AT&T: So Now They’re Trying to Become a Service Organization?

I went to a half-day seminar last week on SEO that was hosted by AT&T. A colleague invited me, and since SEO is one of the services I provide for my clients, I was eager to hear the latest–especially in light of Google’s recent reengineering of algorithms.

The content turned out to be mildly informative. A lot of stuff that I already knew, some good information on SEO and social media. They worked really hard to sell their advertising scams, including yp.com, their version of the yellow pages.

 There were maybe 50 people in the audience and a total of seven AT&T presenters and assorted other admin staff–a big commitment for a full morning’s effort. Here’s where it gets really weird. AT&T is huge, and their clients are enterprise organizations, but the people in this audience were definitely small business owners or entrepreneurs. People were asking questions about the difference between a Facebook profile and a page, for crying out loud. Definitely not a sophisticated, savvy group.

AT&T is a crappy provider. One of my clients had her phone changed to her new address and it took them nearly two weeks to get it figured out. This was not a huge corporation; rather, a sole proprietor attorney. For two weeks, when clients called, they got a message that “this number is no longer in service.” This was somewhere between alarming and catastrophic.

To make matters worse, we were trying to identify someone within the bowels of their organization to help us upload her new website files to their server. It took three weeks to finally connect to someone who would help us. I did all the troubleshooting, so I know exactly how hideous this was. They would give me numbers that were no longer in service or I’d call and the person to whom I needed to talk was out to lunch and could I call back later. Yes, really.

So what’s going on at AT&T? Do they think they need to start providing some service? Are they trying to make amends for all the bad service or did they bungle the demographics for the seminar’s invitation list. There is one other factor to consider–their pending purchase of T-Mobile, which does a good job.

Maybe AT&T figures that they need to clean up their act, but don’t hold your breath. Remember that no one benefits from a merger except the people at the top of the food chain.

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