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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. one1's Avatar
      one1 -
      They are both still evil empires at this point, the difference is that ATT figured they'll get your money either way and Apple is out to rip it from your cold dead hands therefore they kiss every inch of your *** to do it.
    1. 01grander's Avatar
      01grander -
      I hate how Steve Jobs always has a short response and he's "always" right
    1. rkswat's Avatar
      rkswat -
      I read most of the responses here and have to laugh!

      I think Giorgio Galante is being a whiny little baby. "Move my upgrade date up or I'll hold my breath until I turn blue!!" Really? He signed the contract and should live up to it. HE had a choice to pick at&t and iPhone. HE picked it now he should live with the choice and not expect "special" treatment (moving upgrade date). He also says how big his bill is.... again, he knew what the cost would be when he signed the contract so no need to cry about it now. Between my wife and I our at&t bill is around $170, guess I should shoot a letter off to at&t ********, even though I knew what it was going to be when I SIGNED the contract.
      As for him whining about the new data plans (that won't affect him in the least bit)why does he care? He stated that he doesn't use 2gig a month so even if he HAD to switch (which he doesn't) it STILL wouldn't affect him. All these people blowing up about the new pricing is a joke. No one with an iPhone now has to change plans, no one, nadda, nil, zilch, zero people. The new pricing will bring even more people to at&t and iPhone seeing as the mandatory $30 data price was a big thing holding a lot of people back. I think if the majority of people crying about the new pricing were honest with themselves they would see they simply don't use as much data as they think (plus it makes no difference because they don't need to switch anyway.) Of course tethering is a different animal but that is not the argument here.

      Now all things being said, I think at&t handled it stupidly and I'm sure that is being taken care of. Giorgio is crying because he didn't get his way and have his upgrade date moved up so he threw a bit of a fit.... I say see ya later and I look forward to his next whiny letter to Verizon/T-Mobile/Sprint when THEY won't give him his way. I know it's popular to hack on at&t, but each and every person knew what they were getting into when they signed on the dotted line, now man up and deal or pay the etf and see ya later.
    1. KartRacer's Avatar
      KartRacer -
      So where are all the idiots that keep defending AT&T? Can you not think of any way to apologize for this BS they came up with. I laugh every time on of you morons tries to defend anything this company does or says. I'm really tired of being right about them, they don't care about anything other than money. What they can't cheat out of their customers they'll go whining to the US Government to get. What a joke.
    1. rkswat's Avatar
      rkswat -
      Quote Originally Posted by KartRacer View Post
      So where are all the idiots that keep defending AT&T? Can you not think of any way to apologize for this BS they came up with. I laugh every time on of you morons tries to defend anything this company does or says. I'm really tired of being right about them, they don't care about anything other than money. What they can't cheat out of their customers they'll go whining to the US Government to get. What a joke.
      At what point did I ever defend at&t? as a matter of fact:
      Quote Originally Posted by rkswat View Post
      Now all things being said, I think at&t handled it stupidly and I'm sure that is being taken care of.....
      This is what I said.....so in what way does that statement "defend" at&t in any way? So maybe the "morons" are the ones that can't read.

      Simple solution to your problem, ditch at&t. If you don't like their service, data plans, rate plans, phones, color of their logo what ever simply change providers it's really THAT simple.
    1. kemcho's Avatar
      kemcho -
      same here too many drop calls or its says call failed took tonns of screen shots on iphone where the signal strength is 4 bars n says call failed called att they r blaming it on apple ,........
    1. Gyngabread Man's Avatar
      Gyngabread Man -
      i think its funny how many hate att. yet by the end of this month they will have the new iphone and nice shiny new 2yr contract to go with it. i happen to love att i live in hawaii and can be out in the middle of a rainforest out in the mountains and i still have 3-4 bars 3g customer service has never treated me. if i have a problem i call they fix it or give me credits to make up for it. i used to work att so im better off than most ppl here i get a huge monthly discount and my iphone data is only 12 for unlimited but before i worked there i loved the service if i didnt like it iw oudl have left. i dont see why ppl are on here to complain about the service other than its the trendy thing to do. its simple if u dont like the service pay the ETF and leave or wait it out and leave dont sit and clutter place like this up it gets annoying after awhile
    1. logodude's Avatar
      logodude -
      if i were this guy i would contact my local newspaper publisher or something similar and make this public. This, I think is outrageous. This just proves at&t's horrible customer support.
    1. smooth22's Avatar
      smooth22 -
      We should all send them emails to send them a message that we all want a better pricing plans from these greedy pigs!!
    1. KartRacer's Avatar
      KartRacer -
      Quote Originally Posted by rkswat View Post
      At what point did I ever defend at&t? as a matter of fact: This is what I said.....so in what way does that statement "defend" at&t in any way? So maybe the "morons" are the ones that can't read.

      Simple solution to your problem, ditch at&t. If you don't like their service, data plans, rate plans, phones, color of their logo what ever simply change providers it's really THAT simple.
      At what point did I ever say anything to you? Oh, that's right. I DIDN'T. It was a general rant not directed at a particular individual. Simple solution to your problem, learn to read. I never said anything about you, to you, in response to your post, your opinion, or in your direction. Figure out how to read posts and respond to the correct people, it's really THAT simple.
    1. PWNsyst3m's Avatar
      PWNsyst3m -
      We all should form our own independent cell phone company just for the jailbreakers. 50$ unlimited everything.........I would cry tears of joy for days.