
      • While I have to agree that breaking up the AT&T monopoly was not really the *only* way to deal with the problems the state-sponsored monopoly was causing, I do have to say that the breakup was fueled to a large extent by the management's own stupid, money-grubbing policies.

        Seriously, even with the political momentum behind the privitization of public utilities, would such a move have been popular had AT&T not been requiring that we buy our phones from them? Think about how stupid that sounds today.

    • AT&T used to own the former Bell LECs along with Bell Laboratories and Western Electric. AT&T and the kids called themselves "The Bell System", everybody else called them "Ma Bell" or "the phone company". The former Bell LECs and half of Bell Labs was divested from AT&T on 1/1/1984. You can thank the DOJ and Judge Greene for it. On January 1st, 1984, nobody knew exactly what had happened and everybody's mom and dad was asking what long distance company they should go to. This was also the b
  • Good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HBI ( 604924 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:05AM (#9778158) Journal
    Their phone calls were annoying, and after an experience with three consecutive rude customer service people back in 2000 I swore I would never do business with their consumer arm again.

    My grandfather and uncle were both Western Electric engineers, so it's kind of in the family working for AT&T (their part went to Lucent). After the breakup it was all over for that company, they couldn't do anything right. PC marketing, Unix marketing, selling leased lines, every time I dealt with AT&T it was a hassle and they were inferior to their competition.
    • I'm with you. My grandfather was also a Western Electric engineer, my grandmother for NY Telephone and my dad worked for AT&T, but now is retired and gets his benefits from Lucent. I kind of always thought about trying to find a job with them, it's the closest thing we have to a family business. My father always claimed that they "really eat that shit up", but I'm guessing those days are over. Personally, I still get decent service from AT&T long distance, at least it's plenty good enough for wh
  • Well.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Aggrazel ( 13616 ) <> on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:07AM (#9778165) Journal
    Could this be the end of Carrot Top's carreer?
    • You can only hope. All commercials are annoying, but those are especially so.
    • We can only hope! I've never understood why some companies use annoyance in their ads. Everytime I see Carrot Top on TV, it reminds me to use 1-800-COLLECT instead. There are plenty of other annoying ads out there, like people screaming at you to buy their cars. Do advertisers really think people can be annoyed into buying their products? Or, worse, does it actually work with some people? I know this is all OT, but you're mention of Carrot Top brought it to mind.
      • It actually does work with some people. Some people actually cut pushy sales people some slack and say "Aw the poor kid must be desperate for his/her job. Let me make his/her day and buy something from them". I've seen this happen many times. And some people are just weak-willed, and eventually their resistance breaks down. A sad but true empirical observation... :-(
      • I always thought this was a stupid tactic too. I swore I'd never buy from the companies with the most annoying advertisements. But the sad thing about this ads is that they are memorable. So next time you're looking for a new mattress, the annoying mattress store is the first one that comes to mind. I didn't realize how much advertising actually worked until I came across this sort of thing a few times. I have a good memory, and unfortunately the ads stay in there with everything else.

        I still haven't
    • I hope so. then again, it could be argued that his commercials marked the end of his career. lol
    • Could this be the end of Carrot Top's carreer?

      The 1990s called. They want their observation back.

      • The 1990s called. They want their observation back.

        Can a comment eat itself? Because this one surely applies recursively.

  • Not a surprise (Score:5, Interesting)

    by macemoneta ( 154740 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:12AM (#9778193) Homepage
    After working there 21 years, it was easy to see that the company had become just a shadow of its former self. There's not much left other than the name. People still associate the name with the 1.1 million employee behemoth that it used to be. Back in the day, doing things right was the way things got done. Now, at less than 60k employees, saying its done is job one, and making it work (or not) is an afterthought. It's really sad.
  • Most phone carriers make more money off of businesses to help subsidise lower costs for residential users.
  • AT&T Broadband? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Delirium 21 ( 336429 )
    In the press release, ATT seems to justify this decision by saying that:

    According to industry estimates, more than 40% of American households have now migrated to some combination of bundled communications services. Recent regulatory decisions make it financially infeasible for AT&T to offer a competitive bundle of services to consumers. AT&T has determined that it cannot effectively compete against bundled competition by selling only standalone LD.

    Well, maybe they shouldn't have sold [] AT&T B
  • I guess this just points out the Darwinism that comes with healthy competition. I know that there are still some regulatory matters which can affect regional availability, tariffs, etc. but competition is rarely a bad thing.

    Think back about 10-15 years ago. If someone would have told me that AT&T would be getting out of this segment I wouldn't laughed for awhile...

    • I guess this just points out the Darwinism that comes with healthy competition.

      And what healthy competition would that be exactly?

      Instead of one monopoly, you have 4 regional monopolies for local service and a couple of companies competing for the long distance market.

