Michael writes that his wife uses a BlackBerry for her work e-mail, but pays for the service herself. It’s part of a family plan with Michael’s iPhone, to be precise. When Michael tried to put their phones on a limited data plan, he learned something interesting and hilariously backwards: customers can only pay $15 for Enterprise access (e-mail on a Microsoft Exchange server) if they’re also paying $30 per month for unlimited BlackBerry data. What if they don’t use that much data? Well, too bad.
I am a web developer who loves the iPhone and hates the BlackBerry. However my wife is a lawyer for [redacted]. They require all lawyers who want to use Exchange to have a totally locked down Enterprise edition of BlackBerry. Basically, I pay $10 for the extra phone + $30 unlimited data + $15 Enterprise fee. So when I got an iPhone 4 I changed all of our data packages down to the 200 mb $15 plan because my wife only uses 2 mb a month. I thought, wow, finally some since has been knocked into AT&T about their data plans and archaic BlackBerry Enterprise Fees.
A week goes by and my wife tells me her email and internet are not working at all on her BlackBerry, and the tech gurus at her office told her that they have been switched off. So I call AT&T, wait on hold for 30 minutes to speak to someone, then get transferred to someone else, then someone else. Finally, I hear that if you need the BlackBerry Enterprise for your BlackBerry you have to pay for the unlimited internet in addition to the $15 Enterprise fee. I then asked the AT&T person, so what is the point of a $15 BlackBerry Enterprise Fee, when it is really $30 to make it work. Is that not the technical definition for “Bait and Switch?” The AT&T person said they did not care, if you want it to work you have to pay, and that is that.
No, that’s not “bait and switch,” that’s “charging extra fees because we can, and because most enterprise Blackberry devices are paid for by companies.” (For a more detailed explanation of what bait and switch actually means, read this classic Consumerist post.)
But this is all rather interesting considering this notice currently on the AT&T data plans page.
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you choose a data feature with a limit, you will not be able to switch back to an unlimited data feature in the future. This also applies to Smartphone users (iPhone, Blackberry, etc) with the Unlimited Data Feature.
The only way this change makes sense is if using a BlackBerry device with an Exchange server gobbles up huge amounts of data, and Michael’s wife’s data usage shows that isn’t the case. Sounds more like a fee that AT&T charges because they can.