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Posted Dec 9, 2013
New customer questions on billing and account security

I tested out GoPhone over the weekend and found it to have sufficient coverage where I need it, so it looks like I'm going to be switching. I've got a few questions from tinkering around in my account summary.

1. Is there any way to get better security on the online account than a 4-digit PIN? Seems these days that's a pretty abysmal security hole.

2. Looks like every time I add money to my account (via credit card), it's going to save the account info and make me go manually delete it (don't want my CC info hanging around, especially considering #1). Is there any way to get it to never remember payment info?

3. Are there any (official) support options for GoPhone outside the one phone number and the stores? Like email or chat? Can't find one anywhere. (I hate this trend in recent years toward dropping email support. It was so convenient!)

4. Will I get a notification to the phone shortly before my balance expires so I can extend it?

5. I'm on the 10c/minute plan, and I'm not going to be able to use up the credit as fast as I have to add it. I'm planning on getting a smartphone in the near future and using it without data service. It might be convenient to once in a while get a month of a smartphone plan with data (when traveling, for example). Looks like I'll have to call support to get my plan changed? (Correct me if I'm wrong, but I couldn't find an option to change it myself.) I found the following in the GoPhone FAQ:

Q: Can a GoPhone subscriber change to another rate plan, and is there a charge for that change?

A: GoPhone subscribers may change rate plans at any time subject to device eligibility.  The first rate plan change request will be processed at no charge.

 
What about after the "first rate plan change"? Will I have trouble if I change rate plans to a smartphone plan for a month, then back to the 10c/minute plan?

I'll end with a lesson I just learned, for the benefit of any other new/prospective customers that read this. I got the mistaken impression from a couple of posts I read on this forum that seemed to imply that when you buy more credit, your account balance expiration is pushed back by X days (the length of time associated with the payment). In fact, it appears that the expiration is actually reset to X days from the day you make the payment (presumably only if that would make your expiration go farther into the future). A subtle matter of interpretation, but important for low-volume users who don't want to auto-refill.

New customer questions on billing and account security

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fornax wrote:

I tested out GoPhone over the weekend and found it to have sufficient coverage where I need it, so it looks like I'm going to be switching. I've got a few questions from tinkering around in my account summary.

1. Is there any way to get better security on the online account than a 4-digit PIN? Seems these days that's a pretty abysmal security hole.

2. Looks like every time I add money to my account (via credit card), it's going to save the account info and make me go manually delete it (don't want my CC info hanging around, especially considering #1). Is there any way to get it to never remember payment info?

3. Are there any (official) support options for GoPhone outside the one phone number and the stores? Like email or chat? Can't find one anywhere. (I hate this trend in recent years toward dropping email support. It was so convenient!)

4. Will I get a notification to the phone shortly before my balance expires so I can extend it?

5. I'm on the 10c/minute plan, and I'm not going to be able to use up the credit as fast as I have to add it. I'm planning on getting a smartphone in the near future and using it without data service. It might be convenient to once in a while get a month of a smartphone plan with data (when traveling, for example). Looks like I'll have to call support to get my plan changed? (Correct me if I'm wrong, but I couldn't find an option to change it myself.) I found the following in the GoPhone FAQ:

Q: Can a GoPhone subscriber change to another rate plan, and is there a charge for that change?

A: GoPhone subscribers may change rate plans at any time subject to device eligibility.  The first rate plan change request will be processed at no charge.

 
What about after the "first rate plan change"? Will I have trouble if I change rate plans to a smartphone plan for a month, then back to the 10c/minute plan?

I'll end with a lesson I just learned, for the benefit of any other new/prospective customers that read this. I got the mistaken impression from a couple of posts I read on this forum that seemed to imply that when you buy more credit, your account balance expiration is pushed back by X days (the length of time associated with the payment). In fact, it appears that the expiration is actually reset to X days from the day you make the payment (presumably only if that would make your expiration go farther into the future). A subtle matter of interpretation, but important for low-volume users who don't want to auto-refill.


1. Not that I am aware of. AT&T has been using the 4-digit pin password for years. You actually bring up a good point regarding the security of the account. They may do this for simplicity or because it's somewhat convenient due to the short amount of characters. You'd think they'd implement an actual password setup like how users are able to log in to the Forum here under their user name. 

 

2. Unfortunately, I cannot help you here as I do not have a credit card associated with my personal account. 

 

3. Believe me, I have searched long and hard to no avail when it comes to "official" prepaid GoPhone support. The prepaid customers really get the short end of the stick when it comes to getting help from AT&T. I know they have (or had) a GoPhone e-mail page somewhere that I've tried to access in the past and it never seemed to work for some reason. I kept getting redirected to random pages that had nothing to do with getting support. They did offer a corporate e-mail address for postpaid customers, but that form no longer works either. Live chat is a joke. I remembered trying to several times in the past and it never worked for me. It seems that the only way to be heard as a prepaid GoPhone subscriber is to dial customer service (611 or 800-331-0500) from your phone and go in circles around the automated IVR system. 

 

4. Usually AT&T will send you complimentary text messages regarding your account status, so I would expect to receive them making you aware of your account balance, expiration date, etc. Customers on prepaid monthly plans receive them more often than users who are signed up for pay per use plans due to more frequent billing cycles.

