Posts tagged “at&t”

The Hand-made’s Tale

Real real…


At Verve Coffee Roasters, my favorite cafe in Santa Cruz, each cup of coffee comes with a cup insulator hand-tied from a napkin by the person serving it. It’s a nice little touch that makes that cup of coffee seem special and folksy.

and fake real…


AT&T, keepin’ it unreal with a fake photocopied-annotated-and-passed-around-the-office flyer–a piece of marketing collateral that they mailed to my house. (It’s crumpled because I threw it out, then decided to write about it and rescued it from the trash.)

What are companies thinking when they send us stuff like this? Fake real, with its pretensions to authenticity, is even worse than fake.

Related posts:
Quickies: Fake Authenticity
Don’t Brand Me, Bro
This Space Available
Meet the new authenticity

ChittahChattah Quickies

  • American Idol sponsor AT&T sends text-message ads for upcoming season – Note that they included an opt-out and only targeted heavy texters and previous voters. But this quote from the article is the best: "Mark Siegel, a spokesman for AT&T Wireless, said the message was meant as a friendly reminder." Do companies really believe that advertising – especially intrusive text ads that were not opt-in are "friendly reminders?" That's Pentagon-level rhetoric!

Change of plans

This is what AT&T tells you – using a Windows error dialog – about your rollover minutes when you try to change your mobile plan:

NOTE: By requesting a new rate plan with rollover, your accumulated Rollover Minutes in excess of the new plan’s number of monthly anytime minutes will expire at the beginning of your next bill cycle. Example: If you currently have 1,000 Rollover Minutes and you change to the Nation 900 with Rollover plan, you can only carry over 900 of your Rollover Minutes to your new rate plan. Do yuo want to continue with your rate plan change?

Not a very good way to have a helpful interaction with a customer.

Silly AT&T ad


From the outer ad in a recent issue of The New Yorker.

The hang-tag reads:
I get 14 days,
336 hours,
20,160 minutes,
1,209,600 seconds of
time a year.
And I’m going to enjoy every one of them.

And, we see Jasmine, lying in a hammock, reading a book. No laptop in sight. But this is an ad for AT&T. What are they telling us? In teeny tiny type at the bottom, we see
Jasmine relies on the most complete and secure network from AT&T so she can have DSL high speed Internet access to find more unique and exciting places to relax and unwind.

So, what’s this an ad for? Using the Internet to find places to sit and relax? Or, in fact, using AT&T’s secure network (and it’s also a complete network) to access the Internet? In order to find places to relax and unwind?

It just doesn’t really cohere for me. It’s almost a good effort – showing the benefit of using a technology by showing what it enables. But the claim that somehow DSL (and not just DSL but the special kind of quality DSL that AT&T offers) has afforded her sitting in a hammock is just too disjointed, and not very credible.

How on earth would we ever be able to relax out in the wild if we didn’t have DSL?! Lame and confusing ad, I think.

AT&T Email Support Survey

Here’s an interesting way to ensure the feedback from customers makes you look good: ask the right questions! After a frustrating experience with AT&T (short version: I switched to automatic bill payment, where they just suck the funds out of your account instead of having you actively make a payment…but when you switch over to that service, it takes some time to kick in, so your next bill won’t get paid – they don’t tell you that, in fact the website indicates that your next bill will be paid automatically, and meanwhile, they remove all the one-click “make a payment” functions from your online account, so you are in limbo where you need to write a check or something once they start nagging you for the missing payment that you thought you’d already made) they sent a customer satisfaction survey (“AT&T Email Support Survey”) that only asked me to rate the service I received against my expectations. It was the familiar Likert scale survey, where the rankings were

  1. Much Better than Expected
  2. Better than Expected
  3. Just as Expected
  4. Worse than Expected
  5. Much Worse than Expected

Nicely done! Who expects good support from a phone company? Not me. But “just as expected” sounds more contented than pessimistic. They could deliver consistently crappy service, but as long as they are within their brand perception of crappy service, everything is A-OK.

Rewriting history – a good thing?

This is a new at&t ad (pdf) for the SBC merger/renaming thing that’s going down now (and filling the off- and on-line press with stories about deaths of logos, competition, brand, and the like).

The text in question:
mergers come with a winner and a loser.
This isn’t the last time we’ll rewrite history.

seems pretty messed up. Doesn’t rewriting history mean that one goes back and changes the written record to reflect what is more preferred to think now (wasn’t that what Winston Smith did in 1984)? It’s an accusation of dishonesty when we speak of rewriting history. Yet at&t is proclaiming that they are going to head off and do just that. In some ways, the rebranding is indeed rewriting history, pretending that the split from Ma Bell and all the other mergers and splits didn’t happen over the decades, and that this company you’re doing business with is the same company back in the good ol’ days.

But that isn’t what they mean, is it? I think they mean that they’ll be making history – dispensing with the old truths and breaking barriers and doing great things. Making history, and rewriting history are two very different things.

Is this doubleplusgood quacktalk? Or just really really lazy agency work (and dumb-ass clients)?

Spurious collect call charges – a new scam?

What a freakin’ scam…this just happened to me. This company called OAN (aka Nationwide Conn.) somehow submits fraudulent bills for collect calls that never happened. They don’t bill you directly, they add it to your local bill (Qwest, Verizon, or in my case, SBC). For me, it was $5.41. It took me noticiing it, doing a websearch, then making a couple of calls and spending time on hold (!) to get this taken care of (assuming that it is indeed taken care of). It’s hardly worth it, and yet this company (and others presumably) continue to “cram” – to knowingly bill falsely through the carriers, knowing that most people won’t notice it or have the comfort to dispute it. Which is just so shockingly immoral…the web page I link to shows a huge number of people who have also been scammed and realized it, many who report it to the government.

How come this is allowed to continue? SBC told me they are legally required to pass these charges along.


Very overdue, they said

Last week I got a call from AT&T, droning that my account was very overdue, and with that highly trained “When you will be able to make payment, Mr. Portigal?” – very confusing because of course I had been paying all my bills. Went and pulled the bill (yeah, I keep all that stuff) and it turns out I’m on automatic debit. So…I call them up and go through the usual voice mail hell and multiple people and eventually I am told “You were removed from automatic pay on /date/” – What?????????

I was a little uppity and demanded to know why they hadn’t let me know I was removed, so that I could make some other arrangement to pay my bill before it became overdue? They had no answer. They didn’t know why I had been removed, but they saw that it had not been paid for 2 months or more, despite being set to “automatic pay.” Did AT&T screw up? Or did Wells Fargo (imagine that?) cause the problem. I have no idea.

Now I’ve got to re-enroll (someday, when the damn form comes in the mail) in automatic pay.

After I hung up from the lousy support person, I went to the mailbox and there was yet another bill, telling me I was overdue, and had been removed from Automatic Pay. It then said “a letter explaining this will arrive shortly.”

No such letter has arrived.

What a broken system!


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