AT&T Will Force Your Data Plan For Your Unlocked Out-of-Contract "Smart" Phone

I haven't had a data plan in years.

I have my own reasons, I travel out of the country enough that I don't like having a contract if I can help it. I like to keep those costs as low as possible (especially if I'm out of the country & not using it) and spend money on other important things like my business.

That's usually not a problem. I usually just get the basic call/text plan and keep things simple. Fine with me. Because of this, for the past 2-3 years, I've had a flip phone - yes from the stone ages. It was actually quite nice as I'm on my computer enough – I don't need to constantly check my email.

That said, 4-5 months ago, the hardware on my old flip phone was dying (that happens when it's from 2008). I was out of contract with AT&T and so I could have chose to get a new subsidized phone & shiny new 2-year contract with them, but I simply bought a used out-of-contract iPhone 4 from my friend and swapped in my sim card (that whole commitment thing again). Again, no problems. America! Neat.

After using the iPhone as a dumb phone for all intents & purposes (call, text, no data) for the last 4-5 months or so, I get a text message out of the blue from AT&T that they've detected I'm using a smart phone and that all smart phones require a data plan - never mind that I actually had data turned off. That would be only a little annoying if it was just a notification message, but they went ahead, chose a data plan for me, and started billing me from then on.

However, they maintained that just because I was using a "smart" phone (that was not using data & for all intents & purposes a "dumb" phone) on their network, they could automatically start charging me for a data plan that I wasn't using.

Obviously, if you get into a contract with AT&T from buying a subsidized phone, you have to have a data plan – I get that – that's the concession you make when you sign up for that 2 year contract.  But, I bought mine second-hand, out of contract, turned off data, didn't use it and had no intention to in the future.

After about an hour on the phone with them trying to understand "our deal", I think I finally figured it out:

According to AT&T:

They can opt me into a contract that I didn't agree to because I was using a phone that I didn't buy from them because it had the ability to use data that I wasn't using (and was turned off). To top it all off, they got the privilege of charging me for it because I bought a differently categorized device – even though the actual usage of their network did not change at all and I never reconstituted a new agreement with them.

According to them, this is "standard practice."

Their solution: either get a basic phone (pretty hard to find one without failing hardware these days) or if you ever want to use a smart phone (even if you don't buy it from us or use data), you'll still have to have a data plan.

Cool story AT&T. 

24 responses
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iPhone Unlock Via iTune? Please take backup of your iTunes before you start. 1. Please make sure that you are running the latest version of iTunes software on your computer. You can check it at http://www.apple.com/itunes/download The next 2 steps are optional to unlock your iPhone, but these 2 steps will make sure that your iPhone is running the latest operating system software. If you do not have the original carrier SIM card or do not wish to update your firmware, please go to step 4. 2. If you've the SIM card from your original network (the network your iPhone is currently locked to), insert it. Connect your iPhone to your computer using the Dock Connector to USB cable provided with your iPhone. iphone unlock via imei iphone unlock via imei is very easy way to unlock iphone you can obtain your imei 06# and apply on gsmfastest.com to get your iphone unlock. We calculate iphone unlock very fast than others iphone unlock stores
They will adjust it! They tried that to me as well.... I bought a Samsung Black Jack back in the day and they sent me the same text... "We've detected that you are using a smart phone and have selected some data plan to go with it.". I called them back IMMEDIATELY and told them NO!!! I did not sign up for it nor do I need it.... The phone had built in wifi - so who needs a data plan.... I'll pull into a McDonalds or Starbucks if I needed internet... My car has navi... so I don't need it there. Any who back to AT&T. After about 30 mins of prodding them they finally agreed and to this day - I've gone from an Iphone 3/3GS/4 and now Iphone5 and they still haven't tried to turn my data back on... My wife even went from a 3 to a 4S, and they only tried it once in the conversion of the SIM cards to force me back into a plan, where I again stated that it is not necessary for me.... I am in some sort of data opt out... and they keep it going! The moment that they force me out, I will switch to straight talk wireless which is an AT&T company but it's unlimited text/talk and data for 45$/month.
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does shinanigan still hold true today with AT&T? i haven't renewed my contract for who knows how many years now and don't have a smart phone. BUT i would like to get an unlocked phone OR even a 1+1 phone and just keep doing what i'm doing without the data plan.
Been there: AT&T: Hello! How may we help you today? AT&T: We are currently experiencing very high chat volumes which may cause long delays. An agent will be with you as soon as possible. Johanna-S: Hello! My name is Johanna-S. How may I help you today? Me: Hi Johanna Me: I had cancelled Data a few months ago and I just realized it got put back in Me: except I never asked for it Me: AND I have been paying for it now for a few months, apparently, although I was unaware Johanna-S: Good afternoon. Sorry to know about that, no problem, I can definitely help you with your concern. In order for me to assist you further and make sure to provide the most accurate information to you. May I have your first and last name together with your mobile number? Me: YEs Me: Erika xxxxxxxxxxx Me: 619302xxxx Me: and I mean I must have cancelled it at least a year ago Me: as I moved to Mexico and gave the line to my parents who do not use data Johanna-S: Thank you for that information. Johanna-S: Please give me 2-3 minutes to further review your account and check for resolution. Me: thank you Johanna-S: You are so welcome! Johanna-S: I appreciate your patience, checking here, we cannot remove the data on your line as the line is using a smartphone and a data plan is required for all smartphone users Me: the phone is unlocked though Me: and I initially bought it at a 7-11 on a prepaid phone with no data Me: i simply gave it to my mother when her phone stopped working Me: also, I didn't get to choose this data plan. Me: Why was one chosen for me? Me: rather than being asked? Johanna-S: For the data plan, that is automatically being added to a line if no data is added and the data plan being added is based on the usage by the time it was added. Me: there was no usage Me: prior to being added Me: as my parents lines had no data Me: plan Me: so how exactly could this have been calculated? Johanna-S: The data is being assessed if there's a data connectivity being detected by the system, if they check emails, check any social medie websites and even online games, we can remove the data plan for the account if a line is using a basic phone, in that way, we can block data usage and you will not be required to add any data plan Me: ok I would like the charges reversed Me: this is ridiculous Me: they have no apps nothing running on this phone Me: that uses data Me: who can I speak to to get this reversed. Me: I never reconstituted a new agreement with you. Me: i'm not paying for a service I never agreed to. Me: I understand I'm sure somewhere in the small print there is a reference to smartphones and data plans but you can't simply choose one for me. Me: I'd have to sign this agreement and at THE VERY LEAST be informed of it. Johanna-S: I totally understand the frustration this may have caused. For the automatic adding of the data plan, you can see that on the wireless terms and agreement, for the charge, I understand that you want the charges to be reversed, however, we can only reverse up to the last 3 months of charge for the account Me: please do so and then cancel my plan.
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