Saturday, June 30, 2007

Rewarding behavior

The saga continues. When we last left off our hero was disconnected after a long hold. A second call yielded an AT&T customer service representative who clarified matters somewhat: we are "old" AT&T customers, and the iPhone plans only apply to customers of the "new" AT&T. Unfortunately, none of their literature, online or printed, says anything about this. Are there so few people who stay with cell service for so long? I mean, the phone works, we don't have trouble with the coverage, and the price is competitive, so why would we bother to switch? Anyway, I had to leave home to take our new dog to obedience class, so that's how it stood.

After obedience class, where we learned all about the importance of consistency and rewarding desired behaviors, I stopped by an AT&T store. The guy there wanted us to switch to a new rate plan and pay $80 for a new phone for my wife (our old phone won't work with their new network, he said). I pointed to their own literature and challenged him to find where it indicated that the rates didn't apply to long-time customers. He called AT&T customer service, and I got nowhere with the person on the phone. I did get a number to call to ask for a supervisor and, with much screaming and yelling and walking out of the store telling everyone around to avoid AT&T, I headed home.

At home, I get through, get a supervisor, and get irate. She puts me on hold so she can talk to her supervisor. At this point, I'm reminded of the experience of buying a car, at the point in the negotiations when the salesman shakes his head and says he'll talk to his manager and see what he can do. Of course, this is all theater: they spend some time talking about the weather or baseball and, after a suitable interval, he comes back and the dance continues.

Same thing here. The AT&T rep finally agrees to a "special plan" that they usually don't use, but which will work with the iPhone. The plan will cost the same as our old one, plus $20 for the iPhone data plan. She also will get my wife a new phone, with bluetooth sync capability with Macs, for free. And I can activate the iPhone once the new phone arrives, which may not be until Thursday because of the Independence Day holiday.

So, after much fuss and bad feelings, I finally get pretty much what I expected to get in the first place, and AT&T has rewarded me for my irate behavior. Which I hate.

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