Reality Check: 'Document everything,' says business owner about changing internet provider

ATT says "Blazing fast" internet is available in some parts of Asheville, but a local family cautions "Document everything" if you switch. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

Faster internet for less money sounds like a good deal. AT&T announced in 2015 that "Blazing fast" internet speeds were on its way to Asheville. A year and a half later, the company is still building that capability.

An AT&T spokesperson said this high speed internet is available around Merrimon Avenue, but a business there told News 13 it was sold an internet speed the company couldn't deliver -- and AT&T doesn't deny it.

If you come to eat at Whit's Frozen Custard in North Asheville, you expect the custard to be there. When owners Norm and Teri Ingle type in a web site in the office, they expect it to appear. Looking out the window in March, they saw an opportunity to make their internet better.

"We just said, 'Hey, what are you guys doing,' and they said, "We're installing state-of-the-art fiber optics'," Teri Ingle recalled.

She said it was an AT&T crew she spoke with.

"We called AT&T, and we said, 'We'd like to inquire about your service at our location.' We gave him the address, and they told us they had 60 MBPS (megabits per second), which we currently have," Ingle said.

The deal was about $100 cheaper, so they took it. When somebody came to install their TV service, their internet cut out. As they tried to get that fixed, a manager told the Ingles what they were sold isn't available.

"They just said, 'Oh, my goodness. Yeah, eventually we'll have that in the area, but oops! We're mis-selling what we have'," Teri said.

The internet speed AT&T said it could deliver was 1.5 MBPS. The local AT&T store referred News 13 to a corporate media relations person. Spokesperson Josh Gelinas doesn't refute Ingle's claim, but said the problem may be because the custard shop is zoned as converted residential.

"That may have created some confusion in our billing systems, which is why he may have been told he was eligible on the phone, but he received the lower speed once technicians were on site," Gelinas wrote in an e-mail.

Gelinas said how a property is zoned determines what they can offer people.

The Ingles said AT&T had stopped replying to them when they contacted News 13.

"We just went through a lot of people to get no answer except, 'Go away,," Ingle said.

They cancelled their service with AT&T, had to get a new router, and pay a re-installation fee with Charter. They're asking AT&T to refund the expenses, which Ingle says totals $495.

"I'm not asking for them to pay me for my time, or the inconvenience, or the frustration," Ingle explained.

Gelinas said the 1 Gigabit per second internet is available in some areas of town, including downtown Asheville, State Street, and some homes around Merrimon Avenue. If you switch, the Ingle's recommend documenting everything during the process.

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