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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. aimetti's Avatar
      aimetti -
      Anyone know the answer to this question

      I am thinking about selling my unlocked 3gs right now. If i purchase a cheapy prepaid att phone and swap my sim into it and just leave my plan alone (including the iphone data) then buy the iphone hd/4g/g4 whatever it is when it comes out , would that be fine for keeping the unlimited data? Would it even work at all?

      I have had verizon for the last 6 years so this is all new to me.

      Thanks.
    1. law111's Avatar
      law111 -
      AT&T is making a HUGE mistake here, they're should be trying to be offering better service, not taking away service. This can hurt a lot of people I'm sure, I mean I love the Pandora radio app and people coming to AT&T or not "grandfathered" aren't going to have the ability to freely use data on the iPhone. We all know the iPhone is pretty much the internet in your pocket, but now AT&T wants to put limits on how much internet is in there... Big mistake. Just making it easier for people to choose Verizon over AT&T.

      AT&T needs to wake up, and QUICK. The iPhone feeds off data. People put up with AT&T's poor services like their 3G coverage because of the iPhones abilities, and you take that away.. and what do you have? A lot of unsatisfied customers who see there are better carries out there offering better plans.

      I love my iPhone and to be honest don't mind when I do get a dropped call, or I get a call from someone on the AT&T network that is not in a well covered area. It doesn't happen THAT often and the iPhones features do make up, to better help me cope with the alright service. Sure I'll be "grandfathered" but that wont be the case forever.. I want to support AT&T but they aren't heading in the direction that I hoped. I'm the one in my iPhone family trying to stand up for their faults and to stay with AT&T, but I might be loosing hope for them quickly if they don't do something drastic.

      ModMyi should start a weekly poll and for starters do one on what percentage of people currently with an iPhone on AT&T's network, would move to Verizon if they got the iPhone.

      Edit(Addition): The week after that poll, ask how many switched carriers from Verizon, to AT&T to get the iPhone...
      because I know I did, and I'm sure there are others, and now aren't you regretting it?
    1. Happy Noodle Boy's Avatar
      Happy Noodle Boy -
      Quote Originally Posted by law111 View Post
      AT&T is making a HUGE mistake here, they're should be trying to be offering better service, not taking away service. This can hurt a lot of people I'm sure, I mean I love the Pandora radio app and people coming to AT&T or not "grandfathered" aren't going to have the ability to freely use data on the iPhone. We all know the iPhone is pretty much the internet in your pocket, but now AT&T wants to put limits on how much internet is in there... Big mistake. Just making it easier for people to choose Verizon over AT&T.

      AT&T needs to wake up, and QUICK. The iPhone feeds off data. People put up with AT&T's poor services like their 3G coverage because of the iPhones abilities, and you take that away.. and what do you have? A lot of unsatisfied customers who see there are better carries out there offering better plans.

      I love my iPhone and to be honest don't mind when I do get a dropped call, or I get a call from someone on the AT&T network that is not in a well covered area. It doesn't happen THAT often and the iPhones features do make up, to better help me cope with the alright service. Sure I'll be "grandfathered" but that wont be the case forever.. I want to support AT&T but they aren't heading in the direction that I hoped. I'm the one in my iPhone family trying to stand up for their faults and to stay with AT&T, but I might be loosing hope for them quickly if they don't do something drastic.

      ModMyi should start a weekly poll and for starters do one on what percentage of people currently with an iPhone on AT&T's network, would move to Verizon if they got the iPhone.