      I do not get the impression that any of the RBOCs are interested in healthy competition unless they alone get to define "healthy" in terms of their own best interests.

      If anything, it shows that AT&T failed in not lobbying enough and t

  • This makes me rather glad that I didn't sign up for their "local and long distance" plan that 'my friend' Jeanine at AT&T offered me last night.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    AT&T felt that current regulations for the Baby Bells favored the Baby Bells in areas which they held monopolies. At the same time Baby Bells are being allowed to offer long distance, AT&T feels the rates Baby Bells charge them put them at a competitive disadvantage.

    If what AT&T says is true, I would get out of the business too.
    • I switched to my local Baby Bell when AT&T decided they were going to charge me $5/mo. or so for the privilege of doing business with them. I had been an AT&T customer for 20 years.
  • competing technology (Score:2, Informative)

    by 00zero ( 792723 )
    The shift toward exclusive cellphone use has been eroding the landline market for several years now.

    The number of US landline phones declined by 5 million since 2000, while 7.5 million people overall have made the switch to exclusive cellphone use in the US.
    Some Stats []

    good political satire []

  • in The Future® (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ch-chuck ( 9622 )
    The phone company generated a lot of ill will amongst their customers-with-no-choice in the 60's and 70's (see Lily Tomlin's character, Ernestine) altho their stock was always considered a good stable investment that you could pass on to your children. If history is any guide, and it often is NOT, we just might see this same pattern of crumbling happen to Msft in 20/30 years, if not sooner - a great investment, but lots of PO'd customers. Once the customers wise up to what's going on and seek better alterna
  • by krygny ( 473134 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @08:55AM (#9778418)
    Since I dumped AT&T's long distance, they have been mercelessly and relentlessly calling and begging me to come back. Since I had a prior business relationship, it doesn't matter that I'm on every do-not-call list I know of. They can still legally annoy me for 18 months. It also doesn't matter that I tell them to take me off their list and stop calling. They're still trying to endear themselves to me. Might work.

    As for VoIP, I'll keep my POTS a while longer. A year or so ago, 40% of all public IP traffic was spam sent by wide open brodaband zombie PCs. Now, it's at least 70%. See a trend here?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Since I dumped AT&T's long distance, they have been mercelessly and relentlessly calling and begging me to come back. Since I had a prior business relationship, it doesn't matter that I'm on every do-not-call list I know of. They can still legally annoy me for 18 months. It also doesn't matter that I tell them to take me off their list and stop calling. They're still trying to endear themselves to me. Might work.

      That's garbage. If you declare not to be called, further calls are harrassment and you c

    • Yes, I see a growing trend for an Open Source Software possibility... Write a program/patch that locks down any windows machine that has an open relay/spam on them. Give it away for free, and have every local tech fall in love with it as they clean computers..
  • When AT&T will no longer be competing for residential local and standalone long distance customers...

    ...that's mLife

    (Does this make me a troll?)
  • About damned time... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tarsi210 ( 70325 ) <nathan&nathanpralle,com> on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:27AM (#9778624) Homepage Journal
    Thank heavens for this, maybe more people will be spared the hell I had to go through with that bastard of a company.

    I had AT&T when I moved to my first apartment out of college. I had had them for college long-distance and thought it was ok, not knowing better. After a year of struggling whenever I wanted to switch plans or adjust information on my bill, and constantly getting phone calls from them for different services, I decided when I moved to my current house, AT&T would be taken out with the garbage.

    So, I cancelled 2 weeks before I left the apartment (with a long and arduous phone call with a really nasty, nasty woman) and signed up with Sprint (who were and continue to be just as friendly and helpful as heck). For 4 months after I moved and my long distance had switched, I still got bills from AT&T...mostly just the minimum, but it started building up. I got nasty letters telling me about collection, lawyers, etc. So I sent back a nasty letter, detailing that I had cancelled, if they'd check their damned records, and there was no way in hell I would pay anything.

    An apologetic letter arrived that stated that they'd be glad to terminate my account and my balance would be erased. Well, good.

    6 months later, I receive a bill from AT&T. $0.00 owed. I throw it in the trash. Six months from that, the same dollars owed, thanks for being a great customer. More head scratching followed, paper wafts towards circular file.

    I haven't lived at the apartment for 4 years now -- the phone number changed when I moved to my new house and it hasn't been reused for anyone. About every 6 months I still receive a bill from them for $0 that I look at, giggle, and then throw in the trash, amused at the sheer stupidity of it all.
  • ...and seen that spending $1000 on my $20 of long-distance business wasn't worth it.

