Ameritech: The Devil's Phone Company

I’m sure anyone in Chicagoland can relate. I’ll try to just hit the highlights, leading up to today’s round of indignities.

September, 2000. Move into a new apartment. Live without phone service for 3 weeks because they don’t know when they can send a technician. Stay home from work several days to meet promised technician, who never shows. Eventually receive service, plus $100 charge on first bill for missed technician visits, claiming no one was home. Charge eventually dropped, but only after our phone service was temporarly shut off for “non-payment.” Customer service rep handling reconnection attempts to sell caller ID, privacy manager, and voice mail. No, thank you.

December, 2000. Technician accidentally unhooks our telephone line when hooking up upstairs neighbor. Live without phone service for 6 days while they muster up new technician. Customer service rep attempts to sell caller ID, privacy manager, and voice mail. No, thank you.

July 2001. Assessed $150 new service charge when move phone from roommate’s name to mine. 10 minute phone call extended to 30 minutes as “customer service rep.” tries to sell me DSL. No, thank you. Finally say yes to caller ID.

June 2002. Call Ameritech, tell them I want the cheapest, most basic residential package. Assessed $150 service transfer charge when I moved to new apartment. Phone jack in new apartment is in the bathroom. Will cost $160 to move or install new jack. Phone jack remains in bathroom. 10 minute phone call stretched to 30 minutes as “customer service” rep attempts to sell me DSL. No, thank you.

July 2002. First phone bill is ass-rapingly high. See interesting charge - SBC Yahoo, $15.95. What? I use Earthlink. Call to find out where charge came from, am assured that it will all be fixed. 10 minute phone call stretched to 30 minutes as “customer service” rep attempts to sell me DSL. No, thank you.

October 8, 2002. Phone bills continue to be ass-rapingly high. I am still being charged $15.95/month for dial-up service that I did not ask for and have never used. Call up SBC Yahoo. Receive confirmation # of $47.85 credit. Am told I have to call up Ameritech customer service to make sure credit goes through. Sigh.

With heavy heart, I dialed Ameritech. I waited through menus. I waited through “hold” voice overs trying to sell me DSL. I finally got to talk to a customer service rep.

M: Hi. I cancelled SBC Yahoo dial-up service today. They told me to call you to make sure that my refund credit is processed.

Azazel, Chief of the Goat Demons: You were using dial-up? Well, have you considered DSL?

Me: I don’t want DSL. And I want you to process a credit to my account for DSL that I never signed up for or used. Can I give you the confirmation number?

Baal, Devourer of Animals: Well, we could apply that credit to new DSL service, for only $…

Me: I do not want DSL. Can I give you the confirmation number?

Father of Lies (sounding wounded and surprised): You don’t want DSL? Are you aware that with DSL you could…

Me: I do not want DSL. Can we talk about that credit now?

Eater of Worlds: Well, who are you using for dial-up now?

Me: Earthlink. I’m very happy with them. Now, about that credit…

Consort of Evil: Well, you know that you could get our dial-up service for only $15.95?

:head nearly explodes:
Me: I am already the unwilling recipient of your dial-up service. Now will you please process my refund credit? The number is:

Destroyer of Children: But dial-up is nothing compared to DSL…

Me: LOOK. I know that you are required to hawk DSL as part of your job. I cannot afford DSL. I do not want DSL. There is nothing you can say in this phone call that will induce me to purchase DSL. I WANT YOU TO PROCESS MY CREDIT AND THEN LET ME GET OFF THE PHONE. Please. Thank you.

Pillager of All That Is Good and Holy: Well, I have no way of knowing whether you are aware of the many benefits of DSL and the wonderful packages that Ameritech provides.

Me: Please trust that every single Ameritech employee I have ever spoken with has made it their business to sell me DSL. Now, moving on…

Damien, Son of Rosemary: I notice that you don’t have your local toll service through us. You could save $1.67 on your monthly bill if you allowed us to carry your local calls.

Me: That’s nice. So, ABOUT THE REASON I CALLED YOU TODAY. How are we coming with that refund credit?

The Devil: I’m just trying to save you money. If you switched to our local toll service, we could enroll you in a package that included local calls, local toll, dial-up internet, and all the services you currently enjoy for a cheaper rate. Then you could upgrade to our DSL service any time you’d like for only $…

Me: Can I have my refund now?

Beelzebub: How much is the credit?

Me: $47.85

Shaitan: What’s that confirmation number?

Me: _____.

Lucifer the Fallen: On a scale of 1-5, with 1 being unsatisfied and 5 being very satisfied, how would you rate your satisfaction with Ameritech’s service?

Me: 1. If my building allowed any other provider, I would change immediately to one with lower costs and better service.

Satan: Is there anything we can do to make you happier?

Me: Stop trying to sell me DSL? Wrap up a customer service call in less than 40 minutes? Stop billing me for services that I don’t order? Stop sucking?

