AT&T / Wireless service

United States

I am an AT&T Wireless customer using their $2 daily prepaid plan for a long time. The plan does not include data. A data add-on can be purchased for $1 for 100MB for 24 hours. When used up there is no Internet connection until you buy another add-on. This is how the system has always worked. Recently we used the sim in a different phone and suddenly strange things happened. I had not purchased a data add-on and so as far as I knew I was not using data. My account balance as of June 27th was $25. I started getting text messages from AT&T indicating a new balance as a result of a transaction. I had not done any transactions so I had no idea what this was. Within a short time I kept seeing my balance drop until it reached $17.57. I decided to call customer service to find out what was happening and suddenly a text message came stating that my balance was $0.00 after a transaction of $17.56. What transaction could cost that much? I wasn't even using the service.

After speaking with customer service the conclusion was that the network had automatically activated a data pay-per-use feature and was charging money without my knowledge. I had not been aware of such a service since this never happened before. I knew that if I didn't buy a data add-on or it had expired then there was no data. Apparently the pay-per-use was designed for old feature phones that use small amounts of data and for some reason the network did not identify that my phone was a smart phone and so began charging for data use. Since it was a smart phone I guess apps in background began using quite a bit of data. Even so, how could there be one transaction of $17.56?

Had I known there was such a feature I would have turned off mobile data. It is totally unfair that the meter is running in the background and the customer has no idea why. Imagine that the customer had the $1 daily 100MB add-on and after it expires the system automatically switches to pay-per-use mode. The customer will think he still has data in his add-on plan and will not know he is suddenly being charged high rates. There should be a message sent to the customer indicating that the data package has expired and asking if the customer wishes to switch to data pay-per-use mode.

In addition, the transaction messages should indicate what the transaction was. All it says is "your recent transaction". If I had seen that I could have figured out what to do. It is also not clear how suddenly there was one huge transaction of $17.56 that wiped out my entire remaining balance all at once. If this feature is intended for phones that use very little data the network should put a cap on the amount of data to avoid massive charges to the customer.

In summary I believe that I am entitled to a credit of $25. Also AT&T should be compelled to make the necessary changes to prevent this from happening.


  • Updated by Jacob Nachman, Jul 02, 2019

    I'd like to add one more thing. I told AT&T Customer Service that I would like to escalate my complaint and I asked how to do that. They replied that there is no escalation path. Apparently there once was but they abolished it.

  • Updated by Jacob Nachman, Jul 02, 2019

    I have a further update that really makes me even angrier. I managed to reach someone at AT&T who allegedly would accept my complaint. After I insisted that I have been using the service for a few years and this never happened before, the agent confirmed that the addition of the pay-per-use policy was instituted only recently, say over the past couple of months. So how could it be that AT&T did not inform all customers on the $2 daily plan of this major change to the plan details? Unbelievable! In addition, the plan now makes no sense at all. There is an option for a $1 100MB 24 hour data add-on but if you don't buy it you get charged $0.01 per KB. If you do buy it you have to make sure you notice when your 100MB are used up or the pay-per-use will kick in and your account balance will be drained! I asked the agent how I could submit a formal complaint and she said there is no way to do that. She would enter my complaint for me but there would be no feedback and no follow-up. Shocking! Thanks for any help you can provide.

Jul 02, 2019

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