Monday, October 27, 2014

 

An Open (Farewell?) Letter To AT&T


To whom it may concern:

I shall keep this brief as the bulk of my complaints can be found in the e-mail that I sent two weeks ago to ATT Customer Care. Alas, the lack of response after I detailed the lack of service/poor service at two of your New York stores causes me to take this additional public step.

This letter was sent at the encouragement of a gentleman named MattR running the @ATTCustomerCare handle. He contacted me after I had shared on Twitter my experiences at the above-mentioned two stores. The full letter runs below (minus my e-mail address and cellphone number.) After the letter, you'll learn what the resolution to this from your offices has been.

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From: Robert A. George 
To: "attcustomercare@att.com"  
Sent: Monday, October 13, 2014 3:22 AM
Subject: Re: Twitter [ ref:_00DE0czFk._500E0FLW36:ref ]

Dear MattR, 

After four days attending a convention at the Javits Center where I needed two power batteries to get through the day, I realized my iPhone 4s is in desperate need of replacement. While my contract isn't up until December, I understand I qualify for an early upgrade with a NEXT plan. 

I wanted to discuss my options at the Manhattan location, 209 W. 34th Street  (7th Ave). I arrived at about 6:20 PM. The lights were on and at least three employees were inside. Two were seated near the far wall, discussing something. A third had his back to the window. On the door was posted Sunday hours of 10:00 AM -7:00 PM (see attached photo which also shows employees). 





I tried the door. Locked. Tried again, obviously locked. The employees continued whatever they were doing. 

As I tried to figure out what was going on, a 30-something businessman (wearing a suit) approached and tried the door. At this point, the employee with his back to the window and door turned and waved (cut off motion) to indicate the store was closed and showed 6 fingers. The businessman shrugged his shoulders and said, "Guess I'll have to go up to Times Square." He left. 

In the next few minutes, several people, including a Marine and a nicely dressed woman came by, tried the door and showed visible irritation that a store that appeared open was closed. 

Interestingly, it wasn't until about 6:40 that the storefront security gate was lowered and the lights were turned off. 

At this point, I decided to follow in the footsteps of the businessman: I got on the subway and headed to the 3 Times Square location. 

This is a bi-level AT&T store -- a few phones and tablets at street level, with the bulk of merchandise one flight down. 

Notably, at street level, there is an iPhone display -- a 6 Plus, a 6 and a 5S. The 6 Plus and 5s were in working condition. The 6 (which I was most interested in) was dead -- or, to be accurate, it wasn't plugged in! I tried to connect it, before an employee finally did so. 

After several minutes, the Apple logo appeared, but instead of turning on, it rebooted again, briefly started, at which point an iCloud login appeared with a password prompt. I asked the employee about it. She said, "Oh, a customer must have done that." I asked, can't you override it? She said "No." 

So, the iPhone 6 reboots again, but is not actually charging (see photo attached). 




FINALLY, the employee tells me, "Oh, you can try the one downstairs." So, I've been standing around for TEN minutes waiting for an apparently defective iPhone 6 to charge -- while there was a working one downstairs all along? 

I went downstairs, tried the iPhone 6 a bit, but was at last exhausted at the customer service (or lack thereof) at two AT&T stores in the busiest part of Manhattan. 

Final note: While outside the Times Square store (where I had begun communicating with your office), I ran into the businessman I met at the 34th Street location. His name is Kevin. We shook our heads over how the evening had gone. It turns out we are both longtime AT&T customers -- dating back to when we'd been with Cingular. 

I can't speak for Kevin, but I'm quite disappointed with the lack of communication and poor service by AT&T customer personnel at two central Manhattan locations. 

Thank you for your time in exploring this matter. 

Cordially, 


Robert A. George 
347-XXX-XXXX 

P.S. Apologies for an earlier draft version of this correspondence without photos. 

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I sent a follow-up e-mail to make sure that "MattR" received the letter. He responded in the affirmative. Two weeks later, I've yet to receive any response to this letter.  

Instead, one day later, I got this random text "thanking" me for the "social media contact" and asking  how likely I was to recommend ATT service in the future! 




Given this complete lack of attention to what I believe to be legitimate concerns about ATT retail service and now Customer Care, there's no way I can give a positive response -- despite more than a decade with AT&T. With my contract coming to an end in the coming weeks, it seems I should be looking at what Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon have to offer in the future.  