Old Scratch: Well, your opinions are very important to us, thanks for choosing Ameritech!


At least in debtor’s prison you get three squares a day. - Nymysys

Gee, I’ve never had Bell attempt to sell me anything.

(gives thanks that companies he patronizes are only marginally assholistic)

Mags, you just picked on my favorite target. I hate, hate, fragging HATE Ameritech. Some of the absolutely worst and most inept customer service I’ve ever encountered.

Had a similar problem earlier this year. Moved from Itasca to Oak Park. Six weeks prior to the move, called Ameritech and notified them of the date I would need existing service terminated in the old apartment and new service started in the new apartment (July 7). The first phone call seemed to go well; the service rep was friendly (and I actually took them up on the DSL offer… it was tons cheaper than the AT&T Broadband cable modem I was considering).

Moved out of the old apartment and into the new one on July 7. Phone’s working just fine the day I move in, birds are singing, sun’s shining, all’s right with the world.

Till I get my next bill. Not for the new place… for the old place. (Now keep in mind that the bills are sent out in advance; the bill I received in mid-July was for service between July 1 and July 31.) I was expecting to get a bill for service from the old apartment for between July 1 and July 7… maybe twenty bucks or so. The bill I receive was for sixty-some-odd dollars; it was for the whole month of service (i.e., July 1 to July 31)! I called Ameritech and explained their error to them. Their response: “Pay the bill in full and we’ll give you a credit for the overpayment.” I, being the amiable, believing sort, thank them for their time and hang up.

Next month: get ANOTHER bill for service for the old apartment for the period August 1 to August 31. Call Ameritech again and (somewhat more irritated after several hangups and inexplicable transfers to even more clueless phone service reps) explain their further error to them. They’re charging me for phone service in a place I no longer live, and for a service I’d discontinued. Furthermore, I’d not yet seen a credit for the amount they owe me from July. Seems they’d never actually turned off the service in the old apartment. They indicate I should pay the new bill in full, and that my credits from July and August would be applied to my bill for my new apartment.

September rolls around. Get the bill for September. Notice that I’ve finally had a credit put on my new account, but that the credit’s about twenty bucks short of what it should be. Swear heartily, curse the name of Ameritech, and give up. It’s not worth raising my blood pressure again for twenty bucks.


(I won’t even get into my sister’s phone service being interrupted for six weeks due to an Ameritech technician’s continued ineptness… and as payment, they offered her a whole TEN DOLLAR CREDIT on her account. For six weeks of unusable phone service. How freakin’ generous.)

I would write a letter of complaint to the corporate headquarters. Document everything (just like you did here), then ask for written confirmation that you are off of all sales lists–including telemarketing, mail offers, and especially leveraging (when you call in and Satan tries to sell you DSL). If you have any other info–like employee names or ID numbers, include that as well. It just gives additional documentation.

You mentioned also that your building requires a phone line to run through Ameritech. However, you may be able to get long distance and local toll calls from another provider. If you call around, the other companies will give you the rates for those services and let you know if there are any additional fees (like hook up fees or others). You mentioned that you had Earthlink for your internet access. I know that Sprint does have a combo package that gives you dial up internet and .07 long distance (.10 local toll calls) for like $20 a month (plus however much you call long distance). I would check into that.

At that point, if I could get a better deal elsewhere, I would switch, then write another letter to Ameritech letting them know that they were the pain in the ass phone company that made you want to use smoke signals to communicate (but instead, you switched all but your basic phone line to other companies).

I’m cracking up here. That was beautiful, mags! I’ve never seen so many demonic synonyms in one place!

So you’re saying you don’t want the DSL? :smiley:

Ameritech is one reason to move as little as possible in Chicago. I was also charged (and did not pay) for an entire month of service in an apartment I vacated at the end of the previous month. Oh, and I shall now implement the phrase “ass-rapingly” into any sentence possible.

Ameritech sucks outside Chicago, too. For two years when I was in Madison, it was the only provider available. They consistently (that is, monthly) overcharged us, ringing us up for things that we didn’t want. Of course, the kicker is that there was always a 45+ minute wait to talk to a customer service rep, and even when you did that, the credit coming through the next month was only maybe a 1 in 3 chance.

After that year, the city actually got a large settlement out of them for these practices, which was given out to customers. It wasn’t much per person, but the inexplicable unauthorized charges radically decreased.

Even then, I was anxious to call the new carrier. I had a LOT of problems hooking up with them – for some reason, they decided to change buildings in the middle of their busiest season, and lost my files, causing me to be without a phone for about a month – but at least the queues were shorter to talk to them. (They also repeated the screw-up on the hookup with my address on billing, so I wasn’t billed for several months, and I was too busy to notice. They waived all the late fees, though.)

Local phone service is such a headache. It’s getting to the point where I can see just going with cellular service exclusively. It’s more expensive, but at least there is enough competition that the companies actually provide SERVICE.

