Wednesday, December 16, 2009

AT&T Commits Media Seppiku at the Feet of Fake Steve Jobs

At this point the only possible explanation for AT&T's media relations policies is a passionate self hatred that expresses itself in a desire to be publicly spanked. This column is devoted to AT&T criticism and I only briefly commented on the Fake Steve Jobs blog rant on AT&T because I found it long winded and not particularly funny. I didn't even mention the later post of an iPhone protest, a digital flash mob, because by that point my eyes were glazing over. (Though I've now linked to it on my update.) Fake Steve himself even moved on to photoshopped pictures of the real Steve Jobs with biker chicks.

But some flack at AT&T decided everyone on the planet needed to know about this mock "protest" on this minor blog for Apple geeks. Here's the amazing story of damage control efforts that involve spraying gallons gasoline:

Now, perhaps you might think I'm jealous Fake Steve is getting all the attention. But if all it takes is a blog post to get AT&T to rant about an "irresponsible" than trust me, AT&T Critic will get it's day in the sun and the traffic we deserve thanks to these idiots.

AT&T says that Fake Steve's post was a "pointless scheme to draw attention to a blog" as they drew more attention to his blog than they could have done with a Super Bowl ad. Of course, this gave Fake Steve Jobs the opportunity to respond again:

The truly sad thing for AT&T (which any good flack should have understood) is that this second piece isn't as long winded and focuses very seriously on a very serious issue. A cell company that has a monopoly on a piece of important technology (the iPhone) is proving very bad service for it's customers and over charging for it.

To stab the knife in deeper into it's own chest, AT&T also spouts that there is nothing funny about a mock protest on a service "that provides critical communications services for more than 80 millions customers."

Firstly, no one would hear about this protest if AT&T hadn't thrust it onto the national stage by responding to it. Second, Americans have a right to peaceful protect (I think it was in our service contracts) and that usually involves creating some discomfort for the people being protested against. But there is much more serious point:

If AT&T can't handle a protest that involves simply USING IT'S SERVICE, organized by a small blog (even if promoted highly by AT&T's own flacks), then why the hell are they in charge of such a critical piece of America's infrastructure?

What happens if there is another terrorist attack? Or some other significant event that could generate significant traffic? New Yorkers are fucked? AT&T has no plans for how to deal with huge traffic spikes (caused by obscure blogs)? We've gone from a boring blog post to what could be calls for a Congressional investigation. Should some Congressman pull the AT&T reps into a public forum and ask them what their plans are for dealing with traffic in a serious situation if they panic over what is barely a practical joke? And while Congress is at it, they should ask why AT&T's monopoly over the iPhone shouldn't be broken immediately.

Here's what AT&T flacks should have responded when asked about the Fake Steve Jobs Blog: "No comment. Off the record, what is a Fake Steve Jobs?"

If that didn't work, then "AT&T has the best network in the world. We can respond to any situation and have plans in place for events that might cause unusual traffic spikes. Other than that: no comment. Of the record, who cares about Fake Steve Jobs?"

But instead, this non-story has become a major story on the blogsphere and could easily leap off into mainstream. Bitching about bad connections has been raised to an issue of critical infrastructure. Seriously, AT&T, find the flack and slap his/her wrists and do better in the future.

Or better yet… fix the service!

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