Tuesday, October 03, 2006

AT&T sends mixed messages on broadband service

I recently blogged about the seeming arbitrariness of one El Dorado County neighbor with access to wireline high speed Internet while one nearby or even next door can’t get it. Most vexing.

There’s another huge annoyance. How many of you have seen or heard advertisements by AT&T for DSL on sale — as low as $12.99 a month — as if broadband connections were so plentiful Ma Bell would basically give them away cheap?

The pitches are seemingly everywhere. In full page newspaper ads, on television, and on the Internet where AT&T has teamed up with Yahoo. Even on the outside of the phone bill. They’re misleading and unrealistically raise customer expectations. One has to read through gobs of dense fine print to find the disclaimer: “Not available in all areas.” More accurately, it should read not available in many areas and not available in most areas of El Dorado County.

In other words, service is available. But maybe it isn’t. Here’s a striking example of AT&T’s Orwellian doublespeak excerpted from a news release the company issued today headlined AT&T Simplifies Residential Broadband Pricing and Adds New Speed Tier.

“AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet service is available in the company's 13-state incumbent local exchange areas,” the news release states. Then in the same sentence comes the qualifier: “where high speed Internet service is available...”

Like Ma Bell says, it’s available…but then again it really isn’t.

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