AT&T Response to CEO E-mails Leads to Backlash

AT&T's CEO may be complaining about two e-mails from a displeased customer, but now he may be in for many more.

AT&T customer Giorgio Galante says that he sent two e-mails in two weeks to Randall Stephenson complaining about different issues as an iPhone customer. In response, he claims to have received a voicemail, which he posted online, from an AT&T representative thanking him for his feedback and warning him that if he sends additional e-mails, AT&T will send him a cease and desist letter.

AT&T has not responded to questions about the legitimacy of the voicemail message or about its policy for responding to e-mails sent to Stephenson.

Now that Galante posted his original e-mail and the recording of the voicemail online, and popular blog Engadget wrote about it, AT&T may wish it hadn't left the warning. Hundreds of people have commented on the Engadget post, many who say they've already e-mailed Stephenson, hoping to flood his inbox.

While in the early days of e-mail some CEOs were so technologically inept that they had their assistants print all their e-mails for them, these days some CEOs -- particularly in the technology sector -- dole out their e-mail addresses as a way to try to show customers that they care.

For instance, Sprint's Dan Hesse is featured in TV advertisements where he encourages customers to e-mail him directly. Microsoft's Steve Ballmer almost always gives out his e-mail address when he finishes a speech.

Apple's Steve Jobs has become perhaps best known for delighting seemingly random fans by replying directly to their e-mails, sometimes with one-word answers. He often appears to shrewdly use such replies to disseminate information, knowing that many people will post the e-mail exchange online.

Despite all the attention now drawn to Galante's e-mails, AT&T doesn't appear to have reached out to him to try to smooth over the situation. "The silence is deafening -- haven't heard a peep out of AT&T," Galante wrote on Twitter.

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