from the eff-the-customer dept
Joel Runyon has the heartfelt story of how AT&T looked out for his own best interests by charging him for a data plan he didn't want, never used, and specifically turned off on his phone.
4-5 months ago, the hardware on my old flip phone was dying (that happens when it's from 2008). I was out of contract with AT&T and so I could have chose to get a new subsidized phone & shiny new 2-year contract with them, but I simply bought a used out-of-contract iPhone 4 from my friend and swapped in my sim card (that whole commitment thing again). Again, no problems. America! Neat.Yes, AT&T unilaterally decided a data plan was needed for all of the data Joel didn't need and didn't use. This wasn't a new contract along with a subsidized phone. Simply by putting his existing sim card in a used phone he bought elsewhere, this automagically meant he was given a data plan and billed for it. No discussion, no contract, just instant data plan.
After using the iPhone as a dumb phone for all intents & purposes (call, text, no data) for the last 4-5 months or so, I get a text message out of the blue from AT&T that they've detected I'm using a smart phone and that all smart phones require a data plan - never mind that I actually had data turned off. That would be only a little annoying if it was just a notification message, but they went ahead, chose a data plan for me, and started billing me from then on.
"Welcome to AT&T customer service. Now, if you'd kindly go f@*# yourself..."
Image source: CC BY-SA 2.0
Offering customers choices is a good thing. Limiting them is not. Forcing a plan on someone who has no intention of using it and charging them for it is about the best way I can think of to lose a customer. When Runyon contacted AT&T about this, they apparently replied that this was "standard practice," in which case it should probably be "standard practice" to find another carrier.