Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Non Personality of Marianne Maestas

Followup on the two conflicting emails from T-Mobile regarding the Twitter outage. You'll recall that the first email, signed by Marianne Maestas, said (in part):

As you have been advised, Twitter is not an authorized third-party service provider, and therefore you are not able to utilize service from this provide any longer.

Later, Marianne Maestas sent a second letter, which said (in part):

Rumors that T-Mobile blocks the service are false.

It turns out that Bob Mertz (BibleBoy) also received the second letter, and therefore sent an email of his own:

From: Bob K Mertz [mailto:xxx@xxxxxxxx.org]=20
Sent: Monday, December 17, 2007 3:26 PM
To: Executive Response (ECR)
Subject: Re: ***Ban No. 498717587- Assigned to Marianne -
Twitterr***Confirmation Request

Could you please explain to me why you previously emailed me that T-Mobile was blocking the Twitter service? The following email is signed with your very name. I can not understand this.

In response, he received an unsigned "Executive Response" letter (headers here) which read, in full:

We have since verified that this was a rumor. Please see the second
email that was sent to you yesterday. Thank you,=20

BibleBoy's conclusions are similar to the ones I previously expressed. If you haven't seen his conclusions, here's an excerpt:

To me this is an annoying example of a company that was once highly focused on their customers and good business practices losing touch with what matters....[T]he "rumors" that T-Mobile was blocking Twitter were actually started inside of T-Mobile and were spread not only via Customer Service but also via the Office of the President.

Up until now, everytime I contacted T-Mobile with an issue, they went out of their way to apologize for any inconveince that I at experienced. Now that we come to this issue of a huge failure of communication on T-Mobile's part that affected hundreds (maybe thousands) of customers and their response is to cleverly word emails to conceal the truth. While some emails infer that they made a mistake, they show absolutely no remorse for giving such blatantly incorrect information.

Here's what I tweeted about the third letter:

@bblboy54 t-mobile's latest (unsigned) letter is one of the stupidest corporate blunders i have seen

Not necessarily an exaggeration. T-Mobile representatives should know that their original communication, with headers, is publicly available on the Internet. I don't see how they can dismiss their original communication as "just a rumor."

In response to my tweet, Mertz referred me to another response (this one to Alternageek), which on the surface was slightly better.

From: Media Relations
to Christa C
date Dec 17, 2007 7:15 PM
mailed-by t-mobile.com


The initial information provided was misinformed. T-Mobile and Twitter
confirmed the technical systems issue as the cause and resolved as
quickly as possible so our customers could continue to connect using the

T-Mobile USA, Inc.
Manager, Public Relations

It's important to note that this communication came from the public relations team, while the "rumor" one came from "Executive Response." You can find this often in large organizations (including my own), in which one part of the organization takes a different approach from another part. In this case, the executives appear to be engaged in damage control, while the public relations people are acknolwedging the problem ("misinformed" is probably an accurate assessment) and are engaged in damage repair.

Damage repair is always better than damage control.

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