An Open Letter to AT&T

By | January 14, 2010

Dear AT&T,

I am writing to let you know that your marketing department needs to be kicked in the head.   You see, I just got this letter in the mail from you:

Dear Preferred Customer,

Because we value you as a customer, I have a great deal for you.  It starts with the opportunity to get a FREE 3G phone when you activate an additional line of service!

That’s right, you’re Pre-Approved to receive a FREE phone when you activate an additional line of service with a new two-year agreement.


What’s more, you’ll continue to receive special equipment offers, plus a monthly corporate service discount of up to 8% on qualified monthly charges.

There are a few problems with this “offer”, all of which prove that you do not in fact value me as a customer.

First: This was printed with a computer.  Would it really have been too difficult to put my name instead of “Preferred Customer”?  It’s printed one inch higher, where the address goes, so clearly you know who this particular piece of paper would get sent to.

Second: I could not add a sixth line to my account even if I wanted to, because five lines is the maximum.

Third: My account currently has a 12% monthly discount through my employer.  Am I supposed to feel good that you’re offering me a smaller discount?

Fourth: As a result of the second and third points, I must conclude that “Pre-Approved” is a complete fabrication.  If there is a pre-approval process, it’s being run by a small group of blind monkeys.

So AT&T, you know that database query that extracts a list of customers for the mailing?  Yeah, pull that out.  I’m going to tell you how to fix your problems right now.

See how it starts with SELECT, then lists a bunch of fields, then it says FROM and a table name, and then there’s a WHERE clause?

Add two more things to that WHERE clause:

WHERE […] AND discount < 0.08 AND num_lines < 5

You see, this way, you’ll filter out the people who couldn’t use your offer even if they wanted to (and you won’t insult them by offering them a discount lower than their current discount).

It’s a five second modification.  Please do it.  You’ll save trees not printing so many offers, and you’ll save money on paper and ink and postage.

Which brings up one last problem with this letter:

Fifth: You’re mailing me a paper letter.  I had thought I asked for everything electronically; it turns out that paper mailings are specifically opt-out.  Well, now I’ve opted out.

I probably would not have done that if you had bothered filtering your mailings so you would actually be sending them to people who might care.

Thanks for your attention.

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