Anatomy of a Landline Loss

13 Comments

Every so often I come across an article which says things like, land line losses for the Baby Bells are around 10,000 a day as more and more folks switch from regular PSTN to wireless, cable or some other form of VoIP service. But its always a number, and hard to comprehend on a human level. Yesterday, I realized that a lot of this land losses might be self inflicted for the Bell operating companies. A friend of mine recently changed residences. She asked SBC Communications to change her phone line and also switch her DSL connection to her new apartment. SBC promised to do it, but a couple of days later, when the switch hadn’t happened, she called them again. After spending nearly 45 minutes on the phone, she discovered that they will turn on the phone line, but not DSL.

Why? After all her house was no further from the central office than her neighbors in the same Victorian. Instead she was told that the SBC central office was maxed out on DSL connections, and there was a little chance the company was going to spend money for 10-15 people and putting more gear. I am assuming it is a DSLAM which I admit does cost a lot of money. My friend, decided to call Comcast, and two days later was using her broadband connection and using VoIP-by-Vonage. Good bye SBC… forever. That’s about $600-a-year in lost revenues for the phone company. And if there were ten people like my friend, the numbers do seems to add-up. Nevertheless it is quite bizarre, since SBC is being quite aggressive and offering bargain prices to attract DSL users. Is this the right kind of penny pinching? Are you aware of others who have experienced similar challenge and decided to switch to the cable companies? Leave you story in the comments!

Photo by CrotchetOx via Flickr

13 Comments

KM

I seem to be in a day to day battle with SBC because of our phone and DSL. After a very long chat with the SBC technician, I have learned that the phone lines outside our house are in great disrepair and need replacing. They have so many breaks and patches on them there isn’t a whole lot they can do now to fix it. The SBC repair guy said, “it was possible SBC would replace the old lead cables, but realistically, not probable.” He went on to imply that it was like any other bureaucracy, the big shots are more worried about making their stockholders happy then making their customers happy.
We loose our phones and our DSL every time it rains. Every time the phone rings or is used, we loose our DSL. From time to time we loose our DSL because our phone line quality is just too crackly. Our neighbor lost his phone about a month ago and SBC came out to repair it. Apparently they were unsuccessful because they looked at it, left without saying a word, and it still isn’t working. I called SBC and asked to talk to a manager or someone who could tell me who makes the decisions on which outside cables to replace. They said they would have to call me back. Never did. We live in Los Angeles in an urban area where you would not expect to loose your phones and service. I am tired of paying for partial service.
The kicker to this whole thing is that when we moved into this house 10 months ago our phone was fine and our DSL was so fast it screamed. I got a DSL signup special for a year. Three months ago, still no problem. Then I got a call from SBC who wanted to know if I wanted to go pro with even faster DSL. It was a contract for another year and was only about $5 more. I did the math and said, yes, thinking it was great. When our contract and special price expired in another 4 months and our DSL would cost us over twice as much. Now I’m locked into a contract with terrible service for another nine months…it wasn’t worth the savings!

TG

Om said, “i think technology simply makes things easier to get rid of the poor-service companies.â€?

Right, if VZ had to compete with someone for my landline and DSL they’d lose. Luckily for them my building is f’d and I couldn’t get cable broadband. So they have zero competition, and can screw me as they like.

But, I tried VZWireless for a short bit, I wasn’t happy, and left them–because I could, and others offerered competitive offers. Wow that felt good. No competition => stagnation and gouging.

Jesse Kopelman

Om said, “i think technology simply makes things easier to get rid of the poor-service companies.”

This is exactly right and why investors should take Ed Whitacre’s recent spiel with a whole container of salt.

Eric

I know that recently in NYC some friends have moved to a new apt. or moved to this city for the first time. In an effort to save money and maybe pay higher rent (for more space or the like) the first thing to go is a landline. The reasons? 1. Cell phone is the primary contact point anyways. 2. Land line mobility is difficult despite portability claims 3. Price does not provide value of $30-40 spent elswhere…

Plus with digerati’s like myself always volunteering advice to my peers – landlines are becoming extinct.

Havagan

My girlfriend got Bellsouth DSL in Miami and fought with them constantly over her service. Unstable connection, poor speeds when she was connected, no connection half the time. After a year of this Bellsouth finally admitted that they should not have sold her DSL because she is too far away from the nearest switch. Very odd considering her neighbor has perfect DSL service. We switched her to Comcast and never looked back.

