We should institute a free-energy-claims-policy similar to Professional Baseball’s Crazy Fan Rule:
“You’ll never see one of these scenes on TV because there’s a rule that the broadcasters are not allowed to follow the drunk baseball fan onto the field. If they were to broadcast the drunk fan, the theory goes, that would just encourage more people to do it, meaning more delayed games, annoyed players, offended fans and busted streakers.”
Similarly, if someone claims to have a free energy device that will save all man kind, and promises to demo it in 3 weeks, i propose that blogs ignore ’em. unless they’re ready to demo, or give concrete information about their supposed technology, give them no press.
As the theory goes, we’re just encouraging these people make silly claims they can’t/don’t/won’t back up, meaning more wasted time and annoyed readers.
This is essentially the streaking of the new media: claim you have a free-energy device that will save the world, and you’ll demo it in a week or two.
Get your 0.15 seconds of fame.
That’s no different that jumping down to the baseball field in your undies and running around: you just piss everyone off, and wasting their time, to get a little attention.
Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile (as well as many smaller companies and MVNOs like Helio) are offering “Unlimited Minutes” plans for around $99 a month. Sprint may eventually join the party, but as of right now, they’re offering their “Sprint Unlimited Access” plans only in select test cities.
Most offer unlimited everything (minutes, texts, internet access) for somewhere around $120 – $140 per month. None seem to offer Unlimited Family Plans for anything less than just multiplying the price by the amount of lines. Verizon’s Basic Family Share plan is $199.98 for 2 lines to share Unlimited minutes, exactly the cost of two separate Unlimited plans – and each additional line is $99.99, again, exactly the same price as another separate line. (there is about a $10 discount if you add a line to the higher-end plans.)
So family plans, and shared minutes, start to make very little sense in the “Unlimited Plan” world. (as do “My Faves” and “In-network calling” as well as “Night and Weekend Minutes”)
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Sprint is bleeding customers and looks to be in some substantial trouble.
“Mr Hesse, who replaced Gary Foresee as chief executive, has already announced the loss of 4,000 jobs and plans to close a fifth of Sprint’s retail sites in a bid to cut costs.” Financial Times
In what i see as a tasteful move, Sprint is starting from the top-down; they’ve already axed the CFO, Chief Marketing Office, and President of Sales and Distribution.
What has Sprint been doing wrong, and what can they do now? First let’s take a look at the problems Sprint will have to deal with, and then, explore some possible solutions.
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From what i know, Sprint has a “Customer Retention” department that deals with customers who threaten to close their accounts. These customer service representatives have access to deals and account changes that “normal” reps simply do not. They’re also, as far as i can tell, all based inside the US, all speak english very clearly, and are generally polite, patient, and helpful. To one degree or another, that means to get treated well, and find a fair solution, i need to threaten to cancel my account.
This is a fundamental flaw in Sprint’s customer service philosophy, and many other companies likely share the same flawed thinking.
“Retention” reps are obviously more powerful because they’re a sort of last-resort to keep a subscriber, but they’re not just people with access to a few special deals. The whole experience is in better in just about every way, from the attitude and manners the reps display, to their problem solving abilities, and even to their master of the english language. It’s what Sprint’s customer service should have been like all along. So then: why is Sprint (exclusively) rewarding the customers that they seem more likely to loose? Shouldn’t Sprint, instead, reward the loyal customers? What about the customers that are paying for larger-than-average plans? Why not reward them?
Here’s an idea: start a loyalty rewards program. Give customers who haven’t missed a payment for 12 months a 5% discount. Maybe give people with monthly plans of over $100 free unlimited text messaging. How about bundling 300 text for free with any unlimited EVDO package? Maybe even consider giving people who have a monthly plan of over $200 priority customer service?
Some sort of positive reinforcement seems like it would be much more effective (and better for Sprint’s image) than only rewarding the potential ship-jumpers.
Just a thought.
Introducing the iPhone (Macworld ’07) was a hard act to follow, but i was satisfied. Not that everything announced was perfect, just that i think it was a good Macworld keynote. (There are always people disappointed, but generally those people have unrealistic expectations.)
I have a few comments, and thoughts on the announcements. Read the rest of this entry »