    Of course they wish to reassure their existing customers, but we all know what that means. So who else provides reliable long-distance without amazing trick T&C, for the inevitable day when AT&T's residential long-distance customer base has dwindled to the point that either their service suffers or they decide to hang it up and sell us, yard-sale style, to a passing former competitor?
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @09:45AM (#9778768) Homepage
    When the phone companies were split up, I retained my AT&T long distance account out of habit and inertia. One day my bank offered free trials of their online bill-paying service, so I tried it out, with no problems with any company--except AT&T.

    The service says to allow one week for payment. I authorize payment THREE weeks before the bill is due. Online screen shows bill as "paid" TWO weeks before it is due. AT&T claimed the payment was two days late. After a lot of phone calls the bank got me an image of the cancelled check showing it was, in fact, cashed ONE week before the bill was due. Got that?

    Now get this. Remember, this is the first month I'm using the online bill-paying service, and have never paid a bill late before (in something like twenty years), didn't pay this one late, and even at the beginning AT&T acknowledged having received payment.

    I start getting obnoxious calls every evening from a collection agency.

    Even after AT&T acknowledges that the bill was paid, the collection agency keeps calling.

    Even after AT&T says the collection service has been told to stop, it keeps calling. (The collection agency, or at any rate the people who are calling me, say they have no record that AT&T has told them to stop).

    Even after I mail the collection service full documentation of everything, including screen shots of the bank's online bill-paying records and the image of the cancelled check, they keep calling and people at the collection agency tell me they have received the records and everything is OK, the collection agency keeps calling. (The people who are calling claim not to have been told to stop by the people at the agency who acknowledged receiving the records).

    EVENTUALLY they do stop.

    At this point I'm a tiny little bit furious so I fire off an angry letter to the office of the president of AT&T telling the story, opining that a refund of the month's bill would be fair recompense for my bad treatment and that if they'll do that we'll call it even and I'll stay with AT&T.

    I get a phone call on my answering machine from the president's office saying they completely understand and agree are sorry it all happened and they will send me a check for $65 and want to keep me as a customer.

    The check doesn't arrive.

    Here is a company that could have easily kept me as a customer. The only, single, solitary thing they needed to do was not to actively drive me away.

  • AT&T has been in a downward spiral for a long time. This is just more retrenching. They are being marginalized away.

    I heard one old engineer say he'd had tried to get a job with AT&T but they found out his parents were married when he was born and wouldn't hire him.

  • Disney announces that 2D animation is no longer viable, despite the fact there are over 400 animation studios in Japan. So, Disney doesn't make animated movies any more, and AT&T doesn't sell phones any more.

    Remember when business was about building products and selling them? I think most of us still had jobs then.
  • by Almost-Retired ( 637760 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @10:23AM (#9779110) Homepage
    I just canceled a long term agreement to use AT&T for my long distance carrier, and went to the Freedom plan from Verizon.


    1. The about 30 minutes a month we were using cost as much or more in the average month.

    2. I pay my bills online. 3 months ago I scheduled their payment to go out 7 days ahead of the due date, a standard practice.

    The check got there a couple of days past the due date and some asshole turned it over to a collection agency, who was of course out of state. They called me at 8:55 pm 3 different days to rag and otherwise irritate me into paying a measely $47 bill that I already had a bank statement showing it had been paid, and AT&T themselves told me that it had been paid when I called them. The collectors people were the most obnoxious people I've tangled with on the phone in a decade or more, and I used up most of a 15 minute monolog's worth of swear words discussing their geneology with them. It took over 2 months to get that collector off my back and that forever turned any inclination I had for AT&T's service off forever.

    AT&T was a fine, long term business, till some jerks managed to get themselves jobs in accounts receivable. AT&T should either prepare to sink in the long term view, or do some weeding in accounts receivable. Either way, they are going to do it without me, who has been a customer of theirs for 69 years.

    Cheers, Gene
    • Boy, does that ever sound familiar. See my story ("good riddance to bad rubbish") above. The only difference is that in my case they said the payment had arrive a couple of days late, but the bank's cancelled check image showed that it had been cashed a week before the bill was due.

      I wonder why they were so aggressive about turning over accounts paid through online bill paying services to collection agencies?
      • I suppose that they are broke, which leads accounts receivable to do strange things at times.

        Or, maybe that was the pretext, drive people away from a non-profitable service. But, from the size of the bills I was paying, I see no reason that it couldn't have been profitable. They must have been charging us at least a quarter/min during the day, and if that doesn't make ungodly amounts of money, then obviously they are very very top heavy.

        In any event, they are out of my picture frame forever.

        Cheers, Gen
  • Long before most of y'all were born, ANDY GRIFFITH came on TV after the "breakup" and told me to stick with "Ol' Reliable." And I believed him! He's so trustworthy [] .

    And now I feel ORPHANED! Will Aunt Bea come over to take care of me?

