I grow weary of SBC’s games

Once again I find myself with reason to despise SBC for the lack of service and support they provide for my DSL.  "Infinite service" is a laughable sexual innuendo which translates loosely to mean "bend over and take it."

You may remember in March 2003 that my DSL was down due to a hardware failure at the DSLAM.  In April 2003 it was down because I was moving (understandable), but SBC royally screwed that up and kept it down until May 6.  When I moved a few months ago, SBC once again proved that they shouldn't be trusted with managing technology services (or anything else for that matter), although I will admit they did appear to take the situation seriously and were able to get it hooked up earlier than anticipated (only after I made some not-so-pleasant phone calls to them about it).

So what happened this time?

Because I've been working so much lately, I've not been as active on the internet from home.  I sent some e-mails on November 30 and didn't return to my e-mail until December 2.  When I did, I was able to receive e-mail with no problems but was unable to send e-mail via any source other than the SBC servers.

Since I have my own web and e-mail servers, I rarely use the SBC servers.  I saw this as a significant problem.

My first thought was that I was having a problem with the server in question.  I immediately began troubleshooting the issue.  I checked all of the logs and services on the server, I restarted the e-mail services to be sure they hadn't suffered from temporary insanity, and I even went through all of my e-mail client settings to be sure I hadn't done something stupid (I didn't remember making any changes in the last several months, but maybe I had gone crazy).

All of that yielded nothing.  There was no indication from the server or my computer that the problem was in either of those two places.

Just to be certain I wasn't missing something, I decided to test it from a different internet connection — in this case, the one at work.

Voilà!  It worked just fine.

This made me suspicious of a possible DSL problem, so I turned off my DSL modem and router and walked away from it.  After letting it sit powered off for 10 minutes or so, I turned everything back on and let the network come up normally.

Still no ability to send SMTP mail through my own servers.

Since it obviously wasn't a problem with my network equipment, I went to the SBC help pages to see if perhaps there was a known issue.

As you can no doubt guess, there was definitely a known issue.  It would appear that SBC had decided arbitrarily and without notice to its customers to block all outbound SMTP traffic.

I was infuriated by this.  I pay for internet access, not a scaled-down version of it.  I pay to have access to all protocols and all ports on a wide-open DSL connection.  Who in the hell did they think they were by reducing the service provided without notifying me and without reducing my monthly DSL costs?  I was, after all, no longer getting what I was paying for.

While I understand their desire to help reduce spam, phishing and other e-mail problems, do you kill the patient to cure the disease?  SBC does, and they do it with such a wide brush that they negatively impact all customers.  Oh, and they do it unannounced.

SBC's recommendation was that I use their servers.  Duh!  I kindly (not really kindly) explained that I had my own servers and needed to be able to send through them as I had been able to do for the last several years (not just via their DSL connection, either).  I told them I would not be paying my bill until I got the service I was paying for.

SBC finally responded that they had removed the restriction from my account.  How nice of them, don't you think?  Considering I was paying for full internet access, it seemed only logical that they should provide me with full internet access.

SBC's response also included mention that the restriction wouldn't interfere with my ability to send e-mail via their servers.  I didn't respond to that one, but it's worth noting that I had specifically mentioned — twice — that I was talking about my own e-mail servers and not theirs.  The hope that they had mastered reading and comprehension was quickly dashed.

Ultimately this is yet another example of why SBC is such a bad company.  They do not listen.  They do not read.  They do not care.  They make arbitrary decisions and do not notify their customers of changes in service.  They steal from their customers because they reduce the services rendered without reducing the prices charged.  They think themselves above reproach in these matters.

To Edward E. Whitacre Jr., Chairman and CEO of SBC, I say this: Get your head out of the sand and get a grip on your company; stop treating your customers like idiots; quit stealing services from your customers without reimbursing them for the monetary losses they suffer due to paying for services they are not receiving; finally, realize that your customers are the reason you're in business: they pay your bills, your salary, your expenses, your bonuses and your fringe benefits.

Stop screwing us!

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