Bogus Domestic Data Usage Warning

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by bit_bucket, Dec 11, 2009.

  1. bit_bucket macrumors regular


    Jul 18, 2002
    West By God VA
    My wife and I are AT&T Wireless business customers. We both have iPhone 3GS devices. Today we traveled from Utah to Nebraska by way of I-80 through Wyoming, and at about 10:45 PM CST my wife got a page saying she was in violation of the domestic data roaming TOS. My wife used her iPhone to send an email and check Facebook on our trip and that is all. Each time she did so her iPhone said AT&T E.

    I called support and they said that we used (his term was millions of kilobytes of data). This puts us in the GB range of data use in a 12 hour trip period. This was a manager who said this. He also said we did not roam, but did use off network resources. Isn't the whole definition of roaming using off network resources?!

    I know full well what the contract I signed said about domestic data usage off network, and I would never use my phone if it didn't say AT&T so that I would not run afoul of this TOS policy. Does AT&T have the right to penalize me and threaten to terminate me for off network data usage when my phone says AT&T and not some other carrier? Seems rather ridiculous that they could penalize you when you are for all intents and purposes on a domestic AT&T network, or otherwise have no way of telling. I have never seen my phone say anything but AT&T.

    Thoughts anyone? Should I take this to my states attorney general, the BBB, FCC and The Consumerist so that others are not bullied by AT&T?

    I am getting no satisfaction from AT&T, just a lot of rhetoric and run arounds.
  2. -aggie- macrumors P6


    Jun 19, 2009
    Where bunnies are welcome.
  3. bit_bucket thread starter macrumors regular


    Jul 18, 2002
    West By God VA
    I sure did. And the funny part is this does not have anything to do with the problem. This is only to limit roaming when out of the country. I was 500+ miles from the boarder of another country (Canada).

    Funny part is, it was the wife's number that was flagged, yet my iPhone, in the same car has Exchange Push, Mobile Me Push, Google fetch every 30 mins and not to mention Push Notifications for a half a dozen apps on. I received no such data usage message. Clearly I would have used way more data than her.

    What a joke...
  4. Applejuiced macrumors Westmere


    Apr 16, 2008
    At the iPhone hacks section.
    Sounds like the tech support rep was clueless.
    Millions of kylobytes with just emails and facebook?
    I'd wait till you get your phone bill and see if theres any additional charges there and then take it further if needs be.
  5. slider5634 macrumors newbie

    Dec 28, 2009
    Let me give you a detailed outline of what you experienced in this situation.

    While the rep you spoke with obviously incorrectly stated the usage that they're implying your wife used, it does not shock me that you received this message. If you look at AT&T's online map, you'll find that much of your trip took place in a partner coverage area and not on AT&Ts network.

    I'm not sure exactly how it's stated in your service agreement, but I know the one I read stated that users are allowed only 40% of their voice minutes and 24MB of data usage under partner coverage.

    I've yet to determine whether it's just the iPhone or all of AT&Ts phones, but they're programmed to always display that they're connected to AT&T even when it's actually partner coverage. So, while your phones may have advertised AT&T, it may have actually been another provider like T-Mobile. You won't be charged for roaming because AT&T has a service agreement with them, but AT&T is getting the shaft in what they're being charged by T-Mobile and other partner carriers; thus the extrenuous caps in usage.

    What I'd like to know is how AT&T is getting away with masking partner coverage from its user base. After my wife exceeded the cap, they altered her carrier settings to display "off-network" when under partner coverage. So, it's not like they can't show you. They've simple chosen not to. I strongly question the legality of that.

    How can AT&T reasonably expect its users to stay within partner coverage usage caps if their users don't know they're in partner coverage. My personal opinion is if they're going to let user's phones continue to indicate "AT&T" then they should be allowed the "AT&T" usage they're paying for regardless of where the user is at.

    In answer to your questions about the BBB, FCC, and other groups I highly recommend filing compaints on this matter. I live in a partner coverage area, so my dealings with the BBB resulted in AT&T voluntarily releasing me from my contract and waiving my ETF. I also filed an official complaint with the FCC using form 2000a and a lengthy letter regarding my matter. I've not heard back from the FCC as of yet and if I don't, I intend to pursue my legal options in this matter. AT&T cannot be allowed to continue doing this to its user base.
  6. thelatinist macrumors 603


    Aug 15, 2009
    Connecticut, USA
    This is not just an issue with iPhone; I got this on my old dumb phone when I made a lot of voice calls in a "partner" area. They changed the display to say "off-network" and I was careful from then on. My sister, on the other hand, has a T-Mobile phone which shows exactly what carrier she's on at all times. I much prefer that way, though I imagine AT&T is worried about people knowing how much of their coverage map is not actually AT&T service.
  7. slider5634 macrumors newbie

    Dec 28, 2009
    I thought I should give everyone an update on this. There are some important things that existing AT&T customers should know about how their phones operate.

    I finally got a reply to my FCC complaint and was provided with some interesting information directly from AT&T. Per my FCC complaint, I was contacted directly by AT&T to discuss this matter. Several emails flew back and forth between I and the AT&T rep over a couple of days, but I finally have an answer as to why they're masking the coverage area. Posted below are some qouted details of our conversation.

    As I had stated previously, AT&T IS masking the native AT&T coverage area from its users. Meaning that when you go into a partner coverage area, your phone will not reflect this change and will continue to indicate that you're connected to AT&T instead of "roaming" or "off-network".

    The first thing you should know is what AT&T qoutes as the purpose of the software generated logo displayed on their mobile phones:

    The Rep: "The AT&T logo that is displayed on the handset is referencing the carrier to which the user subscribes. To change that, one would have to change the subscriber, not the tower’s that the phone is using to obtain a signal. It would be false advertising for AT&T to conceal its identity on its own subscriber’s handset."

    I replied that I was not questioning her statement, but was questioning when that logo should be displayed. I insinuated that this indicator should change to "roaming" or "off-network" by default when a user leaves the native AT&T coverage area.

    Because they forcibly updated the carrier settings of my wife's phone to indicate "off-network" when not on the AT&T network, I let her know that I question the legality of AT&T choosing to not do so by default for every user. This is especially true considering that they impose partner usage limits in their contracts. How can users be expected to stay within these limits if they don't know they've entered partner coverage?

    AT&T's stance on the "off-network" indicator:
    "I did some research and found that we do have a feature code that can be added to allow the phone to flash "off network" as you described. I reached out to our marketing group and found that the reason why AT&T has elected not to make this the default situation is that in the past, users mistook this indicator for either a malfunction or as an alert that they would be billed per minute for their call. Because of these common misperceptions, the logical conclusion made by marketing was to make the "off network" indicator by request only.

    Any customer may request this "off network" indicator, for any reason they like. It does not incur any additional charge and there should be no difficulty in adding it."

    I feel like I've kind of hit a dead end with this problem and have elected to not proceed with this any further. I'm not with AT&T anymore and this really isn't affecting me because of that. However, I encourage everyone to speak out about this. I don't question AT&Ts motives for this decision, but even the best of intentions can cause problems. I believe that AT&T could be motivated to change this if they receive enough compaints.

    In the mean time, I highly recommend that anyone with AT&T that does a significant amount of traveling call AT&T to have this option enabled. Believe me, it's worth it to know who you're receiving coverage from.

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