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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. headcheese's Avatar
      headcheese -
      I used 3.5 last month, and that was my highest, and I don't even know how?
    1. Nickaroni22's Avatar
      Nickaroni22 -
      I'm grandfathered in, guess I won't be getting the 4G one now. I thought I'd use alot more data than I actually do. I'm on my phone all the time and I used 844mb last month.
    1. pyrotek's Avatar
      pyrotek -
      I have a feeling that my 3G usage will escalate in the warmer summer months. Streaming pandora and the sort while tailgating, BBQing, etc is fairly common.

      May was already at 1GB with only a few instances of outdoor partying.
    1. dmorales's Avatar
      dmorales -
      My wife and i share plans are these limits going to be per phone or for both phones together
    1. mikerlx's Avatar
      mikerlx -
      My little bro has cricket with unlimited talk text and Internet mms etc all for $40 a month. So , I use wifi only for my phone but I am sure 2gb would be gobbled streaming pandora.
    1. jadedmonkey28's Avatar
      jadedmonkey28 -
      So the new iphone shoudl do video calling? yes?? Anyone who drops there unlimited plan now will be in for a world of hurt when they start to use it. I'm keeping my unlimited, new phone means it will only do more, more need for unlimited data. Since i also JB, can teather if i want to, why woudl i every pay for the right to do something that does not COST any money now.
    1. iphnblues's Avatar
      iphnblues -
      this is such bs so is this going to be rolling out with the new iphones or sooner ???????
    1. PuppyPR's Avatar
      PuppyPR -
      Nope, me neither, won't give up my data plan.
    1. Robzbos's Avatar
      Robzbos -
      the best thing to do is wait for the up coming unlock if your on 05.12.01 baseband and use t-mobile as your carrier and get the .99 unlimited data through google its 12 dollars a year who beats that go to iphonesidekick.co.cc and you have to have the sidekick plan through t-mobile I use it prepaid and love it
    1. thetoothfairy's Avatar
      thetoothfairy -
      Just my opinion... stupid move At&t. Geesh... do I want 4G or my unlimited?
    1. Rokesomesmeefer's Avatar
      Rokesomesmeefer -
      Quote Originally Posted by Happy Noodle Boy View Post
      - 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.
      According to this, that "TWO PERCENT of all iPhone users" equates to more than half a million AT&T subscribers. I don't care how big of a corporation you are - when you piss off more than half a million of your customers, there is something considerably wrong with your business method.

      Oh, and when these plans do go into effect and the unlimited plans are gone, you can bet your @ss AT&T WILL be nailing the unlimited subscribers for usage over 5GB. Otherwise, they'll have a bit of a problem justifying nailing 2GB subscribers for $10 each GB over. Their service agreement sure as hell doesn't make that provision just for shits and giggles.

      Sidenote: It's so ridiculous that the word @ss with an "a" gets censored but "shits" and "hell" do not. Does some MMI admin have something against donkeys?
    1. headcheese's Avatar
      headcheese -
      Seriously guys...you HAVE TO START READING MORE CAREFULLY LOL

      Toothfairy- I assume you have an iPhone with unlimited data already. As many others have stated in this thread, as long as you don't change your plan you can upgrade to the 4G as you will be grandfathered in. As long as AT&T offers the grandfathering, and you keep your plan exactly as it is now, then you can upgrade your device FOREVER (they will of course stop the grandfathering sooner or later)

      Get it?
    1. FlyingJoey's Avatar
      FlyingJoey -
      On Tuesday alone I ate up 1.45 gigs of data. I'm trying to get my money's worth of data. I'm paying 30 bucks a month, believe me, i'm going to use gigs and gigs of data even if it's bullsh!t.
    1. Fhadso's Avatar
      Fhadso -
      I looked at my data usage the other day. I use a whole 45MB monthly. I may not be a heavy data user, I'm still pissed that AT&T is just making these new plans to reduce their network congestion. Instead of using money to IMPROVE their crappy network, they're going to make money because of it. They're making plans to roll out their 4G data rate, but yet they haven't even finished their 3G! Verizon has a right to brag about their coverage! AT&T needs to work on their business strategies.

