The case of AT&T is very curious. The company goes through many ups and downs or so it seems. One day, we get the impression that the company is taking steps to right the wrongs of the past. The very next day the company decides to threaten a customer who had the audacity to contact AT&T’s CEO about AT&T’s smartphone plans. Giorgio Galante may have been a bit aggressive with his e-mail, but we could not find anything in that e-mail that would justify a cease and desist threat:
I don’t think even Steve Jobs can spin 2GB for $25/month as a good thing for the consumer…. Please don’t have one of your $12/hour “Executive Relations” college students call me – I’ve found them to be generally poorly informed (Engadget.com readers know more than they do about AT&T) and they have little authority to do anything sensible.
An employee at AT&T seems to have responded to the above e-mail with a cease and desist order if Giorgio “bothered” AT&T’s CEO again. The company was quick to right its wrong and apologize for mistreating the customer. Here is AT&T’s response that was posted on CNN:
We are apologizing to our customer. We’re working with him today to address his questions and concerns. This is not the way we want to treat customers. From Facebook to significant customer service channels, AT&T strives to provide our customers with easy ways to have their questions addressed.
This is a big PR problem for AT&T. The company simply does not afford to give customers the impression that they are bothering it with their e-mails and complaints. In anything, AT&T’s CEO needs to be more involved with customers (like Steve Jobs). I am not a big fan of rude customers. I have been on both sides and have seen how some customers feel they own someone when they do business with him/her once. The trouble is, Giorgio does not sound rude in his e-mail. I would not recommend anyone to treat customers like AT&T did. However, I doubt this is more than just an individual mistake (hopefully not a policy).
Companies need to be extra careful with their customer relations these days. With all the blogs and social networks around, companies that treat their customers poorly will be exposed fast. Hopefully, this was a once in a decade mistake by AT&T.