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Crisis expert: AT&T has 48 hours to respond to iPhone complaints

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Friday, June 12, 2009
News Categories: iPhone

Following four days of complaints from current iPhone users who are being quoted prices of $399 and up to upgrade their current handsets to the iPhone 3GS, a crisis communications expert has suggested that AT&T has roughly 24-48 hours to respond to the criticism. “It’s time for AT&T to step forward and be an industry leader,” said Dallas Lawrence, vice president of digital media at New York-based Levick Strategic Communications, in an interview with Computerworld. “The next 48 hours will be very telling. AT&T needs to embrace the message, to acknowledge a mistake’s been made, and to make things good.” The online complaints have culminated in a Twitter petition—now with more than 8,000 supporters—calling for AT&T to offer iPhone 3GS upgrades to all iPhone customers for the same $199 and $299 pricing it offers to new customers. The number of names attached to the petition has nearly doubled in the last 24 hours.

“AT&T has the opportunity to turn a potential negative into a positive,” said Lawrence, adding “[t]hey should forget the immediate gratification [of higher revenue] and invest in the longer term to keep iPhone users.” Lawrence went on to say that this vocal group of users will only get more agitated the longer it takes the U.S. iPhone carrier to respond, and that if the company were his client, he would tell them to immediately apologize and guarantee the cheapest upgrade pricing for all iPhone users. “And they should say they will do that for every iPhone that Apple launches, because they want the iPhone users to be part of the AT&T family for life,” Lawrence added. “That would be the type of statement that would be leading—outside the industry norm—and would let iPhone users know they can make a commitment to AT&T because AT&T has made a commitment to them.”

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Comments

41

I agree with Dale’s comment # 40.  At&t;forgets who pushed their success of increase subscribers for the last two years.  It was die-hard iPhone users that did indeed push At&t;over with subs compared to Verizon.  But not for long, as when and I say when At&t;looses it’s exclusivity with Apple, WATCH out.  People will bail in droves and remember the crappy networ, lack of MMS for 2 years, no teathering option, horrid coverage for data and slow speeds.  And to think we all got suckered the 2nd year again and upgraded.  At&t;is going right down the same path as Sprint.  Yes, At&t;will always be arond with their millions of subs, but at least the iPhone will be free’d up from their BS.  I’m leaving At&t;the first chance I get.

Posted by Rich on June 13, 2009 at 9:17 AM (PDT)

42

What a bunch of cry babies.  Alienating their clients???  Pushing them away from AT&T;?  I would definitely like to see other carriers for the iPhone, but we are currently stuck with AT&T;.  If you want an iPhone, suck it up.  If you don’t, then go get something else.  I expect that what I buy will be outdated in 6 months to a year; I can count on it.  I don’t demand to have the latest and greatest while not buying out of my existing contract.  I’m sick of people pretending to be victimized and throwing tantrums when they can’t get their way.  Do you know how many people would be happy to be in your situation where you can afford and actually have an iPhone?  Get a life!!

Posted by Karl on June 13, 2009 at 9:53 AM (PDT)

43

This is all well and good and I appreciate the concern for us all but, even if given the chance, the logic behind upgrading is flawed.  If I upgrade now, I would almost surely have to extend my contract out another year (I bought my 3G on launch day last summer), tying me to AT&T;for yet another year.  Seeing as I live in a non-3G area and am paying the 3G data price, I’m already losing out there.  If upgrading to the 3GS, I would have to pay $200 or $300 (probably $300 because I would want the 32GB) and all that for a teeny, tiny bump in specs - slightly faster processor, slightly more RAM, etc. The possibility of 3G data in my area is 50/50 and the possibility of 7.2 is probably laughable.

However, I feel that it is RIDICULOUS that Apple is requiring an entirely new phone to “activate” features such as Voice Control and Tethering, when it should have happened with a software upgrade to OS 3.0 (don’t even get me started on the fact that these “features” should have been available on the phone from Day 1 or at least with the iPhone 3G upgrade).

I’m in the boat that believes that we need to honor our contract terms and an upgrade price is only available after 18 months.  I’m not the biggest AT&T;fan (service, network, pricing, etc.) but I have to agree with them here.  It probably IS in their best interest to offer upgrade pricing to people who got the 3G at launch last year but, as a buyer, you have to look at if it’s worth it for you.  You know that there’s another model coming next summer so why would you want to waste your money and your contract on such an incremental bump in specs?

I’ll wait around until June ‘10 and the iPhone 4G and the possibility of a different carrier.  Come on Apple MVNO!!!

Posted by JJ McJJ on June 13, 2009 at 11:48 AM (PDT)

44

WHAT BS!!!  SCREW AT&T;!!!  I don’t have a problem paying full-price for the phone but what I do object to is paying full price and also having to sign a contract.  You can’t have it both ways guys, especially when the phone and data service sucks as bad as yours does!

Please Apple, move to Verizon.

Posted by Rob on June 13, 2009 at 5:01 PM (PDT)

45

Folks, I am fine with paying the additional. My concern is that, I should be at least entitled to unlock my phone as all of you are saying we have to pay based on phone cost and it was given subsidized earlier.
And now don’t give some BS to read the contract. I know what contract says.
But if I am paying the full amount for the device, I should own the device not some F**kin provider.
At the least, I can use my previous iPhone with a other carriers.

Posted by Raghu on June 13, 2009 at 7:35 PM (PDT)

46

I always love it when people complain about greedy corporations. Of COURSE they are greedy. Thats how corporations, and capitalism in general works.

