Earlier this year Lorna’s cell phone died–teenagers are hard on cell phones–and as she wasn’t due an upgrade, we switched her SIM card into Keba’s old iPhone 3. We made her SWEAR not to incur any data charges, as there was no plan on the phone, and Lorna being Lorna, she did exactly what she was told.
Today, I was nosing around on the AT&T website to check on everyone’s upgrade status. Ever since Lorna got her Dad’s iPhone, Becky has been mounting an unsubtle campaign for her own iPhone (for which, given my own love for my iPhone, I have some sympathy.) Becky’s phone also died pre-upgrade availability and so she has MY old regular cellphone, which is basically held together with duct tape. Keba’s concern was that she might not be as responsible about non-data usage as Lorna, and so he asked me to find if there was a way to limit or block data usage altogether.
The first thing I found out was that Lorna had used no data. The second was, that AT&T had nonetheless added a $30 p.m. Dataplan to the line, and charged us $52 to date for it. WTF, AT&T? The third thing I found was this:
“If AT&T determines that you are using an iPhone on your account without an eligible data plan, AT&T reserves the right to add an eligible data plan to your account and bill you the appropriate monthly fee.” WTF again, AT&T?
Soooo, I got hold of a nice young online chat representative named Shaun. Now, let me express at the outset my entire satisfaction with Shaun and his handling of the chat/my concerns. My problem is not with AT&T’s customer service, it’s with their (lack of) principles.
Once I had explained the situation to Shaun, we came to this exchange:
Shaun Poirier: Okay I have reviewed the account, and thee was a notice sent to the phone on 03/15/2012, when putting a sim card into a Iphone will generate a response in the system to add a data package.
Anna Evans: you sent a notice to my 13 year old daughter’s phone and expected it to reach the bill payer?
Anna Evans: I imagine she just ignored it as mystifying and irrelevant
Shaun Poirier: I am sorry but is sent to the phone that the sim card is inserted.
Anna Evans: okay but can you see my point of view here?
Shaun DID see my point, and after confirming that no data had actually been used on the phone, he generously agreed to credit back the $52. The data plan would have to stay from now on, though, if she kept the iPhone. Given that Becky may also soon have an iPhone, this was starting to look expensive, so I asked about limiting data:
Shaun Poirier: Give me one moment to give you a new balance, and I am sorry there is no way to limit the data, you can go to *3282# from the phone. and there is no family data plan.
Anna Evans: so it’s $30 p.m. minimum if my other daughter (14 and the only one now iPhone less) gets an iPhone with her upgrade?
Shaun Poirier: No the minimum is 20.00 for 300MB.
Shaun Poirier: Okay the credit has been issued.
Anna Evans: if that’s the minimum why don’t AT&T put that on when they do it without consent? why do they pick the higher one?
Shaun didn’t have an answer for that. Anyway, I went to have a look at the family’s existing data plans, to get a feel for whether 300 MB would be sufficient for a data-empowered teen, which led me to THIS revelation:
Shaun Poirier: Okay all is done was there anything else?
Anna Evans: hey, how come I get 2 GB for $25 and my choice for her is $30 for 3GB or $20 for 300 MB?
Anna Evans: oh and my husband is grandfathered in to unlimited for $30 LOL! You can see where this one is going!
Shaun Poirier: The 2GB is no longer available, your feature is grandfatherd
Sooooo, we’re talking about a situation where AT&T charge more and more, on a monthly basis, for less and less data. We’re talking about a situation where AT&T make it impossible for you to use an iPhone (with all its teen-magnet features) without a $20 p.m. charge minimum per phone, DESPITE the fact that Apple make it possible for you to switch off data connectivity on the phone. We’re talking about a situation where AT&T can impose new monthly charges without the billpayer’s knowledge or consent. Which means we’re talking about corporate theft, basically.
Stealing. Candy. Babies. Just saying.