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Is AT&T overcharging its iPhone and iPad subscribers?

Posted: , by Nick T.

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Is AT&T overcharging its iPhone and iPad subscribers?
Uh oh, it looks like AT&T might be in big trouble now. Just recently, an independent investigation took a closer look at the way the nation's carriers were charging their customers for data usage, and the results did not look very bright for AT&T. The research showed evidence that iPhone and iPad users that use AT&T's 3G data services are being overcharged on a regular basis – by up to 300% in some cases.

The entire investigation cost about $80,000 and was conducted by using different carriers and different devices, one of which was the iPhone 4 for AT&T. Even when it was not in use and had every single application that might use data turned off, the iPhone 4 used data 35 times according to AT&T's data usage statistics. The results were quite surprising, to say the least.

Have you ever been overcharged by your wireless carrier? Do not be afraid to speak up – share your experiences with us by leaving us a comment below.

source: MSNBC via 9to5 Mac


53 Comments
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posted on 19 May 2011, 10:33 6

1. AndroidTroll (Posts: 359; Member since: 05 Mar 2011)


First!
I'm sure that Steve Jobs is behind all this...

posted on 19 May 2011, 10:35 8

2. iwebdroidberry7 (Posts: 230; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)


Your username is fitting.

posted on 19 May 2011, 19:39 2

40. Lucas777 (Posts: 2121; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)


ya... cause steve jobs is just so amazing he secretly owns att... and lets just say hes part of "the new world order" or whatver thats called...

posted on 19 May 2011, 10:50 15

3. KickRocks (Posts: 107; Member since: 22 Mar 2011)


At&t overcharges all their customers as a whole........PERIOD!!

posted on 19 May 2011, 10:53 5

5. Nine1Sickness (Posts: 40; Member since: 30 Jan 2011)


They were over charging me back when I had a frikken Nokia candy bar dumbphone.

posted on 20 May 2011, 00:14 3

48. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5610; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


That might explain why they got rid of the unlimited data plans so quickly.... :-)

posted on 19 May 2011, 10:52 2

4. Nine1Sickness (Posts: 40; Member since: 30 Jan 2011)


ATT/Cingular has always overcharged their customers. I use to be a loyal Cingular customer until they started charging me for a bunch of BS.

posted on 19 May 2011, 18:09

37. BobbyTaba (Posts: 316; Member since: 11 Aug 2010)


Ya on Verizon I par 23 dollars less with the same exact family plan. They said it was taxes

posted on 19 May 2011, 10:58 3

6. guest (unregistered)


This is not unique to Apple products all att phones not on an unlimited plan gets charged usage over night when the phone is not in use. My Samsung focus and my wifes palm pixi use anywhere from 1-11mb per night while we sleep. When I called att they blamed it on our apps which of course are off. This problem is all over the web and I suspect att will pay big eventually

posted on 19 May 2011, 13:21 2

27. SavageLucy42 (Posts: 211; Member since: 24 Mar 2011)


This is true. But as somebody who works for AT&T I can tell you that the only customers concerned about this are iPhone customers. I don't think I've ever dealt with a non-iPhone customer over this mysterious late night data usage.

posted on 20 May 2011, 13:05 1

52. iHateCrapple (Posts: 734; Member since: 12 Feb 2010)


iPhones send your facetime picture (captured without your knowledge) and your location (also captured without your knowledge) back to crApple for analysis and compatibility testing for the HumancentiPad!!

But no seriously, odd how this info ACTUALLY IS secretly stored on your device...

posted on 19 May 2011, 11:10

7. Tiberius183 (unregistered)


heh. If you were lucky to get unltd data when AT&T had it. They no longer even offer unltd plans.

posted on 19 May 2011, 11:16 2

8. 530gemini (Posts: 2198; Member since: 09 Sep 2010)


I wouldn't know. I have unlimited data, so it's the same flat rate fee that I pay every month.

