AT&T threatens customer with legal action for emailing CEO

Compare Apple's Steve Jobs and AT&T's CEO Randall Stephenson. Steve Jobs replied personally to Giorgio Galante's angry email about tethering. Randall Stephenson, however, had his lawyers threaten him with a cease and desist order. One of these men is not like the other. [Engadget]


  1. ATT just destroyed any possibility of using VoIP. They’re effectively killing that possibility that people use internet phones on their cell phones. This is anti-competitive, and with the exclusive iPhone is 100% anti-trust. BREAK IT UP.

    1. Foxconn is probably a pretty crappy place to work — I cannot say for sure, I do not know enough about it. I imagine there are many abuses that occur there. I have never owned any apple products in any case.

      However, all of that said, the suicide rate at Foxconn is not an indication of abuse or mistreatment. According to the wiki article a massive 420,000 people work at that plant. 10 suicides out of 420,000 people is far below the rate for Japan, below the UK, below the USA, and about the same rate as China as a whole. It is statistical voodoo to indict them for a suicide which is in fact lower than most other countries and normal for its home country.

      I’m sure there are abuses at Foxconn. Let’s focus on those, and fixing them. Fixating on the suicide rate throws the whole issue into disrepute when it ends up on snopes.

      1. Now, now, let’s not go dragging reason and sense into a discussion about Internet outrage!

        Seriously, though, that was an excellent point.

      2. Re comparing the suicide rate

        I was going to make the point of are you comparing like for like (suicide in short time period vs suicide as cause of death) – but it seems you’ve got it right. quotes a suicide rate of 13.0 for men (14.8 for women) per 100,000 per year in China. Suggesting that a place employing 420,000 would expect 55-60 suicides per year.

        Just thought I’d bring the statistics here in case anyone else was thinking the same as me.

        1. Have you ever noticed the warning about anti-depressants? You know the one, “may increase the chance of suicide,,,”. The truth of the matter is this: the people who are killing themselves can only do so because the anti-depressant worked. You see before being medicated the Mr/Mrs suicide didn’t have the energy to commit suicide. They take the meds, feel better have more energy and then Geronimo!!!!
          Most likely the exhausted depressed workers at FoxCom do no have the energy to off themselves and that’s why they are statistically less likely to take that long dirt nap.

          1. Thanks for the extra link, Stumo.

            Ichabod, when the suicide rate was believed to be higher than average, people attributed that to poor working conditions. When you find out the suicide is lower than average, you attribute the low suicide rate to poor working conditions. So no matter what the suicide rate is, high or low, it is interpreted as supporting your beliefs.

            Behold, the danger of the post-hoc rationalization, confirmation bias, and the roots of unmovable ideology.

    2. Don’t forget, the bonus only applies if they signed the binding arbitration agreement.

    3. i’d be interested on how you would describe a factory that has a gym, movie theatre, shops and a doctors, compared to other factories you’ve been round…

    4. Yes, one of these men is not like the other.
      Steve Jobs is the one that defined the Foxconn factory, where 10 people committed suicide since February, “pretty nice”.

      While I usually go for any opportunity to take a swipe at Apple’s BS handheld products and shitty business practices, this particular vitriol is unwarranted.

      Firstly, the quote has been taken out of context.
      He actually said: “They’ve got restaurants and swimming pools,” … “For a factory, it’s a pretty nice factory,”. Far less evil than your comment suggests.

      Secondly, Foxconn does not only produce Apple products: “Foxconn manufactures the iPad, iPod, and iPhone on behalf of Apple. It also produces tech components for other big vendors, including Dell, HP, and Sony.”

      This still doesnt change the fact that Apple is full of shit and you are an idiot if you buy an ipad.

      I saw their latest ipad ad for the first time last night on TV, “What is the iPad?”.
      Check out the claims they make in the ad:

      “ipad is beautiful”*
      *an odd definition of beauty

      “ipad goes anywhere and lasts all day”*
      *if you live on Jupiter which has an average of 9.9 earth hours per day (battery life 10 hours for video playback on ipad). The only problem is that the the temperature on Jupiter is 165 K (−108 °C), which is well below the 0°C minimum operational range for the ipad.

      “It’s magical”*
      *missing reference or evidence

      “You already know how to use it”*
      *and how

      “All the world’s websites in your hands”*
      *provided they dont have any flash components.

  2. I say go for the C&D. If you can score one of those, you could frame it and it would make a great conversation piece. Also, you could post it on the net as immortalized proof that AT&T’s tech support doesn’t have the skilz to set up email filter-by-sender.

