Yesterday, I think it was, a kindly AT&T customer service person appeared on this blog to invite my correspondence, offering to help me get the Internet access AT&T is apparently incapable of delivering to me. I responded by saying that I appreciated it, but that I had no confidence that she (or he) could accomplish a blooming thing. AT&T’s customer service people make promises that mean nothing. For example, I was told a day or two ago — they all start to blend, so I can’t be precise — that the agent was going to make a priority of getting my service on, given how badly we had been treated by the company. She said it would be on by day’s end, and that she would call me in an hour to verify this.

Do I even need to tell you that that promised call never came? Need I tell you further that Internet access never did either? When I called back, the customer service torturer agent told me that no one was authorized to make any promise like that. Ah. Got it. She told me that service was set to be turned on Thursday, according to “the computer.” This was Wednesday afternoon. I told her that was unacceptable, that I had to have Internet to do my job, that I had been effectively out of work all week because of AT&T’s error, and that I insisted this had to be taken care of today.

She told me that that wasn’t possible at all, because they computer says yadda yadda yadda.

At that point I barked, “YOU PEOPLE LIE!” at her. I hung up.

By last night, we still didn’t have Internet access, though I told Julie that they had five hours left in the day. I mentioned to her that someone from AT&T had come on this blog and offered to help. “Don’t!” she said. “I don’t believe a thing they say.”

“That was my thought too,” I replied.

Above is my modem this morning. Obviously there is no Internet service at my house, despite AT&T’s promise.

These people lie. I don’t think they lie in terms of telling conscious untruths. I think they lie in that they make promises that they cannot fulfill, and have no real power to fulfill. For AT&T, “customer service” is the foundational lie. I read somewhere that the definition of a corrupt institution is one that knows the right thing to do, but cannot muster the wherewithal to do it. By that standard, AT&T is corrupt.

“The problem is they’re too damn big,” my father said to me last night. “When these companies get so big, you don’t mean anything to them anymore. And the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.”

I spoke yesterday to a friend who retired some years ago from AT&T  after over three decades of service. “I tell you, it’s shocking to me to see how bad the company has gone down in the years since I left it,” he said. “They used to have pride in their work. The customer always came first. Not anymore. These young people who run the company today, they don’t know what they’re doing and don’t care. There’s no work ethic anymore.”

Next week, we’ll be past Christmas, and that’s when I’ll investigate alternate Internet service providers locally, as well as start writing letters to the Louisiana Attorney General’s office, to the FCC, and to anybody else I can think of.  Oh, baby, we are just getting started. These people have pissed me off so badly that I might actually drive to their corporate headquarters, on Akard Street in downtown Dallas, and do a little Occupy AT&T action on my own. And I will Alert The Media before I hit the road. Anyone within driving distance of Dallas care to join me if I can make this happen? I’m actually serious.

AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall L. Stephenson, your page on the company website says:

Since becoming chairman, Mr. Stephenson has strengthened AT&T’s position as the world’s largest telecommunications company and as a global leader in mobile broadband and IP-based business communications services.

Not with me, you haven’t. This is another one of AT&T’s lies, in my opinion. I make my income writing for this magazine, primarily its website. You have impeded my ability to do business. We ordered broadband service from your company in November, Randall L. Stephenson. Not only have you not delivered, but you have kept me and my wife on the phone for hours this week, and your agents have misled us, lied to us, and treated us very badly. I had never had a bad thought about AT&T, but now, not quite a week later, I think your company is so badly run and indeed malicious that if Christmas weren’t coming, I’d drive to Dallas this very day and picket your building. I have never in all my life been treated so badly by a company. What kind of shop are you running there, Mr. Randall L. Stephenson?

Anyway, readers, enjoy the red and green of AT&T’s Christmas lights above.

UPDATE: I’m in Bird Man working on the wi-fi. Just talked to a friend who said that a few years back, when the local bank remodeled and relocated to temporary quarters, the move back to their original building was set for a particular day. The bank had arranged long in advance to have their phone service (AT&T, of course) switched over so they could resume business without interruption. They got to the moment, and … no phone service. They only reason the bank was able to get their phone service turned on in time to do business — and mind you, if the bank can’t do business, half the town can’t do business — was that someone here was able to get a call in to the state’s Public Service Commissioner that weekend. Can you believe?