Alongside substantial AT&T server overloads and problems with iPhone 4S pre-orders this morning, AT&T compounded their failure by seemingly trying to trick customers into giving up their unlimited data plans.
While trying to place pre-orders for the iPhone 4S, many users with grandfathered unlimited data plans found that their unlimited data appeared to be removed from their account in the process, seemingly requiring them to select one of AT&T’s tiered data plans instead.
The real issue is actually a bit more complicated – customers must first remove their unlimited plan, after which they are given the option to add a new plan specific to the iPhone 4S. This is concerning, because while customer aren’t actually being forced off of their unlimited plans, the process is very confusing, and many users did actually end up losing their unlimited data plans in the process.
The problem becomes more complicated and concerning when ordering from the official AT&T website, as many users are presented with the following message:
Your new device requires a different Data Add-on Plan than you currently have. We selected a compatible Data Add-on Plan for you. If you want a different plan, you can change the Data Add-on Plan by selecting Change here or from within myAT&T after you receive and activate your new device.
Those that do change their data plan as indicated are then unable to add the unlimited data back to their account at all. An AT&T representative that I spoke with this morning has confirmed that existing iPhone customers with unlimited plans will be able to upgrade, and that AT&T is willing to work with customers who unintentionally gave up their unlimited data. They’re also reportedly working of fixing their pre-order site to clear up the confusion.
While AT&T isn’t actually forcing prior iPhone owners to change their data plan in order upgrade to the 4S, they are pressuring customers to choose a different text messaging option, allowing only two possible choices: A $20 per month unlimited texting plan, or a pay-as-you-go plan charing an absurd $0.20 per text message. This issue only seems to occur on Apple’s pre-order site however, as direct pre-orders through AT&T’s website allow you to keep your existing text plan.
The real question here is, despite offering a PR-friendly response after being questioned by customers and journalists asking for comment, was AT&T trying to scam customers out of their unlimited data plans? I find it hard to see it any other way…