If you've got a GSM phone with the right radio bands, I suggest taking a look at the $30 plans here:
For CDMA I believe Sprint and Verizon offer prepaid plans without contracts at around $50 for talk/data.
The key is that IMO, a prepaid plan makes the terms of the arrangement clear, and if the carrier decides to try and overstep their boundaries, you can cut them off. They don't have the ability to take you to collections or withdraw from your account or increase your bill behind your back.
Of course, if T-Mobile tries to screw with you as a prepaid customer, they've got some leverage since your only alternative is AT&T. Not so great. Still, better than nothing...
Seriously T-Mobile, come up with more excuses for me to give you money.
I've been a tmobile customer since 2007. In the middle of last year I took my line from a family plan into an individual plan. That involved speaking to 7 different people (several of whom contradicted each other as they then forwarded me to the next one) and being hung up on 3 times (as they messed up the transfers).
Then the bills I started getting were truly bizarre with numerous unspecified additional charges and credits. (My very first bill had 5 regulatory fees!) At one point when I called in again, the rep took 80 minutes to figure out the bill (ie what the various numbers were for) and then another 30 minutes dealing with the ones that shouldn't be there. It didn't help that what customers are shown on their bills and what the reps get to see are not the same, and took about 15 minutes to establish that.
Around the new year they sent an email saying that you could make impossible to have slamming, except of course they took about 7 paragraphs to say that. They said it could be disabled on the website, so off I went. I couldn't figure it out since there was absolutely no setting with text remotely similar to their email. Their rep couldn't find it either and had me call back again during business hours where another person first picked 2 other settings that couldn't possibly be it, before finally settling on "Block Content Downloads" as being the setting which doesn't match up its description.
TLDR: I would be pleased to encounter the same competence you did, and would be far more pleased if things worked so I never had to call in the first place. Whenever people talk about how good someone's support is, they never seem to express the negative that they had to call in the first place.
My point is not that T-Mobile sucks, but that all cell providers will provide delightful fair service to many, and cheat and piss off some. Take it with a grain of salt when someone says that one company is "scum."
I can only second kevingadd's advice to try and not tie yourself to one with a longterm contract. The fewer customers they have locked in, the more careful they have to be about not pissing them off.
They made having a smartphone affordable and made it easy to upgrade by reselling your unlocked phone online (recouping most of the unsubsidized cost).
I'll check out those options. Thanks.
Keep in mind the top $30 plan (unlimited data) requires you to activate a new phone that you have to buy from Walmart.
When you order the sim from T-mobile directly, you can activate it. You can purchase it online from them for 99 cents.
I get to walmart and they tell me I have to buy one of their shitty phones to activate the plan. I call customer support again and asked if I could return the sim I bought at the store, and they said "it depends on the store."
Lied to and pissed off customer here. Just ordered a sim online and we'll see how that goes. I'm going to try to get a refund for this card anyway.
You can also regularly get a T-Mobile prepaid phone of some variant for $20 at Walgreens, which comes with the "Activation Kit" (SIM card and secret number) as well as a terrible GSM-only phone you can throw away.
What separates T-Mobile is that they're much less evil. Things like making pre-paid cards easy, giving you a discount if you're not on a plan, not going to bat in Congress for SOPA etc. They may be stupid or unfeeling sometimes, but they never seem to be actively opposed to one's freedom like the other big carriers are.
There is no way to use a smartphone without using data. Smartphone OSs use data in the background for so many things, for even voicemail. So, in this case, I think they are justified in adding a data plan. It is near impossible to use iOS or android without data, even when using them without any apps.
Er, turn off mobile data and rely on wi-fi. Calls and texts still work and your phone will behave as if you are roaming abroad (i.e if you crack and turn on mobile data, prepare to open your wallet).
if apple hadn't bent over so badly to allow telcos to screw the customers with the whole tethering fiasco (which is still going on. unbelievable. all you sheeple giving out free money) they wouldn't even know you had a special needs phone.
