Would they lie to you?
Lying to your customers is just business, at least that’s the case according to AT&T’s CEO. The US telecoms firm boss showed he had no regrets about relabeling faster 4G connections as ‘5G E’ on some smartphones.
“If I now occupy beachfront real estate in our competitors’ heads, that makes me smile,” John Donovan said onstage at CES, The Verge reports
. He was responding to complaints from rival mobile networks about AT&T’s fake 5G label.
“Every company is guilty of building a narrative of how you want the world to work,” Donovan said. And here’s where any defence he might have been able to cobble together falls apart. Yes, every company builds a narrative around what it does, but to use the world "guilty” betrays that Donovan believes this narrative must be fundamentally dishonest.
Putting a '5G’ label on a 4G connection will work wonders as 5G marketing ramps up in coming years. 'I’ve had 5G for ages,’ customers will think. 'Those other networks must be way behind mine!’ And yet if they actually tried real 5G, they’d see that it was way faster than the 4G they’d been sold as 5G for months or years.
'Authenticity’ is something of a bland marketing term these days, but it’s still important. People still want the brands they interact with to be honest with them. And seeing a CEO actively revel in his dishonesty isn’t a good look.
AT&T may find that customers don’t like being lied to, and that they remember the deception at contract renewal time.