Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

It cost this man $10,000 to get decent internet service from AT&T

Published Feb 15th, 2021 9:18AM EST
AT&T Internet
Image: issaronow/Adobe

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

  • A 90-year-old man from California paid more than $10,000 on Wall Street Journal ads in early February to complain about the quality of his AT&T home internet connection.
  • He explained in interviews that “watching a movie through Roku was slideshows” on a 3.5Mbps internet connection that wasn’t even working at full speed.
  • AT&T was quick to reach the unhappy customer, installing fiber service with unlimited data and speeds o 300Mbps.

We’ve all been there: your internet drops when you least expect it and fixing it can become a massive annoyance in some cases. Even more annoying is the slow internet service that won’t let you work or study from home, play games, or stream video. Complaining to your internet service provider isn’t always enough to help the situation, and 90-year-old Aaron M. Epstein has proven just that. The man had to take out two ads in The Wall Street Journal, paying more than $10,000 in the process, to complain that his home internet wasn’t delivering the speed Epstein was paying for and that it was ruining his entire movie streaming experience.

Epstein has been an AT&T customer since the 1960s, he said in the ad, but it wasn’t until recently that he started noticing issues with his home internet connection.

“For the last five years, as soon as they started introducing streaming like Roku and movies on TV, my internet service, although I was paying for 3.5 Mbps., sometimes was only up to 1.5 Mbps. So, watching a movie through Roku was slideshows,” Epstein told Fox29. “So, I put the ad in the paper, and believe me, it’s money well spent.”

Epstein just became the hero we all need.

Fox29 reports that AT&T was quick to react to Epstein’s ads. They ran on February 3rd, and AT&T’s Atlanta office contacted him on the same day. “Turns out, AT&T has an office in Atlanta that is the office of the president, and that’s where they refer big-time complaints,” Epstein said. AT&T told him they would see what they could do to fix things.

AT&T followed up again rather quickly, Ars Technica reports:

Now, barely a week later, Epstein’s home in North Hollywood, California, has AT&T fiber service with unlimited data and advertised speeds of 300Mbps in both directions. In a speed test yesterday, download speeds were 363Mbps and upload speeds were 376Mbps. It’s a gigantic upgrade over the “up to” 3Mbps DSL he and his wife, Anne, struggled with before.

That’s quite an upgrade. But then again, Epstein shelled more than $10,000 to make his point and ensure that AT&T was listening. And the upgrade itself was costly. “The AT&T people I talked to tell me that they had to install extra wiring, and it’s costing them thousands and thousands of dollars to put this wiring just for my house because my neighbors still do not have it, and they still have to go to considerable expense to hook up my neighbors,” he told Ars.

AT&T told the blog that it plans to upgrade the internet in Epstein’s entire neighborhood. This was supposedly the plan all along, but we won’t blame you for being skeptical. While AT&T did not offer an actual timeline, AT&T CEO John Stankey did call Epstein. The executive told the long-time customer that within 12 months, his whole neighborhood should have the same fast internet speeds that Epstein now enjoys.

Epstein told Ars that he did try to complain to AT&T the regular way before going for the ads, but his calls to customer service did not elicit the same result. “I chose the only route that I know. There are other people that know how to get up on social networks and voice their complaints,” he said. Epstein also has Spectrum installed, and he got an offer for a better modem after his ads went viral. His current setup allows him to switch between AT&T and Spectrum so he can compare the two.

One of Epstein’s ads follows below:

Dear Mr. Stankey:

AT&T prides itself as a leader in electronic communications.

Unfortunately, for the people who live in N. Hollywood, CA 91607, AT&T is now a major disappointment.

Many of our neighbors are the creative technical workers in the Universal, Warner Brothers, Disney studios in the adjacent city of Burbank and our city.

We need to keep up with current technology and have looked to AT&T to supply us with fast internet service. Yet, although AT&T is advertising speeds up to 100 MBS for other neighborhoods, the fastest now available to us from ATT is only 3. [in bold and large font] MBS.

Your competitors now have speeds of over 200 MBS.

Why is AT&T, a leading communications company, treating us so shabbily in North Hollywood?

Aaron M. Epstein, an AT&T Customer since 1960. [Contact details removed]

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.