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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Actually, I wanted the Mango flip, but AT&T doesn’t support it.

Angela on Culture Buzz has a solid take on yet another Nestle-inspired customer service street fight. Read the skinny there but basically, an AT&T employee decided to give a virtual finger back to one of the brand’s customers. “Customer service street fight” being a euphemism these days for anyone with a FB or Twitter account. There seems to be this sense of customer service entitlement that says calling brands out is okay—just because they can.

No, you don’t have The Power™ dear sir or madam, least not yet, and here’s why.

Customer service aside, the thing that’s been bugging me about the current state of tech has to do with the lock service providers have on access to service and which cells you can use with it.

Because of that, there’s this collective gouging of customers going on. I don’t begrudge someone setting the price for a service they provide or creating a knockoff of whatever their competitor has, but we’re not talking about that.

I don’t know of another industry that controls the service it offers access to but specifies which delivery system you can use (or you can’t) when others are available. Is Verizon’s network so vastly superior that it can claim competitive advantage? Doesn’t each carrier say that about their own service in ads though?

How ass backwards is it that I have to go with AT&T just because I want the iPhone. Shouldn’t I be able to mix and match from both carriers and cells?

This is like Cablevision saying I can only watch CBS TV shows on a Sony HD. If I want to watch anything on a Philips, I need to switch to NBC.

In a Post Neo Consumerism Teenage Wasteland 3.0, we may *think* we have these great choices when it comes to the type of cell we can buy, or the features they have, but the wireless carriers still control the access.

I don’t knock social media as a response vehicle for customer service problems either. A complaint over a $4 Venti might not be the end of the world given the commodity that is coffee, but it could scale up to be a complaint over a $100 broken phone easily enough.

However, what if Starbucks decided to only open on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays?

Access for all.

Granted, we’re not there yet in terms of my Total Freedom Utopia (TFU), but if enough of those people bitching on Twitter about how rude a rep was would instead turn the outrage to addressing this lock carriers have, they’d put some of that Power™ to use for the greater good of all consumers.

Brands in this category don’t care, because they know how little control customers have. They’re more than happy to entertain a little complaint on Facebook, as long as people don’t call them on the big stuff.

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