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Quality of AT&T phone service

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
As a new AT&T customer, I was with Verizon for the last 8 years, I'm unimpressed so far. The number of dead zones and dropped calls here in the Los Angeles area on the AT&T network is really disappointing.

However, my question is to all of you who have been with AT&T on other phones and are now using the iPhone. Is the phone service better, worse or the same? I'd really be interested in knowing if some of my disappointment is due to the iPhone or is it all about the AT&T network.
post #2 of 39
I think some of it is due to the iPhone. To me it seems much more erratic than my free Samsung phone that I got from ATT in 2005.
post #3 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by cdjoy View Post

As a new AT&T customer, I was with Verizon for the last 8 years, I'm unimpressed so far. The number of dead zones and dropped calls here in the Los Angeles area on the AT&T network is really disappointing.

However, my question is to all of you who have been with AT&T on other phones and are now using the iPhone. Is the phone service better, worse or the same? I'd really be interested in knowing if some of my disappointment is due to the iPhone or is it all about the AT&T network.

Don't blame iPhone. I live in the OC and switched from Sprint. AT&T sucks! Sprint had better coverage and hardly ever dropped calls. AT&T has dead spots all over the place. Some neighbors told me they switched from AT&T to Verizon or Sprint because of the terrible reception on AT&T phones.
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post #4 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by iHarry View Post

Don't blame iPhone. I live in the OC and switched from Sprint. AT&T sucks! Sprint had better coverage and hardly ever dropped calls. AT&T has dead spots all over the place. Some neighbors told me they switched from AT&T to Verizon or Sprint because of the terrible reception on AT&T phones.

Yeah, I'm in OC too and I decided to keep my Verizon account as well as the new AT&T iPhone. My close friend has always had Cingular/AT&T and she could never get reception when she was at my house so I knew what to expect.

And with all this marketing "Cingular is now the NEW AT&T" why did my bill come from Cingular? Are they just using up the old stationery?

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post #5 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

And with all this marketing "Cingular is now the NEW AT&T" why did my bill come from Cingular? Are they just using up the old stationery?

Yeah, I though it odd that they wanted me to write the check out to Cingular.

Back to the OP's question, I was a T-Mobile customer forever. I find the AT&T service a little bit spotty in my house, but otherwise haven't had any issues in Phoenix AZ.
post #6 of 39
I still have a little wait before I can get out of my VZW contract, but ATT's cell network is my biggest worry. I live in Delaware and have no issues at all w/ VZW. Does anyone know if there were many complaints when it was just Cingular? And wouldn't one think that if they merged that the service would actually get a little better? Is it Cingular's network or ATT's that people have problems with?
post #7 of 39
the only issue I have with the iPhone is AT&T service. Like some people said here in SoCal they are not that good and dead spots are everywhere.

I am waiting until October to see if the new iPod 6g will be like the iPhone minus the phone. if so I might jump into that and keep my Verizon.

My understanding the service in San Diego is crappy. I wish some folks who bought the iPhone here could give me some insight about their experience.
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post #8 of 39
So far, I haven't had much issues with my service. I'm in upstate NY near Rochester. In fact, in my office, I get worse reception with my Verizon than with my iPhone.
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post #9 of 39
I switched to AT&T from Sprint. I had a pretty basic Sprint phone as long as I was near civilization never had a problem with reception.

So far my worse experience has been in Los Angeles. The coverage on AT&T was pretty spotty. I was really shocked and surprised that I'm in the middle of the second largest city in the country and I cannot get a cell phone signal.

In New York City I haven't had much trouble with AT&T. I even get a signal down in some subway stations.
post #10 of 39
So it looks like ATT ain't all that it is crapped up to be. It probably is just where I live, but as I stated, no issues with VZW. Anyone out there have Cingular prior to the merger with ATT and if so how was your service. My understanding was that Cingular's network was larger than ATT so one would have thought with that merger the area would increase.
post #11 of 39
Ultimately AT&Ts network is the reason that I returned my iPhone.