posted on 19 May 2011, 19:39 1

41. Lucas777 (Posts: 2121; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)


me too

posted on 19 May 2011, 11:16 5

9. Stephanie Smith (unregistered)


I bought an iphone in January. When I purchased my phone, I said that I don't use the internet much, and so I got the 200mb plan. The day after I have my planned, I started receiving text messages from AT&T that I have used 90% of my data usage and I was going to be charged $15 for every 200mb overage. Although I didn't use much, I did have my work e-mail on my phone so I thought that, that was the case. I called AT&T to upgrade my usage to the 2GB for paying $5 more each month. After I got the upgrade, I disconnected my work e-mail from my phone. So, really, I was not connected to the internet at all. Two days later, I received another text message from AT&T that I used up 60% of my data usage. The next day, I received another text message that I used up 90% of my data usage and I was going to be charged $15 for every 200mb again. I contacted AT&T to remove my charges. They did not want to remove the charges. They said my plan shows that I was on the Internet at 2am and 5am on those days. I wasn't I was sleeping at that time. I argued with them until they removed my charges. After they removed those charges, the next day, I received another text message saying that I've used 90% of my data overage, which I was going to be charged another $15. I called AT&T again. After arguing with them, they removed my charges. They advised that I take my phone to Apple to review. I took my phone to Apple. All they said was that the antannae may had drawn too much data, and replaced my phone. After receiving my new phone, two days later, I received another text message that I've used up 90% of my data usage again. I contacted AT&T and asked them to remove my charges. After being on the phone with them for 45 minutes, they said they would remove the chages and advised that I turne my data off so that my phone would stop using data. When I need to use the Internet, then I could turn it on. This was so inconvenient for a couple of months.

now, i don't know what happened, but I stopped receiving these messages and each month i only use up to approximately 20mb. I am glad investigation is being done because this makes no sense at all to me.

posted on 19 May 2011, 11:37 5

12. Doakie (Posts: 1183; Member since: 06 May 2009)


Lol iPhone...and lol AT&T. I hate too laugh at people's misfortunes but seriously, you picked att which is easily the most expensive carrier per MB. Unless att is the only carrier who has good coverage where you live, which I have heard of, you already are stupid with your money, so I don't feel bad for you. If you picked the most expensive carrier just to get an iPhone, you deserve to be ripped of... I'm with Sprint not because I want a certain phone, but because they're the most price effective. I must be a heartless jerk, because I seriously want to laugh out loud.

posted on 19 May 2011, 11:53 1

19. applesauce (unregistered)


Apps and location "services" are likely culprits, or another "bug" in a prior OS

posted on 19 May 2011, 12:35 4

22. donpeppino9 (Posts: 67; Member since: 24 Jan 2010)


i had sprint for 8 years, and while they do present a good value their quality isn't up to par with ATT. i know cause i've recently switched to att because gsm provides far better phone choices. between the two carriers i get far better reception and coverage with att. combined with the fact that their technology provides better phone choices, better battery life, and much more affordable international roaming options, its not hard to see why att peole continue to flock to att rather than pay less for mediocre service with sprint. all of the att complaints about dropped calls and poor reception are from iphone users. apple makes a great device but its clear theres an issue with their device radios. you dont hear these complaints with verizon because their version got revised to fix the antennae problems. lets also point out that verizon and att are priced the same, the only difference is verizon gives you unlimited data and att doesn't. i wonder if having faster 3g sucks up all of the spectrum, which is how verizon is able to provide unlimited with their slower evdo rev a technology. even then, verizon is planning on ending unlimited data soon.

posted on 19 May 2011, 17:08 2

35. vrtulsq (unregistered)


You are correct. You are a jerk.

posted on 19 May 2011, 19:22

39. URC (unregistered)


Not only that, LOL @ getting an iPhone when you don't use the web. What is the point? There's a reason VZW dropped their $15 data package...everyone just kept going over because apps auto-update all of the time and it sucks your usage up. If you didn't want to worry about data usage, you should have gotten a simple feature phone.

posted on 20 May 2011, 00:22 1

49. CRICKETownz (Posts: 980; Member since: 24 Oct 2009)


There's always some cheap bastard bringing up their value with Sprint. That's great for you, but why bash someone b/c they want to pay more for a quality service. People have diff. priorities, for you its all cost driven but for others maybe their priority is better coverage. Viewing someone as stupid with their money b/c they don't share your same outlook makes you a dirt bag. No one is bashing you for signing up for a service that is about 6 subscribers away from being MetroPCS. The sinking ship that Sprint is these days doesn't seem like you made a smart choice.

posted on 21 May 2011, 15:37

54. hnic (unregistered)


I had the same issue Stephanie.. When I got the Captivate from ATT, I was receivng texts every other day about my data usage. Since I only had my phone about two weeks, I was still in that thirty day return window. I called customer service and complained, they sent my phone to problem resolution. They never gave me an answer why I was geting charge with so much data, but they gave me the unlimited plan. Keep in my mind i close all applications went into the settings to not have any apps updated until I did it manually. I was still receiving those texts . I told them I would pay of the remaining balance of my contract and go else where.. Havent had a problem since.

