Baby Bells Try To Lure Back Former Customers

from the you-can-try... dept

Well, look at that. The Baby Bells have finally realized that years and years of neglecting their customers is coming back to bite them. Now that competition has finally found its way into the local telecom market, customers are leaving in droves, the Baby Bells are trying all sorts of strategies to lure customers back. A lot of those strategies seem to involve apologizing for past behaviors. Here in California, it’s been about a year and a half since I ditched SBC and they’re still calling me (sometimes three times a day) and sending me mailing every other week or so. To me, this just demonstrates that they still don’t get it. If they think continually bothering me (despite telling them to stop) makes me any more inclined to sign back up with them, they’re very mistaken.

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Comments on “Baby Bells Try To Lure Back Former Customers”

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LittleW0lf says:

I'd wrather have...

a dentist with a rusty drill and no novacane perform root canals on all my teath than go back to SBC.

After years of running a Bulletin Board System, and as a result suffering from PacBell’s marketing ploy (and continued on by SBC) to offer digital phone lines for a greatly increased price, I think the service I am getting from my current provider is 100,000x better than SBC.

Anyone running a BBS back then probably remembers this marketing ploy…it apparently didn’t work so well for the phone company. The idea was to get anyone with a modem to subscribe to a digital phone line, which was far more expensive than an “analog” one. The phone line wasn’t digital, it was just that the phone company guaranteed that the phone line would be capable of handling modem communications. They tried to push everyone they could find with a modem into this service, which of course flopped as their customers were well aware that modems take digital information and transfer them to analog signals, which can be carried perfectly fine over analog phone lines.

So instead of dropping the product, the phone company decided to drop support for a phone line if the user mentioned that they were using a modem on that line. Around the same time, those of us who had BBSs noticed that our phone line quality dropped to non-existant. My BBS line went from pristine to flakey, and when it rained, the line was so bad that I couldn’t even speak to anyone over the line without hearing static, and the cross-talk (where other people’s phone lines are mixed with mine,) was quite common (almost like a party line). After numerous support phone calls (all of which announced the trouble was inside wiring,) I went in and rewired my house completely using CAT5 cable (though to no avail, the main phone line worked flawlessly, but the BBS line was still crap.)

To reward me for my work, the phone company tacked on a $5 a month, inhouse repair service charge, and they wouldn’t remove it even though I insisted, as “CAT5 costs more than telephone cable.” (At the time, CAT5 cost about $90 for 1000 ft.) I finally built up the nerve enough to open the NTU and attach a phone socket there, so that I could call the phone company directly from the NTU. When it connected, I began speaking with the technician, having a hard time hearing them due to the static. They proceeded to “test my line” and then informed me that it was my inside wiring, and promptly sent a technician out to fix the wiring in my house. I told the technician that would not be necessary, as I was calling from the NTU, and the FCC would be the next call I made.

Despite my decline on a visit, the technician arrived and looked over the situation, realizing that there was no possible way for him to dispute the issue, since the phone call had been made at the NTU, and not inside the house. I suspected bad wires, but the technician told me something that to this day still scares me away from the phone company. Apparently, he had been made aware of my BBS running on the line, and quite frankly told me that a couple years back, that particular line had been moved from its former location to the bottom of the stack at the switching station (actually, it is a box, about 4 feet high and 2 feet wide, where all of the lines for the area go, before they are routed to an actual phone company building). And unfortunately, this switching station often flooded, which meant there was usually water, in abundance, around the area where my phone line was connected. He moved my line back up the stack, and all my modem problems disappeared almost instantly.

However, they were back within six months, as apparently another technician, following orders, moved the line back down to the bottom.

To make matters worse, the phone company started charging a “number portability service fee” about 5-6 years ago (like most are doing now.) The charge was $0.25 a month, and it was explained at the time that if I ever moved, the phone number would go with me. Well, almost 3 years ago, I moved, about 1/2 mile from where I was living before. My number, did not go with me, and apparently wasn’t as portable as the phone company led me to believe. Then, to add insult to injury, when I dropped SBC and went with another provider, the other provider told me quite candidly that they could have easily moved me over to their service with the old number, and lo-and-behold, the number was still available if I wanted it.

