The AT&T Dilemma

2008-07-24
The AT&T Dilemma

My contract for cell service with Sprint has been up since May. Perfect timing for a July iPhone launch, but I'm still undecided.

The iPhone is an excellent device, but is it worth the potential pain of signing up with AT&T?

A buddy of mine was telling me about the ordeal with his iPhone purchase. He's been an AT&T customer prior to Cingular when they were AT&T once before. So apparently he had a nice credit due to him the next time he bought a new phone. Long story short, the credit was good for anything but an iPhone. Five conversations with five AT&T customer service supervisors wouldn't get him the credit. He wondered why new AT&T customers should be able to pay $200 for a new iPhone while faithful, long-standing AT&T customers should have to pay more.

Seems a valid enough concern.

(In this situation an Apple Store employee stepped up, providing the credit, putting his job at risk for doing so.)

Feels more and more that most behemoth companies like AT&T tend to place little value on existing customers. We see similar stories with Comcast.

Is the fact that there are so many customers of a single company mean these stories are just bound to happen? Are the vast majority of customers happy and content?

I've been a Sprint customer since 2002. I never had an issue except for a $40 activation fee that showed up 5 months after activation. I called and spoke to 2 different people about it. They refused to do anything. What could I do? It would be a $150 fee if I decided to no longer do business with them. I know it could always be worse.

Regardless, they seem to win no matter what.

So what is one to do? You want the nice device, but how can you avoid the undesirable service provider? How can you send a message? Wait 4 more years when Apple will be out from under their contract with AT&T? As if both companies won't have already made the pile of cash they expect?

How many people would have to boycott a company as large as AT&T before things changed? What should change? Do people have the willpower to carry out something that massive, especially against a product like the iPhone?

Such is the AT&T dilemma.