I had to listen to them pitch DSL to me when I just wanted to pay a bill over the phone. And to think the most annoyed at them I’d become was when they had a month’s notice that I was moving but said they couldn’t install a second phone line in my new place (it wasn’t wired at all for a second line) for two months, would that be all right? Erm, no. I didn’t bother, got a cable modem and cable Internet service instead, and am terribly happy with that decision. I hate hearing these horror stories but can’t say I’m surprised.

I knew there more stories of pain.

Zanshin, I too got charged for time after I left my old place. That one is still up in the air, being bandied about by Behemoth, King of all Hellcats.

ghandi - I pay Ameritech to have a phone line in the wall + voice mail + call-waiting. That costs (gulp) $51.34/month with the applicable taxes. Long distance is through Working Assets (no complaints) and internet is through Earthlink (I could probably find cheaper but I’ve had great service from them). I would love to go with CoreComm, which is cheap and offers good service, and I’ve written to my building manager about letting them in here. We’ll see.

Not only did you make me pee my pants from laughing, but you quoted me, too.

I love you more today than yesterday.

Death to Ameritech! Viva la Revolutión!

Ameritech does not operate in my area. I have never dealt with them for telephone or internet business.

I have, however, dealt with them as software vendors.
Maggie, m’dear . . . you went a little easy on them, dontcha think? I mean, I don’t think the Judeo-Christian mythology can cut it. I’m thinking Lovecraft.

I use do to DSL installs for my company, and we got sent to Chicago and Columbus. Ameritech land. Out of 70 installs I did over the month, guess how many worked, first try?

Guess why? Ameritech had not run the proper phone lines. Mind you, these people had already waited six months for the install. So in the six months since they ordered service, and the company that provided DSL(since defunct), contacted Ameritech to get the lines set, they couldn’t do it. Six months waiting, and no phone lines.

No DSL either. After that, I was glad for Cable modem service.

Ameri-wreck hasn’t tried to pitch me DSL, YET. However, the last time I had to deal with them, I had a hell of a time getting them to take unordered 3-way calling off my service.

“Please take off 3-way calling. I didn’t order it, I don’t use it, and I don’t want it.”
“It’s part of a package with your privacy manager.”
“Cram you package, I didn’t order it, I just ordered the Privacy Manager. Take off the fucking 3-way calling.”
“No need to get profane, sir…”
“Eat shit. Take off the 3-way calling.”

And so it went…

However, I think if I do get the DSL pitch from Hell, I’ll take a hint from the front door thread: “I’m blind and I have no need for a computer…” :wink:

I called up Sprint because our phone was dead. In the middle of trying to get the phone fixed, the repair tech tried to sell me a long distance package.

“Fix the damn phone first, then we can talk about long distance!” I cried, then I hung up the phone.

Fortunately, it was not our problem, but a problem with the main trunk line or whatever the hell it was.

I hate Ameritech, too. Almost all the students move on August 14-15, and even if you call ahead, your chances of getting your phone line connected are still pretty iffy.

I set up phone service not to have voicemail or long-distance, and my cell phone is still cheaper. If I didn’t have a roommate, and could afford a cable modem, I probably wouldn’t have a landline at all.

Ahhh, Ameritech.

I subletted an apartment for the summer and used my cell phone to make/recieve all my calls, and still had to pay ~$20-25 a month just to keep the phone line ON.

OK - Stupid question time:

How did you phone them if your phone was dead?

Cell phone, pay phone, neighbor’s phone?

On a related note, I called Ameritech today to get them to put through my long-distance service change. The guy said “within 24 hours” it’ll switch. Yeah, right, I’ll believe it when I see it.

When I lived in a house in college, we had Ameritech, and one of the requirements of me moving into the house (I was filling a vacant room) from my roommates-to-be was that I never change the long-distance service. There was a large row of phone cards from a couple carriers taped to one wall in the stairwell, the kind that you get when you sign up with a LD service; it was the result of many months of trying to straighten out billing with both Ameritech and the LD services involved, resulting in things like being billed for two carriers, having no LD service at all, and so on. Meanwhile these services would keep sending new cards because there were 3 people living in the house and trying to straighten out the mess, etc. Mind you, not all of these problems were Ameritech’s fault, but some definitely were.

I was going to try to write something funny, but after that OP; I can only promise that I’ll try to speak tpo him about it. <sigh> But these kids today have no respect for their elders.

Ameritech billed me repeatedly for a phone card held by the previous occupant (beginning with charges from before I even lived in Michigan). Over a four-month period, they continued to agree that they were not my charges and would be removed. When they sent a Collections agency after me for the phone card bill, I kind of flipped. Soon after I cancelled their crappy-ass service and now use a cell phone exclusively. It’s cheaper AND I get long-distance.

I do know that at least one Doper works for Ameritech and he is a perfectly nice fellow. I won’t reveal his identity in this thread, though!