Heather travels to China regularly for work, and she has to bring her phone with her. It’s a Blackberry on AT&T. What she doesn’t understand is why lengthy roaming calls made from China appear on her AT&T bill when she’s out of the country. She never makes 90-minute cell phone calls, so she certainly wouldn’t do so while paying international roaming rates. Still, AT&T insists that she is the one who made the calls, and is responsible for the roaming fees. “[AT&T] can’t tell me who these calls were actually placed to,” she writes, “but [they] assure me that they know I made them.” Well, I’m convinced.
AT&T tech support thinks that Aaron is a very small man. A few inches tall, at most. He could live in a dollhouse. That’s because his billing address is a post office box. He was very interested to learn that receiving mail there means that he is making calls from inside the PO Box, which is probably why his signal is so terrible. Not that he can tell, because he’s probably crushed under his phone somewhere.
Michael is one of the remaining unlimited data customers at AT&T Wireless, and got to keep this plan after upgrading to a shiny new iPhone 4S earlier this year. At least he thought he did. When he signed his new contract, he accidentally ended up with some add-ons he hadn’t requested, like roadside assistance and insurance on his phone. He called to remove these, and somehow this resulted in his losing his unlimited data plan and switching to a mere 3-gigabyte one.
In ads, AT&T has been hyping their 4G rollout. It is pretty exciting, Unless you’re a customer using 3G whose service has been taken out by the upgrade. Scott is trying to remain patient, but has sought compensation in the form of service credits for the crappy service he receives. Big Orange granted him these credits, but he got an irritating surprise when he checked his upgrade eligibility date. It had been moved ahead three months, because he was now giving AT&T less money. Because they were granting him service credits for their crappy service.
We often hear from readers who can’t get their mobile phone carriers to provide unlock codes so they can use their phone on a different network, even just while traveling abroad. AT&T only recently started providing unlock codes to customers with iPhones, and Josh managed to get one for his iPhone 4S. There was one weird condition: he had to sever his ties with AT&T forever. They couldn’t provide the code and keep him as a customer. Wha?
Dave and his wife don’t have any problems with data on their iPhones when they’re in their home, since they have wi-fi. It’s when they leave home but stay in the neighborhood that they can’t connect to the Internet. While it’s not a life-altering problem, they were able to get online from the pool only last year. What’s going on? AT&T isn’t terribly concerned.
When Zach bought iPhones for his parents and added them to his AT&T plan, someone made a mistake. One of the new phones became the primary line on the account, Zach’s phone became one of the secondary lines, and this messed up his ability to upgrade to a shiny new iPhone of his own so he could FaceTime video conference just like his super-cool parents. Only that’s not how things work at AT&T Wireless. Zach was told that no one in the entire company has the power to fix this error. Not the customer service reps. Not the managers. Not the CEO. Not even the combined forces of Seal Team Six and the ghost of Steve Jobs could undo this error committed by a single authorized AT&T dealer employee somewhere in the Western United States.
Justin’s and his wife live in a major metropolitan area, and therefore their phone service with AT&T Wireless is crappy. His wife upgraded to an iPhone 4, found it even more unusable than her previous phone, and returned it within the 30-day return period. This means that they shouldn’t have to pay an early termination fee on her contract. Yet she did, and now AT&T won’t refund the fee.
Customers like Stacey thought they were doing the responsible thing by pre-ordering the iPhone 4S and having it delivered to their doorsteps, instead of queuing up on release day. But now some customers won’t get their preordered phones for weeks while brick-and-mortar stores have stacks of them, and they can’t even cancel the preorders to go buy one from a local store.
Have you fired up your new iPhone 4S, only to feel lonely because no one is texting you? Don’t be sad. You might still have some friends after all.
As reader Hillary discovered, AT&T’s cheapest text plan ($5 for 200 messages) isn’t compatible with the new phone, so people with that combination just don’t get their messages. Update: We heard from an AT&T rep, who told us that there’s no reason why the 4S shouldn’t work with a 200-message texting plan, and isn’t sure why this happened to Hillary.
When he upgraded his AT&T phone to a Samsung Galaxy S II, Matthew was under the impression that he would get to keep his old unlimited data plan from his iPhone. That would be a good reason to upgrade to a newer, snappier phone. The problem is that it was not, strictly speaking, true.
Tara’s stepson is part of her AT&T family plan. He’s young, so his account is fairly locked down: he can’t buy ringtones or games or even access the Internet at all. So why did his phone rack up $50 worth of data roaming in Canada, when he was 150 miles from the border at the time of the alleged downloads? Tara doesn’t know. Her stepson doesn’t know. And AT&T Wireless isn’t all that sure, either.
In 2009, loyal Sprint customer Matt jumped ship to AT&T, enticed by the glorious glossy screen of the then-exclusive Jesus Phone. I mean, iPhone. He sends $300 per month to AT&T for the four iPhones on his account. One would think that this would entitle him to an actual working mobile phone. Don’t be silly. Matt’s tale of woe includes months of frustration, including huge business deals lost due to crappy phone service.
T. is in the military, and has recently deployed to Afghanistan. He has an AT&T phone, and wanted to see about switching to a different plan so he could leave his phone active for occasional calls, but pay less. What with being in Afghanistan and all. He e-mailed their customer service department to inquire about this, and received a response that indicates that while someone at AT&T Wireless is answering customer e-mails, they’re not necessarily reading them.
AT&T encourages customers to buy the 3g MicroCell, a tiny cell phone tower for their homes, when their phone reception is poor, and will often send one for free to customers with chronic crappy reception complaints. But reader Darrell learned that while AT&T is happy to sell the device to customers in Manhattan, they can’t actually activate it right now so it’s useful. Update: AT&T contacted us to let us know that there is no Manhattan outage, thus proving the importance of calling back and getting a different call center rep when you hear something like this.
Reader Chris is an AT&T Wireless customer with an iPhone, and has noticed a marked decline in the quality of his phone calls at both work and home. That’s not unusual, especially for customers who live in large cities like he does. His real complaint is about AT&T’s attitude toward their declining service. A customer service representative told him that this is just what happens when a service becomes more popular, and he should try buying a 3G Microcell to see whether that improves his service. Chris doesn’t agree that he should pay more for his mobile phone service because it’s becoming worse.
It seems like only yesterday that Cingular gobbled up AT&T Wireless, becoming the AT&T Wireless that we know and love today. Now that they’ve proposed bringing T-Mobile USA into the family, we can’t help but remember this classic clip from “The Colbert Report” from 2007 — way back when no one had ever heard of a toxic asset, and the original iPhone was enthralling new technology.
AT&T Wireless has made its next move in the race against Verizon for nationwide mobile phone domination: it’s acquiring fellow GSM carrier T-Mobile from Deutsche Telekom for a combination of cash and AT&T stock currently valued at $39 billion. DT will then have an 8% stake in AT&T, and AT&T will gain 33.7 million current T-Mobile USA customers.