Print 24 comment(s) - last by Like It Is.. on Jan 2 at 11:59 AM

Industry-leading customer disatisfaction has made for a tough working environment for AT&T employees. In a leaked audio tape, paid actor Luke Wilson tells them to keep their heads up.  (Source: AT&T via YouTube)
Mr. Wilson gives a cheerful speech to the troops telling them to keep fighting the good fight

Amid complaints over dropped calls and poor coverage it's a tough time to be an employee at AT&T, according to some on the inside.  Morale is dipping dangerously, closely corresponding to highs in customer dissatisfaction reported in recent market research studies.  While AT&T does have one pivotal trump card (the iPhone), it's painted itself in a tough corner, particularly with its decision to cut capital expenses between 2008 and 2009, which has forced it to pick and choose what parts of its struggling network to upgrade.

AT&T has been doing its best to minimize the growing PR nightmare, rejecting rumors of coming iPhone data fines/tiered pricing and instead emphasizing a growing number of free Wi-Fi partners.  It also has been airing a series of commercials starring Luke Wilson, which look to attack Verizon.  The commercials seek to counter Verizon's series of map commercials that lampoon AT&T's 3G coverage map -- commercials that AT&T fought in court to have pulled, a fight which it eventually gave up on.

Now Gizmodo has released an audio recording that's reportedly a motivational speech by Luke Wilson to the AT&T employees, telling them to keep their heads up.  He starts, "Hi Luke Wilson here.  I'm sure you've heard me on TV recently talking about the AT&T network.  I'm kinda hard to miss.  As an AT&T customer it's been an honor.  I'm a big fan of you guys and everything you do."

He adds, "I may not know a lot about cell sites, backhaul, searches and spectrum, but I do know the importance of all the hard work you do every day to keep me and millions of other Americans connected to the world.  I hope in some way I've helped AT&T keep moving.  On a more personal note I wish each and every one of you and your families a happy holiday and a prosperous New Year.  I can't thank you enough."

How are AT&T employees taking the little Christmas surprise?  Some aren't very impressed.  A user going by the s/n writes, "i work for the at&t can attest that morale is in the toilet. we do our best to take each day as it comes, but honestly its not the actual job or dealing with you and all customers, its middle to upper management, their greed, and somewhat high expectations and the demand that is placed on us. i am blessed to be employed in this time and take care of my family, but still morale is bad right now...i am not sure the proper way to go about it, but hiring an actor to "talk to us" isnt going to help."

Another employee with the s/n ara313001, comments:
I work for ATT (wireless sales.) I can say that It does feel like we work for the aforementioned companies above like Goldman and Lehman Bros.

Between arbitrary sales pressure, constant complaints about our network and unenthusiastic corporate bosses I feel hopeless.

For instance, did you know that att corporate raised sales goals during christmas and iphone launches to protect themselves from paying us too much?

We get paid according to how close we get to our total monthly goals. If you exceed the goals you get paid more; something I feel is fair on months like December and June (iphone launch) when we have to deal with all the extra bullshit.

Hearing a speech from Luke Wilson is nice but It doesn't really mean anything. I'd rather hear it from someone who isnt getting paid
Thus far no employees have commented about the speech in a positive light.

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It's this simple
By Reclaimer77 on 12/23/2009 5:05:19 AM , Rating: 5
It doesn't matter what phones you have, or what features, or your 3g speed. If the shit doesn't just work, none of that matters.

It's that simple. Verizon works, you don't.

RE: It's this simple
By blogmann on 12/23/09, Rating: 0
RE: It's this simple
By Motoman on 12/24/2009 2:52:50 PM , Rating: 5
You could, you know, use something other than an iPhone.

RE: It's this simple
By Oregonian2 on 12/27/2009 1:00:55 PM , Rating: 2
Like a verizon Droid. Friend of mine and her husband have one apiece, and they are very happy with them (other than the 5MP cameras in them not being so great, but that's nothing new for most cell phone cameras with their tiny sensors and tiny lenses). They also seem to be selling like hotcakes for Verizon.

Note: We use AT&T w/KRZR phones (and for voice only) and they work fine in my area (west metro Portland Oregon). Depends where one lives I think.

