If things weren't bad enough last night with the computer problems I had, things got worse when AT&T decided to do an unannounced maintenance. This was sort of similar to the massive network outage last year where the network goes down but they don't even bother to tell their own first level support. You call in to tech support and they tell you jump through a bunch of hoops and crawl under the table to find your cable modem model numbers and detach your router and all the usual nonsense. Then they tell you that they might have to send a tech over the next day and how they won't charge you if the problem isn't on your end. Well I knew the problem wasn't on my side so I demanded to be escalated to level 2 support where they confirmed my suspicions.
It turned out that AT&T was doing a 6-hour (12AM to 6AM) "maintenance" on a dozen of their California RBAC (Role Based Access Control) systems this morning which is their PPPoE authentication servers. This is exactly what I suspected since my DSL light was still on indicating that the link to the DSLAM was operational. The last place I lived two years ago my AT&T (SBC back then) DSLAM would die once a week so I know a DSLAM outage when I see one. This kind of service is ludicrous to me because if you're doing this kind of authentication system maintenance, there should be redundant systems in place or they should simply let everyone on the network even if they can't authenticate. It's not like anyone can steal DSL access that easily anyways and we're talking a short period of time. I've run my authentication servers for many years without ever having an outage and it's ludicrous that AT&T would put their users through this nonsense.
In light of past cases where AT&T doesn't tell level 1 support about these maintenance and outage issues and putting their customers through tech support hell, this seems to be a systematic breakdown in AT&T's support infrastructure. I don't know what it's going to take to knock some sense in to AT&T's customer support, but this just isn't acceptable. It not only frustrates the level 1 support team and makes for unnecessary work on to the maintenance department; it's just plain bad customer service.