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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. sziklassy's Avatar
      sziklassy -
      Quote Originally Posted by gQstatus05 View Post
      Lol.. I'm leaving today. Evo here I come. I'll send postcards.

      BTW I will log back in on and after June 7th to read the hilarious threads on: Help! They removed my grandfathered data plan!!
      See ya!
    1. asmacumber's Avatar
      asmacumber -
      Quote Originally Posted by bbiphone1 View Post
      14MB not 14GB
      Actually it IS 14gb ... his usage is being shown in MB, so 14,000mb is roughly 14gb. Every 1,024mb is a GB.
    1. adp's Avatar
      adp -
      I'm switching to AT&T from T-mobile. Glad they lowered their price somewhere, plus 15% military discount = almost the same price for full 3G
    1. Rokesomesmeefer's Avatar
      Rokesomesmeefer -
      Quote Originally Posted by adp View Post
      I'm switching to AT&T from T-mobile. Glad they lowered their price somewhere, plus 15% military discount = almost the same price for full 3G
      Heh, edited your post before I could quote it.

      It is not my math that was wrong. The article I linked stated what AT&T did, that the 2% figure applies to smartphone users, not just iPhone users. The article also etimates iPhone users as 33 million out of 85 million AT&T customers, thus 2% of iPhone users is 660,000.

      My point is this. AT&T ******* and whines that 2% of their users are abusing the network. I'm sorry, but when you sell me service with the name "unlimited", did you think that I would buy it because I thought there would be a limit to how much I could use it? Unlimited means it is IMPOSSIBLE to abuse the network resources - I F'ING PAID TO DO SO! But that's not what they are really bitchin' and whining about. You have to read between the lines - whining that I am using too much data on their network is really whining that they are not profiting from my usage.

      And again, to everyone saying that there is no 5GB cap, don't take my word or anyone else's for it - go look at your plan terms and see for yourself. It's there in pretty clear English. And when they start hitting 2GB users for $10 per GB over, you can be damn sure you'll get nailed $260 for your 31GB usage. Like I said, they didn't put that provision in the contract for shits and giggles. Just because they don't currently enforce it doesn't mean that they won't once the majority of their unlimited-but-not-really customers start saving $5 a month to drop to 2GB.

      Here's some more math for you: if, say, 1,000,000 unlimited plan users drop to the 2GB plan, that is $5,000,000 that AT&T will lose each month.

      Do you know how many millions of iPhone users there are on AT&T's service? Are you seriously going to tell me that it is more profitable for AT&T to lose $5 per unlimited plan customer than to allow a whopping 2% of them to use more than 5GB of data per month? I guarantee AT&T has a way to make MORE profit by doing this, and the only likely place I see that happening is with overages.

      By the way, has everyone forgotten that many unlimited customers also have free unlimited text messaging included with that? How much will that cost you once you downgrade?

      What everyone fails to realize, even though everyone claims to, is that AT&T is out to make profit. Making customers happy conflicts directly with maximizing profits. More money can be made in the short term by screwing over your customers, and even though it hurts the company's reputation, the current executives don't care about that, all they care about is getting rich NOW. Where it will be in 20 years is someone else' problem. Look at the history of any huge corporation that has millions of customers. They go through periods where everybody hates them and periods where everybody loves them. This is because during the period where everybody loves them, they begin to screw their customers for more profit eventually leading to the period where everybody hates them. During that period, they are trying like hell to make all of their customers happy so that they can get back to the point where they can screw them again for more profit.
    1. adp's Avatar
      adp -
      I edited my post because the math was partially correct...I also don't understand the benefit of a $5 reduction - it's certainly not going to attract many new customers. It's definitely a way to reduce the impact on their network though. But on the same note, if they truly wanted to cut the network hoggers, they would force everyone to switch to the 2GB plan (current customers). If they lowered the plan from $30-$20 then I could see the benefit, but I just don't see what's good about this
    1. ZipZapp's Avatar
      ZipZapp -
      Plan grandfathering at ATT has been around for a VERY long time.

