AT&T radically underestimated how the Internet had changed media: in-depth, dispassionate investigations were replaced by unhinged editorializing. T’d-off iphone users have leveraged the power of interconnected media to bring an empire to its knees in the signature style of juvenile Internet reviews.
Could anyone imagine the old consumer review standby, Consumer Reports, running an article entitled “AT&T is a big steamy pile of junk”? Yet, this Techcrunch article, dominating the blogosphere, is complete with snarky humor and a youtube video of Jeff Goldblum standing adjacent to a head-high mountain of dinosaur poo. As tasteless as this is by old-media standards, AT&T public relations, itself, has personally responded to the author disavowing any knowledge of his complaints. Why would AT&T bother? Because this article has, of the time of its writing, 2,630 votes on the ultra-powerful news aggregator digg.com and 1,919 retweets – which has most likely drawn hundreds of thousands of more users to the article.
AT&T is dealing with a beast of a very different nature. I doubt the upstanding New York Times would have ever published a letter to the editor exclaiming “F— AT&T.” Yet, as one of the top user comment on Digg, this may have more eyeballs that most New York Times stories.
For better or worse, the world is a more honest and open place. Before the era of transparency, AT&T could have been certain than any expletives over its poor service would have only been shouted in small cramped apartments. Now, every mistake is re-tweeted, commented, and blogged about.
As part of my civic duty, I’ll say that my frustration with AT&T has been worse for my blood pressure than an all-you-can-eat buffet in Las Vegas. The problems began with my Palm Treo losing reception and then being told in a whisper-voice by an AT&T employee that my phone, in fact, did not work with their network. After switching to the iphone, I’ve had to deal with more hidden charges than I ever imagined, at least one of which AT&T costumer service couldn’t even explain (they just apologized and removed it).
What about you? Will you stay with AT&T after its iphone exclusivity contract is up?