AT&T To GoPhone User: "You Don't Have A Contract With Us And We Don't Have To Provide Service"

Reader Christian has an iPhone that is activated on a pre-paid GoPhone plan with AT&T. The EDGE service has stopped working properly for quite a few GoPhone-style iPhone users in California and Christian isn’t having much luck with AT&T’s customer service:

Since Saturday many iPhones in California and several other states, that are on GoPhone plans, can not access their name servers on the EDGE network any more. This causes all network related services to fail in normal operation. If the browser is fed with IP addresses instead of website names it will access the sites, but this is not a viable workaround.
Like hundreds of other iPhone GoPhone users I have reported the issue repeatedly and gotten the runaround.

I spent more than 4 hours on the phone, more than 2 of them on hold, talked to about 20 different AT&T and Apple technicians and yesterday finally was bluntly told: “You only are on GoPhone, so you don’t have a contract with us and we don’t have to provide service”. We have to thank Erik in the Albuquerque, NM call center for this redefinition of US contract law.

This Erik also offered these gems:
“The iPhone does not work on GoPhone” (it works just fine just like any other GSM phone)
“There is no EDGE service add-on for GoPhone” (weird that AT&T is selling the service if it doesn’t exist. Also it worked before the outage)
“Apple is running its own network for iPhone so we can’t support iPhone issues”

Anyway, my service is still down and so is the service of countless others and it appears nothing is done about it.

Yesterday I sent an EECB to the AT&T CEO, Randall Stephenson, hoping it will get fixed, but as of this morning I have not had any response.

We checked AT&T’s website for the “we don’t have to provide service” clause in their GoPhone plan terms and conditions, but we couldn’t find it.

Sounds like they really don’t want you using the iPhone on their GoPhone plan instead of getting the fancy 2-year contract. Anyone else having this problem?


Edit Your Comment

  1. darkened says:

    FCC Compliant too, or your utilities commission.

  2. Cowboys_fan says:

    Unfortunately service is not guaranteed, contract or no contract. Cellular technology is far from perfect and always will be. Don’t like it? Change companies, but there’s no way to force them to do anything if they choose not to help.

  3. noquarter says:

    This is especially interesting in juxtaposition to this news:
    wherein AT&T attempts to claim that their network is open to all GSM devices.

  4. ornj says:

    I don’t understand, did AT&T make prepaid iPhones available? If you are taking the SIM from a prepaid phone and tossing it in your iPhone i don’t see why they should have to support that.

    I don’t know what the deal with the prepaid iPhone as I really haven’t been paying the topic much attention so I could be totally off the mark.

  5. TomK says:

    I just had this problem start a couple weeks ago. I got the problem resolved.

    Take the phone to a corporate AT&T store, not a kiosk, and tell them to test your SIM in another edge enabled phone. Your sim will not work in the other edge enabled phone, so have them replace your sim card and restore the phone. Don’t leave the store until your phone works.

    It took them about ten minutes to fix. Now my edge works good again.

  6. TomK says:


    If your credit is bad or you balk at a deposit or you don’t wanna give a ss number, you can get a monthly prepaid account.

  7. Noyo says:

    Try [] to locate more corporate masters and see what other companies they are associated with. It’s C. Wright Mills’, “The Power Elite,” illustrated with todays players.

    Maybe if we start rattling all their cages they’ll behave.

  8. mrmaxmouse says:

    you might also try EECB the apple iPhone folks. They have the power to make things happen…Example: People on Go Phone with iPhone were getting CONSTANT pop-up messages stating “your available balance is $x.xx”. This is because go phone was setup to send the message after every transaction, even if that transaction didn’t cost anything…

    iPhone’s are setup to check your email every 15 minutes…and a data session is considered a transaction…so every 15 minutes you would get a pop up that said “Your balance is $x.xx” even though the balance never changed…and they did make changes to go phone explicitly for the iPhone…Since this seems to affect an entire state (or two) of iPhone user’s, i’d suggest EECB’ing apple too, since they seem to have a direct line to the people who can make these changes, and they actually listen to their customers.

  9. calvinneal says:

    Some of these customer service people are morons. If you got someone in New Mexico, he does not work for ATT. He is employeed by Cincinatti Bell or whatever the hell they are called now. Take the Phone to an ATT store.

  10. Buran says:

    @TomK: Or if you don’t want a contract. Nothing wrong with that.