      It is their standard practice. This is not something new for iphone users.
    1. Rokesomesmeefer's Avatar
      Rokesomesmeefer -
      Quote Originally Posted by adp View Post
      I edited my post because the math was partially correct...I also don't understand the benefit of a $5 reduction - it's certainly not going to attract many new customers. It's definitely a way to reduce the impact on their network though. But on the same note, if they truly wanted to cut the network hoggers, they would force everyone to switch to the 2GB plan (current customers). If they lowered the plan from $30-$20 then I could see the benefit, but I just don't see what's good about this
      No, if they truly wanted to cut out the network hoggers, they would have renamed the unlimited plan to what it actually is: 5GB. Then start enforcing the contract terms by charging for usage over 5GB.

      And I wouldn't have a problem with that. I would rather knowingly pay more for something when I know I am getting exactly what I was told to expect then to pay less for a lie only to be screwed later (common sense, no?). I can't believe the number of people on this forum and elsewhere that happily pay for the lies and then try to convince the rest of us that this is somehow better. When is it EVER better to get screwed over by a large corporation?

      Don't get me wrong, I'm happy with my AT&T service and wouldn't bother switching to another provider because the grass is NOT greener on the other side of the fence. It just pisses me off in general that we, the consumers, allow these large corporations to screw us at every turn.
    1. adp's Avatar
      adp -
      Well what people argue that is "good" about this is that they will pay $5 less/month, for 2GB of data.
    1. Bluprint's Avatar
      Bluprint -
      Quote Originally Posted by rkswat View Post
      The treat is you really don't know what you're talking about! Of course you must know more than the many at&t representatives that have been called and told if you currently have an unlimited plan you can keep it. Funny also how I have had the same at&t plan, (one that's not even offered anymore) sense before the first iPhone. I have updated with each new iPhone and guess what? I have NEVER had to change that plan. So maybe you should educate yourself before you poo out your mouth again.


      What part of YOUR PLAN WONT CHANGE UNLESS YOU CHANGE IT is confusing to you?
      I'm talking sh!t yet I'm only trying to help your dumb@ss. You think it's funny that you never had to change your plan? What change are you talking about you fool? There hasnt been any changes to the data plan since the 3G iphone was introduced. There wasn't no grandfather option for customers who wanted to keep the 2g data plan on a 3G device.

      It's a cheaper service, I could care less.
    1. leram84's Avatar
      leram84 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Happy Noodle Boy View Post
      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.
      Dude... u got to stop buying into this att pr campaign. This is not in any way an effort to curb /current/ data usage. While it sounds great for att to say "we're looking out for 98% of u guys and dont want the other 2% to eat up all ur bandwidth, that /is not/ what is going on here. This is a measure to curb projected /future/ bandwidth consumption. Because once tethering, video chat, etc. get enabled, pple will be much more likely to consume WAY more bandwidth than they currently do

      I'm not saying that this is COMPLETELY unreasonable for att to do, they clearly need to do something to stop there network from getting overloaded. It just annoys me that they throw it under the guise of looking after the best interests of the many. And yes, i do think vzn is WAY more capable of handling this kind of traffic than att.


      On a side note, does anyone know if there is any possibility in a JB solution to give false reports of bandwidth consumption back to att?
    1. Cal3b's Avatar
      Cal3b -
      Nope, the data is kept track of from AT&T's side, using browsers like opera mini will help. Opera mini compresses data so you use less.
      In response to "98%" of people using less then 2gb of data per month, if at&t's network were better people would be able to use more data. My friends with AT&T just use 3G for email and pandora. Any surfing or downloads they do over wifi because 3G is just too slow for them. So maybe if the network was usable people would use it.
    1. reanimationxp's Avatar
      reanimationxp -
      2 Things:

      1. Gruber (as usual) is cynical and wrong. ATT is right in saying you WILL use more of that 2GB if you're tethering. Whether or not it's ethical to charge for the ability to use it a different (and more bandwidth-intensive) way is another story.

      2. When multitasking and iTunes.com come out, on-phone usage will be much higher than it is now.

      It's a good thing the cap is 2GB and not 1GB - all I have to say.