RE: It's this simple
By kake on 12/23/2009 4:34:52 PM , Rating: 2
Where I live (far Nor Cal), AT&T is the best service available, at least in terms of coverage and call consistency, which is all that matters to me. Verizon has just about half as much coverage, and Sprint is a joke. When only one network does entire towns, and that happens to be AT&T, which network do you think is the best to go with?

AT&T may be terrible, it's just not terrible HERE.

RE: It's this simple
By rivercitykid on 12/28/2009 2:34:04 PM , Rating: 2
That's because you are using the old Pacific Telesis/Cingular network - not the "new" AT&T wireless network. Pacific got SBC on the GSM technology when they were acquired in 1996. Your gripe is really with SBC, not AT&T. There is no more AT&T - the remnants of that company was gobbled up - just as Pacific Telesis, Ameritech and Bell South were - by Southwestern Bell. SBC is the problem - not AT&T. They have taken one of the best brands in the world and destroyed it with penny-pinching decisions on the network. Maybe somebody needs to remind them that it begins and ends with the network, duh!

By boushidosan on 12/23/2009 2:55:54 AM , Rating: 4
Sounds like a standard greedy company to me-heavily covered with extra bullsh*t and a side of "hire this ass to try and make us look like we actually care about people."

RE: Well...
By jhb116 on 12/23/2009 8:32:45 AM , Rating: 2
Hear that? AT&T is in a death spiral. If employee morale is as bad is this article says - the networks can hire out the good employees very easily, further hobbling the elder giant.

If they do fail - I hope the gov't lets them, as there are several other networks that can step in to take AT&T's place. They just need to keep an eye on Verizon during that time to keep them from becoming "to big to fail."

RE: Well...
By GaryJohnson on 12/31/2009 10:55:16 AM , Rating: 2
You really hit the nail on the head when you said "Standard".
i work for the at&t can attest that morale is in the toilet. we do our best to take each day as it comes, but honestly its not the actual job or dealing with you and all customers, its middle to upper management, their greed, and somewhat high expectations and the demand that is placed on us

This sounds like every large tech firm I've ever worked for.

with a grain of salt...
By roostitup on 12/23/2009 3:43:50 AM , Rating: 4 how I will be taking this blog. Where are the links/references to these supposed quotes? I know Verizon/sprint/t-mobile aren't much better than ATT in terms of upper management greed, so where's the propaganda against them? Oh ya, you wouldn't even think to talk bad about another greedy company because ATT has a "30% drop rate". I'm surprised that didn't make it in to the blog.

RE: with a grain of salt...
By stubeck on 12/23/2009 8:24:50 AM , Rating: 3
Me too. I don't think employee morale is any worse here because of what has been happening. This sounds like a post from a nerd who thinks everything they are interested in is important to everyone else, when there is still a majority of people who are happy with the service.

Note, I am not one of them, I dropped ATT last month and have been happy with Verizon ever since.

i'll stick with the dark horse
By inperfectdarkness on 12/23/2009 8:04:16 AM , Rating: 2

at this rate, it'll leapfrog ahead of at&t.

RE: i'll stick with the dark horse
By hellokeith on 12/26/2009 7:02:49 PM , Rating: 2
Had Sprint for over 10 years. Never had a problem with them. Moved around the country, still work just fine.

Sprint has been losing subscriber base at an alarming rate as well, so unfortunately I wouldn't make any predictions about who's gonna end up alive and who's just a note in history. But I'm sticking w/ Sprint, happy customer, high-tech phones, decent coverage.. no reason to leave really.

RE: i'll stick with the dark horse
By abhaxus on 12/28/2009 1:51:51 PM , Rating: 2
Same here. I've had my issues with Sprint, but customer service has always taken care of them; if not in a timely manner, it was done at least. But the network coverage has been decent where I live, which is definitely verizon territory. I will stick with them unless I move to an area that is just not a good coverage area.

customer disatisfaction
By lycium on 12/23/2009 4:07:45 AM , Rating: 2
that sounds painful :S

I'm Glad...
By btc909 on 12/23/2009 4:21:38 AM , Rating: 2
...I dumped these bastards before they bought out Cingular.

