AT&T (Billing and Wireless)

ISSUES: iPhone Wireless Service & Billing


COMPANY RATING: One star (out of five)

In the history of me dealing with companies for lies, billing and/or general stupidity, AT&T is a runaway #1. As a Florida resident, we were gobbled up into AT&T’s grasp a few years ago with the BellSouth merger. It has been downhill ever since. Oh, how I relish the days of fighting with Verizon. Sure, they made mistakes too, but not one after the other.

The big event that leads me to writing this article is our dependency on AT&T for our wireless services. As many have done over the past two years, we moved from a reliable service (Verizon) just to get our hands on the iPhone. Every day it is a love/hate relationship.

As a former Apple employee, generally well-informed consumer and by the experiences of several iPhone owners in the area, I can assure you that the AT&T 3G network and the iPhone do not work well together. Even though things have improved since the early days of the iPhone 3G, we are still paying for late alpha (not even beta) service. Five bars should mean five bars, but it doesn’t. In fact, a few software updates back, I noticed that the bars miraculously went up by two in the exact same areas I was in moments before the update. That’s right, the bars were goosed up via a software update! Total fabrication. Often, I see five bars but can’t place or received calls. Data coverage is spottier and seems to be disjointed from the signal strength bars altogether. In particular, my house and work locales are both freakish dead zones. And don’t start down the path that maybe it’s my iPhone hardware, we have three iPhones and they all do the same thing.

My open complaint is that consumers should get more for their dollar. I call each month with new complaints about service and get placated with a service credit or some vague promise about how they are very close to fixing the issue(s) I bring up. Hogwash! This is simple lip service and its time we all stand up and demand to get value for our money.

I am particularly annoyed about the issues they are having inside Dolphins Stadium. I have yet to be able to use data there for an entire year. Phone coverage is spotty. If I see five bars on my phone and the cell tower is inside the stadium and visible from my seat I should get service, right? Nope... not the case. Their excuse is that too many people are using the service at one time. I argue that it’s a football stadium with a fixed number of seats. They know EXACTLY how many customers they need to serve and on which days they need to serve them.

We also have our local and long distance, Internet, and DirecTV service through an AT&T bundle plan. Wow, how did I ever get to one company for all my services? Dumb! And now they are cramming U-verse down my throat. One wire for all services. ABSOLUTELY NOT! If you get pitched for U-verse, run away! On top of everything coming down one wire (zero redundancy and diversity), they lie to you that the service is fiber optic to the house. In most cases, this simply is not true. Again, AT&T lies.

This brings me to my last point, billing. Should I really find mistakes each and every bill? This is exactly what I’ve found since July 2008 (when we got iPhones). I dread getting the AT&T bill because it becomes at least an hour of WORK to research, correct and pay it. Up until this month, the mistakes all favored AT&T. One mistakes was so egregious that it amounted to overcharging me by more than $300.

This month brings a new story. I receive my statements on combined billing, meaning one bill for everything and with that I receive some bundle discounts. So, imagine my surprise when the bill came without the wireless charges at all! My bill is about $300 less than it should be. Being an honest guy, I tried calling them. Their offices are closed today (Sunday). So, here I sit with no way to resolve yet another AT&T billing mistake. I’ll open it up for comments. What would you do in this situation?