If it did phone home when data is turned off explicitly then I'd have been completely and utterly screwed by AT&T for the month I spent in Europe.
what if i need to use data and plan to control how much i use? As i did on all my travels for the first day or two until i could secure a local SIM card.
And if they don't have data in the plan the carrier by default just doesn't forward the packets
AT&T (and most of the wireless industry) are merely toll-gate operators - they are very good at making sure you pay for any usage - even the usage you didn't want to make (ie, receiving an MMS on your non-data flip phone that you didn't intend - sorry, that's $2).
Which is >95% of the time for me, and many people.
"Them" is almost all wireless companies, what Verizon does, AT&T follows soon and vice-versa so consumers cannot penalize them. Startup costs are in the tens of billions and you have to fight incumbents so they essentially have a monopoly (or duopoly, or...)
I've used AT&T for many years. I'm not always delighted with every policy - the now changed policy of refusing to unlock out of contract iPhones was a particular bone. However I have almost always been satisfied with the service and have had no problem contacting them to correct billing issues.
Why people feel entitled to services at the price they choose is beyond me. Telecom is a competitive market. Just because someone somewhere can get cheaper service doesn't mean you deserve the same.
In the last 15 years we've gone from Dewey decimal to better than Hitchhiker's Guide. Stop your bitching and appreciate what you have. Your ungratefulness is likely to bring a well deserved meteor strike leaving you with fewer telecom options.
Because it isn't a competitive market. Wireless telecoms have been granted licenses to spectrum by the FCC so they can run their businesses. There's a limited amount of spectrum and it's hard for new companies to get any of it. The wireless telecoms industry is anything but competitive.
How is that not competitive?
The only carrier you can choose with GSM is T-Mobile. But wait, they use the 1900MHz 3G band, so if you've got a phone that doesn't use that band, you're stuck with EDGE data.
LTE won't change this, they've chosen different bands.
Telecom networks are extremely expensive to build. Having more than a few on the same technology would be wasteful, and consumers benefit from a diversity of technologies in the long run in addition to some level of network compatibility.
But seriously, don't like your network? Sell your phone on eBay and buy a different one that works on a different network. How hard is that?
Even with MVNOs, there aren't many real options. If Verizon were GSM it'd be a lot better, but as of now you are really locked in.
Did you read the article? ATT detected he had a smartphone and upgraded his plan to include data, forcibly. That's like GM saying, oh we've detected your car comes with OnStar and are activating the OnStar plan. If you don't like it, you're more than free to sell your car.
I was perfectly happy with my previous contract. If I'm being "ungrateful" for the privilege of getting charged extra for a service I didn't agree to, then I guess we have different definitions of gratefulness.
They have a humorous justification: to keep their customers from having massive data bills by accident. Yeah, right...
The key to having a WiFi only smartphone on AT&T is stealth. You must keep a dumb phone around to switch to as necessary, and then you can sneak a smartphone on the network that has never been seen by AT&T as a smartphone. For example, you might buy a T-Mobile (only) unlocked smartphone and then put your AT&T SIM card into it. Be sure to disable all the data network interfaces first thing, as they may give you away. You can buy a dumb phone to AT&T to verify for $15 on sales from GoPhone, or any number of other prepaid phones.
I would be interested to know if now, ab initio, AT&T is able to detect that a specific IMEI number is a smartphone. I think the worldwide range of IMEI numbers is too vast for that to work, and thank goodness T-Mobile didn't merge with AT&T.
Regardless, calling AT&T scum is out of line. You are not mandated to purchase their services.
Sometimes, it's crazy, but people expect real competition versus oligopolists that mostly collude between themselves and show zero concern for regulatory action.
> Telecom is a competitive market.
Can you appreciate the dissonance between these two statements?
You can get around this by using a phone that hasn't previously been on AT&T's network. For example, I have a Galaxy Nexus, iPhone 2G, and Nexus One that have all gotten past this check and I've kept my $10/mo data plan. My iPhone 3G, 4 and Atrix 4G were all previously locked to AT&T and so have caused this message previously.
