International data plans guarantees $$$ overage charges for common uses of smart phone
My complaint concerns are focused on issues of interest to FCC 's consumer protection role. AT&T's promotion of international data/calling plans bait the consumer into a service that do not meet a reasonable expectation of a Standard of Service, based on commonly accepted use of smart phone technology for voice, messaging, web access and GPS navigation.
AT&T offers two international data plans, a 300 MB “passport silver” plan ($60/device) and a 800 MB “passport gold” plan ($120/device). Both products are bundled with per-transaction voice and messaging services. Overage charges apply for data transfer over the stated limits.
GPS DATA USE IS NOT SUPPORTED BY PROPER DOCUMENTATION
- I informed AT&T customer service and loyalty departments that I primarily used the phone for GPS navigation using various apps on the phone. I was informed that "GPS consumes a lot of data".
- When I asked how much data do GPS apps consume, so that I could understand my bill, no one at AT&T can over a clear explanation of how data transfer rates are metered when using a GPS app.
- If AT&T can't provide clear documentation on how data consumption is metered, how do I know I was charged correctly? Reviewing the actual charges (see bill, attached) isn't elucidating, as data transfer consumption for the same activity varied by as much as 10X.
AT&T'S INTERNATIONAL PLAN PRODUCT VIRTUALLY GUARANTEES OVERAGE CHARGES
Even assuming the GPS data use is properly documented, AT&T's data transfer limit for the international plans virtually guarantees overage charges for common uses of smart phone, a bait-and-switch sales tactic that the FCC should sanction. As a regulated business, AT&T has a duty to offer products that meet a commonly accepted standard of performance and service or inform customers with advance warning that the product is not likely to meet that standard.
- I was advised **after the fact** that the "international data plan was intended for emergency use" and that I should have considered using a SIM card from a local carrier. This recommendation is tantamount to an admission that the product is not designed for common use that consumers have a right to expect.
- Not only was I not informed of this recommendation in advance, this practice is clearly out of step with AT&T's top competitors, who offer products at **less than one-tenth the cost!** For example, Verizon's international plan allows consumers to use existing (domestic) data plans plus $10/device when traveling internationally. Even before considering overage charges, that's $10 vs $120/device for AT&T gold plan.
I SEEK THE FOLLOWING REMEDIES:
- Require AT&T advise customers that its international data plan, as packaged, is likely to result in overage charges for consumers using their phones/mobile devices for commonly accepted applications, such as GPS navigation.
- Require AT&T to inform customers of the likely data consumption rate for common applications, such as GPS.
- Require AT&T to discontinue usage-based pricing for any applications, such as GPS, that it cannot properly meter.
- Require AT&T provide a full credit for one-time and overage fees for international plans with data limitations unless AT&T can provide reliable and transparent method to document data transfer consumption for common applications.