Will the Current AT&T Customer Dissatisfaction Make Any Difference?

Several of the usual places have had stories chronicling the problems with the AT&T network, and also the many problems with the iPhone on that network. The stories are numerous, and many are anecdotal, possibly apocryphal, in nature, but are so prevalent that they must be acknowledged.

As someone who has had a cell phone since 1998, and worked many of those years in the cell phone business, I have experience with the inner workings of Sprint, Verizon, and T-Mobile. I have had friends work for AT&T, so I feel I know more about them, than the average man on the street. I also have years of being on the receiving end of horror stories about AT&T.

The thing that I am constantly amazed by is the complete inferiority of the AT&T network, for many years, and yet the willingness of some people to give the company a ‘pass’. (I must qualify this by saying that my experiences are in the Southwest (California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas) In the areas I am familiar with, AT&T has never been the superior network, has never had the superior calling plans, and never had the most ingenious phones (until; the iPhone). Oh, and also never had the best customer service. T-Mobile holds several J.D. Powers awards, and, speaking from a sales perspective, i must say that T-Mobile is a dream to work with. Yet, there has always been a core that must somehow hearken back to the ‘olden days’ when AT&T was the name you knew, holding steadfast to AT&T.

An article on Betanews is one of those I speak of, detailing customer dissatisfaction with the network, the customer service, and other various problems – yet there are plenty of comments defending AT&T – simply amazing.

The iPhone crowd has turned into an anti-AT&T mob. Spend 30 seconds on Twitter or perform even the most basic search for iPhone and AT&T information and you’re sure to run into some serious rancor from disgusted iPhone users across the country. While the exclusive partnership between Cupertino and the Dallas teleco has never been perfect, user hostility has lately been at a fevered pitch.

In February of this year, prominent blogger Om Malik announced he was “breaking up” with his iPhone. “I love my iPhone — but AT&T’s network has failed me. Apparently I’m not alone. If you follow me on Twitter, then you know how often I complain about it; my complaints always result in me receiving similar messages of frustration from other iPhone users. A status update on my Facebook page on the topic unleashed a flood of messages from people expressing abhorrence of AT&T’s service.”

The severe downturn in users’ feelings towards Apple’s carrier of choice appears to have begun with the debut of the iPhone 3G S in June. The device launched without its promised MMS and tethering features because of issues with AT&T, and now a weeks-long failure of the iPhone’s visual voicemail system, publicized by a scathing TechCrunch article, may have brought the matter to a turning point. The dogs have been unleashed.

“The iPhone is an incredible piece of hardware unacceptably shackled to and hamstrung by the broken pile of s*** that is AT&T’s so-called service,” one user wrote after learning of the visual voicemail outage.

In addition to the thousands of tweets in the hashtags #ATTSUCKS, and #ATTFAIL searching Twitter with “AT&T NYC” reveals the special flavor of hatred New Yorkers bear against AT&T.

No matter, AT&T keeps signing customers. It is almost shocking, as if we will one day find out that some reason, worthy of a science-fiction story, is keeping them. Later in the article quoted above, it seems that Mayor Bloomberg of NYC has called the president of AT&T, detailing his disgust with the network.  As I write this, the television has just gone from the Early Show, to Rachel Ray, who promises cell phone subscribers freedom from their pain.  It seems to be epidemic in proportion.

What is keeping so many with AT&T? If you re a customer, is it only because you wanted an iPhone? Give the reason for the astounding loyalties of some.

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