Once you do this you can put your SIM card back in a "dumb phone" and ~24 hours later you should be able to remove the smart phone data plan from your account via the AT&T web interface.
I wonder if this is legal because of the net neutrality ruling on mobile networks that the FCC put out a couple of years ago.
... no, I just checked. They've been billing me $30 a month for a data plan. BASTARDS!
It's amazing how Slamming (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telephone_slamming) refuses to die.
Kind of like when you try to say that hackers only tinker with things. Words and meanings change.
Imho, it's worth resisting nonsensical cargo-cult language, even if only as a matter of principle.
One of the arguments I make with them is that if I have kids on my family plan who go off to school and pop their feature phone SIM card into their friends smartphone, I can't be expected to deal with that headache - and if AT&T isn't going to recognize that the person who pays the bill should have the final say in the matter, and they don't offer basic parental controls, I'll take my business elsewhere.
It's worked at least three times on three different lines off the top of my head.
I'll try your line of thought. Thanks.
On prepaid it used to be that the available/required plans depended on the IMEI used to activate the SIM. So if you bring a crapphone and activate then switch the SIM into your iPhone you should be set and not need an upgrade. Not sure if that's still the case and they only periodically audit or what.
As it turns out, one can just get a GoPhone sim at an AT&T store and get it activated then and there (no need to take a dumbphone or your smartphone there at all). The sim costs 99 cents. I have been using this sim for the past 6 months.
Oh no, prepaid is always more expensive! they tell me in the shop. They then walk straight over to their computers to show me, and they show me something slightly more expensive. What a joke, these subscriptions. Right now all my carrier has on me is my rough location (must be kept by Dutch law), call history, and phone number. Good luck billing me for using a Galaxy Note II.
That's creepy, and would make me not want to carry a phone at all.
Every once in a while I read a news story where a suspect's cell phone was connected to the nearest tower to a dumped body, around the time the coroner thought the body was dumped.
<a href="http://Impossible HQ" class="network_link">
Part of the <span>Impossible HQ</span> network.
We've been using these on our Galaxy Nexus and other unlocked Android and iPhone devices for a couple years now with great success.
My search for phone service without a dataplan lead me to h20wireless prepaid. I expect my yearly phone bill to be $100 now. (I rarely call or text anyone)
For people who don't know, it's a hyrbid wifi phone that also allows for unlimited 3g, talk and texts on sprint's network when you're not near wifi.
How long has it been around for? I've never heard anything about it.
You have a few alternatives: Get a GSM phone that AT&T can't recognize, i.e. one that wasn't made for AT&T. Alternatively you could switch to one of the prepaid carriers that allow smartphones at no extra fee. These options may not last forever though.
(I discuss a couple of prepaid options here: http://www.zappable.com/2012/07/smartphones-for-cheap-ii/ )
They boss the consumer around, but it is the consumer who truly holds all the power. Luckily for them, we consumers have been lulled into inattention, and somehow we put up with this crap.
Edit/Addition: We need to ban together, drive AT&T out of business, and serve notice to the corporate world that they fucking work for us, not the other way around.
After a 2-3 month trial, I've switched everything to Ting (and bought stock in Tucows). Ting's rate plan and philosophy, or something similar, is the future. Just so long as Sprint doesn't kill them off....
The best part, though, is that you can purchase data access for $3 a day. So when I travel I usually turn on the data so I can stay connected and look things up.
The California Department of Consumer Affairs doesn't seem to care about their abuse of the term 'unlimited', but we should here.
Your use of the question mark is unnecessary and smacks of snark. Please don't do that.
The arguments here don't make sense -- you can buy a prepaid AT&T phone for $30 or less at any drugstore, target or wal-mart.
AT&T forces $25 dataplan on anysmartphone (even sans contract)
Just change your IMEI number. Yes it is still legal in the US (who knows for how long though).