Digital Media Insights for Business Owners

AT&T’s Representative got Sassy

So I thought I had seen everything with AT&T, not so. You know, I hear everybody complaining about AT&T all the time and I usually defend them saying that they are not that bad. Today, that has changed 180 degrees.

The problem started with the fact that my iPhone suffered irreparable damage. So I had to scramble to get a new phone. I went to the Apple store and realized that for me to upgrade my Phone to the 3Gs it would have been $399 or $499. But, since my wife also had an iPhone (first generation) then if we upgraded hers instead of mine, the price was a nice $97! You guess it right, for the same phone. That is because of the price match with Mr. Walmart.

In any event, I obviously decided to upgrade my wife to a brand new 3GS, while I downgraded to her Iphone Classic – in anticipation for the new Iphone HD.

Now, this where everything gets funny: AT&T came out a couple of days later and said: “No more unlimited plans for new smartphones.” I thought: “Hum, one thing I know, I want my unlimited plan, otherwise this could get expensive.”

Anyways, today, when I logged into my AT&T online platform, my outstanding balance was over $300! When I had payed my balance in full 4 days ago! So obviously I contacted support – this time in an online chat. The agent Debra Bailey starts chatting with me. After a little back and forth she proceeds to inform me that the payments are confirmed now- “is there anything else I can assist you with today?” she asked. I am thinking at this point: “What would have happened if I didn’t call? or if I didn’t notice?” Not good.

Anyways, I proceeded to explain to her that,  in a couple of days,  I wanted to keep my unlimited data plan while upgrading to the new Iphone. After a back and forth of trying to explain to her that I wanted to upgrade my Iphone to the new one coming out next week she says the following verbatim:

“Debra Bailey: You cannot keep the unlimited data plan with a new phone purchase, do you understand? You may select a 200MG or 2GB plan for a new smartphone or iPhone.”

Can you believe this? She has the audacity to say to me: “do you understand?”

Mrs. Bailey (probably this is not your real name) I do understand, I understand that your company wants to extract more money for the same service. I understand that your company has a problem with people using their iphones to access data services through an overloaded 3G network.  I understand that I have to commit to a 2 year contract every time I decide to upgrade my phone because you are the only option if I want an Iphone. I understand that you have a lot of leverage on your customers and therefore, you are deciding to exercise it and charge as much as you can. I understand that as long as you are the only carriers of iPhone the service is going to suffer, the price is going to go up and most importantly, I will have to listen and interact with people like you. You hide behind a layer of “online chat” that allows you to say anything you want and the repercussions of your actions are close to nothing.

The sad part is that you can see how the days of “dog eating dog” are finally here. AT&T knows that no matter if they charged me $200 per month for their data plan, I enjoy my iPhone so much that I would put up with it.

Apple should be concerned at this point about their partnerships. I love Apple products. I think they are great… for crying out loud, I freaking smell the boxes when I open my new Apple products. But something is changing inside me. I don’t like being treated like garbage. I don’t like when somebody is disrespectful to me just because I have legitimate questions.

I have no leverage when it comes to changing AT&T. But all customers together plus Apple do. I hope that Steve makes a couple of phone calls and stops this madness.

Strategically, Apple needs customers. Customers are the ones buying the iPad and the iPhone. But if your iPhone service becomes unbearable then no matter how much you love the iPhone, you can’t buy it.

Finally, do you know why dial up is obsolete? Simple, is not so much because it is slow, it is because it was measured.  Every time you were dialing that phone number to access the internet in the back of your mind there was a dollar bill timer. You can’t enjoy anything like that. When cable came out with unlimited internet access 24/7 it made us free. We could finally enjoy the internet.

AT&T started with unlimited 3G. Now they are going back in time and making it metered: they think this is great for their business. What they don’t comprehend is that somebody out there is still unlimited.I rather enjoy the internet, enjoy my email attachments and enjoy my YouTube videos than enjoy my favorite toy: the Iphone.

I love the iPhone, but I may just go ahead and look at other SmartPhones. It wasn’t Apple’s fault, it was AT&T’s disrespect.

Mrs. Bailey: I do understand. Believe me, I do understand more than you do. I hope you learn to be polite and to appreciate your job assisting your clients.

Say: "Hola" to your new clients.

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