Cordially, 


Robert A. George 




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Saturday, October 11, 2014

 

RAG on MSNBC's Kornaki: Is Losing Winning?

It's New York Comic-Con weekend and I had planned four days of freedom. Then, my cell rings on Friday evening -- with Steve Kornacki's producer asking if I can be available Saturday morning to talk midterms. Sorry for the last minute notice, but we want to examine the notion that there's a silver lining to the Dem's (seemingly likely) loss of the Senate. Bill Scher wrote a piece for Politico making that claim. Well, while not exactly thrilled at having to put my analysis hat on pre-NYCC Saturday (the craziest day of the weekend), I agreed to -- and it went well. I strongly disagreed with Scher's thesis (the likelihood of investigations alone would make Democrats -- the president, most of all -- rather queasy at the idea of the GOP having complete control of Congress).

But, anyway, feel free to see for yourself:

 

Surprisingly, being forced to get "up" early turned out to be its own silver lining. I did a couple Kornacki segments and was at NYCC by 10:30, participated in a promotion for the video release of "One Million Ways To Die In The West" -- and ended up walking away with a free Blu-Ray! Sweet!! And the rest of the day went quite well too.

So, here's to mixing "work" with pleasure!

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Friday, August 15, 2014

 

RAG on HuffPost Live

My debut appearance on HuffPost Live, the Huffington Post's video channel! On "Political Junkies" with host Alonya Minskovski, HuffPo's Jason Linkins, The Nation's Mychal Denzel Smith and Hot Air's Noah Rothman. We're mostly talking Ferguson. 


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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

 

End of the App-fair: How Foursquare Cured My Addiction To...Foursquare

It's been a full two weeks now since my last check in on Foursquare.

In a sense, that shouldn't be a big deal.  After all, there are, I'm sure many people out there who have managed to go days, weeks, months or more without dropping into their favorite social media site (whatever it might be). Sometime back, I basically dropped out of Facebook. The only use I really had for it was to remind me of birthdays -- and I had found another application that automatically linked to the Facebook ecosystem and gave me the birthday updates anyway. That particular app eventually stopped updating and so I made my way back to Facebook -- and now have it back in my regular rotation.

Regardless, I must confess that there was no social media app to which I was more loyal -- nay, obsessed -- than I was with Foursquare.  It was a five-plus-year affair with constant check-ins. Bars and restaurants, yes, but, cleaners, markets, subways, too. Anywhere I went, I had to do the obligatory check-in. Indeed, when I neglected to check in, like a classic addict, I felt physically weird, that something was missing. Yes, I would start jonesing for the rush of the check-in. At the height of the mania, a good friend of mine and I would battle back and forth for the "Mayorship" of our favorite Chelsea bar. She lived in the neighborhood, while I was more than a hundred blocks uptown. Nonetheless, I would go out of my way to swing by the bar, to grab a beer, chat with the bartenders -- and yes, to check in!

The beginning of the end came upon me somewhat subtly. In a spring announcement to which I paid little attention at the time, Foursquare declared that it was splitting itself in two. There would be Foursquare and a new even-more-social app called Swarm.  I initially didn't care. Swarm didn't interest me. Yet, Foursquare kept bugging me to download Swarm, enticing me with notes like, "John C. wants  to get together with you on Swarm." So, I finally did, figuring, what the hell, I'll have Swarm, even as I continue to use Foursquare Classic.  I then noticed that when I tried to check in on Foursquare, the app would force me onto Swarm. Silly me, I initially thought that was a bug, only to realize that it was actually a feature!

I then, of course, Googled what was going on and was brought up to speed on the whole splitting-in-two thing. I learned that even Foursquare execs initially were "split" on whether this was a good idea. Some called it, "crazy." Hmmm...maybe they should have stuck with that first thought?

And so, two weeks ago, I realized that my check-in mania had passed. It sunk into me that the competitive part of the Foursquare experience is what I liked. Yes, I would occasionally open Foursquare to "find" a local establishment, but absent the possibility of becoming "mayor" of my bar, restaurant, office -- heck, subway stop? -- there wasn't much of an impulse to check in to Foursquare.

