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Charging for Data Plan even with all data turned off? How is this legal???

Tutor

Charging for Data Plan even with all data turned off? How is this legal???

I am unable to upgrade my phone to a smartphone with WiFi capabilities without paying for the $30/mo. Data Plan.  AT&T has the ability to turn off ALL 3G/EDGE data to our phones, but even if it is turned off on their end, they will still charge for the Data Plan.  How is this legal?  Is this not charging for services not rendered? 

 

I want to upgrade my phone.  I have no text messaging, no data plan, just phone calls.  I have other wi-fi capable devices that I use at home or on the road that do not make phone calls.  I do not use any telecom wireless data services.  I see no reason not to combine them into a single device such as a smartphone that has telephone and wi-fi capabilities under one roof.  However, if I have a smartphone with AT&T, even if I have no intention of using their telecom wireless data services, even if I instruct AT&T to turn off all data to my phone, even if I buy the phone from a 3rd party, AT&T will automatically add a $30/mo. Data Plan to my account.  HOW IS THIS LEGAL??

 

If I sign up with Time Warner and only want internet access, they won't charge me for TV; they block the TV signal using a trap.  AT&T has the ability to block the 3G/EDGE on their end, but they STILL CHARGE for the Data Plan.  This essentially means that I am unable to upgrade my phone, this cannot stand.  

 

Peace, vive le roi,

RM25483

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Message 1 of 78

Re: Charging for Data Plan even with all data turned off? How is this legal???

You can no longer get a smartphone without having a data plan and you can not turn of the data it is REQUIRED. To answer your second question, yes, it is legal.

 


I am an AT&T employee and the postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent AT&T’s positions, strategies or opinions.
Message 2 of 78
Tutor

Re: Charging for Data Plan even with all data turned off? How is this legal???

So let's suppose:

1) I have DSL Internet service at home.  The local cable company provides Internet access as well as interactive TV and basic cable TV.  I have a 14" CRT television from 1992; I want to upgrade.  I go to the local electronics store and all of the new TVs are Internet-capable, a service that I am not interested in, will never use, will turn off on my TV's options page, and have instructed the cable company to disable Internet access to my home and they have complied.  However, since the TV is CAPABLE of Internet connectivity, I have to pay $30/mo. to simply own the TV and watch basic cable.  

 

2) I have an old cell phone that I want to upgrade.  All of the new cell phones contain low-quality cameras, say, 0.3 megapixel.  I have a digital camera already, 12 megapixel, SLR, gorgeous; therefore I have no interest in using the cell phone camera, I disable it in the phone's options, and I instruct AT&T to disable access to the cell phone photo uploading service that they provide, and they comply.  But because AT&T offers a cell phone photo uploading service and I own a camera phone, I must pay $30/mo. for their photo uploading service.  

 

Are these fair and ethical business practices?  Charging us for services that we do not want and will not use, that have been disabled via software by the service provider simply because of the equipment that we purchase, if even from 3rd party vendors?   AT&T is easily capable of disabling data access to our cellular phones; it is policy only that is causing us to pay for a Data Plan that we do not want and will not use.  Never mind that Customer Service representatives tell us that they are unable to remove the Data Plan.  Data access can be shut off via their technical teams; this is handled separately from billing and plan features such as a Data Plan or Text Messaging plan.  

Message 3 of 78
Master

Re: Charging for Data Plan even with all data turned off? How is this legal???

You are supposing that you can set the rules.  Unfortunately it does not work that way.  AT&T has a terms of service that you are free to accept or reject.  As I recall Verizon has a similar policy.  It's not consumer friendly but it's the way it works.
Message 4 of 78
Scholar

Re: Charging for Data Plan even with all data turned off? How is this legal???

We've been thru that. The best analogy I could come up with would be GM requiring OnStar subscription for life to sell you an OnStar equipped vehicle.As they said in the old country, "In the deaf person's door, knock as much as you want"

 

In more practical matters, if you choose a phone that AT&T has never offered, chances are good you can 'get away' with it.  The Nokia 5800 (unlocked for $250) is pretty good. I just found out a coworker has no-data plan BlackJack and BlackJack II, with AT&T's blessings (post-grandfather). He was told the Blackjacks are NOT smartphones. Rrrright. And the Easter Bunny uses T-Mobile...

 

Of course, for all we know, AT&T is having an online vigil for my account if they ever see a funny IMEI Smiley Very Happy

 

 

Message 5 of 78
Former Employee

Re: Charging for Data Plan even with all data turned off? How is this legal???