  • by changa ( 197280 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @11:00AM (#9779518) Homepage
    Everybody seems to be missing the reason for this.

    While their service sucked AND they were annoying us with switch calls the real culprit was Bush and the FCC. [] =wn&q=fcc+bush+telecom+act+1996&btnG=Search+Ne ws []

    They got rid of the regulations about unbundling the local copper so the local carrier can charge AT&T whatever they want.

    Expect others to leave that market soon as well.
  • "You heard it here first: the voice business is dead. Repeat: it's not even a commodity; it's doomed. The telcos know it, too." [Wired 3.07]

    It panned out to this - just 10 years later.
  • by Brian Stretch ( 5304 ) * on Friday July 23, 2004 @11:02AM (#9779549)
    because all they're doing is substituting SBC/etc's marketing and accounting weasles for their own. It's the same network, they just give you an additional point of failure for no significant benefit.

    Cell phone companies have their own networks. Cable companies doing telephone service have their own network. Reselling a regulated monopoly's service and calling it "choice" is a joke.

    Hey AT&T: take your $billions and build us fiber-to-the-home (or close as you can) high-speed Internet access. THAT I'd pay for. But you've probably pissed away too much cash to do that at this point and were never smart enough to begin with.
  • by Wizzy Wig ( 618399 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @11:11AM (#9779644)
    Five or six years ago, my wife had to visit a sick friend a thousand miles away from home. Having experienced the ripoff LD rates in hotels while on business travel, I told her to use the "1-800-CALL-ATT" number so heavily advertised on TV. BAD MOVE! As it turns out, the fine print that flashes on the bottom of the TV screen for 500 milliseconds at the end of the commercial informs us that the low fixed rates are available only to users of the AT&T Phone Card. For anyone else, the sky is the limit.

    As it happened, my wife's friend took a turn for the worse and we spent 4 to six hours on the phone over the course of a few days talking over whatever it is she needed to "express" (women...). My wife used the 1-800-CALL-ATT number, telling them to bill the LD to our home phone. Imagine my shock and horror when the AT&T bill arrived singing a tune of almost $700. The heartless bastards had no mercy... any and all pleading for mercy ended "Well... that's what you owe us... pay up or else." It took me 3 months to get them to knock a couple hundred off just to close the matter out, but it was their deceptive advertising that caused the problem in the forst place.

    May AT&T's corporate soul, if it still has one, rot in corporate hell.

  • by TheHawke ( 237817 ) <rchapin.stx@rr@com> on Friday July 23, 2004 @11:26AM (#9779826)
    One investment firm derated their stock to "junk bond" status, joining the ranks of once-mighty firms like Charter Cable. Another firm's report has labeled the company as a "prospect for a takeover, or buyout".

    IMHO, if they don't do something mighty desparate here shortly, they will be permantenly mired in the red with no way out of it except for selling out, or bankruptcy.
  • AT&T has been sending me checks for years to switch over. One of those where you cash the check, and your long distance provider changes. Some of them have been $20 and some of them have been as high as $100. I always cash them, wait for the change, then call MCI and get frequent flyer miles for switching back to them. It's an easy scam, and takes no more than 5 minutes every month. But I guess it's dead now.
  • by monkeySauce ( 562927 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @12:06PM (#9780276) Journal
    Am I the ONLY one here that has actually used AT&T local service? (as in they were my carrier for local-only calls) Everyone is spouting about their long distance service, which I have never used, but I have been an AT&T local service customer for the past two years.

    Over the years I had become so disgusted from my dealings with Ameritech/SBC that when I heard AT&T was providing local service in my area, I signed up right away. I figured ANYTHING had to be better than SBC. I had always found SBC/Ameritech's customer service reps to be rude, incompetant and just plain lazy. It was commonplace to have to call back multiple times to have a change made because the reps simply didn't do their jobs. And before you could hang up they would hound you like vultures trying to get you to buy their stupid add-on services.

    Being an AT&T customer was an enlightening experience. Every single time I called them for any reason the representative was very polite and efficient. They were so good I even went out of my way to report one of their reps for being so helpful and nice. The price was the same as SBC +/- $1. I had my bill automatically charged to my credit card each month and never had a problem in two years. (trying cc billing with Ameritech resulting in getting overbilled and I had to discontinue it).

    In short, AT&T local service was like the opposite of Ameritech/SBC. AT&T represented everything I wanted from a phone company. After two years with them I cancelled my service last month only because I'm moving and I'm going to be without a phone for a while, but I was sorry I had to leave them, and I'll be bummed if I wont be able to sign up for their local services at my new place.
  • This explains why the number 4 telemarketer, Reese Brothers, closed their Altoona office. How can you sell ATT Long distance when ATT isn't even in the business. Oddly they blame the DoNotCall list, when in fact it was all ATT.

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...