AT&T leaves customers counting the cost
Someone should remind AT&T that the world has changed and it's all about the customer experience. Seems their marketing people haven't been keeping up.
A recent visit to an AT&T retail shop left me bewildered - the simple task of figuring out the cost of a mobile phone plan with voice, text and data became an odyssey.
The eager agent handed me a brochure and explained the process. Pick a voice plan, pick an SMS plan and then pick a data plan. I was looking for prepaid plans, but was turned off when I discovered that unlimited voice and text alone was $50 (€38.17) a month. The agent didn't bat an eye when I said that virtually unlimited voice (3,900 minutes) and unlimited intra-network SMS with 5-GB of data is $56 in Hong Kong.
Much later, I picked up where I left off and explored plans that included data, this time online, mistakenly thinking it would be easier. A click on Individual plans displayed details on voice - nothing on SMS or data. The Data Device Plans category had nothing on data plans for cell phones - only tablets.
Moving on to Prepaid Plans, again no data plans, just voice and text options. But at least rates were consistent with the retail list. With few choices left, I hit the jackpot with Mobile Share Plans, discovering unlimited talk & text with 4-GB of data was $70 + $40 (per phone). So for one user that's $110 plus tax. That's twice the typical Hong Kong rate for a similar plan.
But that's not the end of it! There is, of course, the Smartphone option. After selecting a device, you need to decide on your service plans: $70 for unlimited voice or just $40 for 450 minutes; 5-GB of data is $50 while 3-GB will bring it down to $30; and add another $20 for unlimited text. A comparable plan to the Hong Kong one mentioned above comes in at about $140.
What is so striking, beyond the high cost, is the silos. No bundled plans lined up in a column with a total at the top or bottom like we're used to in Asia Pacific. Each service has a section (except talk and text are linked with prepaid) and usually a separate webpage. So you are left to do the math. No doubt, with rates like that, who would want to list those totals? A prepaid plan with unlimited voice, text and data (1-GB) will set you back $75.
Now it's clear why AT&T reported a profit of $6.8 billion in Q2 with a 30% margin - surely the envy of the industry.