Not Cease from Exploration

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

AT&T Wants to Protect Its Customers...From Themselves

AT&T recently enacted a new rule that requires the owners of certain cell phones (smartphones...see below) to purchase a wireless data plan. These plans typically cost about $30/month. So riddle me this Batman, how could charging someone for something they don't want be considered "helping" them?

Here's the AT&T logic: owners of certain phones that don't have data plans instead pay for data services (such as checking email or uploading stuff to Facebook) as they use it. However, because paying for data in this manner can be expensive, sometimes customers are surprised at the size of their bills. By forcing them into data plans, AT&T is preventing them from suffering "bill shock".

Here's the Steve logic:
This is Horse $hit! No one should be forced to buy anything they don't want, and this has more to do with AT&T squeezing more money out of casual data users than it does any notion of customer service. I say this because I have been using smartphones for almost ten years and I've never had a data plan. What's more, in all these years, I may have once used more than $30 in data services. Maybe.

Now if this were something the government was planning on doing, the likes of Limbaugh and Glenn Beck would be on it like a fly on a warm turd. But since this is capitalism at its finest, don't expect any protests.

I know, the retort will be "okay, if you don't like it, then simply switch carriers". Nice thought, poor reality. Why?

...most carriers now have similar smartphone requirements (AT&T, to their credit, was among the last)

...most cell customers are locked into longer-term contracts that are horribly expensive to break

In other words, for all intensive purposes the entire industry has these requirements, so simply switching carriers doesn't solve a thing. Yeah Capitalism!

As a side note, there is a way around this madness, the way I actually get around it: simply don't buy your smartphone from AT&T. I have a Palm Treo that I bought on-line (not from AT&T), so the data requirement doesn't apply to me. It's also not retroactive, so three of the other phones that I pay for (all belonging to my daughters) are grandfathered. The fifth phone I pay for isn't considered a smartphone, so the requirement doesn't apply to it. By the way, what is considered a "smartphone"? In a final act of arrogance, AT&T will not give you a list. It's true, as I called AT&T and asked for the list, but they couldn't provide it, and was instead told that someone at one of the AT&T retail stores can tell you this.

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