At the beginning of February, we began hearing from AT&T Wireless customers who AT&T helped out by putting them on a smartphone data plan that they didn’t ask for. AT&T Wireless implemented this policy back in the fall for new subscribers, and is now apparently identifying smartphone users and putting them on data plans. However, you don’t have to keep the plan if you’d rather not…as long as you bought the phone before September 6, 2009 or it is an unlocked device.
Reader Anthony fought the policy and won. He writes:
My wife received two text messages several days ago, right after each other:
AT&T Free Msg: Did you know a data plan is required for your Smartphone? Call 611 or visit att.com/smartphoneplans for details.
AT&T Free Msg: Your Smartphone requires a data plan. For convenience, we have added a minimum plan to your phone. Call 611 or go 2 att.com/smartphoneplans 4 info
My wife does have a smartphone, but according to the URL they provided, it’s only applicable to phones purchased on September 6, 2009 or later. She bought her smartphone well before that date, yet they still forced a $30/month data plan on her line.
Then, I received the exact same messages. I also have a smartphone, but bought it almost two years ago (needless to say, I won’t be renewing my contract with them next month).
They sent these messages after their live customer service was closed, so we called them the next day. They initially insisted that the data plans were required, and refused to remove them. I finally convinced them that we were exempt, and they removed the data plans.
I can’t imagine how many people are being (wrongly) told that they’re required to have a data plan on their phones. If only 10% of those people complain loud enough to get it removed, AT&T is still making a ton of money from an automatically-applied optional fee.
So if your unlocked device or grandfathered-in phone gets a data plan slapped on it, remember that you don’t have to keep it.
AT&T forcing smartphones (even unlocked ones) onto smartphone data plans? (updated) [Engadget]