North Hollywood resident Aaron Epstein has been a loyal AT&T customer since 1960. But as his technology needs increased, his internet service just wasn’t keeping up, the 90-year-old says.
So he placed two ads in the Wall Street Journal on Feb. 3 to vent his frustrations at a cost of about $10,000.
“I kept calling AT&T,” he said, asking them, “‘When are you going to give us a faster speed?’ They said, ‘It’s coming, it’s coming.’ But what really made me angry was they started putting ads in the paper and sending emails and putting ads on the internet [saying], ‘Try our faster speed.'”
But the faster speed wasn’t available in his area, representatives told him.
So he says he took to the only method he was familiar with, though he later realized social media might have also been a way to go about it.
The ads were titled “Open Letter to Mr. John T. Stankey CEO AT&T,” and ended with the question, “Why is AT&T, a leading communications company, treating us so shabbily in North Hollywood?”
He placed one ad in the newspaper’s Dallas, Texas, edition to reach the company’s executive offices, and one in the New York edition to reach investors.
His ads grabbed attention across the country, and Epstein says he received a call from the company the same day the ads ran.
“We’re going to see what we can do for you,” he says they told him. He figured if they put in fiber optics in his area, it will improve speed for his neighbors too.
The 90-year-old says the money he spent on the ads might have otherwise gone to an annual vacation. But he considers it money well spent.
“With the response I’m getting … it’s accomplishing my goal,” he said. “The money we could’ve spent for other luxuries is going to something that’s also giving us pleasure.”
An AT&T spokesperson said in a statement that the company continually enhances its networks and invested $3.1 billion in the Los Angeles area from 2017 to 2019.
Epstein says if they don’t speed things up, he might consider taking his business elsewhere, though he doesn’t want to.