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Effluvium From Sonya's Brain, LiveJournal Edition

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An Open Letter to AT&T, Re: iPhone
Invader Zim, Gaz, Sonya, SonyaLynn
Berke Breathed had it right...phasers on kill!Dear AT&T,

I've been a loyal customer to you both personally and with my various employers since 2003. I bought both the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G almost immediately after their release and have never once felt a need to quibble about the premium I have (or my employer has) paid for the privilege. And, just to start off on a positive note, I'm not here to gripe about the upgrade cost from an iPhone 3G to a 3Gs, considering that the people who bought the 3G did so knowing full well they were signing a 2-year, not 1-year, contract.

But you've been treating me and all the rest of your iPhone subscribers worse and worse by inches—nickel-and-dime-ing us, underdelivering, and even just being a plain and simple jerk—ever since.

I can accept that you raised the cost of the data plan $10/mo. from the EDGE-only original iPhone to the HSDPA-enabled iPhone 3G. I get that you have to get the money to pay for throughput expansion somewhere. So, free pass on that one.

But really, what was up with giving us 200 SMS messages as part of the plan and then suddenly making that level of messaging a $5/mo. add-on? Text messaging at that level (less than 7/day) is an insanely low-bandwidth proposition. I move more data than that by loading a few media-rich web pages in Mobile Safari. Let me put it to you this way, even my friends who actually work in the sex industry don't charge you additional money for previously agreed-upon services, they at least give you some little bit extra. So, not classy, Ma Bell.

And really, the less said about the speed and quality of your 3G rollout, the better. I get spotty 3G coverage at times even right here in the technological epicenter of the Earth, the San Francisco Bay Area.

Now tack on making us wait for sending MMS messages when there's no technological reason whatsoever for doing so, and a probable gouge of an additional $30/mo. to tether (if your other tethering plans are anything to go by), and the picture that emerges is extremely ugly. Maybe that kind of premium for tethering might have made sense in the days of scarce bandwidth and phones that didn't pull down as much data while browsing as a full-size computer, but now it's just plain extortion.

It's quite clear that you don't care about your customers, your OEM partners, or anything but this quarter's bottom line. What's more, this attitude is what makes you the main obstacle to growing your iPhone business by even greater leaps and bounds. Not Apple, not the iPhone, but you. If you'd changed your tune, you'd have every iPhone-toting fanboy and fangirl singing your praises. You wouldn't have people saying, "I so want an iPhone, but as long as I'm stuck with AT&T, no deal."

And when the whole world is on LTE come 2011 or so, and there's no technological reason for Apple to stay exclusive with you, you're going to lose your biggest cash-cow.

Your network, your customer "service," your willingness to leech your customers...they're going to cost you a lot more in lost goodwill, lost customers, and lost sales than those measures will earn you you in new fees or savings for your corner-cutting.And when C-level Apple executives take the worldwide stage and damn you in all but name, you should take it as a sign that, at their earliest convenience, they're going to hang you out to dry and you're going to deserve every bit of it.

You've had all kinds of time to prep yourself for MMS and tethering on the iPhone, but you didn't. You've had every opportunity to make your existing iPhone customers into raving fans for both you and Apple, but you didn't take them.

So, "Mommy Dearest" Ma Bell, I'm still going to buy my iPhone 3Gs and say, "Thank you, Ma'am. May I have another?"...for now. But that's only because Apple's done its bit to keep me wanting more by evolving its handsets year after year despite last year's model getting 90% of the new features along with each new OS.But unless you change your ways, the second you're no longer Apple's oh-so-exclusive partner and my contract is up, I am so gone, and I'll do my damnedest to take my friends with me.

Care to prevent it? OK, here's how:

  • Don't charge an extra premium for tethering on top of a $30/mo. data plan anymore. Just stop that!

  • Roll out iPhone MMS ASAP. Think, "before July," instead of, "later in the Summer."

  • Get your 4G LTE network deployed and bulletproof at least in all the major metros ahead of schedule.

  • Get with the program that you're going to need a network capable of video streaming for all and stop nixing app developer ingenuity out of pure network lameness. Nixing Skype on your cell-data network, I get. Nixing Sling is just plain lame.

  • Give us back our 200 SMS messages gratis. If you wanna charge the heavy or "unlimited" users extra, fine, but don't make me pay 20/msg. despite not being a heavy SMS user just because I know people who are.

Do these things and we'll talk about my continuing to send you money any longer than I absolutely have to.

Your disgruntled customer,
Sonya Hipper

 Originally published at Effluvium from Sonya's Brain.