Not all dark clouds in the Badger State are caused by the weather. The takeover of the Alltel network by Element Mobile in Wisconsin has meant dark days for both some Element customers and the company itself. We reported the challenges in cheese country almost a month ago and the skies haven't cleared yet.
I spoke with Element's Director of Marketing, Dan Kowalke who expressed his concern and appreciation for all Element customers and admitted the process hasn't gone exactly as expected. I wanted to know how many affected users were able to make the transition without difficulties and he was unable to provide an exact number. To their credit, Element has tried several avenues to make amends that include account credits and additional support at Element stores. They also get kudos for keeping the door open for all customers, happy and unhappy, to add their views on Element's own Facebook page.
Mr. Kowalke reported that the transition from Alltel had been planned for a year and Element was proactive in providing new handset guidance to a certain number of their ex-Alltel users. Reading the Facebook wall it looks like they should have been proactive with a larger number of customers. Apparently, Element must address the issues of these wronged customers one at a time, instead of with system-wide updates.
Element has jumped out of the gate with several local promotions which will indeed help them stand out from the national carriers, and some of that work has resulted in new, and happy, customers. But if your phone or Text or Web access isn't working, it's hard to get a warm fuzzy about your wireless provider. Element may lose some business from this, and, as usual, we take the side of the consumers who aren't getting the service they're paying for. But we need more Element Mobile's in the country: local people who are keeping the Big Bad Wolf carriers from our door and are making wireless the locally-responsive business it should be.
If you gotta leave Element to get your service restored now, keep in mind that it'll be Element who, eventually, will be one of those keeping the rest of us from getting ripped off by Big Bad and his brothers. If we just didn't get the 'Element of surprise.'