UPDATE 7/10/2007: the saga continues here.
UPDATE 7/11/2007: the saga concludes here.

I’m determined to get this $10 internet for my wife at home. I read about it on TechDirt several weeks ago, and thought “Hey, wouldn’t it be nice?” Of course, there’s rarely a free lunch, and after surfing the internet forums, I wondered if I actually signed up for it, if I’d be the first – most people had problems getting to the right page and getting the right page to pop up even when they got the right URL.

Always one to be a pioneer, and always willing to put the screws to AT&T, I’ve taken it upon myself to go through the arduous task of making this possible. Hopefully I’ll be able to pave the way for others to do this for themselves in the future, as well as make my wife happy with some cheap internet service at the house.

All Timestamps are PM.

4:00:
went to the link from the TechDirt article on DSL Reports, went through the sign-up form. System informs me that I’m not qualified for AT&T DSL service in my location.
4:14: Called customer service. On hold for 20 minutes, and then hung up on when transferred.
4:40: Called different customer service line (800-869-1598), and was told that, after 15 minutes on hold, that I could get DSL where I was, but they would have to transfer me to the the right regional customer service. As soon as I started speaking with the customer service guy about the $10 deal, I mysteriously get transferred, and hung up on.
5:20: Went through the website again, and this time clicked on the live chat thing. Spent about 20 minutes discussing things with her. Started out by telling the CSR about my request for the $10 DSL (probably a mistake), and mysteriously I’m told that it’s not available again. She offers me Satellite Internet at an exhorbitant rate. I graciously decline. She refers me to a phone number to tell me exactly why DSL isn’t available for me (1-800-709-5465).
6:00: Dicker around on the internet, considering getting wireless internet through a mobile phone provider.
6:03: Look at the pricing plans, and decide this is a stupid idea. Especially since I don’t have a laptop.
6:15: Dig up the number chat lady gave me, and call it.
6:19: They give me this number to call: (877-722-3755). I call it. Talk to the lady about setting up standalone DSL, and get a go-ahead. I then mention that I want the special $10 deal. She tells me it’s a web-only offer. I mention my dilemma, and she transfers me to the web-help people.
7:02: Talked to Billy, presumably a web help guy. Tell him the problem, but don’t mention that it’s the $10 deal specifically. He’s bringing a specialist on the line, allegedly. It sounds like he punted me to a different department. Probably DSL sales again. I don’t recognize the hold music as being from the same department, so it may be someone else entirely.
7:06: Realize how sad it is that I’m learning to recognize their hold music. The maintenance men just turned out the lights in the hallways. I realize how late it’s getting.
7:10: This hold music sounds like it is playing off magnetic tape, and it’s been playing continuously since the 70s, when these tunes were written. It speeds up and slows down randomly.
7:12: I hear a brief ring, and then back to hold music. Same songs.
7:15: Talking to Nick in the Retention Office. He tells me that the $10 deal is not a standalone DSL deal. I must order phone service, even if it’s the ultra-cheap $10 phone service, to be able to get the $10 DSL. So now, I begin my quest to find the most dirt cheap telephone service AT&T offers.
7:17: Went to the special $10 DSL Order Page and then clicked on the Residential Link on the following line:

Need to order new AT&T local phone service? Order online for Residential or Business.

Went with every option that seemed cheap. Opted out of the credit check. Basic basic basic – I won’t be making a call on this line, just need it as a formality, and will be using VoIP when I have the internet set up, probably with Gizmo or Skype or something.
7:32: I’m sitting at the pay screen, looking at the button to pay for $7 a month local phone service. I’m pondering whether to trust Nick at his word and go for it, or to just give it up. No! I’ve come to far to give up! Plus, I’m going to use a credit card, so I can always reverse the charges.
7:42: The phone number it assigned me is the same as what one of my buddies from middle school’s phone number was. Odd coincidence.
7:45: Total cost so far: $50.00 (pre-paid). Actual charges: $7.00 + $38.50, but they require a $50.00 prepayment, apparently. Hooray for credit checks!
7:47: Went back to the order DSL special page from DSL Reports. Entered my new phone number, and got this error message:

Due to technical problems, we are unable to process your order online at this time. Please contact us at 1-877-722-3755 Mon-Fri, 7am-9pm; Sat 8am-5pm.

7:48: Calling (877-722-3755). I’ve called this line before. This is the one with the 70s hold music on the bad cassette tape.
7:54: First recognizable song played on hold: “Every Step You Take, I’ll Be Watching You.”
8:05: Still on hold. I hope I’m home before tomorrow. Not looking hopeful for that impossible dream.
8:12: Talked to George Thomas in Sales. He says I have to wait until the 9th to activate my special $10 DSL internet deal. He is the first person besides Billy that actually was aware of the $10 DSL deal, and was able to confirm the pricing and account requirements. He also mentioned that all the taxes and special tariff addons that come bundled as a ‘feature’ of most broadband internet was less than $1.00 – so I can expect my monthly bill to be around $11.00 for the DSL, and $7.00 for the local line (which will be sitting dormant and unused).
8:16: Decide that there’s nothing more I can do, and go home for the day.

Bottom Line: This is a To Be Continued thing… I’ll do another live blog on this on the 9th when I go about setting up my DSL service, but it looks like everything will come to $18.00 a month, and will work as (not) advertised. I’ll withhold final judgement till everything is installed, but I’m looking forward with cautious optimism.

Here’s What You Do To Not Spend 4 Hours Figuring This Out:

  • If you have no AT&T land line, go here.
  • Then go here once it’s activated.
  • Pay your $18.00 a month (but be willing to spend that $50.00 for the up-front pre-payment).
  • Enjoy your slow (but cheap!) internet connection.


/rizzn

Update 7/6/2007, 7:18 PM: Just got linked by Engadget, and Gizmodo too, although I don’t see the link on their page, emails are coming in saying it’s been linked there. In response to the comments – my website design serves me well. If I served an audience the size of Engadget or Gizmodo, I’d prolly hire a designer to do it for me. As it is, I’ve got an audience of thousands, not millions, and they don’t seem to care.

But I know it’s a turd of a site. Bleh

As to the substance of some of the comments, the reason I’ve got to wait until the 9th is for the installation and activation of the phone line, which is the earliest possible date to get the line installed. Once that’s done, I can get the DSL installed.

Perhaps it was my own negligence or maybe nobody actually said this, but I was under the impression that the $10 DSL was standalone service – it wasn’t.

Thanks Engadget! (and Gizmodo, if you linked me, too!).

Update 7/9/2007: A lot of you are looking for an update. I’ve been busy all day preparing for the live UBN show, and haven’t had a chance to get with AT&T. It’s on my agenda for first thing in the morning. Do not despair, I will update!

Want to be part of the Rizzn-ite army? Indoctrination instructions here.