This is a subject that has caused me too much stress for my liking over the past month. I’m proud to say I finally pulled the plug on AT&T and switched over to T-Mobile. It is such a relief, but let me take you through my roller coaster journey with AT&T and their abysmal customer service.
Why I Went with AT&T Initially
Prior to being with AT&T, I was with Verizon for as long as I could remember. I was fortunate enough to be under my parents’ plan through high school and college… and post-college, but there had to come a time when I would go out on my own. I wanted the new iPhone 6S. My dad wanted me off the cell phone plan. We came to an agreement and it was time for me to decide which provider I would go with.
I had AT&T Internet and cable service at my apartment and heard of a promotion where they were giving customers $300 bill credit for switching over to AT&T cell phone service from another provider. Hell yeah! My new AT&T bill would be roughly $108, including the payments on my ridiculously priced new iPhone (but I needed it right?) . That’s almost 3 months of bills paid. I took the bait!
Side Note: The guy at the Apple store told me he liked T-Mobile better because it was cheaper and he could hardly tell the difference in speed, but why would I listen to him?
Frustration Mounting with AT&T
I have my sweet new iPhone that costs me a total of $749 plus tax, but I’m young, I’ve got a good job. The phone payments were included in my bill for about $32 a month. Since I have WiFi at home, work, and the gym, I decided to go with the plan that comes with 5 gigabytes (GB) of data.
Apparently, I’m glued to my phone and sometimes go over on my data so I get charged the occasional $15 for an extra 1 GB. NBD, as the kids say.
As I’m planning my Euro trip, I’m thinking about how I’m going to get around and not get lost. I’m terrible with directions and public transportation. I still had over $400 to pay off my new iPhone and AT&T wouldn’t unlock the phone for other carriers until it was paid off. I had an unlocked iPhone 5 that I could put SIM cards in if I really wanted service. Not to mention, I’d find cafes and restaurants with WiFi.
I call AT&T and tell them I want to suspend my service since I’ll be in Europe and their international data plan was horrendous. 200 MB for $40 a month? I’d run through that in 2 hours. They let me know I’d just have to pay for my installment plan ($32) and a fee to hold my phone number ($10). I accepted the $42 charge per month.
At the Boiling Point – Terrible Customer Service
I get back from my trip of a lifetime in mid-September. I call AT&T and tell them, “I’m back baby!” The bill comes out five days later and comes out to $125. I’m not sure how it manages to go up when I’m gone, but they charge for a month in advance, or so they say. Though I’m skeptical, I accept the charges because I had about 5 days where I was using services before my next billing cycle started.
Calling AT&T is along the lines of playing Russian roulette with your time. You don’t know if it’s going to be a 10-minute call or 2 hours. One department transfers you to the next. There’s crappy hold music for 15 minutes, then that department says they have to talk to another department. You want to pull your hair out. It is excruciating what they do their high-paying customers.
After I emphasized that not running out of data each month was most important to me, they let me know that my bill would come down to under $100. Unsurprisingly, my new bill came out and it was $130! Their sales people straight up lie to you so you won’t switch to another carrier. I was done.
I’m going to leave out the details of all the anger I felt, the time I spent on the phone, and in the AT&T store trying to figure out the actual charges in my bill when I’ve had the same plan for over a year. Your cell phone bill should not be able stress you out this much!
The Switch to T-Mobile
While I had heard about T-Mobile’s unlimited data plan, I wasn’t quite sure. Verizon and AT&T run aggressive marketing campaigns knocking their service. They say T-Mobile and Sprint have “no bars” like the wireless business is a rap battle. Don’t be naïve. They’re all more or less the same and T-Mobile has some perks that I can’t ignore.
While there are cheaper wireless plans out there, the draw for me was T-Mobile’s unlimited data and FREE international data plan. As a traveler, I’ll definitely be abusing that. I could care less about calls and texting, but say unlimited data, and you’ve got my attention. No more dealing with AT&T’s extra fees or terrible customer service!
I had to pay off the $350 balance I owed on my iPhone, which is no fun, but not having to worry about going over on data and the peace of mind that I’m not giving my money to a company that treats their customers like second class citizens is all worth it in my eyes. I estimate I’ll save close to $30 a month on my new bill and close to $360 over the course of a year.
This tool provided by NerdWallet is really cool for finding a plan to suit your needs. Check it out and make sure you’re not spending more than you need to on a cell phone plan.