AT&T Data Billing…

26 05 2011

My wife had this happen with her account—the data usage was rocketing even though her phone odometer said otherwise. A few weeks ago, I purchased a Smartphone from AT&T (Samsung Focus, Windows Phone) and my data charges skyrocketed after approximately two weeks.

The Today Show did a spot on it that was posted on MSNBC, I thought I should share….

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To AT&T Wireless’ credit, they did credit the overage of $15. They also noted that I never received one of the “several” warning messages I’m supposed to receive as the phone approaches the 200MB limit. The only one I received was the SMS that stated I went over my limit and an additional $15 was tagged onto my bill.

At first, I thought it was the phone having issues—I had Wi-Fi on all the time, wherever I go, and when I’m at home. However, upon further inspection, I saw that the data charges were at night when I’m in bed, and the phone is sitting quietly on it’s charger.

If there was a discrepancy of a few KB in the middle of the night, I probably wouldn’t care as I would assume it was just something updating (i.e.. e-mail notification, calendar, etc.) However, when your data usage JUMPS from a few MB to 100+MB in a single day, something is terribly wrong.

I’ve reached out to AT&T via telephone and Twitter, neither has been able to properly answer why the data charges appear at night when the phone is not in use or if the data billed is “sent” or “received” data.  The last word I got was via telephone that the dates/times that are stamped online are simply when the phone updates, and are not representative of when the data was actually used. I asked how can AT&T Billing be so sure those data charges are accurate if there is no way to audit them, and was told that “it is accurate…no need to worry.” Forgive me for sounding cynical but nothing sounds Kosher about any of this.

Thankfully, my wife’s iPhone 4 has an odometer which is supposed to give an accurate reading of exactly how much data is sent and received. The time we had a billing issue like this, the data was way off from what the phone was reporting. I offered to send the rep a screenshot from the phone yet she credited the account and took my word for it.

My wife and I have been with AT&T since July ‘08 (iPhone 3G launch) and have relatively few issues with them. However, in the last year, we have had to call in with two [data] billing issues. The only other complaint I have about AT&T is at-times we drop calls seemingly more than I can remember when we had T-Mobile, and certainly more than when we had Verizon. Although there are some nice perks with AT&T (i.e.. Rollover Min), I admit that I am coming to a crossroads: I think I’d rather have less dropped calls than Rollover Minutes.

In the end, we decided to return the Samsung Focus to the AT&T store, and wait until the end of our contract to make any further buying decisions that relate to smartphones or data devices. My wife plans to hold on to her iPhone until the contract is up unless any further data billing issues arise. It may be just a coincidence but it seems that these charges arose nearly two weeks after I got the phone, around the time when the return policy would be up (except California, 30 days here).


Data Usage 2

(From the Samsung Focus)




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