Northwest NEWS

April 5, 1999

Editorial

More on cellular service at Cottage Lake

   This is a follow-up to a letter in the March 22 Letters to the Editor column. Patti Guarino very kindly provided a telephone number that she said we should call if we were experiencing difficulties with our AT&T service. I called that number today, March 25, and thought a summary of my experience might be useful to readers and to AT&T Wireless Services (AWS) management.

   I have cellular service provided by AWS. I live about one mile east of Cottage Lake. There are at least three cellular base stations within a mile of my home, yet when I am within three miles of my home, my phone's signal strength all but disappears.

   Using my cell phone, I called 1-800-611-2611 from Bellevue. I received a three-choice voice menu, 1 for automated system, 2 for customer assistance, and 3 to terminate service (do they get that many of those calls?). I chose 2. A recorded message next strongly suggested that I cease using my cell phone and use a pay phone to call 1-800-888-7670.

   Persisting, my call was finally answered by a young lady. I explained that I seemed to have a service problem where I lived, and asked politely if anything could be done to remedy the lack of signal strength. During this brief conversation, she managed to interrupt me three times, and to ask that I repeat where I lived twice. When I suggested that many people in the area experienced similar problems and that there were a large number of people who needed good cellular telephone service in the area, she stated that AWS did not have base stations in the area and "that nothing could be done about it."

   I work for a Wireless Intelligent Network company, so I have a good understanding of wireless technology and its capabilities. I also know that the wireless industry's biggest problem is customer turnover. If I were making my decision about wireless service based on today's conversation, I would choose anyone but AWS. I don't think AWS really wants to convey this message, so I suggest they take a closer look at their customer service--because it ain't.

   In the meantime, in spite of my own experience, I recommend that anyone who has AWS service call 1-800-611-2611. When the volume of calls increases, they will listen, even if I need to recommend my audiologist to them.

Ted Jardine, Cottage Lake