I dont want this post to sound anti-AT&T, in fact I have friends in other parts of the country that are perfectly happy with their service. Unfortunately in the areas that I live, work and frequent (LA and Orange Counties) AT&Ts service was a noticeable downgrade from my current provider, Sprint. To test this I carried both phones for two weeks using the iPhone whenever possible.

In the Irvine/Tustin area alone I had 5 dropped calls over two days. As a point of reference I drop maybe 6-10 calls a year with Sprint. I also had trouble with text messages. I seemed to receive texts in a timely manner but sending them would occasionally result in an error message. I had this happen in Brea a half dozen times over the course of 4 or 5 days. With the exception of a couple calls in which the person on the other end said I sounded robotic the voice quality was generally good and there were a couple places in which the iPhone displayed full bars where my Sprint phone had only 1 or 2. I know the bars thing is largely meaningless but I did notice a correlation to EDGE speed/availability and the signal indicator on the iPhone.

EDGE ranged from adequate to unavailable. I was in Fullerton trying to find a bank; Google Maps would display the pushpin but not load the surrounding maps. After three tries and a reboot of the phone I gave up and used Google Maps on my Sprint phone. The same thing happened in Irvine only this time I actually received an EDGE is unavailable message. Using the phone via a wifi connection was a dream but I can't always assume that everywhere I go Ill have that luxury.

Many of my friends have made the switch from Cingular/AT&T to other providers but I had to try out the service for myself. Unfortunately I didnt feel that the network quality warranted the premium I would be paying over my current Sprint rate plan. I love the iPhone and I love the concept of GSM SIM cards and the availability of unlocked phones. But in the end, at least in my case, it all boils down to service. In my opinion the iPhone is first and foremost a cellular device. If the supporting network is inadequate no amount of revolutionary features can compensate for it. Its been three days without an iPhone and Id be lying if I said I wasnt going through withdrawals. I miss the threaded SMS, Safari via wifi, real email and the elegant design and functionality of an Apple product.
post #12 of 39
Quote:
My understanding was that Cingular's network was larger than ATT so one would have thought with that merger the area would increase.

What we knew as ATT years ago is dead and gone. Cingular was a joint venture between BellSouth and SBC. Those three entities essentially merged and changed their name to the new ATT.
post #13 of 39
I recommend checking your area with AT&T Coverage Viewer. As expected, it tends to be on the optimistic side. Translation: "Best" (dark orange) = solid (very few, if any, drop outs), "Good" (orange) = should be okay but expect some dropped calls and/or drop outs, and "Moderate" (light orange) = avoid AT&T.

I have been AT&T customer in northern California since 2000, starting with AT&T Wireless TDMA (some Nokia candybar), then AT&T Wireless GSM (Sony Ericsson T616), then Cingular GSM (Sony Ericsson S710a), and finally AT&T Mobility GSM (iPhone). In terms of coverage, Verizon is the king. Still, ever since AT&T started migrating GSM towers to 850 MHz frequency, the coverage has gradually improved. In San Francisco, the coverage is generally solid, with some dead spots in southern San Francisco and parts of steep hill areas. The coverage is generally usable in underground BART and MUNI stations but not between stations. In South Bay/Peninsula, the coverage is also generally solid, although parts of Palo Alto and "hill cities" (e.g., Los Altos Hill, Hillsborough, Saratoga) are mixed.

I don't go to East Bay much, but in my experience, northern East Bay (Berkeley, Oakland) and Fremont are pretty solid. I have been told that "newer areas" such as parts of San Ramon and Castro Valley are pretty bad.
post #14 of 39
the comments I hear from folks that live in SoCal are not that great regarding the reception for AT&T. That's disheartening since i Love the iPhone.
Some people recommended to do a test drive for couple of weeks and make sure the coverage is good. not sure if this is a good idea, since you have to transfer phone number, pay restocking fees in case you return the iPhone, etc.

Oh man, I wished Verizon signed with Apple. I had Pac Bell 7 years ago and it was sucks, but since merging and changing names so many times, I had the hope that they were better now under AT&T. It seems not.

