Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Nickels, Dimes, and Two Dollar Bills

Today I spoke with an AT&T customer service representative about my bill.

On June 30th I had 24KB of data usage in a single instance.  The purpose of this usage was to test my data connection at the request of an AT&T customer service representative who was restoring data service to my phone.  Data had stopped working after I had requested that data be disabled on my parents' numbers.  I had not asked for them to do the same for my number.  I don't use "data" per se, but I do upload Multimedia Messages, which are charged to my Messaging plan along with SMS Text messages, but MMS rely on the phone's data capability.  My parents and wife don't use Multimedia Messaging, and had become annoyed at the few cents charged every time they hit the wrong button.  Getting rid of those charges was the motivation for blocking data on Elizabeth's and my parents accounts, especially since Shoshana had taken to mashing buttons on Elizabeth's phone.

When I got the bill, I called to see what the $2.00 charge was for.  I had previously been on a $0.01/KB pay-per-use plan, but since that plan was no longer available when they added it back, I was now being charged $2.00/MB.

I had begrudgingly come to accept the few cents that I was charged almost every month when I accidentally hit a button or menu item that launched a web service.  These buttons and menu items are, naturally, featured prominently everywhere on the phone.  It's difficult to avoid them. 

But this $2.00 for-the-first-byte thing crossed the line.  This, I would not tolerate.

I called.  I was told that my options were to block data on my phone or just pay the charges:  the plan I was on before was no longer available.  I told them that was ridiculous.  I had not asked them to change the plan.  They had changed the plan by mistake.  I would not pay for their mistake.  I would most certainly not pay month after month.

They told me it was impossible to enter the old code into their system.  I laughed and told them that they were wrong.  Perhaps they did not have the right permissions to do it, but it could be done.

I asked for a supervisor.  They gave me a higher-ranking customer service agent who told me that they would refund the $2.00 as a one-time courtesy, but in the future I would either need a data plan or pay the charges.

I asked for a real supervisor.  They told me they would probably say the same thing, but ok.  I waited on hold for a while.  The supervisor came on and told me that she could have a case written, and they would get back to me.  She warned that if I did that, she couldn't have the $2.00 charge removed as a courtesy.  I told her that it didn't scare me.  She also warned me that I couln't appeal whatever they decided.  I laughed and said I didn't believe her, but just to put it through.

They said I would hear from them by the afternoon of July 30th.