meandering creativity, symbols and emotion

Monday, November 23, 2009

Awesome Blogging About Cell Phones (Sorta)

Blogging about my phone seems even geekier and whiter and more annoying than blogging about random video game hacking. But this past week I've had such a crazy time that I could not resist. And in my defense, it is less about the phone and more about AT&T being out-of-touch. Which feels just as self-satisfying but maybe less geeky.

This might sound hard to believe but I've never really had a bad cell phone experience. I've used both Verizon and Cingular/AT&T and over about 10 years things have been fairly uneventful. I've had the same amount of occasional dropped calls and weird service glitches on both carriers.

Most recently I've been an AT&T customer and it's been pretty painless. Their website is easy to use and their customer service folks are nice and helpful whenever I've had to call.

Of course that's not really special. For all the bitching and moaning that people do, our country is a MECCA for customer service. Our entire culture is geared for making things easy, simple and then even easier. And people will treat you nice. There are exceptions, sure but as a rule America Invented Customer Service.

So my non-offensive cell phone experience isn't that interesting. It's what you expect when you deal with a company that is as large and well established as AT&T. In fact they have a huge staff of folks in place so that 95% of their customers will stay happy. I wouldn't be surprised if they've got folks hired to figure out what to do with that other 5%.

Of course I've never really presented At&T with a challenge.

Until I decided to go off the iPhone.

That decision is actually worthy of another blog post so I'll skip explaining it for now. What is important to know is that my AT&T contract was up completely.

I looked around for a phone and settled on the Sony Ericsson c905a. It retails for $250 or so but on one website I found it for $39 with new AT&T activation. If I used my upgrade ability the price actually shot up to $99.

I'm fairly aware that the phones companies have to subsidise their phones in order to get new customers. But where does this leave the older customers in good standing?

When I saw that AT&T had a one day special offering this phone for FREE to new customers I went for it. I knew that, in theory, I should be able to port my number to a prepaid T-Mobile phone and then port it back to the new AT&T phone. But before doing that I wanted to actually call AT&T and speak with someone. I hoped that if I could actually talk to someone they'd be able to see how ridiculous this was.

One hour and three folks later I was able to confirm: AT&T is just fine being ridiculous.

I charmingly explained to three different people why they should give me a discount on this phone. I asked for free but would have settled on a discount. They all seemed to understand what I was asking but ultimately noone I spoke with had any sort of ability to make a decision.

I even went so far as to outline my plan of just moving my number over to T-Mobile and back again. None of them seemed at all bothered by this. At all.

So I went with my original plan and it worked FLAWLESSLY! The guys at the T-Mobile store thought the plan was genius. The woman at AT&T who ported my number back over the next day could not have been sweeter.

But I'm still blown away by how ineffective AT&T ended up being. I believe any other carrier would have done the same thing because ultimately the business model has some weird kinks in it.

But hey... I paid T-mobile $20 and got a great AT&T phone.

No comments:

Post a Comment