I look forward to Apple to introduce the 6g iPod as being the same as the iPhone less the phone. I believe Apple will get tons of sales for the folks that do not want to switch carriers. Bring it on SOON PLEASE!
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post #15 of 39
I was fortunate in that the Apple Store (Brea Mall) waived the restocking fee. When asked why I was returning the iPhone I simply told the person that I wasnt satisfied with the AT&T service. When he handed me the credit receipt he said, I waived the restocking fee, no point in making you pay for a device that you couldnt fully use. I do owe AT&T ~$73 but I cant complain too much. I spent 13 full days with the iPhone at the end of which I was positive that AT&Ts service wasnt for me.

If you are in the SoCal area and you dont mind the possibility of getting stuck with over a $100 in test drive fees give the iPhone a try. I read a review written by a lawyer in Irvine that said he had great reception at home and in his daily travels around Orange County. It just goes to show you that reception and quality of service can vary dramatically depending on exactly where you use your phone.

As for the coverage maps on AT&Ts site Ive found them to be somewhat accurate. I did have a couple problems in areas they listed as best so Im not sure how precise they are.
post #16 of 39
Thanks Jake E,

I guess it won't hurt to give the iPhone a try.

At AT&T store they charge the restocking fee. So I guess at Apple they will let you out of it.

Hopefully down here in La Jolla and San Diego, it will work fine.
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post #17 of 39
Today I took a train ride from New York City to upper New York state through the Hudson River Valley.

To pass the time I was on the internet on the phone. Reading web pages and chatting on AIM. I expected at some point to loose EDGE when we got out into the middle of nowhere. My connection with EDGE was dropped for moments but surprisingly I never lost it for any long length of time. I spent pretty much the entire trip on the internet. Actually it felt like EDGE was faster in the smaller communities. Possibly because I wasn't sharing the network with millions of other people in NYC.

I guess that means ATT has New York State pretty well covered.
post #18 of 39
I am in Southern Mississippi and am currently using Verizon which is ok, but there is no high speed vcast stuff in the area.

I would love to switch to an iPhone, but I am worried about the service here in the south... specifically, New Orleans, Mobile Alabama, and then of course, Biloxi and south MS.

Anyone have any yays or nays for ATT down here?
post #19 of 39
I'm in the south, and have not had an issue thus far. Don't fret guys, while on hold for a scant 30 minutes the other day, the friendly recoding told me they were spending millions every day to make things better. Since I believe everything I hear on the telephone, then I'm sure we have nothing to worry about. \
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post #20 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake E View Post

Ultimately AT&Ts network is the reason that I returned my iPhone.

I dont want this post to sound anti-AT&T, in fact I have friends in other parts of the country that are perfectly happy with their service. Unfortunately in the areas that I live, work and frequent (LA and Orange Counties) AT&Ts service was a noticeable downgrade from my current provider, Sprint. To test this I carried both phones for two weeks using the iPhone whenever possible.

That's really odd that you were unhappy with your service -- I live in La Mirada, Ca, and have had Cingular for two years now, and my service has been quite a bit better than Verizon (which I had before).

The only area I can really complain about is at Whittier College (where I go to school), in the dorms -- I get no service in them, but neither do Verizon phones, so it is a wash.
post #21 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by gugy View Post

the comments I hear from folks that live in SoCal are not that great regarding the reception for AT&T. That's disheartening since i Love the iPhone.
Some people recommended to do a test drive for couple of weeks and make sure the coverage is good. not sure if this is a good idea, since you have to transfer phone number, pay restocking fees in case you return the iPhone, etc.

Oh man, I wished Verizon signed with Apple. I had Pac Bell 7 years ago and it was sucks, but since merging and changing names so many times, I had the hope that they were better now under AT&T. It seems not.

I look forward to Apple to introduce the 6g iPod as being the same as the iPhone less the phone. I believe Apple will get tons of sales for the folks that do not want to switch carriers. Bring it on SOON PLEASE!

Gugy,

I go down to La Jolla almost every other weekend, and my service in San Diego has been great. At UCSD, UTC, downtown La Jolla, et cetera, I got great service every where.

