That is what somebody told me after I told him about an experience I had with AT&T. It fits.
I wanted to upgrade our backup AT&T DSL line, so that I could cancel our unreliable Comcast cable Internet service. The AT&T rep said that DSL is outmoded, that what I wanted was U-Verse, which has many more features and is cheaper than DSL. I was about to sign up, but I was googling around while talking to him and started to realize that U-Verse means replacing our old-style, robust, power-outage-resistant landline phone service with some kind of VOIP. This would be unacceptable. So I told the AT&T guy to cancel our U-Verse order until I could learn more.
Since then we’ve gotten three calls from AT&T seeking to schedule our U-Verse installation. Telling them that we didn’t order U-Verse and were slammed by their sales rep results in punishment by being put on hold for large fractions of an hour while the clueless AT&T people try to find out what’s going on. We may not know for sure until we see our next phone bill.
It strongly appears that AT&T’s system is set up with bad incentives. I would bet that the sales rep gets compensated based on how many U-Verse accounts he opens, and that he isn’t penalized for having a high ratio of cancellations. So it’s probably in his interest to open as many new accounts as he can. And it’s in AT&T’s interest to look the other way if he signs people up who don’t really want it. They can always cancel later, right? Since some of them won’t cancel, everyone on the AT&T side comes out ahead from this strategy. It’s like when companies require customers to mail in rebate forms in order to get a discount. To the extent possible, I try to avoid companies that operate like this.