Why doesn't AT&T honor truly unlimited data contracts?
Hey folks, new to the forums, LONG time customer (15 years if you consider the previous ownership), and owner of (at one point) four different lines (now down to two).
Apologies in advance that this is going to require some reading. Skip to the bottom for the TL;DR version, unless you are an actual AT&T employee.
First: AT&T employees. Do *NOT* tell me that "Tethering has never been a feature of any unlimited plan". I was a VERY early adopter of data services and taught your (well, Cell One/Ameritech/Cingular's) network engineers (in the Champaign, IL office) how to tether and dial into the network APN/WAP portal some time in 2000, with their then-new Nokia 7160s. If you are in CS, I know you can't go back that far - presumably, at some point after Cingular and AT&T merged - but go ahead and try if you'd like. Lord knows I’ve now spent enough time with 2nd and 3rd levels and they keep repeating “I’m sorry, our records stop at 2004”. If you were in that office at that time, you likely know who I am, or at least have seen a Christmas card with my name on it. Please educate the young ones.
That brings me to this: I have a "grandfathered" Unlimited Data Plan... but I've sadly discovered that "unlimited" seems to be a misnomer. I've traced my billing statements back about as far as the merger from SBC/Ameritech to Cingular (2000/2001 timeframe), and my original "unlimited" data plan dates to, at the latest, January of 2002. Prior to that I was utilizing data, but that data was billed per Kb.
For emphasis: My "unlimited" data plan dates to the first billing statement of January 2002, under the Cingular moniker. I have never upgraded or changed my plan, and have made it a point not to do so in 12+ years. Please keep that in mind with your responses, and don’t blow smoke up my keister and say you have an answer unless your employment predates the merger, Okay?
So in 2002 I signed up for “My Wireless Window/Digital Edge” (before Cingular’s Data Connect, before PDA Connect, well before MediaNet Unlimited, and ages before most handsets could even touch a WAP page – I’ll wait for the youngsters to Google “WAP page”, and you CS folks to ask and old-timer about data offerings back then) and “tethering” wasn't any kind of issue. In fact, tethering to a computer was just about the only way one could access POP/SMTP accounts. I took full advantage, both via serial cable and IrDA (I'll wait again while the current generation looks up what serial cables and IrDa ports were) and surfed until the mid 2000s at the glorious speed (eventually, we started out at 9pointSomething) of 56k mbps, just as I had done since April of 2001. This *specific* ability was part and parcel to why I kept my ridiculously high-priced then, but low-priced now data plan throughout the incredible and rapid development of smart phones and changing ownership of what is now AT&T mobile.
During that interim, I regularly upgraded my handsets, and often did so un-subsidized to retain my "unlimited" data plan, with the ever-decreasing need and occasion to tether. No worries, right? Eventually, I started travelling less, WiFi technology caught up, and the necessity of tethering became redundant. Again, no problem... except:
Recently I found myself *needing* a tethered data connection for business (extremely rural area, where a mobile phone e-mail just wasn’t going to cut it). DUN via AMPS, IWU/APN via CSD, GPRS, EDGE (let alone 3G, 4G, and up) whatever – I didn’t care. My circa 2010 Atrix handset could not accommodate the function as a modem I needed. That stunk, but hey it was old, on the fritz, and I chalked it up to that. When I got back off the road, I ran out to an AT&T store and bought a Moto X. Today, I also made the attempt to set up tethering/WiFi hotspot so that I could do what I’d *always* been able to do (at least according to the contract I signed in 02), and the handset told me this ability was not enabled. Okay, I’ll just call CS and straighten that out, right?
It doesn’t take long searching these forums to find out that “unlimited plans do not qualify for tethering” (nor did they ever according to AT&T CS folks) – primarily because of the introduction of the iPhone. That’s all fine and good… but my contract, the one I signed and have maintained since 2002, the one that AT&T picked up from Cingular and that allowed data transfer from a handset to another device predates all of that (including the merger and the introduction of Blackberries and iPhones) by close to five years.
I’ve been told it’s impossible for it to be any other way. With respect, that answer is shenanigans (since the forum will not let me use BeeEss).
I’m not downloading the internet via torrent, I’m not even coming close to the 10GB monthly limit that AT&T makes current contracts pay for. Instead, I just want to connect from some remote areas where I have no WiFi on my laptop, but *do* have a cell signal/data connection... You know; the capability that I’ve been paying for approaching a decade and a half. A capability that has NEVER been an issue before it had to be enabled on the handset itself via some proprietary application.
Think *I’m* blowing smoke?
That last link provides the access points for DUN tethering under my specific grandfathered plan (or what the plan became after it was grandfathered), and it’s located in AT&T’s own archived knowledge base.
This is *not* hard to understand AT&T.
In 1998, I was an early-adopting techie that saw the future of cellular and data transmission as being GSM based once TDMA rolled over. I chose Ameritech in 1999 as my business’ mobile communications carrier. In 2001, I felt justified as CSD-capable handsets became available. In 2002, I *thought* I locked-in a data contract that was unlimited and accommodated EDGE and future technology with my carrier (which is now AT&T, and did – in fact - include tethering) because I believed that “smart phones” would be the way of the future. I have not changed anything since.
AT&T seems to want to punish me now, fifteen years later, because I supported their predecessor during that Wild West time of competing standards and technology.
I don’t care what you call the plan internally (it showed up on my last bill as SMT Unlimited). I don’t care that you haven’t offered what I signed on to for more than a decade. I don’t care that there’s been a change in ownership names. I don’t care that you no longer offer the plan because technology caught up with what I was smart enough to see and your bean counters were not. I don’t care that you believe you are covered under a ToS that came well after you picked up my contract.
I want what I signed up for. I want what you promised to provide.
If that means we have to go to arbitration over an ETF where the cost will take more than ten times the ETF out of my pocket when I go to a competitor to pay ridiculous prices for data, I am more than willing and able. Read that again, and understand that I am an obstinate individual who can hold a grudge, and will honor a contract even if it ends up costing me money. When *I* make a promise, I keep it. I expect nothing less of anyone else I deal with.
My job is customer service. The old saw is that a happy customer will tell ten people, and an unhappy customer will tell one hundred. Right now I’m an unhappy customer that has likely influenced a couple of hundred to move over to AT&T while I was happy and vocal about it over the last 15 years. You do the math on what making me unhappy and vocal will do.
Any legit AT&T folks will be able to see my mobile account. Feel free to give me a call and offer a real solution. I’m not asking for the moon, and accommodating me won’t break the bank. In truth, it likely won’t cost you anything but pride (or the acknowledgement that you were wrong).
Not accommodating my specific circumstance might cost a bit more in the long run.
I await your phone call.
TL;DR version: A really, really, REALLY long time ago I signed up for a data plan that includes data tethering (indisputable), and now AT&T doesn’t want to honor that contract.