I agree there is plenty of good information in this thread, and many potential questions about how the cell companies are getting their hands deeper into our pockets are addressed, but there are also some other issues that can be considered.
Since being a long term AT&T customer being part of the many companies that have existed previously and eventually morphed into this very large cellular provider I have seen the good, bad, and the absolutely ugly.
Like everyone else I have been reminded that these companies are corporate profit driven, and have seen countless changes designed specifically to increase revenue for the company.
One thing I have learned is that the true motivator for change here is the real potential for loss of customer accounts (read as income), but these changes come from competition (those companies that they actually accept as such lol) that will ultimately make them more competitive or create a lower cost for their customers, but changes related to lowering costs to the consumer come much slower than those that increase income for the company.
Knowing this it was no surprise when a few years ago ATT&T completely canceled my (and many others) grandfathered contracts that did not allow for AT&T to charge for texting. Yes they just sent a letter explaining that the agreement was being canceled and that I would need to sign up for a new contract in order to have service. Of course the new agreement included all kinds of requirements for text, and a $5 per month charge for texting plan (could have been pay per use, but I think back then 10 or 20 texts would have cost more).
So what happened with data in Sept. 09 was no surprise to me at all, and just another attempt to increase revenue, but here in lies the problem with the whole thing as other carriers like TMobile have more than one data plan, and are willing to negotiate with long term or new potential accounts.
AT&T being aware of this as well as their overall higher costs for talk plans began negotiating lower cost data and even text plans with those customers who had serious complaints or appeared to be looking to move their service to another competitor.
Actually AT&T has been the most flexible company in this industry that I have ever been a customer of, and has been able to offer something tangible in response to correcting a problem or situation many times in the past, but over the last so many years management has tied the hands of the CS reps more and more, and today pretty much anything beyond a small credit or adding 1,000 rollover mins is beyond their ability, and making long term adjustments to a plan for any reason is now pretty much impossible (previously they could adjust costs, offset costs w/monthly credits, add additional mins permanently etc).
The reason I bothered to post all of this is to make note that things have changed, and current upper management is bent on increasing revenue to the point of gambling the loss of their total customer count (losing customers) to more competitive companies.
This is plainly seen in the attempt to bump every potential data user up as high as possible, and this includes charging a typical smartphone data user a similar amount that a cable company would charge a customer receiving a full internet/multimedia experience. Consider that the typical PC or laptop properly connected to a cable modem can receive more data in a matter of minutes than most cell data users receive all month, and it just does not make sense.
AT&T has actually gone as far as to not honor their own recent agreements on data costs. I had a special negotiated $10 per month unlimited plan (seemed fair for what they are actually supplying) that was good for non AT&T smartphones, but just recently they sent a text stating that this is no longer available without a $30 per month unlimited text plan, and all previous lower cost agreements would expire after the first of the year, and be replaced with a $15 plan.
Sure they offered rollover mins and a decent credit to keep me, but the point is that they gambled losing me for $5-$20 a month, and that is pretty short sighted at min.
At that time I also had a very good talk with CSR about data charges for non AT&T branded (unlocked) phones/smartphones and the answers were pretty much standard as seen before (things may not work etc) but after requesting the CSR talk with his supervisor it became a little more clear what they will attempt to do.
My actual question was that since AT&T states that part of the reason or costs of the data plan fee is to cover the purchase costs of the much more expensive smartphones being offered today etc that I should be able to keep the less expensive data plans (not the $30 smartphone plan) if AT&T did not have the expense of purchasing the phone, and I paid retail myself etc.
Like was said earlier here the system will look for the IMEI#, and the towers are now set up to recognize what phone is being used, but what they would or could not answer was if the system would pick up a non AT&T IMEI# and then attempt to make changes in the billing system (what were really concerned with) which would automatically require or switch to the $30 data plan.
I have tested that the system can and will pick up AT&T branded phones and know exactly which phone your using, but have not proven this with non branded or unlocked phones, and also do not know the particulars of when it may hit the billing system and start all the problems.
What I do know is that thousands if not millions of subscribers are not happy and complaining all the time, and I hope eventually they will get the point that not everyone needs, wants, can afford, or is willing to pay $30 for something that is a convenience or extra, and that being trapped into a fee for something they do not want that is not a requirement of the use of the phone they choose to use is going to backfire and cost them countless millions of subscribers in the long run.
I know I am at my breaking point, and one more increase would most likely send me off to TMobile or someone else who would love to steal an AT&T account.
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