And this is where I think the operators of my once-favorite social app have made a potentially fatal mistake. Yes, I can understand they were/are trying to figure out how to monetize Foursquare into the next step. But there was a major reason why Foursquare wasn't Yelp.  The latter, a popular site, is a destination site. In other words, you're walking around someplace and you go to Yelp to find a restaurant or bar in the area. But you've inevitably been doing something else before you make the conscious decision to go to Yelp. Regardless, at most, you'd go to Yelp once or twice a day. Foursquare, for those of us who got really wrapped up in it -- was always "on": We'd be checking in a minimum of 10 times a day, from the moment we left in the morning until we returned home in the evening. It was fun comparing our daily point counts with not just friends, but others across the city. You realized that it was unlikely that you might catch up with whoever was managing to rack up 5,000 points a week, but so, what? The thrill was in the chase.  And, besides, you could still compete against your previous high score.  And then there were the badges for the different types of food places you had visited!

Anyway, it's all gone now, replaced with messages from friends like: "My confusing new Foursquare app tells me u r in my neighborhood." Uh, yeah, bro. I dunno what I'm supposed to do with that info either.
The loss is palpable and it perfectly feeds into the basic theory of what not to do in a redesign.

Anyway, two weeks into going cold turkey from Foursquare, I learn that I'm hardly alone.  "Dear John Foursquare" letters are all over the Internet.  Like here and here and here and here. And those barely scratch the surface of all the "Foursquare, WTF" tweets out there. So, add this to the pile.

Well, on the bright side, there's less chance of me missing my train because I was trying to check-in on the way to the train. Free at last, free at last, thank God Almighty, I'm Foursquare-free at last!!!

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

 

PODCAST: Newt Meets Improv

So, as many of you know, improv is a big part of my life. And improv can take many forms. One of those forms is when one person steps up to tell a story about themselves and a group of improvisers follows with a a series of scenes influenced/inspired/imposed by the story.

Well, this month, Sean Duffy (no, NOT the Real World/GOP Rep), -- this guy -- host of the Can't Make This Up podcast invited me to take a nice trip down memory lane. So, I share a (in retrospect) fun-filled anecdote of life in Newt World, circa 1996 -- the Republican National Convention in San Diego.

Along for the ride are my Electoral Dysfunction pals Tom Brennan, David Kimball-Stanley and Darcy Burke who, following some extended preliminary banter bring the improv!

Without further ado, herewith is an episode called "Don't Have To Be Gingrich To Be My Girl" (that's a Prince reference, in case you couldn't tell. Particularly amusing since I don't believe Sean knew about my Prince obsession of my younger years).  

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

 

RAG on Opinion Journal: LIRR on Strike?

The Wall Street Journal editorial board's Mary Kissel and I chatted Wednesday about the impending Long Island Rail Road strike and its implications for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio (vacationing in Italy, Mr. Mayor? Serioiusly?).




Enjoy the segment!

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

 

The Biggest D'Loser...

Dinesh D'Souza pled guilty today to making illegal contributions to Wendy Long's US Senate campaign two years ago. D'Souza, who's made quite a fair bit of bank in the last several years by climbing aboard the anti-Obama crazy train, claimed that he was the victim of selective prosecution because he was an opponent of the president. 

That's a little difficult to prove in this case because the prosecutor, US Attorney for New York's Southern District, Preet Bharara has made anti-corruption -- both official and political -- a huge part of his portfolio.  His list of scalps include a host of big-name Democrats and Republican politicians. He's even investigating Gov. Andrew Cuomo's own anti-corruption board -- for possibly being too close to the governor! 

Regardless, a judge last week rejected D'Souza's request to dismiss the charges.

My sympathy level for D'Souza is zero.

For conservatives who want to paint him as a martyr to anti-Obama activity, save your sympathy for far worthier individuals.  As I wrote a few years back, D'Souza is an individual of dubious intellectual and ethical integrity. The latest development just shows that you can only run a con for so long before your deeds end up coming back to bite you on the ass.  I just hope that some future conservative publisher, producer, think tank, academic outlet, etc. doesn't get taken in by D'Souza's smooth bull, only to be embarassed by his subsequent antics -- as so many others have previously.

UPDATE:  Rod Dreher dismisses the whole "selective prosecution" defense too -- including the political one conservatives have mounted for D'Souza.

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