My provider, which I’ve had for the last 2 1/2 years hasn’t charged me a cent for in home wiring, and when I called them to tell them that I had replaced the 50-year old wiring in my new house with CAT5, they were ecstatic (the woman I called to inform about the change asked if I would be available to change out the wiring on her house too.) She informed me that their technicians were doing the same when folks were having problems with inside wiring, but she said a lot of their customers were doing the same. I am still waiting to see if a $5/month fee appears on my bill, but after 2 years, apparently there isn’t going to be one. Oh, and I don’t get charged a number portability service fee for my new provider, and my old SBC phone bill was around $50 a month for each phone line…my new provider is around $30 a month for TWO phone lines.

As far as I am concerned, $100 from SBC isn’t enough. Add about 7 zeros to the end, and a personal visit and apology from every person who screwed me over the many years of hell, and I’ll consider switching back.

Its funny, but the nosy salesperson on the SBC commercials, calling during dinner to ask the occupant where she has been and if she wants to come back, always seemed to strike me as hypocracy, since SBC is the only one I know who practices this type of tactic.

LittleW0lf says:

Re: Re: I'd wrather have...

They actually had a policy of screwing their own customers?

Probably not written down in any manual, but apparently so. Kinda up there with the non-existant “irate customer” flag which they probably had set for me in their database too.

I know it wasn’t just me, as at the time I was a member of the San Diego County Sysops Association (SDCSA) and that was common enough that someone found the FCC rules which stated the minimum requirements for an analog phone line, which is why I had told the phone company that I was going to call the FCC.

However, I can think of at least three professions that do that (Congress, the RIAA/MPAA, and the stuff they do outside of the Vegas city limits.)

LittleW0lf says:

Re: Re: I'd wrather have...

So what’s the new provider?

It certainly isn’t Verizon.

A hint would probably be my email address, but that might just give it away. To borrow from a lame SBC commercial, they aren’t the phone company (’cause only SBC can say that they are the phone company,) but in some cases like mine, that is a good thing.

Then again, their commercials are sometimes as annoying as SBCs, but not nearly as annoying as “Can you hear me now?”.

Mike (profile) says:


Just one little addition to this. Only two weeks after SBC’s last phone call, where I humored them and went through the process to show them that what they were offering was more expensive than what I currently had – after which I told them that was that, and to make sure I wasn’t called again. So, what just happened? Phone rings… “Hi, this is SBC…”

This time they promised me that I’ve been taken off their list for 10 years. They read me all sorts of legalese.

Anyone taking bets on whether or not they’ll call me by the end of September?

LittleW0lf says:


Anyone taking bets on whether or not they’ll call me by the end of September?

They’ve been calling me almost every night, even though I too have asked them not to call, after explaining to them my story (as if they didn’t already know it), and the fact that I think they are just one step below the anti-christ when it comes to their “Evil” factor.

Now, they call, and when I answer, they just hang-up. Its almost funny, because I’ve done a number of reverse crank-calls (where they call me and I have just as much fun as if I had called them in a crank) that I think they are trying to annoy me on purpose (which usually doesn’t work, even when they are real telemarketers). Unlike the other companies, their caller-ID tag always says SBC Comm, so I can usually figure out it is them before I pick up.

Mike (profile) says:

Re: Re: SBC

Unlike the other companies, their caller-ID tag always says SBC Comm, so I can usually figure out it is them before I pick up.

I’ve noticed that the caller ID only says SBC some of the time. It appears that they call from a single number for a while, and if I ignore that for a few days, they start calling from another number, instead. Sometimes it says SBC, but usually it doesn’t. If I haven’t picked up for a few weeks, then they block the caller ID and call again.

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