Personal Random

My AT&T UVerse Customer Service Hell Experience

The following is a letter that I composed and will be sending to AT&T tomorrow. I will post if there is any response on the part of AT&T. It would be interesting to see if they respond to written complaints sent via snail mail to their executives.

January 10, 2012

Office of the President
308 Akard Street
Suite 1110-C8
Dallas, TX 75202

Dear AT&T:

Today I called AT&T UVerse Support, and after 2 hours and 57 minutes on the phone, the simple problem of a mistake in account configuration on your part was finally fixed. The call started around 10AM and ended at 12:57PM. From the very beginning, I communicated that the problem was due to an error in how my account was configured on your end, and while the solution was simple, getting to it was quite a trial in patience and a very frustrating experience.

For two weeks, I had not been able to login to UVerse Mobile or online. The account login did not work as it should have as it did not recognize me as having UVerse service, so I placed the call to AT&T UVerse support. After 23 minutes (with 10 minutes of hold time) of on the phone with someone in India who had issues understanding me and was clearly trying to pass the buck, I was told that since the problem is with UVerse Mobile, I had to be transferred to someone in Wireless and not the UVerse department. I was then place on hold again for a few more minutes before speaking to someone at AT&T Wireless (also seems to be in India) who I spent 18 minutes on the phone with only to be told that the problem cannot be resolved by AT&T Wireless because it is a UVerse problem. She asked me what phone I have and asked me to reinstall the apps (which did not help the issue) then transferred me to another department. I was transferred to an American support technician; however, he was in the Android support department, which was odd because I was explicit that I had an iPhone. I spent another 16 minutes or so with the Android support person who told me that he could not help me and had to transfer me to another department. I was then transferred to a “manager” Sherry (sp?) who spent 20 minutes asking me a bunch of account questions yet again attempted to put me through the automated system with UVerse, telling me she cannot help me, so I asked to speak with her supervisor. Then I spoke with Kelly, who spent 25 minutes on the phone with me while she tries to reach someone at UVerse. She told me that she is sorry that she cannot help me. I asked Kelly if I can speak with her supervisor, but she indicated that it was not possible, so I asked Kelly if she can try to locate someone who can help me and call me back later.  By that time I had to get off the phone because it had been 110 minutes I had spent on the phone on hold and trying to get someone to help me without being any closer to anyone able to help and I was really frustrated. She said she would call back in 15 min. 21 minutes later she calls back to apologize saying that she is having trouble finding the right person who might be able to help me. She then transfers me to UVerse support in India again. This time the young lady tried a few tools that didn’t work so she says she has to transfer me to Tier 2 support. I was on hold for 38 minutes before a Tier 2 support person picked up and spent 15 minutes to resolve my problem. The gentleman in Tier 2 told me that the previous reps did not leave good notes; apparently only one had left some note at all, and it was very unhelpful.

I know that I must not be the only one who has experienced this, because quite a few AT&T reps I spoke with had trouble finding the right person to fix a simple UVerse Mobile problem. Worst of all, I know that most of them were reading a script and not really listening to me. Most of them just wanted to pass the buck to someone else. I literally spoke with 7 different people at your company to resolve this problem. I had been trying to tell them that I believe my account is not configured or registered correctly since I do have UVerse service. It is quite a simple problem and should not have taken 2 hours and 57 minutes of my time to get a solution. At this point I am seriously contemplating whether it is worth it for me and my family to spend the money on cable and internet service when there is such a pain in dealing with support for the simplest of issues. What’s going to happen the next time I need support, for a more complicated problem? Will it take 6 hours on the phone? Worst of all, the only way to complain is to keep talking to the people who cannot help me and who are not listening anyway. This is sad indeed. Apparently my only recourse would be to post my experience on a blog or complain on Twitter. For good measure I did both in addition to sending this letter. I hope that this letter will reach a person that can do something to improve Customer Service. I hope you will respond to me in a timely fashion.

