AT&T Rejects Reading

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AT&T Rejects Reading

This week I received a letter from AT&T, and by “this week” I naturally mean “the third week of every month for the past four years.” The letter came on official AT&T letterhead, bearing the hallmarks of an important notice.

Dear Tim Patrick,

In a review of your account conducted on 6/22/11, we have found that as an AT&T home phone service customer, you are eligible for the following special bundle that may save you money.

The text goes on to document a special bundle that may save me money. It ends with a friendly “Sincerely” by “Kelly,” my AT&T Customer Service representative.

Over the years, I have gotten to know Kelly pretty well, seeing as she sends me regular letters. And here’s the main thing you need to know about her: She thinks I don’t read. I know this is what she believes because she sends the exact same letter to me every month, with the same words and the same “Hi Tim, I’m Kelly” faux personal touch. It’s a natural mistake, with so many Americans opting to spend their time using AT&T services rather than leafing through the pages of a book.

AT&T has millions of customers, and I understand that they need to send out form letters to motivate the customer base. But companies used to care about the missives they sent out. They had teams of marketing experts who knew which phrases would tug at the purse-strings of the phone-service-using public. But no more. AT&T has finally realized that nobody reads their form letters, and so they make no attempt at targeting readers. Instead, the letter includes three boldface items that draw the eyes away from the main text: (1) a price, (2) a phone number, and (3) a web site. Oh, and Kelly’s signature. Nothing else on the page matters.

For the amount I spend on local phone service, I think I deserve much more in terms of literary marketing schpeels. And so I offer this updated content for AT&T’s consideration.

Fourscore and seven days ago, our marketing team brought fourth to our home phone service customers a new bundle, conceived as special, and dedicated to the proposition that you may save money. We are now engaged in a time of civil war against our typically high prices, testing whether for $37.95 per month, you will accept our Complete Choice® Basic calling service and the hallowed ground of U-verse High Speed Internet. We are highly resolved that a bundle offer of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth, if you act by October 22, 2011.

Sincerely,
Kelly

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Tim Patrick is a software architect and developer with more than 30 years of experience in designing and building custom software solutions. He is the author of multiple books on Microsoft technologies, and was selected as a Microsoft MVP for his support to the programming community. Tim earned his degree in computer science from Seattle Pacific University.

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