Posted on February 3, 2013 9:45 am

AT&T: Don't Want a Data Plan for That Smartphone? Too Bad

from the we-enjoy-taking-your-money dept.

Joel Runyon recounts a tale that will be familiar to many people who have bought secondhand smartphones. After his old dumbphone died a few months ago, Runyon picked up a used iPhone. He just needed it for basic phone capabilities, and used it as such, turning data off. However, AT&T eventually figured out he was making calls from a smartphone, and they decided he needed a data plan, even if he wasn’t going to use it. They went ahead and opted him into a plan that cost an extra $30 a month. Quoting: ‘According to AT&T: They can opt me into a contract that I didn’t agree to because I was using a phone that I didn’t buy from them because it had the ability to use data that I wasn’t using (and was turned off). To top it all off, they got the privilege of charging me for it because I bought a differently categorized device – even though the actual usage of their network did not change at all and I never reconstituted a new agreement with them.’

This is a serious consumer issue, because not only is this practice, legal, it is morally and ethically wrong.   But AT&T and many companies have been able to manipulate the AMerican Justice System to make this type of -pre-contract signing business possible.
What we have here is a person who replaced a bad phone with a extra one on hand.  The replacement phone was bought and paid for, lying around waiting to be used.  This person then performed a ‘phone swap’, in which he informed AT&T that he would need to switch his phone out.  It was months later that this person discovers his phone bill now has an added $30, and he is signed up for a new contract.

Wait what?

AT&T took a customer and resigned them to a new contract, over the use of a bought smartphone.  In this case, the customer did not have a data plan or any data options because the phone he replaced was a ‘dumbphone’, which is a nicer way of saying ‘featureless’, not smart, a.k.a. 2G.  He only needed a phone for voice calls, and possibly rarely used SMS/TXT.    To later on find out his replacement smartphone in which there was no need for a contract is now on a contract and commiting to an additional #30 a month charge the customer never asked for.

The excuse used by AT&T is they discovered the phone he was using is a smartphone, and therefore there is no option to NOT have data services associated to it.   Ignoring the fact the user never asked for said features for his using of his iphone smartphone, but is a case of, the Carrier forces this option to the customer because “he has a smartphone”.

I can deal with the idea that smartphones need to have data packages, but I don’t understand why a company would blaintantly falsify a contract, or even unnecessary services their customer never wanted in the first place.   This kind of action isn’t new, because years ago it happened to me when I replaced a aging Sprint phone with a phone I bought as a hand me down from a friend who recently replaced his phone with a newer one.    I contacted Sprint to perform the ESN swap, and thought nothing of any contractual renewing.  Because there was no need to.   I was already working on a month-to-month with Sprint, so there was no need to use my “renewal benefits for purchasing a new phone/contrat”.  However 5 months after I swapped my phone a new phone was released through Sprint and I decided it was time to go ahead and renew my contract, and purchase said new phone.

I find out during the purchasing process that I was no longer eligiable for the discount renewal offer.  Upon inquiring why I wasn’t eligable when I was clearly 7+ months past my contract completion.  I was informed that when I swapped my phone previously, Sprint renewed my contract for two years.     Remind you, I swapped my phone with a bought and paid for used phone from a friend, I did not receive any discounts or any deals when obtaining my used replacement phone.   At the time of swapping my phone(s), Sprint took it upon themselves to take that action like it was a new contract.

Thus I was very unhappy with the outcome when I attempted to buy a new phone. I couldn’t, and Sprint refused to fix the problem.  (I am still with Sprint to this day)  Eventually the right people figured out what happened, and I was finally able to resolve the problem and get a new phone.  Albeit it wasn’t what I origionally wanted, and part of the promises made never were fullfilled.

However I’m not bitching about Sprint, I’m bitching about AT&T.

AT&T is “Ma’ Bell” with a new name since the merger a few years ago.  So what this means to consumers is that AT&T doesn’t give a damn about it customers.  We have plenty of evidence to prove this point.  What we have here right now, is the fact that a company can compel its customers into contracts without official signing.  Aan it is LEGAL!

I could go on about AT&T but i have my own legal issues with AT&T Yellow Pages.   So does one of my clients whom we have successfully sued AT&T.  Can’t go into much of the details, because there is still on going legal issues.  But I will plainly say…  AT&T is the largest Shittiest Phone Company in America.  They ARE #1 at something, and it definitely is not quality coverage or service.