Wireless Whining

Dec 30, 2003

AT&T is no longer my friend. It’s not like we were good buddies before but at least we had an understanding. I sent them a check every month and they provided a service. Times went bad and they left me in the cold. I’ve been spurned by a telco – the horror.

It all started when the wife’s phone up and died. Some battery swapping between the wife and I uncovered the problem: her battery was dead. It would never return to this world. A new battery would cost about $30. That hardly seemed worth it. Her contract was up and mine soon would be. Let’s just sign a new contact and get some new phones. It sounded easy enough.

It wasn’t.

AT&T has a ton of cool offers on their web site. Phones are free or provided for a deep discount. This wasn’t a surprise. All wireless carriers — Verizon, T-Mobile, Cingular — pimp out their phones to get that elusive contract. The first bit of crack is free. After that, poney up.

The problem is that, with AT&T at least, these deals are for new customers only. If you are a current customer or, in our case, a faithful customer of more than three years, they have little interest in talking to you. They offered me a couple of measly discounts to sign a new contract but no offer even approached what I could get if I wasn’t already an AT&T Wireless customer. It just wasn’t right.

I even mentioned this to the customer service rep. Why on earth would I accept this deal when any of your competitors would give me a much better one? Just get on the web. Take a look. Even you kick your own ass.

They didn’t even want to compete. Maybe AT&T assumes customers like them so much they don’t want to switch. I’m guessing their stock price is tied to the amount of new subscribers they acquire. Turnover rate is probably assumed to be high. Why fight it?

They should fight it because I’m now a Cingular customer. I have two pretty new phones and a plan that is $10 cheaper a month with more than twice the number of minutes. I’m upset that I had to spend the time to shop around and that I’ll spend the next month handing out a new number (I didn’t keep my previous number for a couple of reasons) but I can’t get too out of shape. They actually did me a favor.

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