  11. TomK says:

    Well you can’t just say I want no contract. You activate on itunes so you have to fail a credit check or put 999-99-9999 for your ss number before the option comes up. If you pass a credit check, no gophone will be available for you.

    My outage was in Washington, by the way.

  12. dasunst3r says:

    Actually, by accepting payment, AT&T is under contract to deliver whatever merchandise they’re hawking, so failure to provide service would indeed be breach of contract. Take that, lawyers!

  13. azntg says:

    I’m sure even with a contract, AT&T has a clause somewhere that says (in effect): “Even with this contract, we do not have to provide service to you.”

  14. stickystyle says:

    So let me get this straight…
    You using a phone in an unsupported fashion, and complaining that AT&T isn’t working with you on making it work?

    It’s not like you can just unwittingly buy an iPhone and plop a goPhone card in it and have it work, you had to do little work arounds to get it going in the first place – you knew what you where getting into. Tough luck.

    Don’t like it? Don’t support the iPhone and AT&T.
    (Coming from someone who’s full time job is maintaining Apple products)

    • rwalford79 says:


      That solidified why Apple isnt doing so hot anymore, and why Im a Microsoft boy…



  15. sven.kirk says:

    @dasunst3r: So people buying the iPhone are not breaching the contract themselves? So then they would also owe the early termination fee also.

    From the ATT website itself.
    “There are no equipment or monthly service discounts available with the purchase of an iPhone. *All plans require a 2-year AT&T service agreement, an activation fee, and are subject to AT&T credit approval. Approval is required.”

    What they are selling is a phone WITH a 2 year contract. Not a phone with prepaid options.

  16. TomK says:


    You don’t know what your talking about.

    Prepaid monthly works right in iTunes given you refuse a ss or fail a credit check and aren’t willing to pay a deposit. No work around. No hacking.

    and, sven,

    And the “Approval is required” modifies the two year plans. A 2 year plan requires approval of credit. Otherwise it’s a gophone prepaid monthly plan, which requires no credit approval.

  17. Geekybiker says:

    Gophone is one of the options to activate the iphone when you go to set it up. I would presume they would eliminate that option if they didnt allow it.

  18. Crim Law Geek says:

    Despite my hard-core Apple Fanboy-ism, I continue to think Apple made a huge mistake relying in Cingular/AT&T for the iPhone, specially on ATT’s horrendous customer service. What I think Apple should have done is set up a Mobile Virtual Network Operator on top of whatever network or mix of networks, and handled all of the activation and customer service stuff themselves. It might have cost a bit more, but then Apple could have much tighter control over the whole experience and not have had to rely on some crappy third-party to take care of their customers.

  19. dmartinez says:

    IF typing IP Addresses in the phone(as stated in the news article) it means they do not have a DNS server being assigend to your phone when making calls.

    Several ways you can address this

    1) Look at your phone settings and see if the DNS server is set to auto assign one. This means when you connect into the net it will get a DNS server assigned to it via the ISP (in this case AT&T). If it is set to auto assign then try option item 2

    2) If you have an ISP from your house like Comcast etc…. you can try using the DNS servers they assigned to your home PC. You will need to add them manually to your iPhone. This may work (no promises).

  20. stickystyle says:

    Yep, your correct. I retract.

  21. sven.kirk says:

    @TomK: Take a look at the att wireless site. The iPhone is not “available” on the GoPhone website. Just looked. It is only available with a 2 year contract.

    This is why they are no longer taking cash when selling them. They are “losing” their extra revenue with the lost contracts with resellers, and users going prepaid.

  22. dlab says:

    Your issues are due to a massive network-wide DNS server clusterf*ck. Everything should be working normally but you may have to reboot your phone (not sure exactly how that works, don’t have one) so that it re-acquires the DNS servers.

    AT&T’s tech support grid has been overloaded by the incident so QoS has been terrible. If you are talking to someone who doesn’t know what they’re saying, ask for a supervisor till you get someone that does.

  23. TomK says:


    I have an unhacked AT&T prepaid monthly gophone. It’s right here in my pocket. Like I said before gophone is only an option if people are failing credit checks or have no ss number. ATT isn’t advertising it but its there.

    They are only taking cards to prevent people from reselling it unlocked in places like china.

    You don’t seem to know what you are talking about.

  24. Boberto says:

    Jailbreak the phone and use TMobile. That’s what I did. It’s far cheaper and more reliable.

  25. BugMeNot2 says:
  26. Trackback says:

    The introduction of the iPhone last year foretold a not-so-distant future where Internet access is a constant for those on the go.