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EfEmDee's profile

Tutor

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5 Messages

Fri, Jul 18, 2014 9:36 PM

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?

 

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?

 

http://www.bellsouth.com/annualreport/3q00report/headlines.htm

http://navasgroup.com/attwireless/gsm_data.htm
and the most incriminating:
http://www.wireless.att.com/support_static_files/KB/KB41477.html

 

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.

 

-Kris

 

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.

kdfederer

ACE - Expert

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12.7K Messages

8 years ago

Most of those unlimited data plans were prior to smartphones. Once smartphones came on the scene and became husge bandwith hogs, tethering was eliminated from the smartphone data plans. 

Tutor

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5 Messages

8 years ago

Yes, my data plan predates what most would consider a "smart" phone.  That doesn't change the fact that my data plan included tethering, and *I* haven't changed my plan.

kdfederer

ACE - Expert

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12.7K Messages

8 years ago

You haven't changed your plan but you changed to a different style phone that uses WAY more data. If you were still on the old "dumb" phone, you wouldn't be using near as much data, but even back then in the terms of service, there was a rair use policy that AT&T could have envoked and limited your data back then. But because no one was using that much data, they didn't care. When smartphones came on the scene, data use jumped exponentially, causing the provider to scramble to keep up with the demand. By throttling huge users, using the fair use policy, it helped with the demand. Even with the upgrades to towers and adding LTE, and with the addition of huge numbers of smartphones, you either need to pay for the data you use, so that the provider can afford to upgrade towers, or soon no one will be able to use data because of the overload.

Those old data plans did not expect people to use GBs of data per month.

Tutor

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5 Messages

8 years ago

That's all great.  AT&T can throttle me down to 56k under their "fair use" policy if they want, just as long as they do not restrict the way I actually access data and the amount I use.  This would be consistent with the plan I signed up for.

 

What I take issue with is the "You can't tether, because we've never allowed you to tether (but we'll allow it if you sign up for a plan that is exponentially more expensive)".  It's just not the case that I wasn't allowed to tether under my original plan.  I was, in fact, able to tether before, and now I've come across a situation where I might want to do it again.  In the interim, the company has changed hands, but my data plan has remained the same.

 

The company now called AT&T (and their standards and definition of "unlimited") changed.  My plan hasn't.  I don't think it's unreasonable for them to honor the contractual obligation they inherited, which they (as well as I) have maintained for more than a decade now.

GeekBoy

Master

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4.1K Messages

8 years ago


@EfEmDee wrote:

Yes, my data plan predates what most would consider a "smart" phone.  That doesn't change the fact that my data plan included tethering, and *I* haven't changed my plan.


What I believe they are trying to tell you that your original plan will still allow you to do what it said, but it is also restricted to a class of devices which are no longer supported.  To use a data plan on a "moden smartphone" and get all fetures, you need a smartphone data plan with support for all the features.  At this point in time, the only smartphone data plans AT&T has that support the tethering/hotspot features of the modern smartphones are also metered plans.  When the grandfathered plans were frozen, the features they support were also frozen at that time.  The smartphone tethering was only allowed as a paid add-on at that time, and even then, they weren't compatible with the unlimited plans.

 

I do hate to tell you this, but every time you have upgraded your device, you have agreed to the ToS for the newer data plans for those devices.  Even if your original contract calls out that it allowed unlimited data and possibly even tethereing, that contract expired many, many years ago and your continued use was based on the month-to-month ToS, since the contract had expired. 

 

I'm well aware of using the DUN profiles and skirting around the AT&T ToS to get tethering for "free" but while that was possible with a blackberry and an unlimited smartphone data plan, it was also in violation of the ToS of the Smartphone data plan.  I used to do that in emergencies myself many years ago.  I remember one time using that to connect my THinkPad to work so I could VNC into a server in Chicago to fix a problem while I was sitting in a field in Michigan at a dog competition.  I was disappointed to see it go, but understood full well that AT&T sold a service to allow this, and it was not in their business interest to continue to turn a blind eye to the blatant violation of their ToS. If you did not comminucate to AT&T your written refusal to accept the new ToS when it went into effect, you gave them an implicit acceptance of those ToS. 

 

You will probably find many people who will agree with you that they would love to have the ability to use unlimited resources for a low fixed price and make others pay for the services they are using.  You will, however find very few who will agree to pay higher fees just so that you can use more without you paying your fair share for what you use.

ACE - Sage

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102.3K Messages

8 years ago

Change may be difficult, but if you have all your old papers, spend time reading the fine print. The Cell carriers all planed ahead.
In the great volume of print is the allowance for the carrier to change terms of the plan. The changes are usually small and in our favor, but not always. Like the upgrade fees which snuck in a few years back.
While you may not abuse the tethering feature, many people did. With a modern smart phone it is possible to tether and stream movies 24/7 and rack up thousands of GBs of data a month.

I have a limited, shared data plan, but it still has a provision which allows AT&T to cancel my plan if I somehow abuse my data plan terms. (How? dunno)

As for "grandfathered" plan... AT &T honored your unlimited data, but once you were on a month to month plan, they could have forced you off if they wanted. Just as a landlord can change rental terms once the lease is up, so can AT&T.

I am a recent convert from Verizon. If you really want something to complain about, try their pricing plan.

Tutor

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5 Messages

8 years ago

GeekBoy wrote:

 

What I believe they are trying to tell you that your original plan will still allow you to do what it said, but it is also restricted to a class of devices which are no longer supported.

 

That's certainly not how it was communicated.  While using a different device might solve my issue of very limited tethering, it's no longer an option as the new SIM cards won't swap with older devices... not to mention the APNs went away.

 

To use a data plan on a "moden smartphone" and get all fetures, you need a smartphone data plan with support for all the features.