Irene Shen

Children Family Personal Relationships Strategies

Holiday Travel with Children

I just came back from a holiday trip to visit my husband’s family out in Naples, Florida for Christmas and I am proud of my family and I have learned a lot on this trip! Frankly, during my research and planning there are so many articles that added to my fear of flying with children. I had been planning and dreading this trip since August and am glad to report that the travel was a successful one. Here’s what I have learned:

Buy a seat for your child(ren).
Do not be like this family when travelling for the holidays. We could have travelled with our baby as a lap child but it was better for everyone involved to purchase a seat for both our toddler and our infant. We have four seats and I used to help me pick out a good seating arrangement. I looked for seat row near the wing (where engine noise would be helpful for kids’ sleep) and my children and I took up the row of three seats (baby sat in the carseat at the window seat, toddler sat in the aisle seat, I sat in between the two children), while my husband sat across the aisle from my toddler. He was also able to grab things out of the bag and grab snacks when needed more easily than I can. My baby slept much better in the carseat than she could on my lap!

Picking a good itinerary and try to get a 1.5 to 2 hour layover where possible.
The trend in domestic air travel is to squeeze out many services and amenities so having a longer layover in between connecting flights so that you can grab a bite to eat, change a diaper, or walk around a bit can make a big difference. Our first flight was changed to leave later than previously booked, which gave us a 45 minute layover. I was not able to change the itinerary as the options are few so we kept our fingers crossed. Our flight was pretty much on time but we still barely made our connecting flight at Dallas Fort Worth Airport because we were given the wrong gate number on top of having to run to a different terminal to catch the connecting flight. The flight did not have any snacks other than crackers for sale (not even a sandwich!) so we were not able to eat a dinner. Skipping a meal is hard on a breastfeeding mom as is and combine that with air travel and it is just plain unpleasant.

Pack the necessities and carry-ons wisely.
Most airlines now charge for every checked luggage, and if you go over on the weight you will pay hefty fees. We travelled with two large wheeled luggage, one wheeled carry-on,two diaper bags, a backpack, a purse, and an Ergo baby carrier. We used an umbrella stroller (our Uppababy G-Luxe with a stroller bag). The stroller bag became our extra checked luggage on our return trip as we became laden with Christmas presents for the children. We had more flexibility when it comes to carry-ons due to the fact that we purchased seats for our children and the airlines tend to be nice about diaper bags, but still when you are traveling with two young children (and carrying an infant carseat) it is best to carry as few as possible. We elected to purchase a CARES harness instead of carrying an additional convertible carseat for the toddler and purchased a convertible carseat sent to the grandparents. It was a lot easier to use the harness than deal with the hassle of the additional larger carseat and gave us flexibility in seating arrangements. On one flight, we had the toddler and Dad sit in the next row behind myself and the baby, with the toddler also sitting at a window seat. Most of the flights had the toddler sitting next to mom, though. Having his teddy bear, a few choice snacks, a book he enjoys, a portable DVD player, and a small collection of good DVDs really helped my toddler behave exceptionally well on these flights. He didn’t even kick any seats!

Focus on your children’s safety and comfort; ignore “other people.”
My children behaved well, better than I expected, and for that I am very proud. That said, there are always people who might roll their eyes or complain even if you have not done anything wrong. I was focused on my children so I really hardly noticed other people’s attitudes, except for the lady who complained to the flight attendant. The lady who sat in front of my daughter on the flight complained to the flight attendant that she could not recline her seat because of my rear-facing infant car seat being in the way and wanted the carseat moved as my baby was sleeping in it. I explained that the seat had to be used rear-facing and per airline regulations it has to be at the window seat. Ultimately, the flight attendant asked another passenger who sat on the aisle seat in front of my son if they could switch seats so that she can recline her seat.

