they did what?

bell at&t monolopolyOh, the frustration of fighting a bureaucracy, any bureaucracy!

It started out with AT&T installing high-speed fiber optics in our office building. Eventually came a call from AT&T, suggesting that this faster Internet service would be the cat’s meow for me.

After several calls, I relented in late November, hearing that I could keep my same business land line telephone numbers. Previously, I had my telephone and Internet service with Windstream Business, and had been happy with that service for about five years or more. The good part: the monthly charges from Windstream were about half what the previous AT&T service was. The new AT&T service would be only about $20 more a month for phone and faster Internet. It sounded too good to be true.

Come to find out, it was.

The AT&T technician installed a new router for my Internet on December 1. Little did I know then that that was only for the Universe Internet service, and did not include the land lines.

The first indication that something was amiss happened about December 21. Someone sent me an email message that my main telephone number was out. The recording told them that calling this number “was not permitted.” Meanwhile, a second land line rollover number was still working. Though I called AT&T about the “dead” line, nothing happened.

Coming back to the office after the Christmas holidays, about December 28, I could not dial out or get calls on the second line. It was out, too. Something bad was amiss.

Frustration-Time ChartFirst I called the AT&T rep who had sold me on the new service. That is, I tried to call him. He was “no longer with the company.” So began a month of calls first to AT&T, eventually learning that Windstream had not transported the old lines over to AT&T. Seems it was “the other guy,” not their problem. Neither AT&T nor Windstream were taking any initiative.

The most frustration came when trying to get someone who could recognize the problem at AT&T. When calling them, you get three tones announcing you are at AT&T, then have to input your telephone number. When I did that, AT&T didn’t recognize the old number, and I was told to call back later. “Thank you for calling AT&T,” they said. Then the line went dead. That was galling.

Meanwhile I was using a cell phone, something I seldom do, and was not having an easy time of it. And no one knew that cell number, so I got no business calls. A few people called my wife at home, and I called them back. Dead quiet on calls coming in. It was a different feeling.

That went on for over a month. I apologize to anyone trying then to call me at the office.

Eventually, I gave up on having AT&T service. No one seemed to want to help me. By then Windstream told me that they could no longer provide Internet to my area, though they could provide land line phones, since I was a previous customer.

On January 21 an AT&T technician came to activate the land line. Then I had to wait six days (including the snow day of last Friday) for a Windstream technician to come in and give me my old numbers back. That happened Wednesday, more than a month since the land lines went out. Only then was I back with my regular office phones.

It’s been frustrating fighting bureaucracy. So far I haven’t heard a cat meow around here.

You can probably tell me your own frustrations when battling the many bureaucracies.

Editor's note: This story first published at
Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack

Elliott Brack is a native Georgian and veteran newspaperman. He published the weekly Wayne County Press for 12 years; was for 13 years the vice president and general manager of Gwinnett Daily News, and for 13 years was associate publisher of the Gwinnett section of The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. He now publishes, in retirement, Web sites on Gwinnett County,, and Georgia news,