If you are one of AT&T's "top 7.5 percent of 3G wireless customers identified as likely to experience poor in-building coverage at home or in small offices," AT&T will soon fix your reception with a free MicroCell 3G. Updated.
Starting Jan. 23, eligible customers will get a discount code in the mail that they can redeem for a free MicroCell. The program appears to be a more institutionalized version of the old unofficial policy, "give free MicroCells to people who bitch loudly enough about their reception at home." The way it's worded, it sounds like it's top 7.5 percent of spenders on the network that are eligible. We're still trying to find out if the old method of just crying real loud will still work with customer service reps. (AT&T employees! Tell us an alternate way to get on the list. We'll keep your name a sekrit.)
The catch: If you ditch the MicroCell service within a year, you've gotta return it or pay $200. Still, not a bad deal, especially since they've apparently made the MicroCell more expensive for the rest of the world. (Don't get us started on the moral quandaries of paying for a device that boosts a service you're already paying for.) [Engadget]
P.S. Even if you have to pay for a MicroCell upfront, we're hearing from a few readers if you loudly complain you wanna drop the MicroCell, they'll often give you a credit for the full price of the box.
Update: The word we're getting from AT&T employees is still more or less the same. Your best bet is an established history of connection problems (i.e., call in with some frequency, every couple of weeks, and make sure they document your complaint with a case ID). When the MicroCell issue comes up, that's when you can talk your way into a credit or rebate for a MicroCell. You should be able to get at least $50-$100 off if you're persistent and nice about it. And this should still hold even with AT&T's new 7.5 percent policy.