AT&T is also showing its subscribers a little love this Valentine's Day. According to a number of sources, the no-longer-exclusive provider of the Apple iPhone is giving away 1,000 free rollover minutes to its iPhone users for a limited time.
"You're a valued AT&T customer. We'd like to add 1,000 bonus rollover minutes [to your account]," says the text received by a number of users. It goes on to explain that the minutes are of no cost and put the user under no obligation.
"It's our way of saying thank you," the text continues, adding that the customer must respond-by texting back "yes"-by March 31.
According to additional sources, iPhone owners don't need to wait to receive the text, but can proactively text "yes" to 11113020. Once they do, "processing time," says a response text, is four weeks.
This burst of generosity-which follows last week's offer of a 25 percent off coupon toward an accessory of choice at an AT&T retail store or its online shop-may be about this lovey-dovey season, or more likely that rival Verizon Wireless now also offers an Apple iPhone 4.
Verizon's network has repeatedly bested AT&T's in customer satisfaction surveys over the years, and Verizon customers have been found to want an Apple iPhone-just as AT&T subscribers, in surveys, have expressed interest in switching to an iPhone on the Verizon network.
A Feb. 3 customer care survey by J.D. Power and Associates found T-Mobile to rank highest for the second consecutive time, followed by Verizon, while AT&T and Sprint tied in third place. According to the survey, one of the primary reasons for the carriers' performance disparity was the quality of the responses that customers received when they reached out with questions. Those who had their issue dealt with by a service representative were far more pleased than those who dealt with an automated response system.
However, the more widespread complaint against AT&T has of course been the quality of its network, as it has struggled to support the insatiable data needs of its millions of iPhone users. Among the Twitter users Tweeting about AT&T's 1,000 minutes offer, user armchairdj Tweeted a characteristic complaint: "if I could actually make calls on my at&t iPhone, the 1000 free rollover minutes at&t is offering might be enticing."
As AT&T waits to see the full damage of the Verizon iPhone to its bottom line, however, it has a few things going for it. For example, Consumer Reports has called the Verizon iPhone "middle-aged," making the point that it still has a 3.5-inch display, while a slew of lovely 4-inch-display smartphones are now coming to market. The publication also called it "transitional," suggesting that in a few months, when Apple introduces the next generation of the iPhone, anyone who buys a Verizon iPhone now will soon find themselves stuck with "old" hardware.
There's also the reality of the Verizon iPhone's CDMA-based (Code Division Multiple Access-based) technology-as the GSM-based AT&T has been busy pointing out-which not only works in fewer countries than the AT&T version but can't let users access the Internet and chat on a call at the same time.
In his review of the Verizon iPhone 4, the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg also found the phone to deliver slower data speeds than its AT&T sibling-though, like The New York Times' David Pogue, he also found that the Verizon phone dropped far fewer calls, if at all.
Regardless of AT&T's overall performance, if you're a subscriber whose contract isn't near completion, go ahead and accept, and enjoy, those 1,000 free minutes. Or, if you're a subscriber and the AT&T service where you live is actually tolerable, as Mossberg suggested in his review, despite Verizon's win, "You may want to stick with AT&T."