I don't know why so many people are having problems in Southern California.
post #22 of 39
Hi Dragger,

Service in the Whittier/La Mirada area was pretty good. I have family in LM and didn't notice any problems when I was visiting them, likewise, in Whittier I didn't notice any major issues with voice quality. EDGE, at least on my device, seemed to vary quite a bit in Whittier/Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs and Pico Rivera. I don't spend a lot of time in any of these areas (I actually don't spend all that much time at home) so they weren't as big a factor in my decision to return the device as service quality in Orange County, specifically the Southern part.

The "59 days to reactivate your account without penalty" is beginning to weigh heavily on me. For as convinced as I was/am that the AT&T service in the areas that I frequent most is somewhat sub par I really, really miss having/using the iPhone. Yesterday I had lunch with a former coworker whose office is now in Irvine. He had some sort of Blackberry (not sure of the model number) and he kept raving about how well it worked and how great the service was. When I asked the provider, he said, “Cingular, err, AT&T". I told him about my iPhone saga and how I had read many posts about the problems with AT&T in the area... he had no answer other than, it works great for him.

My current plan is to hold off even considering another iPhone until Apple releases the first major firmware update. If said update addressed some of the major nagging concerns (Copy/Paste, MMS support, better .Mac integration), and if I'm still within the 59 days reactivation period, and there is no 3G announcement (I'm certain that such an announcement regarding U.S. hardware will not be made but what Apple does with the European iteration of the iPhone could be quite telling of their future plans in the States) then I would consider buying another one.
post #23 of 39
Service in NYC is generally decent although drivng to NJ or LI will result in many, many dropped calls and lousy spotty service. Based on my experience, and that of friends, there is no doubt Verizon will drop fewer calls in the tri-sate area. Edge is OK too in NYC. Again, this just applies to NYC. Once outside, you arer much better off with Verizon.

FYI, I have used all 3 carriers in the past 18 months.
post #24 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by draggerman11 View Post

Gugy,

I go down to La Jolla almost every other weekend, and my service in San Diego has been great. At UCSD, UTC, downtown La Jolla, et cetera, I got great service every where.

I don't know why so many people are having problems in Southern California.

Thanks draggerman11,

Good to know. So there is hope for me to acquire the iPhone and be happy with the service.

I am thinking in get the iPhone for a test drive during the 14 day return period. hopefully I will not have to return.
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post #25 of 39
I'm in the Northern VA/metro DC area and am planning on getting an iPhone next weekend (birthday present to myself!). I've been a VZW customer for 13 years and have had no issues at all with coverage/service/etc...Anyone in the DC area that can comment on the AT&T coverage/dropped calls?

Thanks.
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post #26 of 39
On a given network, how much variation is there between phones in terms of reception?

Is it like WiFi, where performance can vary widely from device to device, depending on the configuration of the antennas, case design and case materials?

I'm wondering if people's varying experiences with AT&T quality in SoCal isn't at least partly an artifact of the iPhone's specific reception profile (I'm assuming that some of the people reporting good reception are using different phones).
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post #27 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parrothead Phan View Post

I'm in the Northern VA/metro DC area and am planning on getting an iPhone next weekend (birthday present to myself!). I've been a VZW customer for 13 years and have had no issues at all with coverage/service/etc...Anyone in the DC area that can comment on the AT&T coverage/dropped calls?

Thanks.

It would be nice if someone would make an iPhone reception map and add up all the responses, because one of the reasons to get the phone would be for use when traveling.
post #28 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake E View Post

Hi Dragger,

Service in the Whittier/La Mirada area was pretty good. I have family in LM and didn't notice any problems when I was visiting them, likewise, in Whittier I didn't notice any major issues with voice quality. EDGE, at least on my device, seemed to vary quite a bit in Whittier/Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs and Pico Rivera. I don't spend a lot of time in any of these areas (I actually don't spend all that much time at home) so they weren't as big a factor in my decision to return the device as service quality in Orange County, specifically the Southern part.

Where, specifically? I take summer classes at Fullerton JC and service is fine down there. It is patchy going down Malvern, though.

