By Peter Marcus, DENVER DAILY NEWS
AT&T wireless customers in the Denver metro area should expect service problems over the next several months due to network upgrades.
A regional AT&T spokeswoman told the Denver Daily News that the upgrade will cause “intermittent and isolated service issues.” She said the upgrades will be completed in the “coming months,” but did not provide a more specific timeframe.
For downright angry AT&T customers, the frustration does not stem from the network upgrades, but from the fact that the wireless provider did not inform them of the upgrade and the likely service issues related with it.
“They should let us know rather than blame the phone,” said Fernando Benavides outside the Apple Store at the Aspen Grove shopping center in Littleton where he was seeking help about issues with his iPhone. “I had no idea. I was thinking about getting a new phone because (AT&T) keeps blaming the phone.”
Issues run the gamut, including dropped calls, poor signal strength, no Internet through Edge and AT&T’s 3G network, inability to send text messages, and voicemail messages coming hours if not days later. The issues appear to be affecting iPhone customers hardest.
One common complaint from AT&T iPhone customers is that the visual voicemail feature is spotty — sometimes customers won’t receive the actual message until hours or days after the fact. The solution is to turn off the phone and then back on, which forces the visual voicemails to come through.
But Golden resident Chuck Chapman can’t afford to miss voicemails, not even for a few minutes. Since being laid off from his job selling medical equipment, Chapman has been looking for another job. Missing a call or voicemail message about a job interview is not an option — and yet that’s already happened to him.
“For me to be missing a call like that, that’s embarrassing,” said Chapman. “I want monetary compensation on my bill — why should I pay for service if it’s not 100 percent? That’s what I’m paying for — service.”
Chapman called AT&T, and he said they told him to restore his phone, which he did. But Chapman said the static and missed calls did not stop.
“They should refund your money if they can’t provide the service you’re paying for,” he said.
AT&T regional spokeswoman Brooke Burgess simply asked customers to be patient during the upgrades.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your patience during this time as we expect these upgrades to be finished very soon,” she said in a statement.
Despite multiple requests by the Denver Daily News, Burgess would not discuss specific service issues without the phone numbers of specific accounts. The Denver Daily has a strict policy of not divulging the personal information of sources without consent.
Burgess also would not directly answer whether customers were notified of the network upgrades.
“Generally speaking, we are always upgrading, improving and conducting maintenance work to out network,” she said. “Sometimes this results in a temporary intermittent service issue. More often it does not. We appreciate everyone’s patience during our current work providing the very latest technology to Denver — and we expect these upgrades to be finished soon. If a customer experiences a service issue, we encourage them to contact AT&T so we can review their situation on a case-by-case basis.”
Plenty of anger
For customers, however, that response doesn’t cut it. One after the other, customers walked into the Apple Store at Aspen Grove complaining about service.
“I hate AT&T,” said one customer who blew past this reporter looking for an Apple Genius to answer his service questions.
“They told me there were no service issues, but then they told my friend that there were issues,” said another woman who also quickly ran into the Apple Store looking for help.
One customer said he was in the Apple Store looking for help over the weekend, but that even the store’s iPhones were experiencing service issues. Apple employees declined to speak with the Denver Daily News as they were unauthorized to comment to the press.
Meanwhile, Benavides was recently in Texas where he said service was “perfect.”
“It’s just been horrible out here,” he said.
Distributed by Colorado Capitol Reporters