Damned if You Do…

Since essentially Day One of the iPhone saga there have been constant complaints about AT&T’s service. While I reject the a priori conclusion that any network that merely possesses the property of “not-AT&T” would necessarily be better, no one in their right mind would attempt to argue that everything has been rainbows and unicorn jizzum. That’s why it’s heartening to see things like the email I received recently from AT&T informing me of a new cell tower being deployed in my neighborhood, or the release of the AT&T Marks the Spot app in the App Store [iTunes link]. It’s a brilliant idea really, use the power of crowd-sourcing to gather the data needed to efficiently upgrade your infrastructure. Scoble must be giddy.

Of course, nothing can appease the perpetual whiners and AT&T bashers; so The Unofficial Apple Web Log ran this turd by Mel Martin yesterday: AT&T offers app so you can report crappy service. Huh?

The dumb starts quickly:

In one of life’s supreme ironies, AT&T today posted an iPhone app that allows you to report substandard service. That’s right folks. Got a dropped call? No reception? AT&T Marks the Spot … is designed to get that info to your favorite cell company so they can act on it.

Did you have a point there Mel? Because that is exactly what the app is meant to do. How else should AT&T gather the data, fucking carrier pigeon? Moving on:

Let’s see… I don’t have any reception, so I pull out my new AT&T app to notify them of the problem. Doh! No reception to do that. And the app even nicely brings up a GPS map showing where I am. The GPS signal is much more reliable of course.

Mel’s right, it’s idiotic of AT&T to not include a way for the report to be stored and then sent once you can access the network. Wait, what’s that, the app does allow you to queue up requests so that they can be sent later? Too bad Mel couldn’t be bothered to actually use the app before attempting to slag on it.

Look, I know AT&T means well, but the app is a tacit admission that all is not well on the AT&T network. I know you could travel to someplace with good reception, and send the data to them, but I think this app will rub salt in an already sensitive wound.

Ah so, Mel actually did know that the app queued messages. Why then the pointless paragraph before this one? I know, it’s a shitty attempt at being “snarky.” Also, this isn’t a “tacit” admission of any fucking thing. AT&T has been pretty fucking clear about the fact that the iPhone is overwhelming their network. This is an explicit step to begin fixing shit.

I’ll skip Mel’s little bon mot about a previous manager airing a television program to help people with bad television reception (oh those precious non-techies, I bet he emails people to tell them that email is down too) and finish up with the last paragraph.

AT&T says they will acknowledge the report with an SMS (and I assume not charge for it) and I truly hope that they use the information they get to improve the network, because if it is just a PR stunt it is likely to backfire. There are already reports of people sending reports and not getting any acknowledgment. Oh well.

Hey Mel, here’s a clue for you: try not assuming and just use the fucking app. It says right on the box that the SMS notifications are free. Seriously, has a system SMS from AT&T ever cost the end user? Moreover, do you really think that AT&T would go through this exercise if they didn’t plan on using the data. If they wanted a PR stonewall they could just say, “we’re working on it,” just like they’ve been doing for almost three years. Maybe, instead of writing execrable crap like this in a vain effort to appear “edgy”, Mel and TUAW could do some real research and report on actual reality.

Then again, probably not.