(for update, see bottom of review. This update caused me to change my rating from a -5 to a +2)
I'm not reviewing the service itself. I'm reviewing their billing policy as it relates to international data plans and the shortsighted manner in which they deal with their customers.
Here's the situation. I have both a Blackberry and an iPhone, both on AT&T wireless, which i use for both work and personal stuff. I recently returned from a 4 day trip to London, and while i was in the airport on the way home, i called customer service to see how much my bill would be and what i needed to do to adjust the plan so as not to get gouged for the international usage. I didn't talk on either phone at all, so i was really only concerned about the data.
They first checked my Blackberry and i used less than 1MB of data so that cost less than $20. Then they checked my iPhone, and they said i used 46MB over 4 days so my bill was over $900. I wasn't too worried because i knew that it's AT&T policy to allow you to adjust your plan based how much you have used it. So as a customer, it doesn't really make sense to change your plan before you leave for the trip, because who really knows how many MB's you will use while traveling. And i knew someone else in my group had called them the day before and they adjusted his plan to get 100 gigs of data for $120, so i wasn't worried.
Here's the rub. They told me i could not adjust the plan because i called a day late. What? I mean WTF?? A day late? They explained that the billing period ended the day before and they won't change the plan or adjust the bill after the period ended.
If AT&T wanted to keep me as customer they just really screwed up and i told them that, and that i was changing as soon as i can. They said, fine... just pay the bill first. I refrained from dropping an f-bomb because there were children around, but i can't tell you how pissed it was.... and here's why.
They knew this the whole time. They sent me text messages when i first got to London because they noticed that i was using the international data plan and the text message told me that it wasn't covered on my normal data plan and that it was billed at a rate of $20/MB. They know all this stuff. They know how much data i am using, and they know exactly WHEN MY BILLING PERIOD ENDS!! Why didn't they text me that? Why didn't they text me and tell me that i need to call them before the 29th of the month or they are going to screw me over?? The answer is simple... they are greedy and shortsighted. They tell me enough to CYA (cover their ass), but not enough to help me avoid being gouged. This is so slippery and so underhanded it makes me never want to use any of their services ever again. The nonchalant attitude of the customer service rep only made things worse too... but at that point, she was just taking orders and it isn't her job to see how AT&T is losing customers over this. Maybe someone who cares about AT&T customers will read this and see how flawed their system is.
Use this $920 mistake i made... the mistake was trusting AT&T... to make sure you know when your billing period ends because if you don't, they won't tell you and in fact they don't want you to know so they can gouge you like they did me.
UPDATE June, 8th 2009.
Okay. This morning i heard from AT&T. They called me because of this review!! They credited me everything that i would have saved if i properly selected my the correct international data plan, so we are all good now. This saved my HUNDREDS of dollars... this is really cool.
There are people who care at AT&T. In my case it was Brian Willis, a Contract Manager for AT&T. Apparently, he came across my review and forwarded it to someone working in the President's office at AT&T Wireless, named Kevin Hicks. Kevin called me this morning and credited my account the difference. He also said that he will be forwarding my suggestions to the tech group because he agreed that my ideas would help both AT&T and their customers. We'll see if that happens, but either way, it really made me feel good about being an AT&T customer. Now i should write a review about why i can't get service at my house... let's see if they can fix that one as easily.
Now what do i do with my rating? Hmmmmmm. I'm going to move it from a -5 to a +2. I'm leaving some room for improvement so they can fix this issue without having me (or any other AT&T customers) get upset like that. I hope they call me back when they make those changes so i can move their rating even higher.