In 2009, public relations professional Alan Weinkrantz made an important realization: When it comes to the cost of home television, Internet and phone services offered by cable companies, prices are never set in stone. Quite the contrary, a simple phone call to customer care threatening to switch service providers often prompts these companies to immediately offer a discount to retain business. In Mr. Weinkrantz’s case, AT&T offered to trim nearly 50 percent off the cost of his home U-verse service when he called to complain that the company’s rates were too high.
While a 50 percent discount certainly isn’t typical, calling your cable company and threatening to go elsewhere unless it lowers your monthly bill is standard procedure for many cable customers, whose rates often skyrocket after one- and two-year introductory rate periods come to an end.
Fast-forward to 2014, and rates have similarly skyrocketed for wireless service in the United States. According to a recent study performed by Cowen and Company, the average Verizon Wireless subscriber pays $148 per month for service. AT&T and Sprint aren’t much cheaper at $141 and $144, respectively.
Meanwhile, T-Mobile is making waves with its various “Uncarrier” initiatives that are shaking up the industry by addressing various pain points common among customers of rival wireless carriers. T-Mobile’s recent escapades include eliminating international roaming fees in many countries and reimbursing early contract termination fees for families who switch to T-Mobile.
After some back and forth on Twitter and a couple of phone conversations, AT&T offered Weinkrantz immediate savings of $70 per month on his wireless bill for the next six billing periods, and then another discount of $40 per month for the subsequent six months of billing.
AT&T’s exact policy on the matter is unclear, but an AT&T spokesperson did confirm that the social media team is very active in engaging with customers, and in some cases is able to work to find ways to save subscribers money. AT&T has of course been doing social media customer care and social media monitoring for years now, but it has certainly stepped up its game in recent months.
It looks as though at least some customer care teams have been granted the authority by AT&T to offer discounts to subscribers in an effort to prevent them from switching wireless carriers. Specifically, the social media team seems to have authorization to offer financial incentives in an effort to retain certain customers. The number of lines on an account, the amount of time an account has been open, and other factors may impact the decision-making process.
Whether or not any existing policies will change once more subscribers start digging for discounts remains to be seen.
Read the full story at bgr.com