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  • Email Steve Jobs, Get an Answer; Email AT&T, Get a Threat

    A "soon-to-be-former" AT&T customer's email to the carrier's chief executive got him a nastygram from customer service, informing him that they'd sic the lawyers on him if they persisted. An exec later apologized to Giorgio Galante, who garnered a lot of attention after posting the emails and voicemails on his blog, but the whole story highlighted a shift in how companies communicate with their customers these days: if you email Steve Jobs, you increasingly get a personal response from the CEO (or, as is more likely, someone else with access to his email), but if you email the CEO of AT&T, you get an ominous threat.

    Galante originally sent a fairly politely-worded email to AT&T's CEO Randall Stephenson, asking him to shift his upgrade eligibility back so that he could get a next-gen iPhone when it's released. Unsurprisingly, he didn't get a direct response from Stephenson, but did get a courteous reply from someone named "Brent" with the company's "Executive Reponse Team" saying, in essence: "no can do, don't blame us, blame Apple." Galante was doubtless disappointed to hear this response, but held his frustration until news of the new AT&T data plans was released. Then, he shot off a more sharply-worded (but still pretty mild) email to Stephenson. Starting with "thanks for making the switch to a Sprint HTC Evo an even easier decision," the email went on to call the 200MB-capped "Data Plus" plan's $15 fee "a crappy anchor price that makes the $25 plan look like a better deal than it really is." He also observed that he didn't "think even Steve Jobs can spin 2GB for $25/month as a good thing for the consumer," which may have been too much for the harried customer service rep tasked with responding. "Brent" picked up the phone and left a nervous-sounding message on Galante's voicemail, first thanking him "for the feedback" but then warning him "if you continue to send e-mails to Randall Stephenson a cease and desist letter may be sent to you" from AT&T's lawyers.

    The story spread like wildfire through the tech blogosphere, which was already disposed to take a dim view of AT&T's policies after the sudden change in its data plans. Engadget picked up the story, as did blogs from Slashdot to Forbes, amplifying the customer service gaffe to the point where an executive VP called Galante to personally apologize, and the company put out a press release avowing that the response "is not the way we want to treat customers." The carrier went on to promise that it "strives to provide our customers with easy ways to have their questions addressed…from Facebook to significant customer service channels." (Facebook?)

    Steve Jobs may have opened a can of worms with his curt emails to customers, and while it's safe to assume that he doesn't go to [email protected] every morning to wade through hundreds or thousands of messages a day, he at least knows the power of a direct response, even if it's not what customers want to hear.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Email Steve Jobs, Get an Answer; Email AT&T, Get a Threat started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 31 Comments
    1. Brandonii's Avatar
      Brandonii -
      ATT FAIL. Apple- Win
    1. TheGrandFinale2001's Avatar
      TheGrandFinale2001 -
      What douches lol
    1. oo3's Avatar
      oo3 -
      Steve Jobs is the only CEO I know of that replies to his own emails. Usually it's an assistant or something like that. The CEO at my old company didn't reply to emails like that at all.
    1. lerrysan's Avatar
      lerrysan -
      I just send AT&T's CEO an email.... lets see what I get back... LMFAO
    1. Halten77's Avatar
      Halten77 -
      Oooo Lol Good Luck Lerrysan!
    1. mysteryskater125's Avatar
      mysteryskater125 -
      yet another reason to dislike AT&T..
    1. nautical79's Avatar
      nautical79 -
      I´m a sales representative of telcel here on baja and even we dont have my uncle Carlos Slim email, you guys must feel gratefull for what the good lord of the internet its given you, and lets not talk about costumer service, beeing a monopoly reegarles what they say, they can charge what ever and do whatever they want with the service. and dont get me wrong its not an awfull service its just that its a little bit priced, or its normal to pay a 1000 dlls for and iphone? what you guys think?
    1. PWNsyst3m's Avatar
      PWNsyst3m -
      Exactly why I choose tmobile.
    1. frozenra1n's Avatar
      frozenra1n -
      wowie. sounds like brent needs a diaper change.
    1. whereswaldo's Avatar
      whereswaldo -
      lucky our little "what question should we ask steve jobs" thread is directed at apple, not AT&T
    1. thevmax's Avatar
      thevmax -
      We all know ATT's response is "Show me the money!"
    1. PWNsyst3m's Avatar
      PWNsyst3m -
      AT&T is just taking advantage of the average iPhone user who would willingly except these outrageous fees for a jailed hunk of crap. All for the fad.
    1. madczech's Avatar
      madczech -
      Quote Originally Posted by oo3 View Post
      Steve Jobs is the only CEO I know of that replies to his own emails. Usually it's an assistant or something like that. The CEO at my old company didn't reply to emails like that at all.
      doubt that steve answers the mails! xD you know how much he would have to do a day??!
      its all just marketing
    1. PSYC0TIC ONE's Avatar
      PSYC0TIC ONE -
      someone should email steve jobs and ask HIM what he thinks of the new ATT data plans...

      i have another year left, i should NOT upgrade my account to hold onto the unlimited plan for the next year, and ebay/craigslist the new iphone...
    1. unison999's Avatar
      unison999 -
      Since Verizon said not in the near future, Apple chose AT&T and so far sticking with it, so AT&T = Fail = Apple iPhone.
    1. 01grander's Avatar
      01grander -
      Att=always fail
    1. luisebay's Avatar
      luisebay -
      I'm really starting to hate AT&T. Should I go get the evo or is the next iPhone is going to be as good or better? I called AT&T and they told me that when I upgrade to a new iPhone I can keep my unlimited data plan. But if I switch to one of these new data plans I won't be able to go back to the unlimited one. I guess you don't have to worry about upgrading, just make sure you tell them that you want to keep your original unlimited data plan. I use around 400mb of data per month on my iPhone. How about you guys? 
    1. clarky8's Avatar
      clarky8 -
      Not surprised. AT&T are a bunch of dicks. They tried to use the iPhone to take over the cell phone industry and now it's the same thing thAt will kill them
    1. zauriel's Avatar
      zauriel -
      There is no such thing as "upgrading" your account and losing the unlimited plan ... if you are already on the unlimited plan, you remain grandfathered in, even if you upgrade your iPhone to the new one coming in a couple weeks. The new data plan pricing is only for new customers, period.
    1. santacruzlocal's Avatar
      santacruzlocal -
      The iPhone single handedly saved AT&T, They should be a little more grateful !!!!