An Open Letter to AT&T Wireless Services

ISSUES: iPhone Wireless Service

In Progress?

COMPANY RATING: One star (out of five)

See 7/17/09 & 7/18/09 updates below...

As instructed, I sent this letter out today to the AT&T office in Greeley, CO. Let’s see what response I get. I’ve learned that sharing with others always elicits a more timely response, so here is the open letter for the whole Internet audience to see.


To Whom It May Concern:

I must begin by saying that it seems somewhat counter-intuitive that I was told that the only way to lodge my complaint with a technologically advanced company such as AT&T is by sending snail mail to your address.
However, it somewhat follows suit given all the issue I am having with your wireless services. Since becoming an AT&T customer (after 18 years with Verizon) nearly a year ago and purchasing three iPhones, I have had sub-par network performance. This includes voice and data.
And despite your telephone reps being cordial, kind and attentive… they just haven’t accomplished anything. I’ve been through countless hours with tech support, customer care, cancellations, billing, etc.
In short, both my location at home and at the office are “dead zones”. I regularly drive through two other such zones. In these areas, I can be assured of failed call attempts, dropped calls and people who call me going directly to voicemail. Odd, since your coverage maps show the entire Greater Miami area as having “excellent” 3G coverage. Meanwhile, most of the time I call into reps, they tell me ”there are several towers down in your area“ or ”we are building new towers to address those dead spots” or (my personal favorite) “the hurricanes from last year have affected South Florida service”. None of which sounds particularly convincing after you hear that several months in a row. You also have data saturation issue at Dolphins Stadium, which means I have never been able to surf the web or get voicemail during the entire season of going there.
As a rather technically minded person (I run a large IT team), I also have concluded that my issue is not a rouge or faulty piece of equipment. I have three phones that are experiencing the problems. They can’t all be broken, right? Despite my pointing this out, I am usually run through the standard drill of troubleshooting almost every time I call in. I always do what the techs ask me to do and have my assumption confirmed. I’ve been to Apple Stores to have the phones checked, swapped SIM cards (that makes no sense at all), and a few other steps to re-program my phone with new cell tower information. The problems persist.
I have now hit my level of tolerance. I have logged approximately 20-30 calls in a year to try to resolve these issues. Each time I am promised it will get better. Well, over the past two to three months it has noticeably gotten worse.
I am not expecting perfection. I know wireless networks can’t ever run at 100%. However, I have a case where I can easily argue AT&T has failed to perform against the contract terms. The fact that I’ve been told that I’ve exceeded all limits for AT&T to refund me for service outages proves that this is an extreme situation and not “normal”. I defy anyone looking at my case notes to tell me this is acceptable service. It is clear to me that we need to find a solution or part ways.
I am hoping that AT&T can do one of the following for me:
A) Provide iPhone hardware that works properly on the network. I have unconfirmed data from numerous sources that the chipset in the iPhone 3Gs may be to blame for many of these issues.
B) Until rectified, provide ongoing, significant discount to make up for the poor level of service. It makes no sense for me to pay the contract premiums without the services stated being provided.
C) Refund my money for the iPhone purchases and allow me to leave AT&T without an early termination fee. As I have not breeched the contract, I feel there is no reason for me to be penalized. I am essentially being forced to leave due to lack of service.

[snipped my signature and account information from the letter]

7/17/09 UPDATE:

Just as I was giving up hope that a human was ever going to read my letter, I got a call.

A representative of AT&T spoke to me at length regarding my letter and its claims. He provided me his name and direct phone number and promised that he’d be following up with me on Monday. The conversation was pleasant and upbeat. Although the rep was careful not to provide language on any admission of network issues, he did say that his next calls would be to high level engineering to see what might rectify my issues.

I’m not holding my breath, but at least it’s a step...and one in the right direction. Thanks for starting my weekend off right AT&T!

7/18/09 UPDATE:

TechCrunch also seems to be loving their AT&T....

11/6/09 UPDATE:

The lumbering giant is starting to do the right thing, albeit only after I hounded them for the better part of a year. First, they recently issued me a $500 credit for my troubles. Next, my downtown office location seems to have been retrofitted with a nearby cell tower. I can now hold a conversation nearly everywhere in the building. Yes! At home is still pretty spotty. Dolphins Stadium (I mean Landshark Stadium) is still a dead zone for any data.

1/12/10 UPDATE:

AT&T is still at FAIL stage. No contact from the executive offices after two weeks of leaving email and voice messages. Service stinks. Some days are near communication blackouts. I see AT&T admitting to various levels of non-service, but I don't see any real improvements being made. Maybe fewer commericials and more techs would do the trick?