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Sunday, March 13, 2022

AT&T Cell Phone Customer Beware

Let me start by saying I don't love posting negative reviews, but when you call into a company and do not get a competent response, you ask for a manager. Sadly, when you get transferred to a manager whose response is worse, what else is there to do except post a review, and hopefully a higher person in the chain sees it. I have been a customer of AT&T since 1997 when they were known as Cingular, Cellular One, and then AT&T. 

According to AT&T, I have an older plan. I love it. I do not like their unlimited plan that is not actually unlimited. It slows your data down after you reach your monthly unlimited data deprioritization threshold. My plan is a 35GB family plan, four phones, with rollover. It is rare that we go over. If we do go over, we expect it in advance. One example is working from home, moving, and the WiFi does not get installed in time for the workday, so the data gets used as a hotspot. 

Starting on Friday, March 11 at 10:44 p.m., thirteen days before our bill cycle starts over, we started

receiving text messages that we had used 75% of our shared data, and 1G of Data would be added for $15 if we used 100%. That was the beginning of this nightmare that we continue to live in. The next message was sent at 1:40 in the morning. One daughter is on a plane. The rest of us are in bed until more text messages start arriving. The next text arrived twelve minutes later at 1:52 a.m., informing us that we had used all our data and 1GB had been added for $15. At 1:55 a.m., three minutes later, we received a text that we had used 75% of the 1 GB. No one is using Data. At 1:38 p.m., we receive a message that all of the 1GB was used and another 1GB was added for $15. 

I called AT&T using 611 and explained what was happening. We have half a month to go and they are adding and will be adding more $15 charges for 1GB of data each time. The customer service rep informed me that my old plan is not compatible with AT&T (although it is an AT&T plan that was assigned to us by AT&T)  and therefore the data will continue to disappear and the $15 charges will continue. Can you imagine how fast the $15 charges will add up for the next thirteen days at 1GB increments? The current plan is the one I was told I was upgraded into because the original plan I had was discontinued. Now, the rep is telling me that because my plan that AT&T changed me to is no longer compatible, and if I refuse to change my plan, the $15 charges will continue. I asked for a manager. Corrine, the manager gets on the phone. I explain the situation. She tells me they cannot disable the data because it would make the phones inoperable. She says I have one option. I have to change my plan to an unlimited plan or the $15 charges will continue. That is where she is wrong. I informed her, there are always other options. There are other cell providers.

All of us turned our data off. Still, I received another message at 9:58 p.m. saying we had used 75% of the 1GB. How? All the data on the phones are turned off. I went back to my phone and read what it said about turning the data off. Surprise! It is not actually off. It is on Low Data Mode which helps to reduce cellular data usage. We went a step further. All of us turned the data off for every App. Now, we have to wait to see if these $15 charges stop. 

After all these years, I have finally researched other cellular companies. I found a plan I like a lot. T-Mobile Magenta Max. It is $10 per month more than I am paying at AT&T, but we will get a lot more benefits. #1—the data is truly unlimited, with no slowdown. We will receive Netflix, so I can cancel my Netflix plan which is now $15.99/month. This means the T-Mobile bill is now $5.99 cheaper than AT&T. Woohoo. And just think, if AT&T had not attempted to force a long-time customer to accept a plan they do not want by adding $15 charges to the bill, I would have never looked into other cell providers. As soon as T-Mobile opens, I will be at their door waiting to switch carriers. In hindsight, I am happy everyone bought their phones directly from Apple and we are not under contract with AT&T. I stayed a customer for years without a contract. I would not have considered changing if I was not being forced into a plan I don't want by disappearing data and $15 charges. 

Update: 8:24 a.m., after turning all data off on every phone and on every App, we received another text saying we used 1G of data and another $15 for another 1GB of data has been added to my account. The rep on the phone is now telling me not to worry; it is a system error and just call back when I receive the bill and they will remove all the charges. He says they cannot stop the system from texting and waking me up all hours of the night. He says he cannot stop the system from adding an extra GB of data for $15, although I do not want it. Right now I feel completely harassed and abused. T-Mobile opens at 11 a.m. today. I cannot wait to cancel AT&T.

Update: AT&T attempted to match T-Mobile's offer. We do not watch HBO Max but we were willing to accept the offer for convenience until I was told that if I did not accept autopay the plan would be $40 more. That is a deal-breaker. After spending two hours on the phone trying to sort this out and thinking things were good, I was hit with the $40 extra fee. Greed! Lastly, she offered me a 15GB unlimited prepaid line for each phone. Bye AT&T!