I Can’t Make My Son Use Less Data On HIs iPhone Without Giving AT&T More Money

Mark has a teenage son. His son has an iPhone. Like many teens (and quite a few adults, come to think of it) his son has trouble managing his usage on his 200-megabyte data plan. Most of the time he’s near wi-fi…but that’s only most of the time. Mark called up AT&T to see whether there was any way that he could lock down the phone from his account so it just can’t access the data network at all after reaching its limit. That would be a nice feature, wouldn’t it? Too bad that AT&T doesn’t offer a way to do that without somehow giving them more money.

Had an interesting call with AT&T today concerning blocking data on my son’s iphone. He and I both have the 200mb plan which usually works well because we are often near wifi. However, he sometimes has trouble managing his quota. I received a warning from AT&T yesterday that he was nearing his 200mb limit and called them today hoping to put a temporary block on my son’s data usage until the next billing cycle in order to ensure that he doesn’t go over. AT&T refused to do this saying that they could easily do it if he was using a dumbphone, but “a smartphone won’t work without a data plan.” As I tried to argue with them about this and over the next few minutes they actually gave me two other ways to shut the data off myself: use the iphone settings to turn off mobile data, or sign up for one of their new “shared data” plans which apparently allows you to deallocate data from specific devices. Unfortunately my son can’t be trusted to remember to turn the data off after he uses a bit of it; I also don’t want to upgrade to one of their more expensive shared data plans.

So, to recap, there are three potential ways for me to block the data to save $15 in overage charges this month:

1. have AT&T block the data on the phone, but they refuse because the phone “won’t work”, result is $15 in overage charges for AT&T
2. sign up for a shared data plan to block the data: more money for AT&T
3. have my son try to manage the blocking himself in the iphone settings, which won’t work (he’s a teenager) $15 for AT&T

Win, win, win for AT&T, lose, lose, lose for me!

Ah, capitalism. If you know of a way to disable data on an AT&T iPhone that a teenage boy can’t get around, please do let us know and we’ll pass it on to Mark.