I understand that you want, but you don't HAVE to buy a smartphone. Every other company now requires a data plan on any smartphone, that is what the industry offers now, it is what it is, and if you don't want it for any reason, your only option is to buy a different phone. Please stop with examples with other companies, non of them have anything to with what our wireless carriers do. How many channels do you have to get with even a basic cable that you will never watch? I only watch 3 or 4 but I still have to pay for the rest of them, local cable company is already dong it to us, we're just so used to it, it seems OK. And the one with cars that I hear a lot... Does GM own a road you're driving it on, no they don't. Wireless network is like a road for our cell phones, and AT&T (and VZ and T-Mo and Sprint) happened to own and operate it, so they make the rules. Just pick a nice phone, like an iPhone, accept that price of a dollar per day (which is a joke) and be happy, you don't even know what you're missingSmiley Wink
Message 6 of 78
Master

Re: Charging for Data Plan even with all data turned off? How is this legal???

I understand you want the "upgrade" - but that subsidy definitely puts at&t in the driver's seat re: their ability to require a data plan for it.  You have two options - both of which will cost you more up front for the equipment: 1)  when your contract is up consider changing to at&t's prepaid service where smartphones are allowed and there is no data plan requirement or 2) to date there has been no clear indication that at&t is actually adding the data plan to anything more than what they state in their terms and conditions - "designated" smartphones, all of which are models that they provide.
                                                                                                                         =^..^=
There must be a happy medium somewhere between being totally informed and blissfully unaware.

     - Doug Larson

Message 7 of 78
Professor

Re: Charging for Data Plan even with all data turned off? How is this legal???


drumn_bass wrote:
I understand that you want, but you don't HAVE to buy a smartphone. Every other company now requires a data plan on any smartphone, that is what the industry offers now, it is what it is, and if you don't want it for any reason, your only option is to buy a different phone. Please stop with examples with other companies, non of them have anything to with what our wireless carriers do. How many channels do you have to get with even a basic cable that you will never watch? I only watch 3 or 4 but I still have to pay for the rest of them, local cable company is already dong it to us, we're just so used to it, it seems OK. And the one with cars that I hear a lot... Does GM own a road you're driving it on, no they don't. Wireless network is like a road for our cell phones, and AT&T (and VZ and T-Mo and Sprint) happened to own and operate it, so they make the rules. Just pick a nice phone, like an iPhone, accept that price of a dollar per day (which is a joke) and be happy, you don't even know what you're missingSmiley Wink

 

This can be taken further, as the devices sold could be viewed as the vehicles. You can't go down to GM and demand that they sell you a Corvette with a four banger because you are not planning on driving fast and don't want the added cost of fuel. The size of engine offered is a feature and they get to choose what size(s) they will offer. You also can't go to your insurance company and demand that they lower the premium on your Corvette because you are not planning on driving it fast. If you want the privilege of driving a fancy sports car, be prepared to pay the added cost. The same could be said for driving a "smartphone". Take it with a grain of salt. For the record, I don't have a problem with AT&T requiring the data plan, but do agree that they should at least consider a data block. Not everyone's needs are the same and do believe that the quality of devices does come into play. Unfortunately, as someone here has already mentioned, the current policy is not consumer friendly.
Message 8 of 78
Master

Re: Charging for Data Plan even with all data turned off? How is this legal???

You can throw out all the scenarios you want. IT. DOES. NOT. MATTER. If you want a smartphone with AT&T, you must agree to get get a data plan with it.  It's part of the new T&C and Wireless Service Agreement you MUST accept when buying a new phone through AT&T.

 


RM25483 wrote:

So let's suppose:

1) I have DSL Internet service at home.  The local cable company provides Internet access as well as interactive TV and basic cable TV.  I have a 14" CRT television from 1992; I want to upgrade.  I go to the local electronics store and all of the new TVs are Internet-capable, a service that I am not interested in, will never use, will turn off on my TV's options page, and have instructed the cable company to disable Internet access to my home and they have complied.  However, since the TV is CAPABLE of Internet connectivity, I have to pay $30/mo. to simply own the TV and watch basic cable.  

 

2) I have an old cell phone that I want to upgrade.  All of the new cell phones contain low-quality cameras, say, 0.3 megapixel.  I have a digital camera already, 12 megapixel, SLR, gorgeous; therefore I have no interest in using the cell phone camera, I disable it in the phone's options, and I instruct AT&T to disable access to the cell phone photo uploading service that they provide, and they comply.  But because AT&T offers a cell phone photo uploading service and I own a camera phone, I must pay $30/mo. for their photo uploading service.  

