Information Overload

Posted: 06/1998

The Letter

Information Overload

I got an interesting call today from a businessman seeking information on
telecommunications services.

He started out talking about a limited-time offer being pitched by his service
provider, and asked whether he should sign up. Then, he got on the topic of long distance
resellers and the telecommunications market at large.

He thought all telecommunications companies were resellers of AT&T Corp. services.
He didn’t realize that there are several facilities-based providers of both long distance
and local services.

This gentleman presumably had some role in making telecommunications buying decisions
for his business, yet he seemed to be totally in the dark about how the industry is
structured and the fact that AT&T’s stranglehold on telecommunications was broken
years ago.

But this guy was probably too busy with other matters to pay attention to all the
twists and turns telecommunications has taken in recent years. And if he wasn’t aware of
the fact that there are other facilities-based telecommunications companies besides
AT&T, he probably isn’t up on all the other rulings and technological advances that
give him more choices and options of (both facilities- and non-facilities-based) carriers
and services in this increasingly competitive marketplace.

The moral of this story is that consumers–whether business or residential–are easily
confused about all the services available to them by the bevy of service providers out
there. If this gentleman’s service provider had done a good job of explaining the service
it was pitching to him, he wouldn’t have been calling me to get a better understanding of
what his carrier was selling.

It’s up to the companies that sell telecommunications and data services to educate
their customers on why they should buy what from whom–and to do it in plain English.

Until next time,
Paula Bernier

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