Image by Nick Humphries via Flickr
I had something unusual happen to me the other day. I wanted to spend a few hundred dollars with a wireless company and they wouldn’t take my money. This was not some kind of weird currency I minted myself either – just hard-earned, good old American greenbacks. So while I kind-sorta get what they’re thinking, I really don’t understand the logic.
Here’s what happened. I have been coveting the new Blackberry Bold and have been waiting for its release for several months. In the interim, I make do accessing my mail remotely from a crappy older phone or, when I can find free WiFi, an iTouch or a laptop when I have one. Not a very practical solution, I know, for someone who is supposed to be on the cutting edge of technology. But I really WANTED to be on that edge with the new Bold and AT&T’s preoccupation with the iPhone kept delaying its release. As I mentioned, I have an iTouch and I find the lack of a tactile typing experience very frustrating for me and my fat fingers so no iPhone for me. No sir – I was going to wait this out and get the right technology to suit my needs!
Except AT&T decided not to take my money. I paraded into their store and they looked up my account and said I have 2 months to go on my current contract. Sure, I could have Bold AT THE FULL PRICE or I could wait 2 months and get a couple of hundred dollars off when I signed a new deal. I have been an AT&T customer for maybe 15 years and in the past they were always very happy to extend the agreement no matter where I was in its progress if I wanted to change equipment. Not any more.
So here is why I’m confused. I get that they want to be sure they pro-rate the value of the last phone they subsidized for me to the end of the term. But when you have a long-term customer literally standing at your cash register, how can you not figure out a way to take the money they’re offering you for the next several years right away? Once I reach the end of my term, I can buy anything from any carrier. Yes, today I want the Bold. That could change tomorrow – who knows what Verizon or Sprint or T-Mobile will release? Maybe I’m suddenly willing to buy a little less technology in return for much better monthly rates or a more complete service plan? Maybe something new comes out from LG or Nokia or Samsung and my love affair with the Bold is over?
So here’s today’s lesson. Take the money, AT&T. I know you’re raking in those iPhone big bucks today but given the economy, couldn’t my little offering help? So maybe you get another shot in 60 days or maybe not. But if you keep refusing to take people’s money, I’m not sure you’re going to be around to collect what you’re owed now.