AT&T Testing Killer Price For 3G MicroCell: Free? I'm Not Holding My Breath

I get the feeling that AT&T hates me. That’s okay, I’m not too fond of them either. But despite that, they’re usually still pretty good about getting back to me about certain questions I have. That’s why I’m confused as to why I’m not hearing a peep about the 3G MicroCells they’re apparently giving away for free to some customers.

When the report first broke over the weekend, I immediately reached out to AT&T to see what the deal is. After all, if AT&T is actually following my advice from March and giving the device away for free, I want to be the first to praise their good decision! But again, I’ve heard nothing for a few days now. Which is odd. I suspect it may have something to do with this being a very limited experiment. And they know that I’ll simply start yelling that everyone with poor AT&T service should be included.

AT&T did tell Engadget (who published the original story) that they were “in the process of trialling different ways of offering the MicroCell.” Giving it away for free seems like a damn good way. Other reports indicate it may only be AT&T customers who are nearing the end of their 2-year contracts. In other words, those who are likely to be about to jump ship. If that’s true, that’s pathetic.

Our stance on the 3G MicroCell remains the same: it seems like a great piece of technology — but customers who have poor AT&T service should not have to pay $150 for it. For those customers, it should be free. Other services, like Netflix, proactively give you refunds if the determine your service is below their standards. With AT&T, you have to bitch and moan with customer support (after waiting on hold forever) to get a slight refund.

In large portions of major metropolitan areas like New York and San Francisco, the service simply does not work in an acceptable way (they’ve even admitted as much). Yet, hundreds of thousands of people (if not more) in those cities are paying upwards of $100 a month for this sub-par service. Instead of apologizing and issuing refunds or discounting monthly bills, AT&T suggests you spend another $150 to solve the problem. Oh and by the way, it’s a $150 device that uses your broadband (which you’re paying for separately, of course), but still counts towards usage of your monthly call and data plans. It’s an insult.

And even when some people are willing to pay for the rip-off box, AT&T won’t give it to you without making you jump through hoops first. It’s a real kick in the nuts.

Here’s to hoping AT&T’s “test” of this free 3G MicroCell giveaway leads them to realize the publicity (and happy customers) they’d get is worth more than the costs they’d have to eat to give it away. We’re talking a one-time $150 hit here for customers with poor service. That’s only a little more than one month’s bill. Of course, I have no faith that AT&T will come to this conclusion. Instead, they’ll probably jack up the price of this thing and try to explain how customers with poor service are to blame.

[photo: flickr/jking89]