There are also other families and other friendly folks on the plane.
Before embarking on the trip, I did a lot of research and there are plenty of articles and comments that will intensify the fear of flying with children. For every person who hates you for bringing your children, there are more that are nice, helpful, or neutral. I want to go on record to say that there are plenty of people who are nice and helpful to me while on this trip. One lady made my day when she told me that she thinks I am doing an awesome job with my children. Two men on the parking shuttle helped me move my stroller with toddler off the bus. A few other people even asked if they could help me out carrying something, or encouragingly told me I was doing OK as I walked down the airplane aisle trying to not hit anyone with my diaper bag or my baby.

I learned a lot about my children, myself, and my partner on this trip. The experience brought us closer. I am very proud of my children and even a little proud of myself and my husband too.


Good Resources:

Flying with Babies, Toddlers, and Kids

Jet With Kids

Have Baby Will Travel






Happy Holidays!

Tiny Prints Snapshot

Christmas Collage:Khaki Christmas Cards
Check out our collection of Christmas cards and holiday cards.

Personal Strategies

New Domesticity and Women’s Liberation

elena-lu /Foter

Recently an article in the Washington Post by Emily Matchar called “The new domesticity: Fun, empowering, or a step back for American women” seems to have set off soem strong reactions from both working women and stay at home mother persuasion. I find the article, as well as the two strong reactive posts it inspired to be amusing, as both seem to me to be from completely different perspectives, though both find the original article offensive and appalling. It piqued my interest enough to look into this idea of domesticity.

A quick Google search landed me at one of my favorite references, Wikipedia, under the entry “Cult of Domesticity”:

The Cult of Domesticity or Cult of True Womanhood[a] was a prevailing value system among the upper and middle classes during the jaguar century in the United States[1]and Great Britain. Although all women were supposed to emulate this ideal of womanhood, it was assumed that only white women could live up to the ideal.[2][3] Similarly,working class women who had to leave the domestic sphere to pursue paid employment, were regarded as unfeminine.[4]

According to the ideals of the cult of domesticity, women were supposed to embody perfect virtue in all senses. The women who abided by and promoted these standards were generally literate and lived in the Northeastern United States, particularly New York and Massachusetts. Women were put in the center of the domestic sphere and were expected to fulfill the roles of a calm and nurturing mother, a loving and faithful wife, and a passive, delicate, and virtuous creature. These women were also expected to be pious and religious, teaching those around them by their Christian beliefs, and expected to unfailingly inspire and support their husbands.

Holy Moly. When I started writing this blog I had no idea that the word domesticity is so loaded! So glad I didn’t name this blog anything with that term in the name, because this blog is definitely not about “extreme domesticity” or any retro hipster nostalgia for times when beatniks lives in hippies communes and bohemian women raised chickens, if that is what they did (or I might be thinking of Michael Fitzsimmons from Peggy Sue Got Married).

History has definitely seen much association of domesticity as women’s occupation, in the capacity of wife and mother. Much of this was promoted by society, government, and women’s magazines. What is considered the pink ghetto and structural obstacles for women today were once jobs previously held by men until women were liberated from their domestic domain. Still, women still take on most of the domestic work, even when both men and women work. Maybe we are not so liberated after all.

For my part I have no interest in going back and doing things the old fashioned way. I remember being taught how to do the laundry by hand on a washboard — it is the reason I love my washing machine and dryer. I remember being taught how to cook using a fan and a coal stove — for this reason, I love my small kitchen and its small oven and gas stove. I remember learning how to sew on my grandmother’s foot-powered sewing machine, and it is the reason I am so impressed with my computerized Bernina. I love all my kitchen gadgets — food processor, mixer, and slow cooker because of the convenience it gives me. I have NO INTEREST WHATSOEVER in going back and doing things the old fashioned way; I prefer and want to do things as a modern person. I love my iPhone, iPad, and computer that I use everyday as a modern stay-at-home mother and housewife. I will continue to use these modern tools even after I stop being a stay-at-home housewife.

