Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The new AT&T/SBC can't afford to be in business

I find the new AT&T/SBC rather rude, obnoxious, and downright ugly, but other than that, they're wonderful.

Randall Stephenson, the CEO of the new AT&T/SBC, seems unhappy to have customers, especially those with smart phones.  Speaking at a conference, he told the audience how the carriers could no longer afford to give large subsidies.

I fully expect that the company would hold onto Early Termination Fees, which the carriers have been using as a hedge against someone not finishing their contract.  Of course, if you get a US$599.99 phone at US$199.99 and your ETF is only $350, they might be losing something, depending on when you would cancel your contract.  It's more likely that they're gaining money because people will be happy with their phone for several months to a year, and as new models are released, they want to switch to the new one.

Randall Stephenson has a habit of attacking the company's smart phone users.  First with an attack on iPhone users after the company got an exclusive, and they were in no shape to provide 3G data services because their network was far behind the times and didn't even provide decent 2G data services.  Those users who paid $599 for the original iPhone (later refunded part of it when Apple announced a price drop, and people complained loudly), were dragging down the company's profit by requiring an upgrade to their network.

When Android users stepped on board, Mr. Stephenson once again complained about the expenditures.

Surely, if the company doesn't want to be in business, they should stop.  If the stress of his US$22 million per year, or whatever it is currently, is too much for his delicate sensibilities, he should take up basket weaving.

When AT&T Wireless was still in business, they seemed to be on the up-and-up, but SBC/Cingular/The New AT&T seems to deceive wherever possible and doesn't like their customers.

They make fun of their customers in the advertising and complain about them quite often.  They boast network statistics that aren't always accurate or precise.  "More Bars in More Places" comes to mind, or the bit about the most 4G coverage, when they had increased the speed of their 3G services and had no LTE.

I've witnessed their "More Bars in More Places" when I lived in the Orlando, Florida area.  My first phone call was dropped 6 times in 10 minutes with 3 towers visible from my house.  In June of 2012, I went to the trouble of trying a 4G mobile hotspot from AT&T first.  I bought a refurbished model from their web site, and the three days it was in shipment, they charged me for data usage and typical expenses.

When I activated the mobile hotspot, it required an update, which was not free to be downloaded.  How it left the warehouse or refurbishment without the update, I have no idea.  Customer service was pleasant enough about the situation and had some difficulty removing the charges, but they fixed things for me.  Nowhere in my area did they have LTE nor did they have their enhanced HSPA+ and their almost unused 3G data service was about the same speed as my current Sprint service was, even though it was loaded with 3G customers and AT&T wasn't.

I ended up cancelling, returning and running away as quickly as possible.  They continued to charge me various fees after the fact, and I called repeatedly to remind them that I no longer had the device.

So, if the customers are too much for the company to bear, should they charge the customers more--more for their phone (initially), more for their service, more for their ETF?

I suspect T-Mobile (in metropolitan areas) will have more business than they can handle, but they're willing.  Verizon will pick up customers who don't mind the inconvenience of switching between voice and data for the time being.  Sprint might even get some customers looking for unlimited data and a superior LTE experience, once Spark (tri-band LTE) is fully functional.

I must congratulate AT&T on being able to keep customers, while disliking them and abusing them.

At to that, this article on AT&T eliminating a technology, and trying to push up prices to any wholesale customer looking for the internet backend (backhaul) to support their retail internet data services.

It's funny to me that BellSouth (before SBC/the New AT&T absorbed them) was charging me a "recovery" fee for universal access--sharing their lines--when they resisted any sharing of their lines.

I'm thinking that the only thing that BellSouth ever did for me, before they were absorbed by SBC, was to offer me faster DSL service for the same price.  They were charging $37.95 per month for 1.5 Mbps, which was an unlikely speed.  Some time one year later, someone called to get me to buy a higher speed, and during the discussion, they told me that they could lower the price by $5.00, to the new price (which should have occurred automatically, don't you think?) or to double the speed to 3.0 Mbps down.  Of course, I went for the 3.0 Mbps.  Funny though, that in November 2006, I started to tether my Sprint phone and found that tethering was faster than BellSouth's 3.0 Mbps DSL.

I guess the new AT&T is just having a tough time, and they're trying to pass it on to everyone else.

Here's something else: They've been selling phone records to the CIA.

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