League City, TX 77573
July 13, 2010
Randall L. Stephenson
208 S.Akard St
Dallas, TX 75202
Dear Randall L. Stephenson:
I writing to you today as both a customer (account #XXXXX) and concerned shareholder with regards to
the inefficiency on how AT&T handles account changes and phone upgrades. In this digital age of account
management and online ordering it was dismaying to find I had to interact with several people to resolve
my issue when a fully capable website could have handled the matter with a few simple clicks. I am not
adverse to talking to people but as a shareholder the fact that I had to deal with a sales rep, a customer
service rep and a rebate processing person it seems a waste of company resources and runs the risk of
alienating current and future customers.
Well, Randall, here is what happened:
1.I wanted to upgrade my wife’s phone to a new smartphone (HTC Aria) and change the plan from a family
plan to individual plan as I no longer need my line due the work cellphone I am provided.
2.I had what I figured were two options: order via the website or go to a corporate store. I had ruled out one
of those suspect websites like Letstalk.com based on complaints of feature slamming and other issues.
Customer Roadblock #1 - Unfortunately while the AT&T website offered the path to upgrade the phone it
was not able to change my plan from family to individual which was frustrating, but since there was a
corporate store locally I didn’t think it was too much of an issue. Shareholder Concern #1 - In order to
provide our customers a streamlined and complete account management experience it behooves us to allow
them full flexibility to manage their service. The website should not require additional interaction with a
customer service rep to complete a transaction as this increases operating cost and customer frustration.
3.So I went to the local corporate store (1333 W Bay Area Blvd #300, Webster, TX 77598) confident they
could meet my needs only to leave disappointed and out more money than expected. Customer Roadblock
#2 - As per AT&T policy corporate stores are not allowed to terminate phone lines only customer service
reps via phone can do that. So now I found myself with a disjointed wireless account since the sales rep
was able to switch my wife’s line to an individual plan, but had to leave my unwanted line on an orphaned
family plan. Shareholder Concern #2 - Our corporate stores should strive and be able to provide our
valued customers everything they need to upgrade, manage and while it is a shame to lose them, account
termination. To require the customer to leave the store with an incomplete need is both a sub optimal effort
on our part and risks customer alienation. We should strive that no customer leaves dissatisfied and frankly
I did. Customer Roadblock #3 - Per AT&T policy corporate stores do not match or in some cases even
offer the same deals as what is offered by the AT&T website. So instead of the $100 instant online rebate
for my phone I had to pay an extra $100 at purchase and wait 6-8 weeks for a rebate center to process my
claim and send me a Visa Card. Unlike the gentleman next to me who walked out without buying a phone
because he had found a better deal at another AT&T authorized store I foolishly went along with the poor
deal and filled out the rebate form. I honestly wished I had walked out and just gone home to use the
website to purchase the phone since either way I was still going to have to call customer service to have the
phone line plan resolved. Shareholder Concern #3 - There is enough competition in the wireless market
place between suspect online stores and other carriers that we should not be competing with ourselves and
risk losing customers when one part of the company structure offers deals another part can not match. The
inequality between the website offers and in store deals is as unacceptable as it is bad for business. How
many other customers have the corporate stores let walk away without buying like the man next to me
because they couldn’t match a deal online at our own corporate website? If the website can process an
instant rebate, why should a consumer who buys from our store have to wait 6-8 weeks for the same
rebate? Not only are we asking some customers to wait but there is also the additional overhead of paying
the rebate processing center to fulfill the rebate request. I would postulate we probably lose more customers
to this inequality than the money saved by those who forget to mail in the rebate form.
4.So now I am waiting for the rebate center to process my $100 rebate, frustrated as a customer and
appalled at the ineffiencieis of the system, the cost overhead and the potential for lost customers. If the
system worked the way it should only one person would have been involved in the whole process instead of
the three I had to deal with.
a.If I had complete control to manage my account online then the plan would have been modified as I
wished and a warehouse order fulfillment worker would have been the only thing between me and my
phone aside from the fedEx person to handle the delivery.
b.If the corporate store was fully capable I would have walked out with phone, the plan I wanted and an
instant rebate to get me the phone for the price I was expecting.
I think you will understand, Randall, why as both a customer and shareholder this incident reflects poorly
on AT&T and how it services the needs of its customers. There is enough customer churn due to
competition and various exclusive phones that AT&T does not need to be alienating it’s own customers or
providing sub par service to exacerbate the churn. Nor do we need to be paying employees that can only do
part of the job. A fully capable corporate store could have handled my needs and saved on the redundant
customer service and rebate processing costs.
I ask that you evaluate the philosophy and operational restrictions levied on the corporate stores and strive
to resolve the inequity between online, customer service and brick and mortar. While at the birth of digital
age this might have been acceptable I find it to be poor corporate strategy and financially irresponsible in
I await your response which I hope is less than the 6-8 weeks I must wait for the rebate check.
AT&T Wireless customer since 2001
AT&T Shareholder since 1985