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  • New AT&T Plans Called "Bait-and-Switch"


    Reactions throughout the industry to AT&T's new data plans have been almost uniformly negative, with many commenters describing the change with the same term, calling it a "bait-and-switch." The expression generally refers to the practice of luring someone in with a certain promise, only to change it after a commitment has already been made. Proving that this was the carrier's intention is close to impossible, of course, but a patently untrue statement made by a senior AT&T executive is casting serious doubt on the stated rationale behind the move.

    GigaOm's Stacey Higginbotham gave what could reasonably be described as a softball interview with AT&T's "senior VP of data and voice products, mobility and consumer products" (how big is this guy's business card?) Mark Collins. She asked all good questions, but didn't follow up on any of them, including when Collins tripped himself up on his own talking points. Higginbotham asked "What about the $20 tethering fee? It looks like a convenience charge." She had it correct; in her own analysis of the new plans, Higginbotham herself noted that "the $20 fee for tethering is simply paying AT&T for the privilege of using your phone to connect your laptop to the web." Collins replied that "you’re going to use more data so the price is based on the value that will be delivered." John Gruber properly called BS on the "you're going to use more data" part, saying "You’re using the same amount of data but in a different way... if you go over your cap, you’ll be charged the $10 overage fee for each additional gigabyte." Gruber concludes forcefully that "there is no excuse for this $20 tethering charge other than greed."

    Computerworld's Mitch Wagner puts the pieces together, showing how the way AT&T is moving users to tethering will likely create much higher demand for data, leading to tidy overage charges for the carrier. For example, users will be more likely to take advantage of things like streaming video using their laptops as opposed to their iPhone screens. And since AT&T will only tether iPhone OS 4 devices, multitasking support will allow users to do things they're currently unable to do, like streaming Pandora music while browsing, that will also quickly push users to their 2GB cap.

    AT&T's rationale has been that they are providing "incentives" to reduce use. There seems to be little of that here, but plenty of opportunities to soak customers who have come to expect unlimited data.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: New AT&T Plans Called "Bait-and-Switch" started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 172 Comments
    1. Happy Noodle Boy's Avatar
      Happy Noodle Boy -
      Hey OP, feel free to add these points to your smear OP:

      -this change will LOWER THE BILL TO OVER 90% OF IPHONE USERS

      -VZW, the other company people seem to want the iPhone in, also charges a "premium" for tethering. In fact, paying extra for tethering on smartphone plans has been a standard in US for years. YEARS.

      - The reception on this very forum has been positive since people have taken the whole 2 minutes to check their usage and see that gosh darn it that new 2GB is a pretty good spot that saves money to most "power users" and saves even more money to those that are in wifi heavy areas and use less than the now cheapest tier.

      - the ONLY people that will negatively be affected by this make up a grand total of TWO PERCENT of all iPhone users. Two. That's a 2.

      Except no it won't since AT&T isn't forcing you to switch to these plans.

      I love this site to death but these sensasionalist articles are the kind of garbage I expect to read in some kids blog, not MMI.
    1. nrowensby's Avatar
      nrowensby -
      Quote Originally Posted by nhstunner View Post
      It will last as long as your contract does. But I do hope you were planning on skipping the new iPhone, getting it will create a new 2 year agreement & you will lose your "unlimited". I had planned on getting the new iPhone (as I am up for a new phone 6.29) but will now skip, rather have my unlimited until Feb.
      IDK about this... Shortly after I switched from SunCom to AT&T, AT&T killed the rate plan I originally signed my first AT&T contract with, but I was grandfathered. They let me keep that plan over 2 contract renewals until I finally changed my plan. I think, as long as you don't change your plan, you will be fine. Just from what I have seen AT&T do with me in the past.
    1. bbiphone1's Avatar
      bbiphone1 -
      I hope you realize that is measured in MB (megabyte) not GB. You have not even come close to using to 2GB.
    1. Jasper44's Avatar
      Jasper44 -
      The only people who really have a legitimate beef here are people that want to tether. If you already have an iphone on unlimited data, you can keep unlimited data. And you can also upgrade to the new iphone and keep your unlimited data. So unless you want to tether, none of this in any way affects you.