How weird that we are so close but have had vastly different experiences.
post #29 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by addabox View Post

I'm wondering if people's varying experiences with AT&T quality in SoCal isn't at least partly an artifact of the iPhone's specific reception profile

I don't think it has anything to do with iPhone, in fact it appears that the reception on the iPhone is maybe even a little better than on other handsets. The problem is mostly inside of buildings. Inside my house and inside my office - no bars, step outside and you get acceptable signal. It may have something to do with the frequency spectrum that A&T uses, but I'm no expert in that area. On the other hand Verizon has a strong signal everywhere I go.

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post #30 of 39
I'm in Fort Myers, FL and haven't lost a single bar yet!
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post #31 of 39
In the areas I go through - NY, NJ, Westchester, Connecticut - I've had excellent service from AT&T. In fact, I had to drive out all the way to Western Maryland (near the WVa, PA, MD borders) and had great service all the way; I even had EDGE coverage there and had no problem accessing the internet.

At home, I have better coverage than I had with Verizon. While driving home from work, there are a couple of spots where I had drop outs from VzW and it's 4-5 bars with AT&T. So, I'm very pleasantly surprised by AT&T's performance so far.



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post #32 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by DotComCTO View Post

At home, I have better coverage than I had with Verizon. While driving home from work, there are a couple of spots where I had drop outs from VzW and it's 4-5 bars with AT&T. So, I'm very pleasantly surprised by AT&T's performance so far.

I think it is really random. I recall several months ago when in Denver, Verizon was kind of sketchy but I didn't have AT&T then to compare.

m

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post #33 of 39
In Ann Arbor, MI I notice that I get a No Service message in my apartment from time to time and also a lot of random jumps from 0-full bars at my desk at work. The data network seems pretty slow, however, the only thing I have to compare it to is Verizons on my old Motorola Q, which was a dumbed down crap version of web pages. Unlike the full un-altered pages you get on the iPhone.
post #34 of 39
I've been all over the country, with the iphone and with other cingular/at&t phones I previously owned. I have only had a problem with the western part of the states as far as coverage goes with either the iphone or any other phone I've owned on the network. I travel from houston, tx to st. paul minneapolis and rarely lose a single bar the entire way. I've been in iowa and was the only person that did have service (others had t-mobile, sprint verizon, etc etc). so, I'm fairly pleased with the iphone. My only issue with it is the lack of ability to really customize it to fit each individuals needs.
post #35 of 39
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post #36 of 39
So far, service on Long Island, NY is terrific. Ditto for southern Connecticut.
post #37 of 39
I haven't had any problems in Connecticut except inside buildings. Call quality is good, but there have been a few dropped calls. I've always been a Cingular/AT&T customer since living in Georgia. The call quality, reception, and dropped calls are much better in Georgia (no problems at all).
post #38 of 39
Hello again Dragger,

There is of course the possibility that I was just unfortunate in my Norwalk/Pico Rivera/Santa Fe Springs travels. The day that I purchased and activated my iPhone a friend in Norwalk did the same. The first place outside of Whittier that I went was Norwalk Manor (Imperial and Bloomfield). On my way to her house I placed my first phone call near Metropolitan Hospital (Bloomfield between Lakeland and Imperial). The person I called sounded fine but they complained that I sounded garbled. I hung up and decided to call them back once I arrived at my destination. Unfortunately reception at my friends house was terrible. I can only imagine how frustrated she was by the fact that EDGE didnt seem to work and reception fluctuated wildly.

A couple of days later I went to the Borders on Washington Blvd. in Pico Rivera (I have no idea why I was in that area). I tried using the internet (via EDGE) to check flights on Orbitz and Travelocity but after a few minutes of waiting for each page to load I gave up. Thinking that being indoors might have been the problem I tried again outside but had the same experience. I stopped at the BofA on Washington (Between Norwalk and Broadway) and everything seemed to work fine. In SFS I had trouble at Heritage Park and the surrounding area. In Brea I visited a friend that lives off of Lambert and Tamarack voice seemed fine but EDGE was super slow (similar to my experience in Pico Rivera). In Irvine I had a lot of trouble near Jeffrey and Trabuco and Alton and Jeffrey, also reception at the Spectrum was hit or miss. In all fairness the iPhone did work just fine in a lot of other areas its just that in the places the iPhone didnt work my Sprint phone did. Likewise during the two weeks that I used both phones side by side I cant remember a single time in which my Sprint phone had poorer reception than my iPhone.

