Dulcinea2's profile

Contributor

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2 Messages

Tue, Oct 4, 2016 3:24 PM

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.
David606

Employee

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3.5K Messages

5 y ago

It's up to the end user to determine how much data an application or service will use. You're asking for the absolute impossible. There is absolutely no way for the carrier to estimate or tell you how much data YOUR device is going to use. Why is it their responsibility to meter a specific application? That's for you, the end user, to determine and account for. All mobile devices include built in data counters that keep track of how much an application may use. Asking for the carriers to estimate and somehow keep track of a singular application is the impossible. That's like trying to ask exactly how much data a website will consume before you even load it. It's not going to be the same amount when loading a particular site.

 

It is however accurately metered and measured on the billing side. If Google Maps uses 450 megabytes of data, that's how much will be bill and deducted from any plan, whether domestic or international. That is exact and accurate after the fact. In no way can it be metered, estimated or assumed what something will use BEFORE the fact. It is how data works and the carrier cannot dissect and seperate different types of usage. If you load a website, use Google Maps or stream a video it doesn't matter to them. It's the total use from the device.

 

 

David606

Employee

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3.5K Messages

5 y ago

Just another piece of information. The Verizon international plan is $10 PER DAY. So if you're on a 10 day trip, that's going to be 100 dollars.

Gary L

ACE - Expert

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15.8K Messages

5 y ago


@Dulcinea2 wrote:

 

 

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 doesn't tell you what taxes and fees are and they could actually look those numbers up (I feel that's a little unreasonable) and you want them to tell you how much data GPS is going to consume? They're supposed to give a blanket number for all GPS apps on all phones? That's not reasonable at all.

 

Much more practical solution:

You have the tracking ability on your phone. Why don't you keep track of how much GPS data your phone uses for a week (your GPS app, your phone) to get some idea how much data it uses in your experience?

 

AT&T is just selling you data, what kind of data you push around is up to you. 

 

I use the passport packages when I travel internationally, with cellular I make phone calls via skype, post photos / short videos to facebook / 4square, post many immersivce panos with Photosynth and never hit my data. I make sure my phone is not updating apps in the background or downloading purchase over cellular or downloading books and audio over cellular (facebook and other apps are not set to download animations and videos automatically). I let it sync all the mail/calendar/addresses/etc. it wants to in the background over the cellular.

 

My usage in the US in the last 2 weeks:

Since Sept. 22 I've used 58MB of data with the Apple maps app (8 times?), I'm suprised it's that much, as I use the same maps over and over and thought more data would cached, but I've switched phones so maybe some data didn't get pushed to the new phone. But also some time I probably launched the maps app before I left the house so it started on WiFi.  I've used Google maps once at 1.8MB and Waze twice 18.1MB in the same period.

 

Any app can exceed the data you purchase if you use it too much.

 

Monitoring it is up to you...

 

 

This is the AT&T community forum (not AT&T support).

sandblaster

ACE - Expert

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55.4K Messages

5 y ago

The GPS function itself uses no data. How much data any app uses based on your location, regardless of how your location is determined, is your job to monitor and determine. You want to do GPS navigation and not use much data, download an app that has all the mapping data pre-installed rather than an app that dynamically downloads maps. 

Contributor

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2 Messages

5 y ago

I understand all of that. I turned off background updates and monitored data consumption for the navigation apps I did use. It doesn't jive with the billing documentation. And you're missing the main point. Every site I consulted on data use for navigation confirms it should be trivial unless you're in satellite view, which we weren't for point-to-point nav. Bottom line: AT&T hopes we won't challenge how it meters data consumption. My experience has exposed evidence that it may not not be performing this crucial function with sufficient transparency to ensure consumers can -- as many commenters noted -- monitor their data usage.
Busternutt

Professor

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3.2K Messages

5 y ago

You know, don't you, that ATT is only billing international data use reported by another carrier (Vodaphone, Virgin, Telus, Rogers, ect)? It is the other carrier that says you used X amount of data, not ATT.

ACE - Sage

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92.1K Messages

5 y ago

@Dulcinea2

Your phone meters data use, by application and service, independently of the carrier.  

GPS or location services alone use little data.  Mapping or turn by turn directions use substantially more.  Turn by turn uses an estimated 1 GBs in  24 hours of use for google maps.  

That figure I metered myself driving from CT to NC and back.  

If your phones data totals for your trip didn't agree with ATT totals, you are within your rights to save that data and bring it to ATT.  

However, the data is not reported by ATT.  The data use is being reported by foreign towers. 

My son went to Japan for 10 days, the following month my mother was in Peru for 2 weeks.  The usage reported back over the next 2 months.  

 

The plans :  

If a customer is using one of the 3 THREE (not 2) passport plans, the data overage rate on the silver and gold package is the same as the initial plan rate.  

.25 x 200 mb = $50  $40 (the bargain)

.20 x 300 mb = $60

.15 x 800 mb = $120.  

Data used over the included amount is charged at the same rate as the base plan.

All plans now include the passport app, use of wifi hotspots and  the use of wifi calling on capable phones.  

 

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