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AT&T, You’re on Notice

I’ve had a cell phone with AT&T for about 12 years. I’ve been a loyal customer since cell phones were the size of bricks. I stuck with them through all their name changes. Every 2 years or so (sometimes even more often) I renew my contract and upgrade my phones. Sometimes it’s a matter of cool, new technology and sometimes it’s because technology takes a big dump and I’m left with a useless phone.

I’m on my second Blackberry right now.  Seventeen months ago, my first Blackberry died spectacularly. The trackball wouldn’t work—except to randomly dial or e-mail people. People like my parents. At 3:00 a.m. Or a client, who wasn’t thrilled when my phone resent the same e-mail 32 times. I loved the Blackberry, though, and upgraded to a new one. And it’s been a love affair since it arrived in the mail. I IM, keep up with Facebook, text, get online and, best of all, I can get my e-mail from three accounts, including work. I have used it oversees (Hello, China!) without any problems or delays. And I have managed to not get tendinitis in my thumbs.

But now my beloved Blackberry is dying a slow and painful death. A few months ago the trackball turned a menacing shade of red. And now it periodically locks up and won’t let me move it. In fact, the entire phone randomly locks up and I can’t get in or out of it. I can’t even shut it off and reset it when that happens. I have to wait for it to finish its coffee break or whatever the hell is going on before it will allow me to dial, e-mail, PIN, text or even check my address book.

So I am one month out from my upgrade date and I want a new phone. But AT&T isn’t allowing that. Not yet. Because I am a Mac girl through and through (laptop, iPod, iPod Shuffle, desktop at home and desktop at work) I decided to be brave and get an iPhone. In spite of my Mac-ness, this wasn’t an easy decision. I like the Berry. I love the keyboard. And I love some of the other messege features.

So today, I went into the Apple store near work to buy the iPhone. No luck. They can check my AT&T account to see when I can upgrade and since I’m 30 days out, the damn phone would cost $599. Um, yeah. Not happening. I’m not dropping the equivelent of a car payment on a cell phone. I thanked the salesclerk and left.

On  my way home I decided to stop by the AT&T store to plead my case. I told them my story—long-time client, faithfully upgrading, dying phone, etc. He said he felt bad, so he could upgrade me to any phone in the store—EXCEPT the iPhone and the Blackberry Bold. The only two phones I was considering.

He was very sympathetic but said there was nothing he could do. He even said that the regional sales manager told them that even if HE came in, they were not allowed to upgrade him to one either. I was told that they subsidized so much of the cost of the phone that they’d tell you no even one day before you’re upgradeable. He went so far to tell me that they would do that even at the risk of losing my business.

Which sounds like a pretty shitty business plan to me.

So now I’m pissed. And without a consistently working phone. And there’s not a god-damned thing I can do about it. Except hope the thing holds in there for another 30 days.

AT&T—you suck.

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16 Responses

  1. This is IDENTICAL to what happened to me with Verizon. THEY ALL SUCK!!! Bastards!!!

  2. I could have written this. Except I would have used the F word a lot more. Because that’s how I roll.

    At any rate, we went through this EXACT scenario (I had the BB Curve), and we got the same speech. Except our guys blamed Apple for the policy, saying Apple wouldn’t “let” AT&T sell the phones at upgrade pricing until customers were actually eligible.

    Just so you know, I finally got the iPhone. I love it. I thought I’d miss the BB keyboard much more than I have. Not saying the iPhone keyboard is *great, by any stretch, but it’s not as bad as I was expecting. (And apps, glorious apps…I won’t even get started on those.)

    OH! And pop the battery out when your BlackBerry goes on break. Works like a charm – at least for the next month while you wait to be eligible for the iPhone. 😉

    • I tried to give up the F word for Lent. Just one more week and I’m busting it out all over again!

      I’m glad the keyboard change wasn’t at traumatic as I fear. I’m gonna get that damn phone before the month is up though. You just watch [stamps feet]!

      • I’ve heard rumors that some of the corporate stores (vs. the franchise locations) can work a little hoodoo so that when you’re within 30 days of your upgrade, you can get the magic of the iPhone, but those rumors are unverified as I had no access to a corporate store until my upgrade date.

        Also? They work some magic so that you can’t use, say, your husband’s upgrade to get yourself an iPhone. What kind of horsepoop is THAT?

  3. This is exactly what happened to me only with SPRINT. EVIL CELL PHONE COMPANIES! They are all evil!

  4. That’s why I am sticking with T-Mobile. I called them randomly the other day and they said since I am a loyal customer they wanted to LOWER my monthly fees and give me unlimited minutes day or night…What What What! No strings attached and there’s no contract to renew or anything. It’s with me for life. So as much as the iPhone is the shits at the moment, I am happy with my BB curve and I will stick with it until Apple rethinks and starts offering it to other carriers. BTW when all else fails with your BB just pull the battery out for 20 seconds, seems to fix all.

  5. Ugh. We had AT&T until they pulled the same thing with us. We’ve been with Verizon for a few years now and so far so good. John is coveting the IPhone. He can covet all he wants. His Blackberry works fine. He’s stuck.

    • Everyone I know who had Verizon is happy with them, but until Apple spreads the wealth and lets other companies use the iPhone I’m going to stick with AT&T. Not that they care.

  6. Just found you today, and I have been reading you ALL AFTERNOON (don’t tell my boss?). I almost peed myself on the Googe entry. *LOL*

    Cheers to ya!
    Fish

  7. I think I wrote a similar post a while back. I should be extolling the virtues of the BB since it’s Canadian, but do not get the Storm whatever you do. The iPhone has it all over that thing. Have you tried calling customer service? Sometimes they can do stuff for you the store can’t. The stores have rules that the customer service people don’t. It’s all very mysterious and arcane, but that’s how they roll.

    • I do remember you writing about your (daughter’s?) cell phone. The phone companies (especially AT&T because of the iPhone) are ridiculous. It’s not supposed to be this hard anymore.

      I will definitely try calling because when my first BB died we worked out a deal. They were pretty helpful then but I think it’s the iPhone itself that’s throwing the wrench in this. I’ve never heard of Customer Retention. I wonder if that’s a Canadian thing because here, I don’t think they care all that much.

      (PS: I’ve never heard a single good thing about that Storm. The Bold is cool though.)

  8. Oh, and if customer service won’t do anything for you ask for Customer Retention when you get to the voice-activated voicemail thingy. Seriously, they’re the gods and can do anything

  9. I think Customer Rentention is international — just not advertised at all. Try asking for it. And, for fun – here’s a link to the AT&T manual for handling customer issues. http://consumerist.com/289663/internal-att-manual-for-handling-all-kinds-of-customer-complaints

    • This is my favorite line:

      * **Reminder: Although we do not work to actively retain these customers, we are to resolve their issues.

      Wow.

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