Sunday, June 18, 2006

This DSL coil

I got my renewal DSL letter from AT&T the other day, offering me the option of renewing my same package without a contract at $34.99/month, up from $14.99/month, or if I was eligible, twice-as-fast package for $17.99/month. Yeah, I don't get it either. Anyway, I'm not eligible for the twice-as-fast package for $17.99, which leaves me contract-frei come August, though with a $20 bigger chunk of change leaving my wallet every month.

Now the thing is, I can afford the extra $20/month -- that's just one less dinner out a month; no biggie since I've cut way back on eating out anyway. But it's the value of the deal I'm missing and that's what gets me. I mean, there are new subscribers out there who are paying $12.99/month for the same package that I'm currently paying $14.99/month for. There are people out there who will be paying HALF of what I'll be paying come August for a better quality, faster product.

It's easy to justify an extra $3 in price when you know you're getting something that's twice as good as what you have for the price of a coffee and biscotti. However, it's not easy to come to terms with a price increase of more than 230 percent for no discernable value-added benefit? For people to agree to a price increase, you have to be able to put forth a strong case as to why; putting in the same letter that some people may be eligible for a lower price on a swifter product is not the way to win and influence customers into staying. Bad AT&T, no biscuit for you!

Why should I pay more for less? Would you? I mean, SERIOUSLY. Does AT&T think we're all on crack when it comes to this kind of thing? specially when there are other kids in town who may be offering something better. I'm not sure whether AT&T is just really cocky and thinks people love their service SO MUCH that they just won't dream of switching, or that consumers are too lazy to check their options, do the math and realize there are cheaper options out there.

I called Earthlink, the other major provider of DSL in my area. They're offering a DSL package for $12.95/month for the first six months and $29.95/month for the next six months. That's a savings of $160 over staying with Yahoo. And the rep also told me they'd waive the equipment and activation fees if I signed up. What's there to lose?

I do plan to call AT&T and let them know, because the whole deal makes no sense to me. As a consumer, it's irritating because it's kind of like of seats on an airplane. You know the person sitting next to you might have paid twice the price of your ticket or half the price of your ticket, but since you don't know for sure and you don't know how much exactly, and there are so many other variables -- you win some, you lose some -- you can't put much stock into it. But AT&T isn't bothering to even hide the ugly truth.

My ultimate goal is to stay with AT&T -- because on this point, AT&T is probably correct: I *am* lazy and don't want to switch -- and either keep the $14.99 rate or if I'm really lucky, get the $12.99 rate. I'd even take the $17.99 rate. But the $160 a year I'd save with Earthlink is a significant chunk of change. That's 80 kolaches at the Kolache Factory, 40 mocha lattes at Starbucks, 20 dinners out, 10 t-shirts at Ann Tyler or a plane ticket to Florida. If AT&T isn't willing to deal, then my option is clear cut. I go to Earthlink. Of course, I might run into a couple of days of no Internet access come August (wah!), but I can be strong. Indeed I can.

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