MiFi Liberate recalled -- AT&T doesn't want you to know and is still selling the defective device!
Don't get one. And if you are thinking about getting any AT&T hotspot, read this first:
I opened at AT&T account in February, purchasing at AT&T MiFi Liberate at Best Buy. I was not informed at the time that the device had been recalled.
A few weeks into owning the device it stopped working completely -- it wouldn't turn on at all. I called customer service and they sent me a new battery.
The new battery turned the device on but did not change the rapidly declining quality of connection I could get with the device. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. The times it worked got fewer and farther in between.
I lost count of how many times I called tech support to troubleshoot in the next four months. Eventually the whole device, including battery, was replaced again. This still did not fix the issue I was having -- which was decent initial connectivity after speaking with customer service that lasted about a day or two and then rapidly declined into intermittent, excruciatingly slow connectivity which required countless reboots and browser restarts.
Imagine my frustration when I'd get halfway through downloading a huge file and then find the MiFi had timed out, losing my internet connection and forcing me to close out of the browser, restart the MiFi, and then open the browser again and re-download the entire file. Mind you, I'm paying through the nose for these GBs I have to use to download the content I've already paid to download the first time.
Finally, upon one of my weekly calls to customer service, a nice guy opened a case number for me. The case manager who called me the next day informed me that it was COMMON KNOWLEDGE at AT&T that this device, the MiFi Liberate, had serious connectivity issues and so it had been recalled.
Why hadn't anyone known and addressed this in tech support?
She said she would have an AT&T Unite rush delivered to me the next morning. That was June 16, 2014.
A week went by and I called AT&T to check on delivery and was told it was back-ordered by 28 devices and that mine should be shipping within the next two to three business days.
Another week went by and I was told that I was still 29th in line for the backorder, but no time frame for shipping was available. So I needed to just sit tight. Meanwhile, my internet service is getting maddeningly worse by the day.
I ask customer service to arrange a pick-up at a local AT&T store for me. I can swap out the device there, but I have to pay out of pocket for it. I can't afford that. There's no alternative there apparently.
Another week went by and my Liberate died all together. I can not get online, period. All I can do is connect to my computer via WiFi, where the device auto-opens a browser window and allows me to look at the device options but do nothing else. It will not grant me access to my online account or allow me to go online.
Last night I called tech support to ask for a new device -- one that's not on back order -- to be shipped. He started the whole troubleshooting thing with me again. Apparently, still, nobody in tech support knows about the recall. How is it that tech support still does not even know about a device recall that happened months -- months -- ago?
He told me that he'd have the retention department call me the next day at 4pm PST. They called me at 8pm PST so of course I wasn't home.
I got a hold of the retention rep tonight who credited me with 10 GB but then passed me back to tech support to "fulfill my warranty" which really isn't what I am trying to do, but okay. The tech support rep told me that just this week, coincidentally, AT&T "came down hard" on them for shipping out replacement devices that were not the same make/model of the defective device. So now not only can I not get an AT&T Unite as promised, I have to settle for it being replaced by a MiFi Liberate, and again, he can not give me any time frame whatsoever for shipping.
I ask him if he understands that I'm completely without internet now until I get my new device, and he apologized politely and says there's nothing he can do because like he said, "they're coming down really hard on us for doing that. If you had just called last week ...."
I ask him point blank, "So AT&T, which is if not the biggest telecommunications company in the world certainly one of the biggest, all billions and billions of dollars worth, can't find a way somewhere, somehow, to send little old me a new hotspot so I can get back to work tomorrow, earning my $10/hour wage at my online job?" He said no.
So I say, "You're okay with me sitting here without internet, indefinitely waiting for a new hotspot that may or may not ship in the year 2014?" He said yes.
I tell him that I have no choice but to cancel the service and sign up with a provider who can give me a device that works immediately. He gives me the number for the regular customer service department because he can't do account closures.
This is when I tap the phone to see if I'm imagining this conversation.
I call customer service and give her the short version. She puts me on hold to see if she can make one last ditch effort to get me a new device. After being on hold for about ten minutes I am disconnected. When I call back, the office is closed.
So, is this really okay with AT&T? Are you kidding me? Here's the bottom line for me: I work from home. I depend on my internet connection for income. Every day that goes by without internet connection is a day I don't get paid. The more I don't get paid, the more I can't afford to buy another device or pay my AT&T bill, which keeps getting bigger and bigger because of all the data I have to waste trying to download stuff with a broken connection.
And so I'm writing to you with the hope that this information gets into the hands of someone who can see the big picture here. I feel like something stuck to the bottom of AT&T's shoe. Is that your new slogan?
p.s. I'm using my Verizon iPhone hotspot to connect to the internet now and tomorrow and into the foreseeable future, which will incur enormous data charges on top of whatever I already owe AT&T. And the Verizon coverage at my house stinks, which was the whole point I went with an AT&T hotspot to begin with. And here I am again, back where I started.
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Please let me know if you have any questions.
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*I am an AT&T employee and the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent AT&T's position, strategies or opinions.