Sunday, July 01, 2007

i'm iPhone conflicted

No, I didn't buy an iPhone, but it's not because I don't want to. Oh, how I so want to. The reason I won't buy an iPhone is that T-Mobile is my provider, not AT&T, and T-Mobile doesn't sell the iPhone, at least not in America. And I'm so very happy T-Mobile is my provider.

I was once an AT&T Wireless customer - back in 1996. Back when every minute was charged, and roaming fees would eat you up alive. And service was absolutely abominable (and it looks like it still is). After a year of very costly and very bad service (in which one monthly bill ran over $300 in 1996 dollars), I ended my contract with AT&T in 1997. It was the start of a nine-year fight to get away from them completely.

AT&T decided I owed them another $127 because I ended my 12-month contract after 12 months. I wrote them a letter saying I did not, and why. Nothing came of it, and I thought it was at an end. I was wrong. AT&T never forgot, even though through the years I had a plan with BellSouth, then VoiceStream, and then finally T-Mobile (when VoiceStream was purchased by T-Mobile).

Over the next nine years (1997 to 2005) I would get a slow but steady stream of letters and phone calls from bill collectors for my final 'unpaid' AT&T charge. At first I would ignore them, but then I finally got mad enough to either call them or write them a letter, explaining that I did not owe AT&T. Somebody would pay attention at the collection agencies, because I wouldn't hear from them again. But 12-24 months later, I'd get another agency dunning me, and I'd have to go through the whole process yet again.

In all that time the agencies wanted me to pay my bill to AT&T Wireless. Even after AT&T Wireless had been spun out. I have no idea who at AT&T kept it up, but every time I got another mailing or phone call from a collection agency I was reminded yet again why I hated AT&T so much, and how I would never ever do business with them directly. I have kept that promise all these years, to the point where when I read that The New AT&T was buying BellSouth, my land-line provider, I switched my house phone from BellSouth to Brighthouse Networks (a.k.a. Time Warner). TimeWarner/Brighthouse has always been good (at least in my neighborhood). I even got to keep my old phone number when I switched.

I believe in the iPhone and the positive effects it will have on the current horrible handset market. I have no problems spending the money on such a device; after all, I was idiot enough to drop nearly $400 on the Nokia 770 when it first came out (much to my later regret). I am waiting for the rest of the market to catch up with the iPhone, and possible even surpass it. I'm also waiting for AT&T to thoroughly fsck up the iPhone. AT&T's historically monumental cluelessness with regards to high technology spans decades, from personal computers to wireless to abusing its technology base in helping the Bush administration conduct domestic spying.

I'm hoping that the iPhone will flourish. The entire cellular market needs Apple to really kick their fannies. I just hope it can flourish in spite of AT&T, and in the end that it (or something very much like it) comes to T-Mobile America.

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