I’m moving in a month and I will be switching to Comcast also. It makes no sense to have a phone/DSL since I use my cellphone or Skype for calls. Add that to the simple speed/price difference between Comcast ($42.94 for 6Mbps) and Bellsouth DSL ($42.95 for 3Mbps plus the cost of the phone line). Comcast also offers 8Mbps for $10 extra while 3Mbps is as fast as Bellsouth will go. Where do you think the money I save on not having a phone line will go?

James

SBC seems to be missing the point that customers (DSL and phone) expect a fair deal. I know what continues to bother me with SBC is that they bill you everyother month for DSL service instead of monthly. The result is that one month the bill is just phone and the next the bill is for two months of DSL and a month of phone. Still haven’t got an answer for that considering my contract is month by month service….

Robert Banghart

I was an early adapter of Qwest’s DSL service years ago. I added it to my home account for two lines and subsequently added cell phone service so that my total monthly bill finally exceeded $150 every month.
When Qwest upgraded their DSL service about sixteen months ago they told me that the upgrade would be automatic, that I would get a new modem, and that they would lower the fee to match what other (newer) subscribers were paying.
They didn’t automatically upgrade, they didn’t provide the new modem, and they left me with paying the old higher charge for the inferior DSL transfer rates.
After several calls and removing first the cell phone service, and then one of the land lines, I finally had enough.
The local Comcast installer had been to my home a couple times over the years and I had always turned him away saying I was happy with Qwest. When he showed up the last time, I told him to sign me up. He came in, took my info, wired me up, installed the modem, and got me online within minutes. That is when I called Qwest and told them to pull the DSL service.
When they did that they charged me to re-provision my line and changed my long-distance provider to themselves and charged me their standard monthly fee as well as long-distance charges incurred all without my permission.
When I called them on it, they told me that I’d have to pay the bill before they would even consider giving me a credit on my bill or issuing me a credit check.
I contacted the state Utilities and Transportation Commission, filed a complaint, and got credits for the wrongful charges and Qwest removed from being my long distance carrier.
Qwest gave up all but about $23 per month out of the more than $150 per month or more than $1,500 per year because they simply refused to do what they said they were going to do. They turned a long term, long-mistreated customer into an active antagonist.
Ask me what I think of them now. I’d tell you but I think you already know, don’t you?

Om Malik

i find it amusing that we might think that it is technology that is driving the switch away from landlines, but in reality it just might be sheer bad customer service. i think technology simply makes things easier to get rid of the poor-service companies.

Scott Rafer

Your pal and mine (Chasse) decided to move from SBC DSL to Comcast. Due to an SBC-generated billing error, it took her 2+ hours on several phone calls to cancel her DSL. She was so angry that she dropped the landline entirely. Landline-to-mobile (T-Mobile) number portability worked beautifully.

CS Smith

I had a similar problem, Bellsouth jerking me around, not able to provide stable DSL service, gouging me on bills. The day I cut the copper line as a good one. Now on cable bband + VoIP.

One hitch I found though is that my current VoIP provider, Lingo, has really poor service and doesn’t seem inclined to improve it. Router crashes 1 to 2 times a day, call quality poor etc. When I tried to move to Time Warner Digital Phone, they told me I couldn’t port my number, which I had ported to them just a year ago from Bellsouth. So much for convenience. I may still ditch the number and move to TW anyway. Or ditch “landlines” altogether and go 100% mobile.

Zed

This is just stupid on SBC’s part. A 24 port DSLAM costs like two grand and telcos pay about half that in quantities. Line powered DSLAMs can just be hung on a pole, so there doesn’t even have to be any free space in the CO.

SATISH BHARDWAJ

Do not cry for baby bells. They may loose a few landline calls. But their profits will always rise. Just because they get fewer calls does not mean that people do not have a landline phone service. People havr VoIP, Cellular services. They kkep landline telephone services in the form of local phone and long distance phone. I lost my landline service because I pay every three or four months. I forgot and verizon discontinued my landline service. I was using very little landline service but I was paying a minimum every month that Verizon charges. I’d not have discontinued and Verizon would have gotten paid when I got around to it. Now Verizon will not get paid because of the harrassment (it had nothing to do with the billing) that was being caused to me for decades. I changed my telephone number several time. The man found out my new number the sdaME DAY. i USED EVERY TRICK LIKE UNLISTED NUMBER, ASSUMED NAME. Verizon wants the SSN for every client. So the Verizon Employee knew who I was no matter what name I used.

To bad. Now Verizon hasone less client.

May the reason for fewer Land Line calls is vicious Verizon employees and Not VoIp service.

that the time for VoIp has long gone just like the time for Laptops is long Gone. The timehas come to develop the technology that will allow the cellphones to surf the web.

Already the cellphone is being usede for sending the emails. But there is no reason for people to use VoIP except to make profits for Skype.

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