One crisis analyst says that's a big mistake...
AT&T's had about as bad of a public relations week as you can have, taking a beating
across all fronts for delayed support for new iPhone features (MMS, tethering), poor wireless network performance, application crippling, and steep upgrade costs for existing iPhone users eager to buy the new iPhone 3GS. One "crisis communications" expert for a PR firm says AT&T had about 24-48 hours to respond to all of the criticism, and that was yesterday
While to some degree the upgrade complaints are silly because users were under contract and shouldn't expect subsidized pricing for a new phone, the complaints still hurt AT&T -- as they ride tandem with ongoing complaints about AT&T network quality and pricing. The expert says AT&T could greatly help their image by backing down anyway and showing flexibility and customer appreciation:
If AT&T was his client, Lawrence said, he'd urge the company to immediately own up to its error and tell all iPhone owners that they can upgrade to the iPhone 3G S as soon as it's available for $199 or $299.
"And they should say they will do that for every iPhone that Apple launches because they want the iPhone users to be part of the AT&T family for life," said Lawrence. "That would be the type of statement that would be leading -- outside the industry norm -- and would let iPhone users know they can make a commitment to AT&T because AT&T has made a commitment to them."
So far though, AT&T's been dead quiet to criticism of any kind, be it the costs of upgrades or their lagging support for iPhone 3.0 functionality. Even the normally industry-friendly Wall Street Journal has gotten in on the action, taking AT&T to task for those data plan reductions that were rumored but never arrived
. Can't a giant, immensely powerful and wealthy telecom conglomerate catch a break?