Aaron Epstein, a 90-year-old man from California, had enough of the slow internet speed in his North Hollywood neighborhood. Contrary to the stereotype that older people are not tech-savvy, Epstein simply wanted to stream some of his favorite TV shows. However, his internet service from AT&T was making it nearly impossible.
“It was like watching a slide show,” Epstein told The Washington Post.
Epstein, who said he has been a loyal AT&T customer since 1960, said he repeatedly reached out to the company to find out what the issue was with the neighborhood’s lagging internet connection but got nowhere fast.
“I kept calling AT&T,” he said, as reported by KTLA. He would ask the representatives, “‘When are you going to give us a faster speed?’ They said, ‘It’s coming, it’s coming.’”
Except the connection never improved. Yet, Epstein constantly got the message that better options were out there from the very company that refused to upgrade his service.
Epstein had had enough and he decided to take an old-fashioned way to solve a modern problem. He took out a newspaper ad in two editions of the Wall Street Journal: one in New York and one in Dallas (where AT&T has its headquarters.)
The ad was an “Open Letter to Mr. John T. Stankey CEO AT&T” and it cost Epstein about $10,000 to get his message across.
Here’s an image of the ad, posted to Twitter by publisher Raju Narisetti:
— Raju Narisetti (@raju) February 3, 2021
“We need to keep up with current technology and have looked to AT&T to supply us with fast internet service,” part of the Feb. 3 ad reads, pointing out that many of Epstein’s neighbors work in technical and creative parts of the entertainment industry. “Yet, although AT&T is advertising speeds up to 100 MBS for other neighborhoods, the fastest now available to us from AT&T is only 3 MBS. Why is AT&T, a leading communications company, treating us so shabbily in North Hollywood?”
Epstein signed the ad with his full name and contact information, including his email and phone number.
The ad quickly reached its intended target. And, within a few days, news networks were picking up on the story and spreading it around social media. Here’s the Washington Post’s take on the matter:
A 90-year-old man spent $10,000 on ads complaining about slow Internet. He got AT&T’s attention. https://t.co/7U3YzJOkf2
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) February 14, 2021
Representatives from the CEO’s office contacted Epstein the day the ads ran. Just a few days later, two AT&T technicians showed up at the customer’s house to set up a better system with a faster connection speed. And, Stankey called the formerly-disgruntled customer to follow up on the situation to make sure it was handled to his satisfaction.
Epstein told NBC News he realizes $10,000 is a lot to spend to resolve a problem, but he felt the results were worth it.
“People are not going to expensive restaurants. People are not going on fancy vacations,” he said. “My wife and I are at home and watch Netflix and streaming services more. So, I have no complaints whatsoever about spending this kind of money.”