AT&T Plus: Lower Prices, More Support and a Starbucks to Go

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AT&T is testing a new loyalty program: AT&T Plus, billed as “your pass to more possibilities — one that delivers a personalized customer experience.”

For now, it’s a trial limited to a handful of markets in the U.S. (Minneapolis, Colorado and Texas for starters), offering free access to a special 1-855-ATTPLUS customer service line, no upgrade fees, no activation fees for second phone lines, a 25% discount for non-Apple phone accessories, and a $10 Starbucks gift card.

Customer loyalty for mobile carriers is an increasing challenge. A recent survey from PwC reports that customer loyalty is continuing to decline and the average length of “postpaid customer relationships” dropped to 48 months last year from 59 months in 2010 as reported by CNET.[more]

“The mobile industry has reached a point where the economics of the current subsidy model associated with acquiring new and upgrading existing customers to costly smartphones have become increasingly difficult to sustain,” commented Pierre-Alain Sur, PwC’s global communications industry leader.

Some, like VentureBeat, are a tad skeptical, but willing to see how customers respond: “We’ll see what benefits (and/or fees) AT&T decides to tack on if and when the company deems AT&T Plus ready for public consumption. In the meantime, VentureBeat writers will probably be snarking privately about the irony of offering a loyalty benefits program while still seemingly shafting the majority of your customers with fun tricks like limited “unlimited” data plans and the flaunting of net non-neutrality for big-name corporate customers.”

AT&T’s statement on the program: “We’re trialing a pilot loyalty program, called AT&T Plus, with a select group of our wireless customers to get their feedback on their interest in this type of program and the benefits they’d like to have from us. Right now, this is only a trial, but based on what our customers tell us, it may be something we look to roll out more widely in the future. It’s an example of our ongoing efforts to deliver a great experience for our customers.”

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