I finally joined the masses and got a smartphone this past January. After two months of the unlimited data plan, I realized that I didn’t need it; it wasn’t worth the added expense just so I could check Facebook while riding the bus. I canceled my data plan and just use wi-fi whenever I need to connect with my Android phone. It was a great decision and has kept my monthly wireless bill within my budget.
Until now. I all of a sudden have a $23.95 charge for data use. WHAT?!
It turns out that T-Mobile recently added data to all accounts whether you wanted it or not. If you didn’t already have a data plan (which logic dictates probably meant you didn’t want one), T-Mobile did you the “favor” of adding a $1.99 per MB pay-as-you-go data feature. I was informed about this “upgrade” with a text message on November 11th at 1:54 AM, but I didn’t even notice this early-morning text until I got another one at 12:33 AM 3 days later to inform me that I’ve gone over $10 worth of data—wait, what?! Apparently, in 3 days, I’ve used about 12 MB of data. Checking the usage history, a lot of it happened when I was in bed sleeping.
Now, I know I have a phone that has a bunch of apps on it. I know that many apps still operate in the background, trying to download updates and sync information. I also know that before, whenever my apps tried to do that and I wasn’t connected via wi-fi, nothing would happen and the updates would just wait until I was connected. I’ve even disabled background sync so most of my apps don’t even try to sync unless I tell them to.
But now, thanks to T-Mobile, I’m using data I didn’t even want or need to be using! Before, if I happen to get disconnected from my wi-fi while browsing or downloading, I’d notice right away because a page wouldn’t load or a download would stall. I would just reconnect to my wi-fi or get on my PC or netbook. However, with this pay-as-you-go data plan that I didn’t ask for, T-Mobile seamlessly switches me to their data network instead; I end up browsing on their network and being charged for it without even noticing! That’s what happened last night when I got the text that I’ve gone over $10. I thought I was on wi-fi and was trying to buy something online when the text came in. Then I noticed that I had gotten disconnected from my wi-fi at some point and T-Mobile just started using their data service instead. Greeeeeeeat.
What a horrible, horrible business practice. “Here’s something you didn’t ask for, something you didn’t need and something that we know is easy to lose track and control of.” An extra $23.95 in 3 days—really?? They didn’t offer a way for me to remove this feature using my phone or their website so I had to call in and talk to a representative. My call was dropped after being on hold the first time. When I finally got to talk to an agent, it sounded like she was getting a lot of these calls. She removed the feature from my account but refused to refund me the $23.95, something I knew was a longshot. Even if everyone called and canceled, T-Mobile is going to be making a lot of money on these charges from all the customers that are being blindsided.
If you’re a T-Mobile customer who never signed up for a data plan, call them NOW and make sure it stays that way. Their number is 1-800-866-2453. This is the only way I know of to remove/block this feature from my main line (I was able to remove it online for my secondary line).
I hesitated on buying that thing I wanted last night because it was kinda pricey, and now that it seems like it’s costing me an extra $24 just for browsing it on my phone, I think I’m going to hold off. Once again, thanks a lot T-Mobile >_<
I’ve been a loyal T-Mobile customer for a long time now, and have always sung their praises whenever people complained about their own carriers, but I’m reconsidering my relationship with them and will explore my options once my contract is up. I’m sure the people at T-Mobile thought this was a great idea to generate revenue, but a quick search on forums and blogs reveals that many people are angry about this. What a disaster.
Update February 6, 2012: T-Mobile refunded my data charges on this month’s bill with a credit shown as “GPRS Usage – Adjustment” —I didn’t even ask for this and was surprised to see it. I really do appreciate them making it right.