posted on 19 May 2011, 11:17 2

10. jp1samuraix (Posts: 8; Member since: 16 May 2011)


wow! that is f**ked up

posted on 19 May 2011, 11:28 2

11. tragichero (Posts: 163; Member since: 07 Jan 2011)


how much you want to bet that if this happend to verizon, there would be at least one more article about this on PA released within an hour of this one.... also.... dont you think this article would be at least four paragraphs longer.... just wondering...

posted on 19 May 2011, 11:37 2

13. skymitch89 (Posts: 1044; Member since: 05 Nov 2010)


I have. T-Mo wanted me to pay two different bills for the same month. I had paid my previous month's bill, and then switched to a family plan so my friend could get a phone. When the next bill was due, they wanted me to pay for the single line that I had had and for the family plan that I was on. That was the end of me using T-Mo, and now I'm a fairly happy Sprint customer.

posted on 19 May 2011, 11:38 2

14. hawk62 (Posts: 320; Member since: 21 Nov 2009)


Thats why unlimited data is great! But even on wifes iph4, her data is very low so this story doesnt sound too bad. Vz was were worse with all their fucking $1.99 or was $2.99 data charges for pushing the wrong button on the phone.

posted on 19 May 2011, 13:42 1

28. Whateverman (Posts: 3189; Member since: 17 May 2009)


It's not that hard to figure out. Just don't press the button that says "Web". But even then VZW gave credits for the $1.99 charges and offered a data block to prevent it from happening again. VZW is by no means perfect, but if you think that's worse then charging $15 for overages when you have no option for an unlimited plan, you are entitled to you opinion.

posted on 19 May 2011, 11:41

15. fairly_mismatched (unregistered)


It'd probably all the personal information being sent back to Steve Jobs.

I kid, I kid. It's probably just a bug.


I think I remember stories from months ago about this being done over multiple carriers and multiple devices..

posted on 19 May 2011, 11:47

17. bluechrism (unregistered)


Another reason to block the merger?? Ok, not a great one, and this article is a bit incomplete and i would like to know how other devices/carriers faired.

Oh, and can goingto be blocked - his/her posts are just spam.

posted on 19 May 2011, 11:52 2

18. applesauce (unregistered)


Fact: the iphone is a known data hog. It's part of "the experience", and is the reason it's THE most expensive phone to own and maintain in the NA market, and why apple still brands it as a "premium" device, even with technologically superior devices available.

What is surprising (if true) is if it the phone used data even when having all data turned off; that could cause significant issues especially if while roaming internationally. I wonder if that has anything to do with location services for WiFi hotspots? (seriously, not taking a jab at the location thing, but it would make sense if that's the case)

posted on 19 May 2011, 11:57 2

20. Brad (unregistered)


GOOD! Stick it to em. I you can afford an iPhone, then you can afford higher usage fees. It's like owning a sports car. If you can afford it, then don't complain about the gas prices/mileage. HA. I said it.

posted on 19 May 2011, 13:02 1

25. iwebdroidberry7 (Posts: 230; Member since: 17 Jan 2011)


Are you serious?

posted on 19 May 2011, 15:23 1

32. SavageLucy42 (Posts: 211; Member since: 24 Mar 2011)


There are more expensive phones than the iPhone...

posted on 19 May 2011, 18:48

38. Brad (unregistered)


YES...i'm kidding!

posted on 19 May 2011, 12:21 1

21. likeag6 (unregistered)


Hey all u guys on att complaining Verizon is the same idk why u all complaining about att. I got a Verizon iPhone. And its the same thing only that I never get messages saying I used too much data. I got an unlimited data plan for 29.99 bucks. Unlimited messaging for 20 and the cheapest calling plan the one for 39.99 and somehow I always end up paying 140-160 for 1 freaking phone. o_O it seriously pisses me off cuz I never ever go over my minutes cuz I never talk. And on my bill they always charge me sum premium services for 9.99 which I have no idea what they are I never buy ringtones or anything like that everytime I go complain to the store to tell them why my bill is so expensive they never really kno what to tell me.I'm looking to change to something cheaper. The only reason I got Verizon was cuz supposedly reception was the best bullshit I get no service in my house in La while my girlfriends crappy metro pcs phone without a camera has full bars. So yea sprint or maybe even boost is looking pretty good right now cuz I'm tired of getting ripped off by Verizon

posted on 19 May 2011, 12:40 2

23. nb2six (Posts: 298; Member since: 27 Apr 2011)


first off you went with a device on verizon that has been known to have antenna issues in the past. I don't care if it is the cdma version, i think that metal has something to do with poor reception JMT..secondly you might check into seeing if you may have been had by one of those premium messaging scams that was talked about a couple of months ago. I know alot of people who were affected and had no idea that they had "subscribed" to them. That was a big issue verizon was taking initative to combat.