For anyone unfamiliar with the area I apologize for all of the details. I just feel that in order to pin down the problem specifics are necessary.

The more that I think about it the more that Im beginning to realize that my disappointment with AT&T service had/has more to do with expectations than actual performance. Yes, there were problems, more in two weeks than I have had in the last two years with Sprint but I can remember having similar issues with Sprint 3 or 4 years back. Whats the difference? My Sprint service and phones have always been cheap and because of this Ive been willing to overlook the network and CS issues of the past. Also, at least in SoCal, Sprint has improved their network/coverage exponentially in the last 5 years. Having briefly used AT&Ts GSM service in 2003 I know that it has improved but, in my travels, its not up to par with Verizon or Sprint. Because of the expense of the device and the premium I was/will be paying over my current service I expected a lot. The iPhone itself met and in many cases exceeded my very-high expectations but AT&T fell short. Is the service usable? Yes. Will it improve in the coming months and years? It must.

This past weekend I almost gave in. Actually I did give in but the AT&T gods were conspiring against me yet again. Around 7 PM on Saturday night I decided that I would make the drive to The Grove to purchase my second iPhone. The Brea Mall Apple Store is much closer but they had already closed for the evening and, as these things go, I wanted instant gratification. Prior to leaving my apartment I called The Grove store to make sure they had 8 GB iPhones in stock and then called AT&T to reactivate my service. To my dismay their customer service department (at least the group that I needed to talk to) was already closed. To add insult to injury they arent even open on Sunday. A sign? Anyway I decided not to make the drive to LA proper since I couldnt do anything with my iPhone until Monday at the earliest. I plan on calling AT&T today and seeing what steps I need to take to reactivate service. The Brea Mall Apple Store is a 5 minute drive from my office so if all goes according to plan I will be activating my second iPhone today at lunch. I dont really expect this experience with AT&T to be much better than the last but even with all of the problems I find myself missing the iPhone.
post #39 of 39
I called AT&T this afternoon to reactivate my service. When I cancelled my account I was told that if I wanted to reactivate my account I could just give them a call back. I confirmed that cancellations would be the department to talk to; at least thats what I was told.

After a couple minutes on hold I was connected with a cancellations rep that, after a brief explanation of the situation, informed me that I would need to speak to activations. She also told me that I would need to have my account reactivated before trying to activate the iPhone which makes sense. I was put on hold and transferred.

After a couple more minutes on hold I was connected with an activations rep. I was asked for my agent ID and when I told her that I didnt have one she informed me that I had called (was transferred to) a dealer/agent only line. She said she would transfer to the right department after which I was disconnected. I called back was routed through the normal system and eventually ended up with another rep. I told him my story, after which he said, cancellations could have done this for you. Thanks. The rep was apologetic but almost each sentence contradicted the previous. I asked him if there would be an additional activation fee, he said no, but there would be a $36 fee to re-start service. WTF? I asked about porting a number at a later date he said that it would be free, save for a $36 porting fee? Again WTF? How can something that costs $36 be free? I let the first one slide but I called him out on the second $36 he. He paused for a second and said we can probably waive the fee for porting your number over at a later date.

So, I told him I wanted to get things setup so I could activate another iPhone. Oh, an iPhone, thats different he said. He said I would need to buy and activate the iPhone prior to reactivating my account. At this point things were getting comical. I asked how I could activate an iPhone on an inactive account. His response, through iTunes. I asked if I would have the same number and he said no my number had been reassigned. So, how would I activate the iPhone if I had an inactive account with no phone number assigned to it? He had a response, call us back. Im giving AT&T the benefit of the doubt on this one and attributing this experience to a lazy cancellations rep and a slightly confused regular rep. The first cancellations rep (the person that cancelled my service) had also said that if I wanted to I could just create a new line of service (essentially creating an entirely new account) if I wanted too. Can anyone think of what problems this might pose? He (the original cancellations rep I spoke to a couple weeks ago) said the only difference was the credit check. I would need to go through another credit check if I started a new line of service instead of reactivating my account.
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