 

5. GoPhone users do have the option to change their plan without calling CS. To do this, dial 611, say "rate plan", "change my rate plan", and then select a new one if desired. With that said, switching plans several times per year can be somewhat "risky." I'm coming up on four years of being a GoPhone customer and I have only changed my plan three times within those four years. Before I pulled the plug, I got a "warning" prompt saying that once I switched to a new plan, I could not switch back to my old one. This made me kind of leery of switching, but I don't regret it. Just be careful when switching plans and be sure to pay close attention to the "fine print", even though you can't see it, but have to listen closely to it. As for the "first rate plan charge", I have never heard of such a thing. Like I mentioned above, I have swapped plans several times and have never been charged for it.

 

I know for a fact that if you are wanting to use a smartphone on the $0.10 per minute plan, DO NOT switch your plan to another one. Otherwise, you will not be able to switch back, which can be very frustrating for some people. Technically, smartphones are now "not supported" for use with the $0.10 per minute plan, and the users that are able to use a smartphone with that plan are essentially lucky because not everyone can. My sister uses the $0.10 per minute plan with a smartphone and I know that she doesn't want to switch to another rate plan because she knows that she will not be able to get it back since she is using a smartphone. Just a heads up.

 

On another note, I see that you've done your homework re: researching GoPhone service. It's good to see that there are still people out there that take the time to do this! 

:cathappy: Remember that Wild Banchi... 1993-2010 :cathappy:



*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.

Re: New customer questions on billing and account security

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Thanks for your responses.


Wild Banchi wrote:

3. Believe me, I have searched long and hard to no avail when it comes to "official" prepaid GoPhone support. The prepaid customers really get the short end of the stick when it comes to getting help from AT&T. I know they have (or had) a GoPhone e-mail page somewhere that I've tried to access in the past and it never seemed to work for some reason. I kept getting redirected to random pages that had nothing to do with getting support. They did offer a corporate e-mail address for postpaid customers, but that form no longer works either. Live chat is a joke. I remembered trying to several times in the past and it never worked for me. It seems that the only way to be heard as a prepaid GoPhone subscriber is to dial customer service (611 or 800-331-0500) from your phone and go in circles around the automated IVR system. 

I've noticed that the AT&T reps on here will occasionally ask people to PM them to set up a contact on issues. What's the etiquette on that? Can it be used as a general support contact, or is it sort of a "only use it if we ask you to" thing?


I know for a fact that if you are wanting to use a smartphone on the $0.10 per minute plan, DO NOT switch your plan to another one. Otherwise, you will not be able to switch back, which can be very frustrating for some people. Technically, smartphones are now "not supported" for use with the $0.10 per minute plan, and the users that are able to use a smartphone with that plan are essentially lucky because not everyone can. My sister uses the $0.10 per minute plan with a smartphone and I know that she doesn't want to switch to another rate plan because she knows that she will not be able to get it back since she is using a smartphone. Just a heads up.

Ugh. The answer I was hoping not to get. Someday a company is going to decide that giving flexibility makes more sense than forcing customers into paying extra for things they won't use. That day will be glorious. Editorialism aside, I guess I won't risk it then. At least not until I max out my account balance.

 

As a practical matter, though, how do they really keep up with that? I have a plain ol' flip phone that I'll probably continue to use along with the smartphone, passing the SIM card back and forth as appropriate. Could they decide not to let me back onto the 10c/minute plan even if I said I was only going to use the flip phone from then on? Would they have someone (something) watching to make sure I didn't go back to the smartphone? If I got trapped into a smartphone plan, could I buy a new SIM, activate it on the 10c/minute plan, and transfer my number over? (These are largely rhetorical questions.)


Seems like a whole lot of trouble over nothing. (Mini rant not directed at you, obviously.)

Re: New customer questions on billing and account security

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Regarding the AT&T Community Managers and Specialists that pop in here and there for assistance, they can definitely be used as a support contact no matter the circumstance, by all means. Feel free to contact them whenever you like. In fact, if I were facing an issue with my prepaid account right now, I would send them a private message versus first calling customer service. On one prior occasion, the Forum employees have guided me in the right direction and followed through with their word to help, so I consider private messaging a very reliable means of getting support when needed.

Sorry to hear that the policy re: switching plans is not what you particularly wanted to hear. Sometimes companies can be very picky about those kinds of things.

While they don't have people watching at all hours of the day, AT&T does keep track of IMEI numbers somehow which register to different phones. They can further run/scan the IMEI number to detect if a person is using a regular phone, a smartphone, or probably even a tablet. In all honesty, I think the scenario you plotted (maybe not the right word choice :smileywink:) above is a great way to "trick" the system so to speak if you want to use a smartphone and a non-smartphone on the same plan. While I have personally not tried it, you just might be able to switch your rate plan when you want to use a smartphone and then put your SIM back in your non-smartphone and switch back to the original plan. There is a slight chance that AT&T could refuse to let you switch back to your original plan. Now, there is no guarantee that this will work as I myself nor anyone else that I know of has tried such a thing, but you never know. As for the locked-smartphone-plan- create-new-account-transfer-number scenario, you just might get lucky.

:cathappy: Remember that Wild Banchi... 1993-2010 :cathappy:



*The views and opinions expressed on this forum are purely my own. Any product claim, statistic, quote, or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider, or party.

Re: New customer questions on billing and account security

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