 

The plan I signed up for supported unlimited data transfer with no restriction on handset tethering (at the time, it would have been overkill without that ability).  Nor was there any device restriction in my data plan.

 

At this point in time, the only smartphone data plans AT&T has that support the tethering/hotspot features of the modern smartphones are also metered plans.  When the grandfathered plans were frozen, the features they support were also frozen at that time.  The smartphone tethering was only allowed as a paid add-on at that time, and even then, they weren't compatible with the unlimited plans.

 

Now we're getting somewhat close to the answer that CS has been throwing my way.  My contract predates every grandfathered "smartphone" plan in the system.  My plan included unlimted data with NO restrictions on tethering.  I don't give a rip if that isn't something that AT&T offers, *that* is what I signed up for.  If my plan was frozen at any point, then it *should* include the feature set that I was paying for, don't you think?

 

I know this seems to be a sticking point that many (especially at AT&T) can't seem to grasp:  No, AT&T has never had a plan like that.  Cingular did.  When SBC bought AT&T mobile and merged the two companies, they harmonized the contracts and rebranded everything AT&T.  The merged company inherited me, my contract, and my handsets.

 

Cingular/AT&T had zero issues (or communicated none) with me tethering my smartphones at least until the 2007 time frame when the iPhone came out.  Handset technology advanced to the point that it (almost) wasn't needed after that, and I didn't really utilize tethering, but it doesn't change the fact that it's a sometimes useful feature that I have been paying for since 2002.

 

I do hate to tell you this, but every time you have upgraded your device, you have agreed to the ToS for the newer data plans for those devices.  Even if your original contract calls out that it allowed unlimited data and possibly even tethereing, that contract expired many, many years ago and your continued use was based on the month-to-month ToS, since the contract had expired. 

 

I get the lawyer speak weasel words, kind of.  As a consumer, however: I have been adamant and specific each and every time I have purchased a handset (with and without renewals/subsidies) that I did not wish for any single change in the terms of my original data plan contract, even going so far as to refuse subsidies and buying phones outright when the stupid kid behind the counter said "I can't do that without switching your plan".  I've been willing to shell out $400+  for a handset rather than change, specifically because I know I have (had?) a great data plan.

 

ANY time I have made a purchase from Cingular/AT&T in the last 12 years or so, it was with the express statement by the sales staff, often with confirmation by a manager or corporate CS, that *nothing* about my data plan was going to change.

 

I'm well aware of using the DUN profiles and skirting around the AT&T ToS to get tethering for "free"

 

Stop right there.  As far as I am concerned, I have been paying for the ability to utilize DUN in some form or another from the beginning.  I have not been "skirting around the AT&T ToS", rather I have *always* abided by the terms of the data contract I signed.

I'm not stupid or unsavvy about workarounds.  I'm sure I could download some ap and turn my phone into a WiFi hotspot, and no one at AT&T would ever know since my need to tether is so infrequent.  Instead, I'm playing by the rules and honoring my end of the deal.  I'm just not happy that AT&T isn't honoring theirs... or what they inherited from Cingular.

...but while that was possible with a blackberry and an unlimited smartphone data plan, it was also in violation of the ToS of the Smartphone data plan.

 

I never signed up for a smartphone data plan.

 

.... If you did not comminucate to AT&T your written refusal to accept the new ToS when it went into effect, you gave them an implicit acceptance of those ToS. 

 

If AT&T's ToS changed my data plan features significantly (and I'd call the loss of DUN significant), it was without my knowledge and explicity contrary to everything their own employees have communicated to me from 2002 until yesterday.

 

You will probably find many people who will agree with you that they would love to have the ability to use unlimited resources for a low fixed price and make others pay for the services they are using.  You will, however find very few who will agree to pay higher fees just so that you can use more without you paying your fair share for what you use.

 

The "fair share" idea is kind of funny.  I've been subsidizing other customer's data use for 12+ years, and evidently continue to do so.  As an early adopter of technology, I paid a premium for the privilege of unlimited data, unrestricted by connection type, and even when I didn't use a whole lot.  Technology has caught up, but I was smart enough to see it coming more than a decade ahead of time, and (thought) I locked in to (what is now) a fairly low rate.  My *average* use falls far below the 3Gb data package, and yet I pay more ($40/month)... and I've been doing so for a *very* long time.

You're welcome.

 

ODad

Guru

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673 Messages

8 years ago

First of all I am one of the users that actually used DUN with my Nokia. That was back in the Bell South/Cingular day... That was then....

 

I see a comment about "that was before smart phones" and smart phones use more data. WHAT??? If you buy 2GB, 3GB or have unlimited data that is throttled after 5GB it shouldn't matter how you access that data. Most people want to use their tablets or iPads connected to their phones via a hot spot. These devices are nothing more than Smart Phones with bigger screens. In most situations where someone would want to onnect a laptop/notebook computer.... there is most likely WiFi avilable.

 

Before Smart Phones, that has got to be one of the lamest arguments in support of not allowing us to use the data we pay for how we choose to use it. I say let us have what we pay for and allow us to access it however we choose. Otherwise, give me rebates for the accounts that do not fully use the data we I am paying for. I have severa of those.

Contributor

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3 Messages

8 years ago

That's not an excuse. Yes, that happened. Tehyw ere out early. And we were paying a ton abck then for somethign we weren't using.

 

These tactics to hurt consumers and amek tehm spend mroe reflect so poorly on all humans, and this specific company. It is anti-loyalty. I've been a loyal customer to have this plan. Are they really going to start picking apart a contract and "ah-ha!" get us? 

 

Furthermore, it is illegal. Not class-action, thogh. You can take them to court ands you will win.

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