This is what Shawn Morton would look like if he had been made of LEGO -- the personal website of Shawn Morton
UPDATE: This blog has been retired as of August 2011. See this post for more information or connect with me on Twitter.
Monday, May 11, 2009
AT&T wants us to pay $2,000 for a $30 data plan we turned off [updated]
I struggled with the title for this post. I tried "AT&T hates their customers" and "AT&T's data plan scam," but those seemed too sensational. While I want to draw attention to this issue, I think the facts speak for themselves.

I've chronicled one of the many issues here, but there have been many little things over our 5 years as AT&T customers that continue to reinforce their anti-customer attitude. Unfortunately, most of the mishaps have occurred while we were under contract, so leaving would have been too expensive.

Today's most recent debacle, depending on how it is handled, may be enough to finally push us out the door.

Back in December, we turned off the unlimited data plan that I had been using on my Moto Q9h. We had been paying $30 per month for it, but it became unnecessary when I got a corporate Blackberry.

Prior to turning off the data plan, I had my phone set up with Gmail to pull my webmail down at some regular interval. Since I don't use my Moto Q9h for anything other than basic phone features, I hadn't been looking at the e-mail inbox. Didn't think I would needed to, right? After all, I don't have data service.

Turns out that turning off a data plan with AT&T doesn't actually disable it. It simply changes the rate at which they charge you for data.

So, today, we received a bill for over $2,000! The reason? Data usage... Seriously?

The source of our AT&T frustration. $2K? Really!?

Not only did AT&T allow my phone to access a service which I had told them to turn off, but 1) they didn't bother to alert me that I was using a premium service and 2) they didn't bill me at the old rate of $30 per month when they switched it back on.

If we asked AT&T to turn a feature off, it should be off. However, if they decided to turn it back on (which they shouldn't do without an opt-in of some sort), why wouldn't they do it at $30/mo.?

I keep refraining from calling this a "scam;" however, I can't think of any other word that fits.

Now, we're going round and round with customer service to get the charges reversed. Of course, if we can't resolve it, we are either forced to pay $2,000 for something we used to pay $30 for or face the penalty of having it show up on our credit report.

Who treats their customers like that?

We're currently waiting 5-7 days to hear if they are going to take off the charge or not. I'll post an update when I know more.

The funny thing is that I was considering sticking with AT&T (and re-upping my contract) when the new iPhone is released next month. With the rumors of an iPhone coming to Verizon, I might have another option.

[UPDATE 5/22] AT&T has corrected our $2,000 bill issue. Thx to all who provided comments and assistance.

About Shawn Morton

Married father of 6; VP of Social Media at JPMorgan Chase; gluten-free; gadget enthusiast; hair metal aficionado; #Movember man View more on LinkedIn.