According to a new study from Nerdwallet, U.S.-based telecos are still making bank on smartphone overage fees. Over the past few years, data plans have undoubtedly become more user-friendly with respect to the amount of data offered. However, because we use our smartphones for more data-intensive activities than ever before — such as streaming Netflix for hours on end — many users are still finding themselves penalized for going over.
AT&T on Friday responded to claims that it throttles the data speeds of smartphone users on tiered data plans once their monthly data allotment has been surpassed. A report from TechSpot on Thursday claimed that AT&T users on tiered data plans were not just being charged overages when their soft caps were exceeded, but also hit with reduced data speeds until their current billing periods ended. An AT&T spokesperson confirmed to BGR via email that this is not the case, however. As BGR reported in July, data-speed throttling applies only to smartphone users with grandfathered unlimited data plans, the spokesperson confirmed. Subscribers with AT&T’s newer tiered data plans are charged overages when they exceed their monthly data allotment in a single billing period, but their throughput is not affected.
You might finally have some peace of mind about your cellphone bill if a new initiative being spearheaded by Joel Gurin, the head of the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, becomes a reality. Designed to eliminate “bill shock”, the system would notify mobile subscribers via an unspecified method if their current cellphone usage is likely to result in a bill that is significantly higher than their monthly plan. A similar practice has been in place in the European Union since 2009. Said Gurin: “We’re issuing a Public Notice to see if there’s any reason that American carriers can’t use similar automatic alerts to inform consumers when they are at risk of running up a high bill. This is an avoidable problem. Avoiding bill shock is good for consumers and ultimately good business for wireless carriers as well.” Score one for the government, or are you the sort of person that prefers to handle your own messes? More →
They say when the cell phone gods close a door, they open a window. Such is the case this morning for T-Mobile subscribers who aren’t enjoying their time with the carrier. As of today, T-Mobile is raising its overage rates to 45¢ per minute on individual plans under $59.99 and family plans under $89.99, and 40¢ per minute for plans above those price points. Since this rate increase is carrier-invoked and it constitutes a “materially adverse change of contract,” subscribers will be able to flee without the need to pay a hefty Early Termination Fee (ETF) — just as many did with Sprint earlier this year. What do you do if you want out of your contract? Get ready for battle, that’s what. As always with carriers, odds are good the some (or even most) customer service reps won’t even know about this option. When you call, be patient while the CS rep gathers info. Make sure that when you explain why you want to cancel your contract, you specifically cite these overage rate increases as your motive. If your rep starts giving you a hard time or doesn’t sound like he/she is going to put the pieces together, ask to speak to a manager or simply call back and start over with another rep. Oh, and hit the jump for a section of the T-Mobile contract that you may want to familiarize yourself with.