Breaking Up With AT&T
I have some really sad news.
After four+ years of a sometimes tumultuous, sometimes steady, relationship, I broke up with AT&T last night.
Break ups are always difficult, but this one really came from the gut and didn’t take a lot of doing. It was an act of passion, if you will.
What led to the break up was this: My iPhone froze up. I had dropped the iPhone over Christmas, and cracked the screen just mildly, but discovered to my chagrin when I went to the AT&T store that I had not bought the phone insurance.
I found that hard to believe. I ALWAYS buy that insurance. For my Macs, for my phones…it’s just generally been a good investment, at least for me.
No, nada. Which meant I couldn’t get my phone fixed or replaced.
Fine. I’ll live with the cracked screen.
But then yesterday, iPhone 4 froze up on me. It wouldn’t unfreeze. It was locked. Like, frozen in time. No off button worked. No reboot.
So I went surfing around AT&T’s site, and found I could get an iPhone 4S for like $500. Or an iPhone 4 for about $400.
Are you kiddin’ me?
I called the AT&T guy. Hector, let’s call him. Hector was very nice, but after looking up my information, explained I wasn’t due for an upgrade until April.
“Okay,” I said politely. What are my options?
“Well, what do you mean?”
Uh oh. We’ve got an Einstein on the line!
“Uh, regarding my phone. What are my options? Can I get a replacement iPhone, can I get a phone to tide me over until I’m eligible for an upgrade, what?”
He explained my upgrade date wasn’t until April, and because I had no insurance, there was no way of replacing my iPhone without paying several hundred dollars. Which I had already done.
“Are you sure there’s nothing you can do?” I asked. I could feel myself stepping up to the precipice. Now the question was whether or not I was prepared to leap. My blood started simmering. All those iPhone apps I’d bought. All that time I’d spent tuning the iPhone.
I didn’t care.
“How much would it cost to buy out of the contract?”
He paused. “Mr. Watson, we don’t…”
“$185,” he seemed to say reluctantly.
I was ready to jump. I didn’t know what was at the bottom, but I didn’t care. This wasn’t a rational decision, mind you. But just this one customer experience, combined with all the other times I’d been put on hold by AT&T, asked to wait and wait and wait…No, we’re done, baby. It’s OVER.
“Do it,” I said. He tried to intervene. “Do it now, please.”
“Yes, sir, Mr. Watson.”
Finally, some respect.
He assured me my number would be retroactively portable. I wanted to explain I would retroactively not be an AT&T customer again anytime soon.
So, it was time to go phone shopping. WOO HOO, I get to go buy something new. That always feels GREAT after a breakup!
I started hopping around Web sites: Verizon, Sprint, Tracphone…I was convinced I didn’t want a monthly contract anymore. I was paying roughly $70 a month to AT&T, getting 450 minutes and 200MB of data. By God, I have more worth than that!
My one criteria was I didn’t want to worry about how much data I used. I was ready to go on a data consumption binge!
Voice minutes, I didn’t need a lot of. People really don’t like talking to me.
So I set out for my local Best Buy. I needed some face-to-phone shopping time.
I looked in the “No Contract” phone section, and my only other demand was I have some sort of semblance of a smartphone. I was checking out some LG Androids when a sales guy told me to go with Virgin Mobile.
“Why?” I asked.
“Unlimited data,” he said. For $35 a month. I almost started laughing right there in the store. $35 a month? Unlimited text messaging and Web data?
“Yeah, and if you want to top up and get unlimited voice, it’s only $20 more. And no contract.”
Ah, I see. That’s why they call it the “No Contract” section!
Breaking up with AT&T was already paying for itself and I hadn’t even gotten a new phone yet!
For you MBA students out there, here’s what AT&T lost: A valued customer who had on several occasions spent more than $300 in roaming international data fees per month, who paid their bill regularly, and who spent nearly $100 a month for his phone service for years!
I figured all in, AT&T had generated at least $6,000 of revenue off me thus far, and averaging out at $70 month for the next 20 years, you were still talking about $25,200 in lost potential revenue.
Let’s call it an even $30,000. They call it “lifetime customer value.”
That’s okay. I call having no contract “Freedom.”
Freedom, of course, may not be entirely free, but’s one helluva lot cheaper at Virgin Mobile and it doesn’t come with any shackles!
As for what phone I got…well, we’ll just have to reserve that for another post. I need to go spend some time alone…learning how to use Android.