AT&T. Verizon. T-Mobile. MetroPCS. Sprint. If you live in the U.S., chances are you're with one of these wireless carriers, or use a more affordable prepaid service. Cricket uses its own towers, but also has agreements with multiple carriers, Simple Mobile, Solavei, Straight Talk use T-Mobile, and Virgin Mobile, Boost Mobile, use Sprint's network.
No matter how you dice it, you're connected to a major carrier in some way. Yesterday, The Verge reported on AT&T adding an "administrative fee" to postpaid users' monthly bills. Coming in at 61 cents or a total of $7.32 per year, the fee doesn't sound like a lot. However, when you multiply that by over 70 million customers, you're looking at upwards of $350 million in extra revenue for 2013 alone.
AT&T claims the fee is there to "help cover certain expenses, such as interconnection and cell site rents and maintenance." Unfortunately, their net profit of $3.7 billion in Q1 2013, wasn't enough to help cover such expenses. This news reminds me of what American Airlines did in the 1980s. Wanting to cut costs, they found that by removing one olive from each first class salad, saved them $40,000 per year. In comparison, AT&T is not removing any olives. In fact, the salad is exactly the same. But as time goes on, the salad gets more and more bitter.
You see, we've got a serious greed problem with major carriers.
It's easy to nail AT&T on a cross, but questionable fees, and "better" data share plans, are not exclusive to just them. After all, most carriers offer about the same shit, just in a different paper bag. As a fan of Sprint, I question when they'll go full draconian, sucking the life force from every last entity.
In any society, you'll have people, and companies, seeking more influence and power in not-so-honorable ways. Most blame that natural desire when they should be looking at something else: the people that allow it. As individuals who live in a country that, for the most part, allows us freedom of speech and choice, we sure sit back and just take it.
Maybe it's because we have busy lives. Maybe it's because we have more important things to worry about. Maybe it's because fighting back just seems like too much work.
Whatever the reason, we allow wireless carriers like AT&T to continue to jack our wallet. We willingly open it up, accepting any changes like it's just another beautiful day in the neighborhood. As author and food activist Michael Pollan says, "you vote with your fork 3 times per day”. Likewise, you vote with your wallet. Now, leaving a carrier for another goes back to the "different paper bag" example. Statements can, and are often made that way, but with how interconnected wireless carriers are, you'll either be helping them directly or indirectly.
If you feel you've been screwed over as a customer, by all means switch to another provider, but be vocal either way.
Stop sitting idly, complaining on social networks about how the service sucks, or how such and such fees are ridiculous. Granted, making your voice heard on various online platforms is great, but 98% of companies could care less what you have to say through such avenues. Start voicing your concerns directly and consistently. Make phone calls. Contact executives. Don't be an irate mouth breather. Be calm, respectful, and demonstrate your value such as "I've been a customer for X years and have spent over X dollars with carrier X".
Some may argue that companies with millions of customers could care less about losing a few customers here and there, but when you have thousands upon thousands consistently voicing concerns in such a direct manner, most companies start listening. Our rabid need of data isn't going to change anytime soon. In fact, with tablets alone, mobile data use is expected to increase 800% by 2017.
We have the power to create change in any area or industry, especially with wireless carriers. We just have to be more proactive about it.