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Mistakes were made

New York City meets Munich

Choice of one

May 31st, 2002 · No Comments · Uncategorized

OnTera Broadband, a.k.a. DualStar Communications, was once my sole provider of all things bandwidth. From television, to Internet, to long distance, to local telephone, they did it all. They never did it very well, though, and they only got worse over time. I finally relegated the bastards to my local service provider, but only because I was trapped. In order to be rid of the incompetent and customer hostile bastards, I’d have to change my phone number. Stuck between two huge pains in my ass, I picked the lesser one: sticking with OnTera.

But surprise, surprise! OnTera is now going out of the local phone business. With the singular ability of being able to piss off every customer without fail, I should have seen this one coming.

Since virtually everyone in my building was trapped in the same sinking boat, the building management provided information on switching. There was literature from Verizon, and Verizon representatives set up camp one night in the lobby, to help us telecommunications refugees.

I used to use Verizon for wireless service, and they were always pretty good. Or, to be more accurate, they were pretty good for a phone company. But I currently use AT&T for long distance, and I was aware that AT&T offers local service in New York. Besides the nice bonus of having one phone company to deal with, it turns out AT&T is a bit cheaper than Verizon, at least for the plan I wanted.

So I made the call to AT&T. Give me your local service, please, I say.

AT&T says: You will need a new phone number if you want local service.

Damn. No thanks.

Out of curiosity, I called Verizon.

I’d like local service from Verizon, I say.

I see you use OnTera, says the Verizon rep. We can switch you over no problem.

Can I keep my phone number?

Of course, says the nice, helpful person at Verizon. No problem!

So much for an open telecommunications market. You are free to choose your local provider, as long as it’s Verizon.

I called AT&T back, and asked them what the deal is. They came right out and said that the only people they can deal with directly is Verizon. Seems none of the alternate local carriers can deal with each other. Verizon must always be involved. So if you order local service from alternate carrier X, you cannot switch to local alternate carrier Y and keep your number in the process. You can only switch to Verizon.

That sounds fair. If you’re Verizon, that is.

So I’m a Verizon customer now. I could switch to AT&T, but seeing as I had to cough up an $80 “connection charge,” I won’t save any money if I switch. So much for competition.

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