Apple & AT&T Deserve Each Other…

Since the iPhone 4 has a signal-strength problem when you hold it in your left hand, Apple’s fix is to update the signal-strength indicator software.  Great way of not solving the problem.

More info here.

And AT&T Continues….

to prove its incompetence starts at the top…and works its way down.

*Update 6/15* and it just keeps going and going…

HTC Evo

I got my HTC Evo today after work.  I was a little nervous that I’d be disappointed after seeing the iPhone 4 WWDC keynote.  There’s no doubt the iPhone 4 is one hot piece of hardware.  I’m happy to say that the HTC Evo can, and will hold its own against the iPhone 4.  What amazes me is the HTC Evo’s size - it’s not much physically larger than the iPhone 3GS, even though its 4.3” screen size would convince you otherwise.  I stacked  both phones on top of one another, and they’re almost the same size.

Overall, I’m happy I switched to the Sprint HTC Evo.  Now if only I could justify also having an iPhone 4…on a carrier other than AT&T. 

I’ve turned off the ‘Ask me a question’ feature of Tumblr.  If you have questions you can send them to http://www.twitter.com/GiorgioGalante

I’m catching up on everything that’s been posted in the past 3 hours as I wasn’t home.  I want to say great job to everyone for helping to make this a big deal! The story is on Forbes, Slashdot, Engadget (obviously), and many others.  CNN even wanted to interview me tomorrow morning on camera (I politely declined, but provided them with an account what happened, over the phone.)

After reflecting on AT&T’s earlier apology, I can’t help but feel that they were forced into apologizing by all the media attention, and I really wish that Mr. Stephenson would have made the phone call.  In my mind it reflects on how insulated he is from his customers.  First, he delegates all of his emails to an executive relations team, then when they fail him, he delegates to his Sr. VP.

Looks like the HTC Evo is in short supply (the two Radio Shack stores I visited tonight only had 2-3 non-pre-orders available for tomorrow morning), so it’ll be interesting to see if I can get one.

AT&T Apologizies

I just spoke with Lori (she’s a Sr. VP) – she sincerely apologized for what happened and offered to do anything she could to keep me as a customer (it’s amazing that even at her level, she doesn’t know anything about the iPhone 4G (or she’s under an NDA - who knows))   She spent the time to understand my gripes with the eligibility date, plan changes, etc.   

It all boils down to Brent making a very poor judgment call with respect to the C&D order.   Ultimately Lori took responsibility for the issue and is working to make sure this doesn’t happen again (“Brent is not having the best of days today”.)   I accepted her apology, and yet have still decided to move on to Sprint + HTC Evo. 

All in all, it’s clear that Mr. Stephenson’s mail filtering staff needs some additional training on dealing with customers.  It would have been nice to hear from Mr. Stephenson though ;-)

Last week’s AT&T CEO Email…

Many people have been saying ‘well we don’t have the whole story, where’s the first email’?  Here it is:

I’ve been a customer since the iPhone 3G came out (2 years ago). My current eligibility date for a new phone is sometime in March of 2011. I’d consider sticking around if AT&T bumps up my eligibility date such that I can get an iPhone 4G on its launch day.

In general I’ve not been the happiest AT&T customer (ahem…tethering was promised to be available in early 2009 and finally AT&T is getting around to offering it as an option.) You’re bumping your ETFs to $325 for new contracts as of 6/1. Not only do I spend $80 a month with you on the iPhone, but I also throw another $30/month at you with my iPad 3G.

Android is now becoming a compelling option, and Sprint is rolling out their 4G network. I’ve contacted your customer service department and they’ve stated there’s nothing they can do to change my new phone eligibility date. Fair enough – customer service reps rarely have the authority to make the right business decision.

If you want to keep my $110/month flowing, bump up my eligibility date. Otherwise I will go to Sprint and no longer require any of your services (3G iPad included since the HTC Evo is a hotspot for up to 8 devices.) 

After sending this email I received a very polite phone call from Brent @ AT&T (the same gentleman that made the C&D threat) saying their hands are tied, AT&T can’t bump my eligibility date b/c of something to do with their contract with Apple.  I won’t (and didn’t) dispute that.  It was a very pleasant conversation, which is why I was shocked to hear his threatening voicemail yesterday (which was in response to the email regarding AT&T’s new data plans.)

*Update* Chopped a few seconds off the audio file to remove the agent’s phone number.

Today I decided to voice my displeasure with the AT&T Wireless new and “improved” data plans directly to the CEO.  This was the 2nd email in as many weeks (I wanted to see if they’d bump up my phone upgrade eligibility date given that I spend $110/month with them and their normal customer service reps are powerless in this regard.)  

To my surprise, I received this voicemail (click on the “click to play” link above to hear it) from AT&T’s executive response staff.  The gist is:

Thanks for the feedback, and if you bother our CEO again, we’re going to send you a cease and desist letter. 

Wow.  I was expecting a “hey thanks and so long” at best.  So what did I send that was so offensive?  Here it is:

Thanks for making the switch to a Sprint HTC Evo an even easier decision.  I don’t think even Steve Jobs can spin 2GB for $25/month as a good thing for the consumer.  I may not use  2GB/month today, but the point of these devices (iPad 3g, iPhone 4G, etc.) is that we’ll be able to do more and your network either can’t handle it, or you’re just trying to squeeze more money out of your customers.  The $15/month 200MB plan is just a crappy anchor price that makes the $25 plan look like a better deal than it really is, given that the $30/”unlimited” plan goes away.

 Please don’t have one of your $12/hour “Executive Relations” college students call me – I’ve found them to be generally poorly informed (Engadget.com readers know more than they do about AT&T) and they have little  authority to do anything sensible. 

This is simply a soon-to-be former customer feedback.

Regards,

Giorgio G.

So in the end, I’m definitely switching to the HTC Evo, and cancelling my iPhone & iPad 3G AT&T services - I don’t want to give my money to a company that is bothered by its customers, and threatens them legally to prove it.

Oh, and don’t email this guy.