      Tethering on the other hand is where the bs comes in. In order to tether, you have to pick one of the new plans and pay $20 for the right to tether. No extra data allowance is given and they take away your unlimited data. That's what is bullsh*t. The AT&T guy was quoted saying that tetherers use more data so they get charged more. Well no sh*t, but if you're going to charge them more, you have to give them more data. $20 just for the right with no extra data is horsesh*t. You can't say they use more data so we are going to charge them more, but not give them any more data.
    1. Cokeman's Avatar
      Cokeman -
      Everyone does realize this isn't just iPhone data plans. This is for all smartphones.
      That said I wonder if we still get unlimited visual voicemail?
    1. szfebje's Avatar
      szfebje -
      Quote Originally Posted by rickybobby View Post
      how the hell do you use 14gb a month
      14GB is a light month for me, I'm rarely near wifi, and i'm constantly streaming media around the clock, be it music, videos, podcasts, I'm a heavy user using the iPhone to it's maximum capabilities, I've never gotten this kind of user experience from any carrier or phone, so I stand by it 100%.
    1. bbiphone1's Avatar
      bbiphone1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by rickybobby View Post
      how the hell do you use 14gb a month
      14MB not 14GB
    1. j.eck.art.3d's Avatar
      j.eck.art.3d -
      Quote Originally Posted by nhstunner View Post
      It will last as long as your contract does. But I do hope you were planning on skipping the new iPhone, getting it will create a new 2 year agreement & you will lose your "unlimited". I had planned on getting the new iPhone (as I am up for a new phone 6.29) but will now skip, rather have my unlimited until Feb.
      Where did you hear this from? (losing the unlimited data if you sign a new contract) I read that AT&T specifically said that you will NOT lose the unlimited data if you sign a new contract. Basically, what I read from AT&T on other sites is that as long as your AT&T service is uninterrupted (and they don't change their minds about this whole grandfather thing) you will keep you unlimited data plan at $30/month.
    1. Rytchy's Avatar
      Rytchy -
      This is true...you can upgrade your phone a million times so long as you don't change your phone plan. ATT customer service manager I spoke with confirmed this...keep you plan and don't change it and your unlimited data stays. Change your plan and loose it. Upgrading to different phones doesn't matter or change your unlimited data...
    1. lolcats1's Avatar
      lolcats1 -
    1. cutigercub02's Avatar
      cutigercub02 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Poseidon79 View Post
      I would consider myself a heavy iPhone user but I have never really tracked how much data I use month to month. I'm curious how many hours of music/video streaming equate to 2GB... anyone have the math?
      If you call (not text) *data# they will send you a text message with your data usage.
    1. one_crazy_dude's Avatar
      one_crazy_dude -
      me to. i thought oi used more than this.

    1. wannagotopopeyes's Avatar
      wannagotopopeyes -
      Is there no way to buy the new phone "contract-free" at the $500 or $600 price like before? Or will they release that option later near the end of summer/fall do you think?
    1. whereswaldo's Avatar
      whereswaldo -
      charlie brown was my school play, i was linus
    1. szfebje's Avatar
      szfebje -
      Quote Originally Posted by bbiphone1 View Post
      14mb not 14gb
      14,123mb = ~14gb
    1. DJM AutoWerkz's Avatar
      DJM AutoWerkz -
      Like I said before everyone signup before June 7 so your in on the unlimited plan u have 30 days to take the 3gs back and exchange it for the new iPhone that way your still on the unlimited plan.
    1. rickybobby's Avatar
      rickybobby -
      I dont see what the big fuss is anyway most of us have unlimited, and unless you changed your plan your straight. I was told as long as you upgrade or change to another smartphone your fine, and for tethering i'm sure alot of us know what mywi is so stop bitchin.
    1. tytyson's Avatar
      tytyson -
      I used 13 gb last month in about 4 days of usage. I average about 10 a month for no more than 5 days of use so I'm Thinking I'll be keep mine exactly how it is... LOLZ
    1. rickybobby's Avatar
      rickybobby -
      Quote Originally Posted by cokeman View Post
      everyone does realize this isn't just iphone data plans. This is for all smartphones.
      That said i wonder if we still get unlimited visual voicemail?
      Its only for all smartphones because they can't just single out the iphone so they made it general thats what its really about. They messed up saying they can handle all of the bandwidth and they cant so this is a way of solving it without doing actual work to the network.
    1. pyrotek's Avatar
      pyrotek -
      Wow, less then I expected too.