VOIP Number Transfer from AT&T to Vonage – An experience to forget fast!

Who envisioned that the innocuous sign-up for VOIP via Vonage - the much publicized number transfer option would trigger an avalanche of headache from our service provider AT&T.

Sign-up was a breeze at the Vonage web-site and they shipped the hardware promptly. The number transfer process with AT&T, who also managed our DSL Service, however was a different ballgame altogether. Per their reps, the process involves:
  1. Requesting a phone number transfer, and
  2. Signing-up for a dry-loop Internet service.
The phone number transfer will also disconnect the Internet service as that is tied to the phone number. The service rep assured us that the Internet service transfer to dry-loop will happen the very same day and involves only re-registration once connectivity is established. We shook hands on that and signed up. As detailed below, the timeline of what ensued was contrary to our expectation:
  1. 2/16 – Signed up for VOIP at the Vonage site and at their request asked AT&T to separate DSL from phone line to facilitate transfer. AT&T on their part informed the pricing would increase to $40 from $30 for the Internet service and that jack work may be involved. Relayed this to Vonage and came to know that this is automatic with Verizon, and again at their request notified AT&T that any jack work will be handled by Vonage. AT&T signed us up for their Internet only account and advised that the switchover will happen on the 22nd and that while the Internet connection in itself would be transparent, re-registration may be necessary. They did ask us to check back and confirm old accounts were closed after ensuring that both the internet connection and the phone line with the new service were working to our satisfaction.
  2. 2/17 – Vonage account showed request to transfer phone link as sent.
  3. 2/18 – Vonage account indicated request to transfer as acknowledged.
  4. 2/20 – Voice mail from AT&T explaining the order is delayed due to some cable work with an ETA of 3-5 business days. It was also mentioned they will call on Friday to follow-up on whether repair has been completed and to provide status information.
  5. 2/22 – Mail from AT&T dated 2/17 informing on the new Internet service beginning on 2/25 starting at 8 PM.
  6. 2/25 – Around 9:30 AM, the DSL died. Immediately contacted AT&T and they assured the Internet connection switchover should happen within a 4-hour window and that they would check on this and call back if there are any glitches. Around 11:15, the phone line also went down. With no phone or DSL our feelings can be captured by this one word – HELPLESS! Called AT&T multiple times to get this situation resolved. This is when things really started to unwind as each rep guided us differently – one said we may have to wait till 3/1 (two business days needed for dry loop) while another said a callback can be expected as early as 8 PM.
  7. 2/26 – After repeated calls to the following numbers (they try to transfer one back and forth between these numbers – 1-866-346-1168, 1-877-722-3755, 1-866-325-5079, 1-800-288-2020 – they drop the connection too), one rep said our order information for the new service mentions that it will be done on and only on 3/1/2010. Our request for an escalation did not get anywhere – although it meant a number of emergency days off from work.
  8. 2/27 – Mail from AT&T dated 02/25 with almost the exact same contents the only change was the activation date indicated 03/01. No details on why our existing Internet and Telephone line were disconnected.
  9. 3/1 – AT&T Rep came to the house and tinkered awhile outside. The modem showed Green light, but still unable to access any website – it automatically routes to a site that asks to call customer service as they detected a problem with my account. Called AT&T and was parked for half an hour. Later went through their welcome mailing and found the site address to register. Tried it and voila, we have access!
  10. 3/1 – Called back to make sure my old account is closed per their request. The service numbers all say the standard “office is closed…” message as it is past 5PM.
Looking back, it is clear AT&T basically disconnected our service although their systems clearly warned that the new service will come online only a number of days later. This is horrible service, to say the least, in this day and age. For those who rely on this service for their daily bread this was a hit below the belt. On our part, we have resolved to report this wherever we can and this blog post is part of an effort to spur action. We have also commenced trying to find alternate (hopefully better) service in our area.

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