      Edit(Addition): The week after that poll, ask how many switched carriers from Verizon, to AT&T to get the iPhone...
      because I know I did, and I'm sure there are others, and now aren't you regretting it?
      Congratulations Captain Obvious, you're in the 2% of people affected by this. the NINETY-EIGHT PERCENT that's about to start saving money could care less where you go.
    1. Cer0's Avatar
      Cer0 -
      I think we already got several threads about who would jump to verizon on the forum. Even a couple with polls. You will find the same thing as this thread. Some people are extremly happy with ATT and see this as a money saving event. And the others that are not happy with it and should keep the grandfathered unlimited plan because all they can get in the area is ATT. And the third group that are not happy with ATT and want to go to (insert provider here).
    1. jabregousmc's Avatar
      jabregousmc -
      Quote Originally Posted by MikePA View Post
      So, if everyone doesn't use their iPhone the way you do, they're using their phone wrong. Talk about arrogant.
      ok, some of you are taking things way out of context. i never said they're using it wrong. i worded it like that because i've run into plenty of people (plenty that are older, some that are younger and have mommy and daddy pay for all their stuff) dont even use the iphone for things that us "power users" do. i've personally heard random people talk about they dont text, they dont download apps, they just use it for phone calls. so basically they're buying it as a status symbol. "****, everyone has an iphone, i should get one too so i can be cool." and dont tell me that apple products arent "trendy" status symbols (as well as good products!). so tell me, if 98% of their customers are using less than 2gb (hell from what i've seen people post here, less that 1gb) of data, why are you even using a phone like the iphone? i mean if it's just the occasional checking your email and looking something up on the internet once in awhile, get a cheaper phone! there are people out there that do like to download tons of apps, stream music, post on facebook, skype, etc. it's what the iphone was made to do! so i dont see why the "occasional user" is ******** about "bandwith hoggers" and telling them to leave and go to another provider...YOU'RE NOT EVEN USING THE BANDWITH! SO STOP ********!

      i'm not trying to bash att or apple in any way. i've stated that i've been happy with att so far, and still am for now.

      as for the comment about me thinking that i'll find a true unlimited plan w/ another carrier...excuse me, maybe you'd like to go back and actually read my posts again. i specifically said that i understand that there's caps on them, and that's why i asked why they would call something w/ a cap "unlimited".

      and as far as att saying they're looking out for the customer? yeah, 98% of their customers, by having you pay less, yeah, you ARE paying less. but you really think that is they're intentions? to SAVE YOU money?? get the f*ck out of here if you're that naive to believe that a large company actually wants you to pay them less money. think about it, in the long run, they'll still get theirs.

      why not just drop the "unlimited" title and call it the 5gb tier? that way you're looking out for ALL of your customers? some are willing to pay a little extra for more data. and honestly it's gonna be that 2% of customers that are grandfathered (which is more than likely to be the "bandwith hogs") that stay with their unlimited plans, so sorry you "occasional surfers", you're occasional surfing might get slowed down a little
    1. Cer0's Avatar
      Cer0 -
      Ok, calm down a tiny bit with the (*) talk. . Nobody should be bashing anyone. I like to hear debates, not bashing. I agree that there are many people that have it as a status symbol. But I am someone that falls below that usage because I am in wifi range most of my time. Work and at home. I am a heavy user, but I am mainly on wifi most the time. I am not going to look anything up in the car while driving. Also lots of people live in Metro areas that you can grab wifi from just walking down the street from many shops, hotels, resturants, dinners, etc.

      As for apps I normally just download them from iTunes on the desktop. Not sure why but just do. Some apps reqiure you to be on wifi to download them because they are to big. Yes 3G restrictor takes that away but not everyone has jailbroken iPhones that are heavy data users.
    1. thetoothfairy's Avatar
      thetoothfairy -
      Many over at Mac Forums are filing a complaint. If you would like to here is the link to do so...

      https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.go...d.aspx?Lang=en
    1. runCMD's Avatar
      runCMD -
      Quote Originally Posted by Happy Noodle Boy View Post
      Hey OP, feel free to add these points to your smear OP:
      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.
      LOL - you're a MOD ?!?! ... And yet you want to squelch dissenting opinion. ? Way to go.

      Why so unhappy happy noodleboy ?

