AT&T Took Away My Unlimited Data, Says ‘Tough’

Brad stuck with AT&T Wireless through thick and thin, through the terrible dark days when iPhones could barely connect to the network in some metropolitan areas. He stayed partly because he signed up as a customer back when unlimited data plans were still a thing. Then he got an iPhone upgrade and AT&T took away his unlimited data even though he didn’t ask them to. He is sad.

He sent us this note:

I need advice, and I have no idea who else to ask about this. I have been royally screwed over by AT&T wireless. I have been an iPhone customer with them since before the unlimited data plans were discontinued. You can see where this is going.

In January, I upgraded my iPhone, at which point someone at AT&T moved me from my unlimited plan to a 3GB enterprise plan that was $15 more per month. I did not request this change, so I was shocked and horrified to see it on my latest bill. I called AT&T immediately, and they told me there was nothing they could do, because their policy is that they cannot correct plan changes, even ones they initiated without the customer’s permission, if it has been more than 90 days since the change. No amount of discussion, even with a supervisor, [B], would make them budge.

To say that I am furious with AT&T would be an understatement. I have been their customer for years, and have even endured mockery from my friends because of their notorious issues, yet I stayed with them because of unlimited data. Now, not only am I stuck with an increase in my bill for $15, but I am under contract with them until January of 2015.

Is there any recourse? I have already filed a complaint with the FCC, but what else can I try? Can I sue them for fraud, since they raised my rates without my permission Please advise.

We got Brad in touch with someone more powerful at AT&T, but apparently even this person is not powerful enough. If you don’t want to read his letter, here’s the key takeaway: check your bills when they arrive, and log in to check your current plan settings occasionally, especially in the month or two after you’ve upgraded your phone. If a change like this happens to you, you need to contact AT&T within 90 days to have it undone. Why? We don’t know. You just do.

Brad wrote back to us:

Thank you for asking [the person with actual power] from AT&T to contact me. Unfortunately, he said the issue of the unlimited data plan was “non-negotiable” because I did not report the error within 90 days, even though the error was made by someone at AT&T without my knowledge or permission.

The only thing he could do was to refund me $75 in overcharges because whoever changed my data plan put me on a $45 enterprise plan with the same data cap as their basic $30 plan. He also gave the same spiel AT&T has been giving since discontinuing the unlimited plans, that their market research has found that 98% of their customers don’t need more than 3GB, etc.

Be that as it may, I am still extremely disappointed. I have been faithful to AT&T for years, despite their reputation for bad data coverage, their draconian attempts to limit data usage (such as not allowing unlimited data customers to use FaceTime) and the availability of other iPhone carriers. In gratitude, they unilaterally change my data plan and hide behind a policy that favors them because it puts the investigative burden on the customer, almost as if they hoped I wouldn’t notice the change, which is exactly what happened.

I have a full-time job and two young children. I don’t have time to check every bill, but even if I did, AT&T’s bills don’t make it easy to find the terms of a customer’s data plan, so again, the odds are stacked in AT&T’s favor.

If anything has been gleaned from this, is that your readers who are AT&T subscribers must always be vigilant. At any time, someone can change their rate and/or data plan without warning or asking for permission, and if the customer doesn’t complain soon enough, well, that’s just too bad.

In my opinion, I should not have to feel suspicious of the activities of a company that I am paying to provide me with a service. Am I wrong?