posted on 24 May 2011, 00:11

55. taco50 (banned) (Posts: 5506; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)


Have you tried reading your bill. It tells you what you're charged for.

posted on 19 May 2011, 12:59

24. likeag6 (unregistered)


@nb26 thanks ill check into that. But I also forgot to mention that my girlfriend had a droid x and she never got reception in my house that's why she switched to metro pcs. Maybe I live in a bad Verizon area? idk ill also have to check into that thanks for ur answer

posted on 19 May 2011, 13:11

26. nb2six (Posts: 298; Member since: 27 Apr 2011)


no prob happy to try and help lol

posted on 19 May 2011, 13:59

29. kcombs (Posts: 245; Member since: 15 Dec 2010)


easy explanation, when you use data on your phone for anything it does not show in real time. so at the end of the day, say 12-2 am the system closes the data that has been used all day, then shows in the billing system (its the same for calls and texts). I work for a At&t call center this is a very common call we get, fact is people use more data then they think they are and when they check the usage they say oh it's fine, truth is it has not shown the usage you have done through out the day.

posted on 19 May 2011, 14:59 1

30. downphoenix (Posts: 2293; Member since: 19 Jun 2010)


the correct answer to the question is "Yes".

posted on 19 May 2011, 15:01

31. nickie me (unregistered)


I was recently charged for a mistake a t-mobile rep made the rep gave me wrong information about the international plan they have going on and I ended up paying almost $600.00 to t-mobile because of that and when I told other reps what had happened they talked to me as if I was lying had the rep giving the correct info I would have been happy to pay it but because I knew that I was told I would b charged 7 cent a minute and not 26 cent per minute I feel like I was taken advantage of ... im saying my thing is if I was going to lie I would have denied the calls to Germany all together but I admitted to the calls if I didnt need my phone I would have cancelled my services but being that my husband is in the Army I need a phone @ all times .

posted on 19 May 2011, 15:38 1

33. therygy (Posts: 94; Member since: 24 May 2010)


Yes! I found out that AT&T was overcharging me a couple months ago! I realized this when It said that I was getting charged for data use in the middle of the night whille i was asleep and when I was on wifi... The data logs showed that I was using data at the same time every night and it every month it ranges from an extra 5-15 gigabytes of data that I never used. This happened to me my mom and my sister who all had iPhones also. I made several trips to the AT&T store and the apple store. AT&T first told me that it was my apps running in the background and sent me to apple.. Apple told me to delete all the apps so I then restored my phone, and it kept happening. The next thing I did was turn "cellular data" off and it stopped.. But then what was the point in the iPhone. I ended up going back to apple and they gave me a new iPhone with no apps or anything.. And it still happened.. Sam with my moms and sisters. AT&Ts explanation for this was that our iPhones would go to "sleep" and wifi would get turned of to "save power" and once it started using data again wifi would get "turned back on". Eventually I just gave up and if I ever go over my gigabytes I will blame that.

posted on 19 May 2011, 20:57

46. kcombs (Posts: 245; Member since: 15 Dec 2010)


when you lock your iPhone the WiFi does turn off, only when the phone is unlocked it will turn the WiFi back on.

posted on 19 May 2011, 16:36 1

34. Socalvenom (unregistered)


I just bought my new Iphone and left Sprint since the reception was leaving me hanging in some parts of LA and so far I haven't dealt with any of the bullshit from At&t
I usually have great reception my phone and Im always connected to my wifi when I'm home and only use my data when I'm out and about, but if I start experiencing any fluctuation of data lose I'd jump on that law suit so fast. Mama didn't raise no fool and I'm sure as well not going to keep complaining to the customer service reps over a theft that the company feels like doing just for fun. Well not with my hard earned money they won't

posted on 19 May 2011, 17:46 1

36. SMARTGUY (unregistered)


There is not one company that dnt overcharge ppl. The price of phone bill is a joke this day n age.

posted on 19 May 2011, 19:59 1

42. Daryl209 (Posts: 18; Member since: 27 Jul 2010)


When I was a Customer Service Rep for AT&T, I saw this all the time. Data usage in the we hours of the night. It was mostly iPhones though.