  3. Mr. Randall Stephenson
    CEO, AT&T

    Dear Mr. Stephenson,

    It’s my understanding that you’re offering official AT&T Cease and Desist letters for people who send two emails to this address. Is this offer open to anyone, or only to AT&T customers like Giorgio Galante? Is it still only two emails, or was that a limited-time offer? I’m a little concerned that, with your offer (and your email address!) proving so popular, you may have added restrictions and raised the threshold for qualifying for your offer.

    Thank you for your attention.

    Yours truly,
    A Net Citizen

    P.S. This is such a great offer, I told all my friends at 4chan about it, and they all want one too! Isn’t it great the way the Internet brings you closer to your customers?

  4. You didn’t source the original

    You presume the CEO himself had the CSR/Lawyer/whoever-left-the-VM threaten the customer.

    You presume this is the first time they have asked him to not contact the CEO directly.

    1. Sorry. Isn’t it weird how the post there doesnt even mention a source, but there’s an little link tucked away in the metadata?

  5. Wow! Two dick moves in 24 hours.

    Wonder if they will make it a trifecta.

    Way to go ATT… 8*/

  6. This sounds like it will be interpreted as an open invitation to the Internet to email Stephenson. Is this a new flavour of the Streisand Effect?

  7. Okay, cease and desist letter is a statement telling you to stop doing something, or face possible legal action. What could be the possible tort in this case? Even if these are not the first sarcastic e-mails the guy has sent to the CEO, a rate of no more than an e-mail a week and no threats in the text doesn’t seem to rise to the level of harassment.

    Maybe he should go for the cease and desist letter, and then go for a declaratory judgement against them. If he’s got a friendly lawyer available to him for reasonable rates, of course.

  8. One of these men is not like the other? There’s only two, they’re both unlike each other :O

  9. Steve Jobs just defended the iphone factory where workers are just mysteriously committing suicide one after the other despite what an AWESOME place it is to work.

    I mean, that’s really great that he answered an email, though. He’s not a dick like that other guy at all.

  10. Um, you’re talking about the Steve Jobs who sues fansites for publishing leaks, and who sends jackbooted thugs to raid the houses of journalists who have iPhone prototypes?

  11. What were the lawyer’s fees for that C&D?

    How inefficient these big companies are. No wonder they have to resort to monopolistic practices.

  12. You know you’ve done something wrong when Steve Jobs looks like the nice guy when compared to you.

  13. sends jackbooted thugs to raid the houses of journalists who have iPhone prototypes?

    Forgive me if I’m misinterpreting you here; are you saying that you don’t want the police to go after people who steal shit and sell it? You are OK with me taking your private property and selling it?

    Please publish your address!!

  14. What exactly did his emails to Randall Stephenson say? Did they say something threatening? Are they posted anywhere? It’s difficult to determine the story behind the cease and desist order without knowing all the facts.

  15. Ah, I just saw the “offending” email in the link that binky79 provided. Yep, it was stupid for them to threaten with a cease and desist order just because the guy wrote a snarky email that didn’t contain any threats or do any harm.

  16. What a great way to invite the public to carpet-bomb your inbox!

    I think I’ll continue not doing business with AT&T.

  17. What an arrogant douche. How about all the AT&T junk we get on the phone and in the mail? Who wants to be an AT&T customer unless they absolutely have to, anyway?! Maybe we should send AT&T cease and desist letters, too. Teach tem better CRM manners — assuming they’re even able to learn.

  18. Greatest path to PR disaster: Be contrasted unfavourably against Steve Jobs.

    How about publishing this joker’s email address? Maybe we can all join in and get sued, too! Goatse is CC licenced, right?

  19. I cant belive what I read about the Ceo of att why anyone threaten a customer who wrote a letter to him. Now I am scared to write att. because they are not doing the best job. So thats why I would write the CEO too. I am nursing student believe if one does wrong to customer Mr. Stephenson I hope your a customer to some company and treat you way you treat your customers. When a man puts himself above all others this when a downfall happens. I hate to hear this about this man why what happen to him his untouchable to his customers we are one who employee to make the decisions he makes about att. which I have no choice I wish I did after hearing this about him. I am still going to mail him a letter about the service I recieve on DSL to customer service across the seas. We need jobs here stop outsing them. When there are mean men in corporate I seen it many times in medicine they have a bad illness or their in pain alot. I hope this man sees the light so in corporate world. Thats the reason I left its mean dirty people corporate world. But I knew a job was always waiting for me people dont stop dying or getting sick always need a nurse. Maybe Mr Stephenson you will be my patient but I wouldnt treat you way you are treating your customers. Feel sort of sorry for you sir

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