AT&T U-verse: worth the hassle?

It’s Monday. I have spent the past 3 hours on the phone trying to speak to someone at AT&T that can help me.  A technician had come out a few days ago to upgrade us from DSL to U-verse, but needed access to the phone panel room which was locked, so I was looking to reschedule the installation.

By the way I got bounced around from department to department with an unsympathetic “Let me transfer you”, you’d think I was asking them to give me a copy of my bill from twenty years ago or track down the name of the technician that was driving an AT&T van at the intersection of Hamilton and Winchester at 10:10am on 10/10/10. After 9 transfers ( 2 of which got dropped), and my iPhone dropping the call once, I finally got to reschedule our U-verse installation date for 2 weeks later. But there was still something bugging me. The person who sold me the upgrade over the phone had made me renew our phone service (which we do not use), saying that it is required to switch us over to U-verse. After speaking with the U-verse technician, I no longer believed this to be true … so I had to ask.

I must be a glutton for punishment, because that of course meant another few transfers and 2 call-backs and countless more minutes of lost productivity on the busiest day of the week. Luckily, I finally reached someone who could help me – ironically, she was not a U-verse expert, but had the knowledge and tools necessary to get me the answers I needed. She confirmed that a phone line is not needed with U-verse, and that I would not incur any termination fees for cancelling my phone line. But her competence had uncovered another problem: she noticed that our U-verse was set up as a residential installation instead of commercial. We were always talking about and dealing with a business account, so that was a surprising find. Now I am waiting for yet another call back to discuss this little problem.

So, is all this time and effort involved with upgrading to U-verse worth it? After the DSL installation debacle we experienced last year, where we went nearly a week without internet access due to a simple typo by the customer service rep, you’d think I’d be wiser than to believe the sales rep’s words: “Nah, it’ll be a simple upgrade!” Well, I guess I’ll find out in two weeks, or when I get my first U-verse bill.

The price of cappuccinos in Italy

A glorious cup of cappuccino

In this day and age where we don’t flinch to pay upwards of $5 for a cappuccino at Starbucks, it’s nice to know that this iconic drink is still quite affordable in its birth country. It was our daily ritual during our stay in Italy – as it is for many Italians – get up, get dressed, get a cappuccino (cappuccio, for short) at a local bar, and off you go to start your day. We tried as many different bars as we could during our stay, returning only to a couple of places where the cappuccinos were irresistible, not simply “great” like the rest.

The prices for this cup of heaven ranged from 1.40 EUR on the high end (about $1.86 at the time), down to as low as 1 EUR ($1.32) … interestingly enough, some of the lowest prices were found where we least expected it: remote trouristy areas with limited competition. I guess they don’t embrace the concept of price gouging – or maybe they can’t, because espresso drinks are considered basic essentials there, like water and bread.

In any case, we were thrilled to be able to get two glorious cappuccinos for less than what we’d pay for a mediocre one here in the States: it left more in our caffè budget to enjoy espressos throughout the day!