AT&T are just Data Nazis. I feel horrible for T-Mobile.

posted on 19 May 2011, 20:09

43. ja$on (unregistered)


i have an iphone 4 and its jailbroken and all that good stuff.
no issues at all.

Just talked my gf into getting one. the rest of that day we were at home on wifi.
the nex day she watched a netflix movie on it at work :) and right after it was over she got the 60% usage txt from ATT. she was on the 2gb plan and I looked at her acct online and she had used 1.6gb watching that one movie!!!! thats 1600mb's for you that dont know. so the same night i let the same netflix movie play on mine and it only used 300mb, not 1300, 300. Whats with the varience in usage?!?! I dont get it.

One thing I will tell all of you. If you want unlimited data from att, there is a way.
not gonna tell you how, so i dont ruin it, but i was able to get it on my gf's and she just activated her plan this month.

posted on 19 May 2011, 20:27 1

44. clevername (Posts: 1428; Member since: 11 Jul 2008)


Its odd that att blamed, among other things, automatic app updates. Apps on IOS don't automatically update. You have to manually update.

posted on 19 May 2011, 21:01

47. kcombs (Posts: 245; Member since: 15 Dec 2010)


not the one's from apple, all preloaded apps on the iPhone get updated over the air.

posted on 19 May 2011, 20:53

45. TKFox007 (Posts: 303; Member since: 02 Nov 2010)


AT&T always has these shady business practices, like when a customer asks for something like text messaging and the person doesn't add it and not removing the charges when it was clearly their fault that the customer got the charges because they didn't give the customer what they requested.

I work for Verizon and when something is our fault we own up to it and fix it. Verizon beats it into our head that if a customer has a problem, it's our problem as well and we do what we can to make the customer happy to fix this problem.

I'm not saying that Verizon isn't without shady business practices, it's just that AT&T doesn't hide it as well as Verizon.

posted on 20 May 2011, 11:18

51. ATTCallCenter (unregistered)


ATT's answer:

AT&T Data Charges: Proposed messages regarding TODAY Show story!
TO: NSSC Representatives and Managers

Recently, a morning news program ran a story regarding a class action lawsuit alleging that AT&T is over-billing customers for data activity. The story alleged that the data activity is occurring in the middle of the night when customers are asleep. AT&T is vigorously defending itself against the claim and will continue to help customers understand how data activity is processed and billed.
Proposed messages for call center / COR regarding TODAY Show story

on AT&T Data Charges
AT&T does not overbill for data usage and our terms of service explain our billing policy.

· The story that recently ran on the TODAY Show included false claims about our billing practices.

· I can assure you the claims made in the story are false.
All data a customer sends or receives is properly applied to a customer’s data plan. This includes data activity you may initiate and also data activity that runs in the background on your device. Let me give you some examples.

· Customers are charged for all data sent or received. In most cases, this means the data that is needed to complete activity such as emailing, downloading applications, browsing the web, downloading a video or streaming music.

· However, this can also include data activity that is programmed to run in the background on your device, such as real-time updates to your applications – like weather updates, sports scores, or your stock ticker – which are regularly kept up to date so you have the latest information.

· The same applies to email as it’s pushed to your inbox in real-time or updates that come through to your social media applications, like Facebook. You can turn push notifications “off” if you’d like – I can walk you through how to do that (see MyCSP).
There is no such thing as “phantom data.”

· The data usage on your bill reflects all the data you use during the time that your smartphone is connected to the network.

· AT&T captures your data activity nightly to create a bill record in our systems. This will appear on your bill to be a late night “charge,” but in fact, the time stamp reflects the time that your device established a connection to the network, not the time that you sent or received data.
Accurate and transparent billing is a priority for us. Let me walk you through some tools we’ve created to help you manage your data usage.

· Refer customer towww.att.com/dataplans Web site and our data calculator. Help customer review their data usage history.

posted on 22 Aug 2011, 20:11

56. iphoneuser (unregistered)


Yea I got my Iphone 4 two weeks ago and on the third day it already told me that i had used up 90% of it when i only used safari for an hour at night both of the first two nights. I surf on the web for an hour as well as listen to the radio using TuneIn Radio app as well as using Microsoft OneNote and Notes. Should I worry my bill cycle ends in 11 days.

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