My AT&T Billing Screw Job, They Always Get Their Money5 min read
I have been a loyal AT&T customer for almost 10 years. Since my first iPhone 3 to my new upcoming iPhone 6 plus I have stuck with AT&T. Two phone lines, both iPhones, cell enabled iPads we are the kind of customer AT&T wants and should want to keep. However, AT&T finally showed their true colors to me and have taken my decade long loyalty and brought be back down to a meaningless bill payer. Let me tell my story.
Before June of 2014 our plan was 5 devices on a 6GB plan a month and I was paying about $180/mo. As our data needs grew we started pushing the 6GB limit each month. I knew my iPhone 4S was coming to the end of the 2 year contract and due for an upgrade soon. So in June 2014 I called AT&T to inquire to my status. Sure enough I was eligible for a new phone but I didn’t want to get a 5s I was going to wait until the iPhone 6 came out at the end of the year (it was assumed it would be and it was).
During the conversation the AT&T representative made a comment on my long term customer status and said that she might be able to improve my monthly bill since I was approaching my 6GB data limit. She told me about a new data sharing plan change and could get me the same devices, increase my data to 10GB a month and lower my monthly bill to $140 a month. As it was explained I said do it, I needed more data, she did and I was perfectly happy.
Now, the screw job.
The iPhone 6 is announced and on the day of pre-orders I goto AT&T’s website to order mine. I was presented with a 2 year contract option and a new Family Value Share lease option where I would pay a monthly payment for the phone instead of an upfront cost. I was confused by the plan vs. the 2 year contract option which I have always done for new phones. I tried to call customer service, long waits since it was the first pre-order day for the iPhone 6, so I engaged the online chat with a rep.
A rep got on right away and I asked my question about the Value Share option vs. 2 year contract. The AT&T representative explained to me that the Value Share monthly cost for the phone, which was approx. $35/mo for 18 months then I could upgrade again, was a financial lease to spread out the payments. He also told me there would be no activation fee for the lease where the 2 year, pay in full there would be.
I asked about the wording under the lease about the plan discounts, he explained that the lease option gets you extra discounts on the data plan if you go that route. THE IMPORTANT PART – I asked if my plan would change if I bought it with the 2 year because I explained that I do not need nor desire to change my plan, only buy a new phone. The AT&T rep said NO, only extra would be the $40 activation fee.
Sounded good, I ordered the 2 year contract option for my new iPhone 6 plus.
A few days later I get a text message that my 2 year contract increased my monthly payment on my phone line by $40/mo. Plus the activation fee of $40, AT&T has a very nice bait and switch fee system going on here.
I bought a new phone, didn’t change my plan, committed my customer loyalty to AT&T another 2 years and this is what they do, figured out a way to charge me more because I didn’t go into the screw job lease plan where AT&T makes more money. The lease of $35/mo. over 24 months equates to $840. I paid in full for my phone, $399, because I wanted to own it, I don’t lease if I can pay for it, and I just got reamed by AT&T because whatever the June representative did to “save me money” put me into a plan that forced me into a lease or lose those “savings”. So let’s break it down. 2 year commitment – $399 for the phone, $40 activation fee, plus a new $40/mo increase over 2 years = $1399.
Not only does AT&T want you to ‘lease’ from them where they get the phone back and can resell it making more money on the deal they punish almost two-fold those that don’t go that route who buy the phone like they have always done with a 2 year contract, which has been the trade off for the subsidized price. AT&T’s enthusiasm to not give me the full details was convenient for them now they have me for 2 more years with another extortion fee if I cancel early.
Bait and switch, plain and simple. Why is no one investigating this? I replaced a phone, my service should not be tied to the equipment. Yet AT&T found a way to almost triple their income from me.
They always get their money. If they can’t get it up front that take it our of your back.
At this time I am stuck with AT&T on my line for 2 years. However my wife’s phone which is up for an upgrade in a few months, her desire for an Apple Watch, and our aging iPads will NOT be continuing with AT&T if this is how AT&T wants to fee customers away.
Don’t sit there and think I didn’t call AT&T to get this straightened out. The attitude I got from the rep was I lost my “savings” because I chose the 2 year contract, he couldn’t respond to the online rep’s responses because he had no notes of the conversation and there’s nothing I can do about it because I already bought the phone. That’s what I am pissed about, both from the misleading and confusing terms changes and as the followup basically told me tough ‘S’ and deal with it.
I will deal with it as long as my current commitments hold me to but after that I am gone. In addition all future procurement of personal, business, corporate and any other devices will not be from AT&T. This is how they want to do business then they can do this with other customers.
End of line.
Binary Blogger has spent 20 years in the Information Security space currently providing security solutions and evangelism to clients. From early web application programming, system administration, senior management to enterprise consulting I provide practical security analysis and solutions to help companies and individuals figure out HOW to be secure every day.
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