 

Are these fair and ethical business practices?  Charging us for services that we do not want and will not use, that have been disabled via software by the service provider simply because of the equipment that we purchase, if even from 3rd party vendors?   AT&T is easily capable of disabling data access to our cellular phones; it is policy only that is causing us to pay for a Data Plan that we do not want and will not use.  Never mind that Customer Service representatives tell us that they are unable to remove the Data Plan.  Data access can be shut off via their technical teams; this is handled separately from billing and plan features such as a Data Plan or Text Messaging plan.  


 

 

Message 9 of 78
Scholar

Re: Charging for Data Plan even with all data turned off? How is this legal???

Awesome. When my contract with AT&T runs out at the end of 2010, we'll switch our four line family plan to T-Mobile. They have their moments, too but at least understand the basics. It's not like AT&T coverage is going to get any better any time soon...

 

I would have no problem with mandatory data plans if bringing your own unlocked phones were excluded. 

Message 10 of 78
Expert

Re: Charging for Data Plan even with all data turned off? How is this legal???


turbo46032 wrote:

Awesome. When my contract with AT&T runs out at the end of 2010, we'll switch our four line family plan to T-Mobile. They have their moments, too but at least understand the basics. It's not like AT&T coverage is going to get any better any time soon...

 

I would have no problem with mandatory data plans if bringing your own unlocked phones were excluded. 


 

Why exactly should unlocked phone be excluded? Do they magicly use less data just becasue they are unlocked? Sorry no MAJOR carrier allows the addition of a smartphone without a mandatory data plan. T-mobile may, but then again they don;t rank as a major player in the game, more a regional one

 

You want premium, expect to pay for premium. Give the simple fact with the cost of the mandatory data pla, your contract ending at the end of the year, how many smart phones you want it woud probalby be cheaper to etf and go to the regional carrier, this is not Sprint where their etf is 350 on smart phones and the etf is prorated.

Message 11 of 78
Master

Re: Charging for Data Plan even with all data turned off? How is this legal???

I don't think the issue is people bringing unlocked/unbranded smartphones to AT&T; the problem is people bringing unlocked AT&T-branded phones and getting "caught" because AT&T recognizes the IMEI.

 


turbo46032 wrote:

Awesome. When my contract with AT&T runs out at the end of 2010, we'll switch our four line family plan to T-Mobile. They have their moments, too but at least understand the basics. It's not like AT&T coverage is going to get any better any time soon...

 

I would have no problem with mandatory data plans if bringing your own unlocked phones were excluded. 


 

 

Message 12 of 78
Tutor

Re: Charging for Data Plan even with all data turned off? How is this legal???

"Why exactly should unlocked phone [sic] be excluded?  Do they magically use less data just becasue [sic] they are unlocked?" 

YES.  In fact, for me, they do not use ANY DATA.  That is the problem here.  I am not using any data, no 3G, no EDGE, yet I am still charged the $30/mo.  It is not that I am trying to get something for free, it is that I am trying to not get charged for something that I am not receiving.  I do not want an AT&T branded phone, I just want to make phone calls ONLY on their GSM network, that is all.  Simply having more advanced equipment that has nothing to do with them should not result in an extra charge; it is unfair to consumers as well as to smartphone manufacturers. 

 

I am using Wi-Fi ONLY.  No 3G, no EDGE.  In fact, I am using similar devices right now to check my email via Wi-Fi.  When I walk outside, the device loses connection.  A smartphone has the capability to connect to a 3G service once I leave my Wi-Fi hotspot (my home, office, or free place like, say, Starbucks); however, I do not want this service and have had it disabled both on my phone and from my service provider (AT&T).  Therefore, even if I wanted 3G on my smartphone, and I walk outside now, I will not get service.  Yet AT&T is charging for that service.  Why?  How is it ethical / legal to charge for that?  Simply by owning that device and using the device only for phone calls, they are charging for an additional service.  It is none of their business what device I am using except to be able to place & receive phone calls. 

 

To clarify some other examples given:

GM owns half the roads, and I agree to pay them a nominal fee for a set number of miles driven per month.  If I buy a new car from GM, they all come with OnStar and I pay $30/mo. to have OnStar, fine.  But, I decide I don't want OnStar, so I buy a Ford.  Now I still want to drive on GM's roads, so I pay them for that service (PHONE CALLS ONLY).  But Ford, Nissan, and Toyota have all decided that they are going to include the OnStar capability (no service plan, just the technology built-in to the car, if the consumer decides to activate it) on all of their new cars.  Now, when I buy a 3rd party car, such as the Ford, GM charges me to simply own the OnStar capability in my car.  I do not want it, I do not have a GM car, I do not use the service, and GM has followed my instruction to disable the OnStar service to my car even if I tried to use it.  But yet... they still charge me for it.  That is the problem. 

