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AT&T Lawyer Reminds Us Why People Hate J.D.’s
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An AT&T customer emailed the CEO with a couple of ideas for better service. In response, an attorney sent an email that made it clear that customer ideas are not needed.

Summary: An AT&T customer emailed the CEO with some ideas for better service. AT&T responded…with a letter from its attorney.

According to, Alfred Valrie, a Los Angeles citizen, uses several of AT&T’s services: cellular, a landline, Internet, and television.


Recently Valrie emailed the CEO of AT&T, Randall Stephenson. In her letter, she offered a friendly proposal, suggesting that AT&T could offer unlimited data to its DSL customers. She also recommended the company provide cheaper text messaging plans for those who don’t need unlimited texts. According to the Los Angeles Times, Valrie suggested $10 per month for 1,000 texts. She closed the email, “Your lifelong customer, Alfred Valrie.”

Valrie was shocked when, instead of hearing back from Stephenson, she heard back from one of the company’s lawyers.

AT&T’s Chief Intellectual Property Counsel, Thomas Restaino, responded to the long-time customer: “AT&T has a policy of not entertaining unsolicited offers to adopt, analyze, develop, license or purchase third-party intellectual property…from members of the general public. Therefore, we respectfully decline to consider your suggestion.”

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To his credit, Restaino did thank Valrie for being a lifelong customer.

AT&T was recently fined $100 million for misleading customers.

When news of the letter got out, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, David Lazarus, decided to follow up. The reporter assumed the response was probably a mistake, so he reached out to AT&T.

AT&T spokeswoman Georgia Taylor explained it wasn’t an error. According to Taylor, “In the past, we’ve had customers send us unsolicited ideas and then later threaten to take legal action, claiming we stole their ideas. That’s why our responses have been a bit formal and legalistic. It’s so we can protect ourselves.”

According to the company, AT&T has attorney-approved routes for customers to provide feedback, such as on the phone with a support specialist or on the Internet with a form. Apparently a friendly email to the CEO is not an approved method.

The FTC has filed a suit against AT&T for slowing data speeds.

The reporter, Lazarus, quickly pointed out that AT&T’s behavior was not matching its code of business conduct, which reads, “Our customers should always know we value them…We listen to our customers…We earn and preserve their trust by treating them with honesty and integrity and in a professional, courteous manner.”

In the past couple days, news of the lawyer’s letter and AT&T’s response has spread on social and mainstream media. In light of the unwanted attention, chief executive Stephenson finally acknowledged on Wednesday that the company “blew it” in passing the loyal customer’s suggestions off to a lawyer.

“At AT&T, our top priority is to treat our customers to a premium experience every time they interact with us,” Stephenson wrote in a letter to the Los Angeles Times on Wednesday. “[O]ur consistent award-winning service demonstrates we usually get it right.”

In 2012, a Muslim woman won a discrimination suit against AT&T, taking home $6 million.

A few years ago, AT&T threatened a different customer with a cease and desist letter. The company told the customer he must immediately stop emailing Stephenson about iPhone upgrade eligibility dates and data plans. After the story hit the media, AT&T apologized.

Do you think AT&T's response was justified?

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Source: ArsTechnica

Other source: LA Times

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