For the last few weeks I have been going round with AT&T about my cell phone. It might be a bit too soon to tell, but if the tussle has been worth it, you might be able to benefit from my experience. Here's what happened.
AT&T will usually give you a good deal on a new phone as an incentive to sign up for a new contract. I was willing to do that except, in order to replace my smart phone, a new policy requires that you also have a “data plan”.
My old smart phone didn't require a data plan and I didn't want to start one. I would like to get data wherever there is a cell signal. But their plans are expensive. A smart phone can access data through a WIFI connection that bypasses the cell network. Why pay $15 a month for internet access when McDonalds and others give it away! Yet every time I looked at smart phones I was told, “You have to have a data plan.” Rather than let you decide, AT&T tries to force you.
I got a little desperate when I dropped my old phone into some water and fried its WIFI circuitry. At SAMS club a few weeks ago I expressed my annoyance and I was told, “Call AT&T directly. They are losing customers and might deal with you.” A sign of hope.
I called and heard, “You have to have a data plan with a smart phone.” Hope dwindled. I argued that there is no technical reason for the policy. My old smart phone worked fine without a data plan. When I told them, “I might have to find a new carrier.” the salesperson said, “I'll pass you on to my supervisor. Maybe he can help you.” He helped me. I ordered a nice smart phone and he assured me, “NO DATA PLAN!”
When you get a new phone in the mail, you have to “activate” the phone by agreeing to the terms of the contract. There was no contract in the paperwork that came with my new phone so I was suspicious that they might tack a data plan on after a few months. I wanted something in writing.
When I tried to activate the phone I'm told again, “You have to have a data plan with a smart phone.” Some wanted me to send the phone back or not use it as a phone! Finally, I found another supervisor who said, “You didn't have a data plan. You don't have to have a data plan.” He put notes in my file saying so. Now, when others claim, “You have to have a data plan.” I point to the notes, “That's interesting.” they say, “I guess you don't have to have a data plan.”
If they add a data plan on my next bill, I'll let you know. But for now, I am data free.