 

Sure, the cable company charges you for a package of channels, even though you only watch 3 channels.  Fine.  That is the same as AT&T only offering minutes packages in the hundreds, even though you only use your phone to call your grandmother for <30 min/mo.  That's fine, that's a package deal.  But your TV is capable of Internet access, even though you have had the cable company disable the Internet access to your house, you have it turned off on the TV, and you have no intention of using it and do not want it; simply because your TV is internet-capable, they charge your $30/mo.  Do you still think this sounds fair? 

 

And the arguments that "that's their policy, there's nothing you can do about it" do not help at all.  It may have been policy to not hire African Americans or to pay women less for the same jobs 40 years ago, that doesn't make it OK; and it certainly doesn't make it something that shouldn't be fixed.  If corporate policy were the last word, there would not be civil lawsuits from consumer groups on a daily basis.  The fact is that corporate policies are all about profit; some are unethical or illegal and must be challenged.  AT&T is charging us for simply owning a device, not using their service.  Charging for services not rendered is theft, and I am questioning how they are getting away with it. 

Message 13 of 78
Master

Re: Charging for Data Plan even with all data turned off? How is this legal???


wingrider01 wrote:

turbo46032 wrote:

Awesome. When my contract with AT&T runs out at the end of 2010, we'll switch our four line family plan to T-Mobile. They have their moments, too but at least understand the basics. It's not like AT&T coverage is going to get any better any time soon...

 

I would have no problem with mandatory data plans if bringing your own unlocked phones were excluded. 


 

Why exactly should unlocked phone be excluded? Do they magicly use less data just becasue they are unlocked? Sorry no MAJOR carrier allows the addition of a smartphone without a mandatory data plan. T-mobile may, but then again they don;t rank as a major player in the game, more a regional one

 

You want premium, expect to pay for premium. Give the simple fact with the cost of the mandatory data pla, your contract ending at the end of the year, how many smart phones you want it woud probalby be cheaper to etf and go to the regional carrier, this is not Sprint where their etf is 350 on smart phones and the etf is prorated.


The point is not whether non-branded phones use more/less data than branded phones do - the issue is whether users who don't want to use cellular data *at all* should have a $30/month mandatory data plan forced upon them just because of their particular preference in a device. Smiley Wink  Data usage is determined by the individual user, not the device type or whether the purchase of it was subsidized or not.

 

Of course it is really no more "fair" for purchasers of at&t branded equipment to be subject to the requirement.  But in that case the consumer is receiving additional equipment discounting in return, and the consumer can purchase a non-branded phone instead - so at&t does have every right to impose the policy on their own branded/subsidized equipment (even if I don't agree that it is the "right" thing for carriers to be doing).

 

It's no different than at&t saying no phone will be sold by us *at all* without an appropriate mandatory unlimited data plan, whether it is a feature phone, a QMD, or a designated smartphone - and I will not be surprised if that's the eventual outcome.  Better for the customer?  Absolutely not - but all the same "issues" that allegedly caused at&t to make the move for smartphones exist regarding feature phones as well, so they may as well take advantage of their customers there too. Smiley Mad

 

It's also no different than at&t automatically adding/requiring the subscription for every location based service they offer (i.e. Navigator, etc.) just because the particular model comes equipped with a GPS chip.  Again, they would be well within their right to do so for their own subsidized phones, but I certainly don't see that as being "fair" just because a user happens to use a device that comes with a GPS chip (several do which are not classified as "smartphones" by at&t).

Message Edited by hme83 on 02-13-2010 09:59:59 AM
                                                                                                                         =^..^=
There must be a happy medium somewhere between being totally informed and blissfully unaware.

     - Doug Larson

Message 14 of 78
Tutor

Re: Charging for Data Plan even with all data turned off? How is this legal???

Your response makes sense for phones sold by AT&T... but not for 3rd party phones made in China or India that I buy on eBay at full $500 pricetags.  If I were buying it through AT&T, fine, I can see the charge added, but not for 3rd party phones.  It is not their business what device I purchase as it will have absolutely nothing to do with their data network.  They only need to know how to connect via GSM for phone calls.  The data services have absolutely nothing to do with the phone I purchase. 
Message 15 of 78
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