Come on AT&T fess up, the network really took a beating when the iPhone was released.

A paid spokeshole is suppose to save AT&T. Don't fix anything, just change the customers perception with BS.

Did I miss something here?
By SunAngel on 12/23/09, Rating: 0
RE: Did I miss something here?
By blogmann on 12/23/2009 7:10:26 AM , Rating: 2
AT&T is the worse cellular company to exist in the U.S. I purchased 2 IPhones at full retail price. They still forced me on a 2 year contract. After over 5 calls, I finally got one of their robotic employees to take the contract off. After a couple of months, I found out that they put me back under contract. They denied that they ever took me off of contract. There were no notes in their system that I called about it. Again, I had to talk to more than 4 robots before one of them would agree to remove me from contract again.
They will not unlock my phone even though I paid full price for them and I have move out of the country. Apple would not help because AT&T will not allow them to do anything other than provide technical support.
I have frequent call drops in my in-laws area. It's been that way for more than 9 years. They will not fix it. The only reason I am with them is because of the IPhone. When the exclusivity deal ends with Apple, AT&T will go bankrupt. It's probably too late for them to fix their crappy network. Customers will remember and still leave in very high numbers of the next 2 years. But, the government will step in to bail them out because they are too big to fail! The citizens and customers will lose again.

AT&T Death Spiral
By rivercitykid on 12/28/2009 2:45:29 PM , Rating: 2
Luke Wilson is a weak bandaid for a full-fledged hemorhaging of AT&T's image. For wireless service, it begins and ends with the network. Nothing, not even the iPhone, will keep AT&T from nosediving over time unless they spend billions of dollars on their wireless network.

If wireless truly is their future, then they will put their money where Luke Wilson's considerably large mouth is and upgrade the many questionable areas of their network.

The lack of 3G presence across the U.S. footprint should be a colossal embarassment to Stephens & Co. At least Ed Whitacre, when presented with the only option available, would make the "right" decision and invest in the network.

The response, trotting out Luke Wilson to say that we have the iPhone and you don't, is troubling at the least and a monumental blunder from a PR and employee morale perspective. The only medicine that will cure what's ailing AT&T's wireless network right now is called "capital investment." AT&T should spend more time concentrating on building the world's best wireless network and less on gobbling up weaker telecom competitors.

By Like It Is on 1/2/2010 11:59:16 AM , Rating: 2
That speech means nothing.
I am a longtime employee who works in a call center in Arlington Hts,IL. We are forced to work overtime every week or we're fired, its not a choice. If we don't sell enough we are fired. Period. Lots of visits from the fire dept for heart attacks & stress related emergencies. Our managers are workplace bullies,that spend the majority of their day harassing us over non work related issues. Sexual harassment, disability discrimination, age discrimination, discrimination against whites. But we DO have a crack legal team who does everything to delay EEOC complaints in excess of a year & intimidate lawyers from representing employees. This they spend lots of money on. We used to have a diverse office,but ATT hasn't practiced workplace diversity in many years. Our office is now 98% African American there is only one token white manager out of approximately 20. Most of the caucasian employees have been driven out. If they want to fire someone they'll create a reason, truthful or not. If you are caucasian ,the only way to be treated with dignity & respect is if you are married to/or dating an African American or have produced a mixed child . HR does nothing to correct this toxic work environment that is making us physically ill. Our Union is weak.

So with all this - who has time to concentrate on business ?
AT&T doesn't care about its employees or its customers.
It cares about lining the pockets of it's executives.
No wonder things work so badly.

What motivation?
By R3T4rd on 12/23/09, Rating: 0
AT&T Morale
By jcrane2 on 12/23/09, Rating: -1
RE: AT&T Morale
By kattanna on 12/23/2009 10:43:51 AM , Rating: 4
it was nice to see that he took the time to communicate directly with the employees

yeah, it was really nice of him to accept money to do a job.

the motivational speech should have come from the CEO himself and not your current public tv AD guy

RE: AT&T Morale
By Siki on 12/30/2009 8:54:42 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, he was most likely avoiding difficult questions.

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