Bottom line, AT&T;will do whatever top management feels will earn them the most money…..period. If you fell that corporations should have human attributes, like fairness, empathy or a soul, get over it.

Posted by mscientist on June 13, 2009 at 8:34 PM (PDT)

47

What ATT does not realize, but Apple, does, is that the iPhone is not just a phone. It is a “platform” on which all kinds of goods and services will be linked. That is the whole purpose of Apple’s allowing outside vendors to produce apps, which now number in the thousands. Also, Apple itself is selling music downloads via the iPhone, and other companies such as Starbucks are piggy backing on this service. I have maxed out on music downloads (each of which I get through iTunes, and thus pay for) and apps since I have already run up against the memory max of the 16 gig 3G, certainly, Apple and ATT would have more to gain by doing everything in their power to get consumers into iPhones with greater memory cheaply!

Posted by Richard Kerr on June 13, 2009 at 8:52 PM (PDT)

48

Hi,I would like to say I brought the first iPhone at $599 each and cost me $1200 for two and that was fine then they gave a $200 credit for each phone. Then the 3g iPhone came out and I upgraded both phones, a month before the 3g came out I brought my daughter a iPhone before going back to college and then she came home that month the 3g came out and upgraded less than two months.So you tell me is just they wanted to get rid of the first iphones to make room for the 3g so it did’nt matter when you got the phone.So I think it’s just GREED because they can do what ever they want, so I think everybody should get the dicounted price.After all it’s not like they are trading your phones in so were still losing money and they want us to lose more money just because.

Posted by Eric on June 14, 2009 at 11:26 AM (PDT)

49

Sorry guys I was typing fast and did’nt proof read before i posted it. I spelled discounted wrong excuse me for making a mistake.

Posted by Eric on June 14, 2009 at 11:31 AM (PDT)

50

wrong! the 3g was subsidized based on a 2-year contract. at&t;does not have to offer the “new customer” pricepoint to existing 3g owners. enough whining about this folks, bigger fish to fry in the world.

Posted by flirtsquirt on June 14, 2009 at 12:44 PM (PDT)

51

Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn’t every single cell phone provider in America do this? I agree that the entire wireless system in America seems broken and overly confusing, and that all of these companies are greedy and taking advantage of people… but that said, this is exactly how it has worked forever and with every single company and every single phone. Why are people so surprised now that it’s happening with the iPhone? Go try and get the new Blackberry every year for subsidized pricing and see what happens. It’s the same deal for everyone.

The only reason this is happening is because of the unusual way AT&T;and Apple handled the first iPhone. Offering at an unsubsidized price let people buy the 3G at the subsidized price, and it’s taken a year for it to come back and bite people in butt.

People who apparently have been living in a bubble for a decade and don’t realize how wireless companies operate.

Posted by ort on June 14, 2009 at 1:51 PM (PDT)

52

Well, the fact that all the pre-orders for 3GS are sold out despite the insane pricing probably means the prices won’t get any lower.

Posted by Anthony Ta on June 14, 2009 at 8:41 PM (PDT)

53

I think this is all bull #### I have the iPhone 3G and got it in March, but I’m not ######## about not getting the iPhone 3GS.  Think about it with every new release of phone there are always bugs so why not wait a few months.  also this is like if i go buy a car and drive off the lot with it and 31 days later see the same car with a lower price and more tweaks to it they won’t take it back!! So I suck it up and stop calling att about not paying the upgrade price and pay the early upgrade price if you want it that bad. Not like you have nothing else to spend your money on if you crying about it this much!....

Posted by Justin Salazar on June 15, 2009 at 12:02 AM (PDT)

54

A subsidized may be “BS” and only cost so much to make.

But you should be directing your anger at Apple for charging the price they are since they are providing the equipment.

If Apple charges the phone for less we wouldn’t have this issue at all would we.

Stop your complaints. Regardless of which provider this will always be case and next read your contract before signing! If you don’t agree with it touch luck.

Posted by Rich on June 15, 2009 at 9:47 AM (PDT)

55

Get a grip people. The 2G iPhone was and UNsubsidized phone costing you 4gb 399.00 and 8gb 499.00 was reduced to 8gb 399.00 about 6 months after it was released and no mater what you did you got an att UNsubsidized contract. Then you got the iPhone 3G and paid the subsidized price of 199.00 for the 8gb and 299.00 for the 16gb and altered your contract to add one more year and it went from an UNsubsidized contract to a subsidized contract. Now those of you who have pointed out that the subsidized and UNsubsidized contracts are the same price you are right. Att on the other hand should at least give us an UNsubsidized contract and a subsidized contract price sets and that should not be reflected in just the hardware price.  But i dont really care about this wining I am just tired of hearing it.  I have a 3G and will be getting a 3G S on the 19th becuase I have a contract that is upgradeable already.

Posted by viperstarpoint9 on June 15, 2009 at 1:09 PM (PDT)

56

All the whiners need to get over themselves. I’ve purchased 20+ ipods and both iPhones. I knew with every purchased item, that the “latest, greatest” label was going to be fleeting and eventually, I would be holding yesterdays news. With that said, if you desperately need a compass, video camera and voice control, pony up what AT&T;wants and be happy to have it. If not, wait for something more worthwhile and buy that. I’m getting 3.0 for free and that works for me, for the moment. I hate to break everyone’s hearts, but the next iPhone is probably halfway down the R&D;pipeline already.

Posted by Mario Jones on June 15, 2009 at 1:20 PM (PDT)

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