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A Story of an Attempt to Switch AT&T Unlimited Plans

I have owned an iPhone since June 30th, 2007, which is the day after the first iPhone was made available for purchase. At the time, the iPhone was only available on one carrier in the US, and that was AT&T. When you got an original iPhone with AT&T, one of the things that you had to purchase was an unlimited data package. At the time it cost $30 per month.

The AT&T Unlimited Data plan was eliminated in June of 2010. The replacement options were $15 for 200MB or $25 for 2GB. If you had an existing unlimited data plan, you could keep it, provided you did not change your plan at all. I did not want to give up my unlimited data plan because who knew if AT&T would ever bring back unlimited data options. In 2017, AT&T brought back their unlimited data plan, albeit with some changes.

At some point between 2007 and 2010 my brother wanted to get an iPhone and so he bought one and his line was added to my account. When he did this, he also got the unlimited package. In 2015, I added another line to my account. This line was one that is used by a flip phone with no data. Each additional line, after the first one, is $10 per month, along with any extras. So this means that I had three lines on my account.

In 2015, AT&T increased the price of the grandfathered unlimited plans to $35 per month. The first increase since the introduction. However, this is not the only increase. AT&T increased the price to $40 in 2017 and then raised it to $45 per month in 2018.

If you have a grandfathered unlimited data plans, there are some features that you do not get. These are tethering, which was added in 2010, and more recently HBO Max with the “elite” plan. I am not as concerned with the HBO Max streaming, but I would like to have hotspot capabilities as a backup for internet.

Earlier this year my brother moved his line to its own account. While this reduced the bill, it did not reduce it as much as I might have thought. I got to thinking that I should reduce my cost and switch to one of the newer unlimited data plans, so I can get tethering, and if I so chose, HBO Max. After my brother moved his line, I was no longer able to modify my plan. In order to change my plan, I would have to call AT&T.

Today, I decided to actually call AT&T and inquire about changing my plan. So, I called and talked to a woman. I explained to her my situation and it took her like 10 minutes to figure out which plan would make the most sense for me. When she came back she said it would cost $190 for the two lines. Knowing this did not make sense, I asked her why. She stated that there were two lines at $95 each, so it would be $190. I explained that the second line is a flip phone with no data. She repeated that it would be $190 per month.

There is no way that I am going to be uselessly paying for data on a flip phone. I thanked the representative and decided to go to the store instead, hoping that they would be able to help me.

I went to the AT&T store and talked to a representative. Again, I explained the situation to her and she looked into it. She thought that she would be able to keep the plan for the flip phone and change my She wants to verify something with her manager. She indicated that if I changed the plan, the new price would be $150 per month, before tax. This is $15 moreover moth than I am paying now. It would be $55 for a flip phone with no data. Let me repeat that, $55 for a phone with no data. Naturally, I am reluctant to do that. The representative understood and indicated that I should call the Loyalty Department. She provided the direct number.

I called the AT&T Loyalty Department, explained the situation to the representative. She thought she would be able to help me. She took a few minutes to figure it out if it was possible. She came back onto the phone and indicated that it would be $150 per month for both lines, before tax, just as the store representative indicated. Needless to say, I did not change my unlimited data plan.

What bothers me the most is that the cell phone companies are able to get away with charging people $50 for a line without any data. How is this even legal? I understand not being able to keep the $10 per month, but $55 for a phone with no data is complete highway robbery.

I went looking at AT&T’s site to see if there were any plans without data. I was not able to find a single plan without data. While I understand the desire to provide people options for data, but there are some who do not need data and just need a cellular phone. I guess the only option for those are to go with a pre-paid plan or mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO, like StraightTalk or Cricket.

I may ultimately be able to save myself some money at some point in the future by changing my unlimited plan, but for now, that is not the case.