I don’t know if I will ever get into canning, homesteading, homeschooling, or even gardening. I might explore those things if I ever manage to get things under control in my household enough to have additional time and mental space. However, I know that knitting is not just for ladies, and cooking is not exclusively women’s work. I grew up thinking that cooking was a man’s job because chefs are men. Staying at home is not only for mothers, it can be a choice for fathers as well, even though its level of acceptance can vary in different societies and countries. Marrying for love and affection is a modern evolution in human existence as well.

Modern homemaking is different than “new domesticity” because its revolves around modern family, modern marriage, and modern living. This is what my blog is about.

Food Home

Thanksgiving Cooking

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, mostly because it has pretty much meant spending time with friends and family, and participating in one of my favorite social activities — feasting! Previous to this year, I have always been either lazy (going to a restaurant or show up at a dinner where I didn’t have to cook) or participated in a pot luck (brought a dish to a Thanksgiving dinner I was invited to or had friends come over to cook with me). This 2011 Thanksgiving marks a very special milestone for me in that it was the first time I cooked a whole Thanksgiving spread all by myself, and no babysitter. This was going to be a test of whether I was up to snuff as the mistress of the house! Luckily, it also was low pressure since we planned for a quiet Thanksgiving and had only one guest, my good friend since college, over for dinner. The 5-month old baby won’t be eating, just sitting at the table.

The Thanksgiving Menu this year included:

I made none of these dishes ahead, using all fresh (no boxed or mixes) ingredients. This whole menu was made from 8am to 2:30pm on Thanksgiving Day (that time would be less if I didn’t have the children to care for, plus I have one small apartment-styled oven to work with). I thawed and brined the turkey simultaneously the night before based on a Cook’s Illustrated article I had read years ago. I simply did not have time nor the space in my fridge to thaw out the turkey over the course of 3-4 days (it supposedly takes a day to thaw 4 pounds!) in the fridge. I managed to chop some celery and onions, took out the bread for the stuffing to let it air overnight before passing out to sleep. When I woke up the next morning, I took a few deep breaths after feeding my toddler and infant and went to work.

I had planned my plan of attack by reading a few different references, including Cook’s Illustrated, Real Simple magazine and I knew that I was going to have to put my 5 month old down for naps and take care of my toddler in between the dish preparations. Yes, my husband is home to help but really he is mostly watching and playing with the toddler so I am still needed here and there. The order of operations had to allow for interruptions, so this is how it went:

  1. Fed the husband and children breakfast to make sure that they were happy. Ate some oatmeal for myself.
  2. Made sweet potato casserole and celery bread stuffing at the same time and cooked both in the oven at the same time. Took them out to cool once done.
  3. Prepped the turkey, then roasted the turkey after sweet potato casserole and celery bread stuffing were done. Played some Thomas & Friends videos for toddler boy via Netflix Streaming. Put baby girl down for morning nap.
  4. While turkey was roasting in the oven, made cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes. Baby girl wakes up, breastfeed.
  5. Prepared roasted Brussels sprouts and green bean casserole while still in the oven, once Turkey comes out to cool, put them in the oven. Feed kids and husband lunch (sandwiches)
  6. Take out the Brussels sprouts and green bean casserole. Put two kids down for naps.
  7. Make hard cider gravy using turkey drippings with husband’s help.
  8. Make pumpkin brownies. Take a shower while brownies are in the oven, then take care of the kids after they wake up from their naps.
The whole thing was a lot less overwhelming than I had thought that it might be. In addition to the advanced planning, I had made the dishes at least once separately before preparing for this Thanksgiving meal. In addition to choosing simple recipes, I also had practice. I knew what I needed, how long each dish would take to prepare, and which I could combine in the oven and bake together, which I can cook on the stove top while the oven was occupied. Thanks to my wonderful guest, I didn’t have to clean up all by myself either!
All in all a successful Thanksgiving — yummy, quiet, and peaceful. We stayed away from the Black Friday craziness and ate our leftovers in relaxation and peace.