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Customer e-mails CEO; phone company issues warning, then an apology

By Kristen Hamill, CNN
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • AT&T customer Giorgio Galante contacts CEO Randall Stephenson directly via e-mail
  • AT&T agent leaves voicemail warning Galante he risks a cease-and-desist letter
  • Company apologizes to Galante for way it handled situation; he accepts apology
  • Keeping his AT&T-serviced iPhone is another matter, Galante says

New York (CNN) -- AT&T apologized to a customer Thursday after one of its agents left a message on a customer's voicemail warning him that he would receive a cease-and-desist letter after the customer e-mailed AT&T's CEO directly about some complaints.

Giorgio Galante, an AT&T customer and iPhone owner since 2008 from Buffalo, New York, told CNN that he was dissatisfied with the company's handling of questions surrounding his iPhone upgrade eligibility dates. He was also displeased with the recent news of AT&T's pricing plan restructuring, which, among other things, will end unlimited data plans. He decided to e-mail CEO Randall Stephenson directly about his issues

"Please don't have one of your $12/hour 'Executive Relations' college students call me -- I've found them to be generally poorly informed (Engadget.com readers know more than they do about AT&T) and they have little authority to do anything sensible," reads a portion of Galante's e-mail to Stephenson. He posted this e-mail, along with the offending voicemail, on his blog, "So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish," which he began Wednesday after receiving the message.

"After I sent the e-mail out [last week], on Wednesday I got that nasty gram back in the form of a voicemail," Galante told CNN.

The message, left by an employee at the company's Executive Response Team, warns Galante that if he continues to e-mail the CEO, "a cease-and-desist letter may be sent to you."

AT&T told CNN on Thursday in a statement about the incident, "We are apologizing to our customer. We're working with him today to address his questions and concerns. This is not the way we want to treat customers. From Facebook to significant customer service channels, AT&T strives to provide our customers with easy ways to have their questions addressed."

Galante said he wasn't necessarily expecting a response from Stephenson, but he felt that he was at least providing customer feedback to the CEO. He said that he accepted AT&T's apology but wondered why Stephenson was so "out of touch" and wished he had received a phone call directly from the CEO.

Galante said he received a personal phone call from a senior vice president at the company. He said the executive was "extremely apologetic" and asked whether there was anything she could do to keep him as a customer. No such luck for AT&T, as Galante is switching to Sprint's new HTC Evo phone immediately.

CNN's Amy Sahba contributed to this report