      Law111 - Mods don't sound too receptive to your idea on this site. You know - just like Darth Vader had a second child - that iPhone users are supported by more than one quality forum. Sounds like lines are clearly being drawn on this one. I can just imagine the back chatter in the mods private forum here. lol. Good times a'coming. I pay my own bills and feel qualified to decide for myself which plan suites me. I think data usage for everyone is bound to go up sharply with the iPad and new multitasking feature laden hardware (rumored). How much more ? - for many that stay under 500 Meg now - might see a couple years usage out of your 5$/month savings. Eventually, usage will rise ... Its just the nature of things. So multiply 5$ x 24 months ... Is that amount enough savings to permanently lose unlimited ? It's a personal decision. But, I ain't madatcha
      Do what's right for you .. Whether you're a mod trying to herd the cattle into a conversation you approve of ... Or just joe user like me.
    1. jabregousmc's Avatar
      jabregousmc -
      Quote Originally Posted by cerote View Post
      Ok, calm down a tiny bit with the (*) talk. . Nobody should be bashing anyone. I like to hear debates, not bashing. I agree that there are many people that have it as a status symbol. But I am someone that falls below that usage because I am in wifi range most of my time. Work and at home. I am a heavy user, but I am mainly on wifi most the time. I am not going to look anything up in the car while driving. Also lots of people live in Metro areas that you can grab wifi from just walking down the street from many shops, hotels, resturants, dinners, etc.

      As for apps I normally just download them from iTunes on the desktop. Not sure why but just do. Some apps reqiure you to be on wifi to download them because they are to big. Yes 3G restrictor takes that away but not everyone has jailbroken iPhones that are heavy data users.
      sorry for the language cerote but at least you're a little more understanding than some members on here. it just pisses me off that i'm here trying to back the other long paying customers that may be getting screwed over (as well as myself and new customers), as well as all the new ipad owners, and people that dont have wifi access around all the time. for people that do, well, good for you that you have a nice office job, or live in a metro area that has wifi all over. not everyone works in an office w/ wifi. some of us work jobs where there is no technology around (i spend a lot of time out in the middle of nowhere where there are no buildings, only cell towers here and there)

      and i dont remember who it was but like that member said, let the customer choose what is best for them. just because it may be a good deal for those that dont use a lot of data doesnt mean there arent plenty of customers that do use more data and therefore would pay more for an "unlimited"/5gb plan. and like another member posted, i would also gladly pay for a 5gb plan and even pay an overage fee, even if it wasnt called "unlimited" but just a 5gb plan. but as of right now everyone is paying for a plan that's a straight lie even though they dont really charge for overage on the current unlimited plan. i think the reason they dont charge an overage fee now is because they call it an unlimited data plan so if they charged for data used over 5gb they would probably get sued for it.

      i'm pretty much done getting bashed for standing up for the customers that are getting shafted. and like i said in previous posts, i've been happy with att for the last 3 years. i've been a long time paying customer w/ them since before they changed to cingular. so if they want to sell another 2 new iphones when they come out and still have a loyal, paying customer that will be adding a line and paying even more now they can look out for me too, otherwise i may just be leaving. we'll see how it works out.
    1. randomdude735's Avatar
      randomdude735 -
      I'm sure Apple and ATT are changing the data plan for several reasons, including the bandwidth to pay for all the ads that Steve Jobs has in mind for his mulimedia iAd features. ATT nor Apple wants to pay for the bandwidth needed to fuel this new feature. So who will pay? You will.
    1. darrinpruitt's Avatar
      darrinpruitt -
      You will not lose unlimited. You can upgrade and keep it. The only way they will change your plan is if you ask them to. For now at least.
    1. rollinin2's Avatar
      rollinin2 -
      I have the unlimited data play for $30. I have noticed on my bill every month that in the middle of every night mostly between 1:30am and 2:00am large amounts of data from 600k to 18 meg are being sent out. I added up last months data and it was 137 meg. Subtract from your 200 meg and that doesn't leave you much to play with. Everybody that I know with an Iphone has noticed this on their bill. That's the problem I see with the rate change for new users.