Thursday, July 5, 2007

Please Hold

Apple's iPhone debuted to great reviews, long lines and a completely unprepared carrier in AT&T. And, since AT&T is currently the ONLY provider that offers the iPhone, the basic response to those lucky (insane?) few was basically, 'Uh, yeah, just wait and it should be ok.'

While I'm no marketing expert, headlines like 'iPhone Debuts With Big Headaches' probably isn't the most ideal publicity. Seems the iPhone had all sorts of problems activating, causing users to wait hours and even more than a day with their iPhones telling them 'Activating....Please Wait'. Hey, it's not like I didn't warn them. Never buy a new gadget when it's first released. If they had been reading my blog they would have been better informed. And bored.

AT&T said a lot of the problems stem from so many people activating the new phones at the same time. You can't blame them. I mean it's not like this was one of the most anticipated cell phones in history or anything. How could AT&T possibly have foreseen that the demand for these things would be so high?

Yeah, that was sarcasm if you didn't catch it. How could a company given the privilege of being the sole carrier for this device not ramp up their personnel or computer system to prepare for the high volume they should have known was coming? Things like this drive me insane and the only people to blame for it are the ones running said company.

That includes Apple. Considering this is the most highly anticipated technological release in....well...EVER, you would think they and AT&T would have a little sit down and get things planned out. I dunno, something like 'Hey, this is going to be huge. We're putting millions into hyping this thing and you will most likely have lines camped out for days before we put it on the market. Why don't you upgrade your systems and people to get ready for this?' Does anyone think this meeting took place? How about a conference call? Email? Memo? Anything?

Once again, customer service takes a back seat to money. Why bend over backwards for the client when they're going to be buying your product anyway? As of July 2nd, Apple has sold over 500,000 iPhones with most buying the more expensive 8 GB versions. That is amazing. Historic, even. But why skimp on making sure these people shelling out $500 or more have a seamless, smooth transition to the new phone? Wouldn't that only improve it's reputation?

I'll tell you why, because Apple and AT&T already have the money in their pockets. That's why. If it takes you a few hours to get things activated, well then you can just wait. What's another few hours of frustration when you should be honored to have the coolest cell phone around?

Sadly, this trend doesn't just apply to AT&T. It's becoming a trend throughout the industry. Our company works with Verizon for our office needs the their customer service SUCKS! Yeah, it deserves all capitals. And the reason it sucks is because we basically have no choice. They are the required vendor for the office building we occupy. Any lines being run in, out and around our building needs to be installed or moved by Verizon. Why waste time with customer service when they're going to be getting paid anyway?

There is hope, however. It's called the internet. User forums, blogs such as this highly useless one are popping up all over the world and if a company decides it's going to screw over their clients you can bet you will read or hear about it. Apple has already experienced this when one frustrated user documented on YouTube his attempts at getting a battery replaced for his iPod. He even posted flyers all over his city about it. Apple finally gave in and got him a new one after the public outcry generated by his videos became too much.

To be fair (not my strong suit), AT&T claims they had some network issues at the time and the activation problems have been resolved.

But companies should be aware that normal folks now have a media outlet for their anger and frustration. There's a reason I stuck with T-Mobile as my cell phone provider. Because I read fewer bad things about them then the other companies.

Sooner or later, bad service will result in bad profits. I don't care how cool your gadget is.

Today's distraction: Here's a funny (only because I didn't live it) first hand account of an attempt to activate an iPhone. Progress! Ain't it wonderful?

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