      Quote Originally Posted by leram84 View Post
      On a side note, does anyone know if there is any possibility in a JB solution to give false reports of bandwidth consumption back to att?
      Haha.. wow. way to lose all your credibility in one sentence. Can someone point me to the Cydia app that misreports my minute usage? or a PC app that prevents my ISP from sniffing traffic? (inb4 VPN PROXY LOL)

    1. leram84's Avatar
      leram84 -
      Quote Originally Posted by reanimationxp View Post
      Haha.. wow. way to lose all your credibility in one sentence. Can someone point me to the Cydia app that misreports my minute usage? or a PC app that prevents my ISP from sniffing traffic? (inb4 VPN PROXY LOL)

      hmmm... not sure i really had any credibility to begin with. I'm just some random dude on the internet. As far as u know, i could be a carny, or a Canadian. but i guess im gonna loose even more of that cred that iv apparently built up with u in my next comment, cause i have next to no idea what ur talking about, but im guessing its geek talk for "im wayyy smarter than u, and that its not possible"? so i guess thanks for douchly answering my question.
    1. Ethanolic's Avatar
      Ethanolic -
      Quote Originally Posted by rkswat View Post
      The treat is you really don't know what you're talking about! Of course you must know more than the many at&t representatives that have been called and told if you currently have an unlimited plan you can keep it. Funny also how I have had the same at&t plan, (one that's not even offered anymore) sense before the first iPhone. I have updated with each new iPhone and guess what? I have NEVER had to change that plan. So maybe you should educate yourself before you poo out your mouth again.


      What part of YOUR PLAN WONT CHANGE UNLESS YOU CHANGE IT is confusing to you?
      If I'm not in that position, then I wouldn't have to complain. You act like everyone is already on the grandfathered plan.. I just happened to bought my 3GS on Ebay and been using the thing with Tmobile for 7 months now because I was waiting for the next generation iphone. I planned that when the iphone 4G comes out I will sign the contract and get a hell of a deal on it, but since the ipad came out with the $30 a month unlimited data without contract. I could see myself using the ipad unlimited data on the iphone and replace the iphone voice with skype or google voice. But all of a sudden AT&T decided to take advantage of the iphone 4g exclusivity and come up with this BS.
    1. camperchuck's Avatar
      camperchuck -
      right but they like to add new things or features, and for you to get those you have to change your plan and loose your grandfathered stuff. it blows and i think they are gonna do it when the 4th gen comes out in some way or form. watch.


      Quote Originally Posted by ZipZapp View Post
      Plan grandfathering at ATT has been around for a VERY long time.

      It is their standard practice. This is not something new for iphone users.
    1. reanimationxp's Avatar
      reanimationxp -
      Quote Originally Posted by leram84 View Post
      i have next to no idea what ur talking about, but im guessing its geek talk for "im wayyy smarter than u, and that its not possible"? so i guess thanks for douchly answering my question.
      that was my point. you're talking about which network can handle what amount of traffic, and you don't even know how (or if) the traffic is measured? wasn't trying to be a douche, this is just how ignorance is spread.
    1. thetoothfairy's Avatar
      thetoothfairy -
      Quote Originally Posted by headcheese View Post
      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?
      Yeah I do... and I understood how they are changing their plans.... just a comment I made earlier... I am thinking about adding another phone on my account before this starts so I will have to unlimited plans...

      I have unlimited data and calling at this time.. but what if I want to change my texting? I have 1500 right now instead of unlimited... should I change it before these plans start?
    1. headcheese's Avatar
      headcheese -
      I would toothfairy. Any change is going to make you lose your grandfathered status...ANY CHANGE
    1. thetoothfairy's Avatar
      thetoothfairy -
      ^ This all sucks! LOL I hate all this control and changes they are doing. Now I have to make up my mind if I want the iPad 3G, wifi before these plans kick in. Wonder how long before they stop the grandfathering? Not to cut down At&t but I think Apple created a monster with their products and At&t just can't keep up.
    1. 1shuttle1's Avatar
      1shuttle1 -
      I wonder how Apple feels about these changes. This can only hinder future sales. Steve has to get up in front of his groopieS on Monday and talk about his great new products coming out and oh by the way those unlimted plans I mentioned a few months ago "well it turns out not so much". Seems I was dooped by AT&T. Anyone have the number for Verizon and Sprint on them.