Yesterday, the blog Explain the Fee noted that Sprint customers with the new Samsung Epic 4G, who have to pay an extra $10 a month for a premium data plan, are reporting upload speeds slower than phones they had 3 or 4 years ago–with upload limits seemingly capped at 150kps.
One of our readers just switched over from T-Mobile to AT&T, but he discovered that pretty much everything the salesperson promised him at the retail store turned out to be a lie. At least, that’s what the angry AT&T customer service rep told his wife when she called in to dispute her first bill.
AT&T has officially delivered on the threats made by its consumer business director Ralph de la Vega last December: it’s switching to usage-based pricing on data plans for smartphones and the iPad. Starting Monday, all new AT&T customers who buy an iPad, iPhone, Blackberry or other smartphone and purchase the necessary data plan will have two options: $25 for 2 gigabytes, or $15 for 200 megabytes.
Lastmonth, InformationWeek filed a Freedom of Information request with the FCC and the FTC for complaints made about the iPhone in the past year. Although the breakdown of complaints is interesting, what I found most striking was that in a nation of over 11 million iPhone owners, less than 600 complaints were filed in the past 14 months*, and some of those were for other Apple products. If you have a legitimate grievance with a company, you might have a much better chance of being heard by the FCC or FTC than you think.
Update: Verizon won’t charge the soldiers for the calls in question.
In the weeks immediately following the Haiti earthquake, Verizon and AT&T offered free calls to Haiti as a goodwill gesture to people in the U.S. with family and friends over there. The offers weren’t identical, though, and Verizon was only offering free calls made to Haiti, not the reverse. Spc. James Crawford kept calling his pregnant wife each day from his station in Port-au-Prince, and now they have a phone bill for $1,919.44.
Apple made it clear last year that Google Voice is not welcome on the App Store or your iPhone. “Fine,” said Google. “We’ll go through the browser!” Today the search engine revealed a new mobile web interface that uses some fancy HTML5 magic to provide voicemail, calling, and text message functionality. If you don’t already know, you can turn any page in Mobile Safari into an App icon on your home screen (click the “+” icon in Safari), meaning now you can have a legitimate Google Voice “app.” Below is a video tour. Update: There’s a down side to this: Cy writes in to let us know that this fancy new version actually breaks functionality for iPod Touch owners–the old web-based version let Touch owners make calls, but this one doesn’t.
At least one official with the FCC is not impressed by Verizon’s latest explanations of its Early Termination Fees (ETFs) and Mobile Web billing practices. Commissioner Mignon Clyburn released a statement (pdf) last night where she called Verizon’s explanation “unsatisfying” and “troubling,” and she closed with the fighting words, “I look forward to exploring this issue in greater depth with my colleagues in the New Year.”
Last month, David Pogue at the New York Times published a tip from a self-described Verizon employee. The employee accused Verizon of deliberately rigging its system to trap customers whenever they accidentally press the “Get It Now” or “Mobile Web” buttons on their phones–even if they cancel the operation immediately, they’re charged a fee of $1.99 each time. Both Pogue and the FCC asked Verizon to explain why this happens. Verizon’s response: it doesn’t, and Pogue and the hundreds of people who wrote in to confirm this practice are all crazy.
What the heck, did you guys strike early, and target the wrong wireless carrier? The day before the possibly-ill-conceived “Operation Chokehold” is supposed to bring AT&T’s wireless network to a standstill, T-Mobile steals all the bad press by going out this evening across large parts of the Southeastern US and Puerto Rico.
Update: Immediately after posting this, T-Mobile announced the service was back up.
Last week AT&T, in yet another of a string of PR failures about the health of its network, made things even worse by publicly blaming its customers for, you know, being customers. Over the weekend, though, a new thread was introduced into the narrative: it’s the iPhone’s fault. Not because it’s too popular, which has been the old complaint, but because the hardware doesn’t work right, and AT&T can’t say anything about it for fear that Steve Jobs will reach down through the clouds and smite them.
That sounds pretty tragic and sad for AT&T, but the problem is nobody knows if it’s true, or if this is yet another strategy to shift the responsibility from AT&T.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has just completed a survey of wireless customers and a review of the “tens of thousands” of complaints made to the FCC every year, and they’ve reached a verdict: the FCC needs to step up and provide a better way for consumers to get help.
There’s a new Consumer Reports survey out that ranks cellphone companies by customer satisfaction, and to pretty much no one’s surprise, AT&T comes in last in all 19 cities surveyed. (Verizon came in first.) As AllThingsD notes, the survey “suggests that AT&T’s shortcomings are more widespread than the carrier would have us believe and not simply the product of a high concentration of iPhones in the country’s larger cities.”
I don’t know how Corey ever managed to secure a monthly plan that only costs $2.50–oh wait, it looks like some old offer Sprint forgot about but some of their customers found. Well, now Sprint knows about it, and they’re not happy. On the bright side, hey, no ETF to worry about if you want to switch carriers, Corey. You can read Sprint’s take-it-or-leave-it offer below.
A couple of months ago, Nokia ruined the Wifi capabilities on Chris’s phone, and now he can’t get them to fix it. Well, actually they told him they will fix, but only if he pays for the “repair.” Ah, I see–this is a good secondary revenue strategy, Nokia. Sort of a protection racket! Well played!
When Campbell changed his phone number with Sprint earlier this year, the company immediately assigned his old number to a new customer. They also gave that customer full access to Campbell’s account.