      If it weren't for the fact that they're the best network for me, then I would have taken my iPhone and my business elsewhere.
    1. headcheese's Avatar
      headcheese -
      That's crazy FlyingJoey!!
    1. J_Marley's Avatar
      J_Marley -
      Guys, a quick note. Normally when a company such as a cellular communications company says your plan will be grandfathered in it means that as long as you don't change anything or add anything, you will be fine. You can usually resign for two years with a new phone and everything and they can't touch you because you haven't opted to make any changes to your current plan. This happened Up in Wisconsin when AT&T bought out Dobson Communications. They grandfathered in the CellOne (Dobson sub) plans for customers and as long as they didn't change anything, they could renew contracts and get new devices.
    1. camperchuck's Avatar
      camperchuck -
      what if you want to ad the 20$ tethering feature to your plan, does that "change" your plan or "modify" it. will they make you get the new data plan if you do this? im concerned about this becuase when they offered rollover min, they made you get a new plan and i had a very old plan with unlimited stuff and i lost it all in order to get rollover. then i had to pay more to get the unlimited features back.
    1. southfrisco's Avatar
      southfrisco -
      Quote Originally Posted by cricketlang View Post
      To be honest the only thing I'm worried about is video chat. We can already see that with just taking vids on the iPhone we get high into the mb's. If we are video chatting in HD, how is this going to play out? Being. In a long distance relationship I believe a concern is justified.
      HD video on the next iPhone? Uh not for the front facing cam...HD video for the Evo is only allowed on Sprint 4G (not 3G) and the Qik software that allows you to video chat also costs a monthly fee. So video chatting over ATT 3G? Not gonna happen especially in HD.

      Now back to the ATT plan changes, I don't see what the big deal is with all of you that are pissed about this. Am I missing something? This isn't a bait and switch when it ONLY APPLIES TO NEW SUBSCRIBERS. CURRENT SUBSCRIBERS HAVE THE OPTION TO STICK WITH UNLIMITED OR CHANGE.

      Current subscribers can keep unlimited (5 GB cap) for $30/mo but get no tethering.

      New subscribers won't have the unlimited option and they have to choose $15/mo for 200 MB or $25/mo for 2GB. The overage charges are a lump sum. $15 for up to 200MB over or $10 for up to 2GB over. Also if you want to tether so be it but you will pay $20 extra a month. You can also change from the 200MB to 2GB plan in contract and not affect the contract length. ATT is even letting you change the data plans on demand, pro rate or future date the changes. And they come with free text warnings when you hit 65% and 95% (I think a few more but can't remember) of your allowed cap.

      That seems much better than current capped data plans that get you for $0.05 to $0.10 a MB overage! So I look at it like ATT is not nickel and diming you now at least for data. If you use 2.5 GB of data then you pay $10 extra for the overage. One lump sum. No per MB charge.

      Old way = $25/mo for 2GB + $0.10MB overage. Use 4GB for the month and pay $25 + $200 in overage fees.

      New way = $25/mo for 2GB + $10 overage. Use about 4GB for the month and pay $25 + $10 in overage fees.

      New way seems much better to me.
    1. wookiee2cu's Avatar
      wookiee2cu -
      The only thing I'm curious about is if I change my voice plan (950 minutes down to 450 for example) would that mess up my grandfather status? Honestly it wouldn't really be that big of a deal as I don't even go over 500MB's but I'd hate to lose the unlimited just in case I use the video calling more than I imagine I will. I'm also wondering if that will just be iPhone to iPhone (video calling that is) or if you will be able to use it where the other person is skyping from their computer or has a phone that also has video calling.
    1. MooShoo's Avatar
      MooShoo -
      Help me understand this. The purpose and pitch for the iPad was having the internet in your hands. "Look at the ABC application, YouTube (slow as hell), Pandora...etc, etc." Make sure and get the unlimited plan for $29.99 and never worry about overages. After making the investment from iPad Wi-Fi to iPad 3G, I am concerned about the new plan that rolls out. What will happen to the false advertising that AT&T and Apple claiming "Unlimited" - Not the 5GB cap Unlimited but the real "Unlimited" that they promised the iPad owners? Will we be able to return our product because it wasn't as promised. I am a T-Mobile user so I have no idea how much data I use and AT&T doesn't show how much data is really being used because it only has been 1 month and it doesn't show it anyway.

      THIS IS CRAP!!!!!