I fell off my chair yesterday when the local AT&T Retail Sales Manager told me how much it would cost to setup my client's new firm with iPhones. AT&T wants, in addition to the cost of the iPhones and setup fees, a $1000 dollar security deposit for each line. Better yet, they want to hold the security deposit for 1 year to insure that they get paid. My client needs 7 iPhones and 3 international data cards. The deposit would be $10,000!
My client is a law firm. They've been in business for a while as a branch of another firm. But they are now going out on their own. So, they have a new name and a new tax ID. They have a bunch of clients, uniquely specialized skills and revenue. But they have no business history and no record of financial stability. In my view, that's just the way it is for a new business. This gets to the question - Is AT&T interested in attracting new businesses as customers? In this case, AT&T is very anti-new business as it's looking no further than 'new tax ID requires a large deposit'.
Most companies, particularly in our current state of economic recession, are willing to bend over backwards to acquire new customers. The local AT&T Retail Sales Manager is very motivated to get my client's business and he's been very responsive. He's pushed this harebrained decision as high up the ladder as he can. But, it seems like his hands are tied. If it weren't for the iPhone, there is no question that we'd be doing business with Verizon or Sprint. I wonder - would Lowell C. McAdam, CEO of Verizon Wireless let this happen? What about Dan Hesse, Sprint's CEO, would he let this happen? Would he give up a new and profitable account with this firm's potential. Ralph de la Vega is AT&T Mobility's CEO. I wonder if he's listening? Oh, but wait, the story gets better.
Is this where you want to bring your business?
Almost anyone can walk into an AT&T retail store and purchase 5 iPhones on a family plan. I mean almost anyone. The credit check is brief, vague at best. All you need is a credit card. If my client really wants iPhones, they can have one partner purchase 5 and another partner purchase the others until the firm has been in business long enough to satisfy AT&T's inane policy. So, why is AT&T's small business team being so shortsighted and unwilling to support new businesses? Ralph, are you listening? I don't get it. Do you?
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