ATT and the iPhone

It is amazing how businesses stay in business these days.
Take AT&T for example. Now I am sure that there are many that will take an opposing position to what I have to say here, but that is to be expected. But since it is my blog, I get to say what is on my mind…
Having just moved from the City of Tracy to the City of Pleasanton, I have run into a number of difficulties. I could write pages on the trials and tribulations of a moving a small family to a new town and a home that is one half the size of the previous home, (one that has no garage or storage)…but I will not.
I will talk about AT&T, in particular AT&T cellular service. You see, in my new (old) home I am lucky to get one bar on my iPhone 3GS. My 2 year contract expires in 6 months, and you can pretty much bet that I am switching providers. I have never really liked the locked down nature of the iPhone and certainly have no use for bloatware that is iTunes. But not being able to take or make calls at my house is just too much. But, ATT has a solution. (I am paying for unlimited data and calling, I have a rather large bill every month –but that is to be expected when you need the phone for work.) The solution is what is called a microcell. This is available to subscribers who have AT&T internet at their home, along with an AT&T phone if the coverage at their home renders their phones unusable. The problem is that AT&T used to provide these microcells free of charge –or so I have read, and now they want me to pay $200 for one. Now, here is where I see the logic…they figure if you are committed enough to buy the unit, you will stay with AT&T when your contract expires. What they have not counted on is how pissed off folks will be when they stop to consider what they are being asked…For the record, I have been with AT&T for better than 10 years –all unlimited data and calling plans. So now that I have moved, in order to actually receive what I am already paying for, I am being asked to buy another piece of equipment. I do not know if this is because they do not believe me when I say that I have a paperweight when I am at my home or not, because according to their map I should be in a “good” reception zone.
Regardless of their reasoning, here is what has turned me off of AT&T.
-Their attitude that I can just piss off…for one…in other words, that they do not really care about “me” as a customer. (Maybe because I have been w them for 10 years, they figure that I will not leave?)
-Their attitude towards their supposedly “unlimited” data plan. You see, to me, unlimited data means just that…unlimited. They no longer offer an unlimited data plan for new subscribers, but since I have been paying for unlimited data since the day I got the iPhone, I supposedly get to keep it. But here is the rub…you cannot use your phone as a tethering device. So unlimited data is limited to the iPhone ONLY. Even if tethering means that your laptop or tablet must go through your iPhone, it is not considered valid under their plan. I realize that other providers offer data plans for their cell phones, and that you must purchase a data plan for this, but they do not call their plans unlimited data plans unless they are truly unlimited. If you jailbreak your iPhone, you can get access to using your phone as a tethering device, and even newer iPhones have tethering in the settings menu, but again, a different plan must be purchased to “legally” tether under their plan.
-Poor signals and dropped calls: Everyone who has AT&T and an iPhone knows exactly what I am talking about. If you have an iPhone through AT&T, it is expected that many calls will simply be terminated for no apparent reason. The poor signal issue discussed here is just me at my home, and is so bad that I went and installed Skype, and I even got a Skype phone number so that I can send and receive calls at my house…I was and am not interested in forking over another $20-$30 month for a dedicated line that will rarely be used. –Or “should” rarely be used since we live on our cell phones.
-Poor support: I have not received a voice message indication on my phone in over a month. Now if I miss a call, I have to dial and hold down the “1” button in order to see if I have messages. To further compound the issue, none of these messages have a time stamp with them, so I have no idea when a message may have been left if I haven’t checked messages in a while…Phone support failed to turn up any help, as the problem persists. I have been told that I should stop by an AT&T store to get a new sim card, but just need to find the time.
-In typical iPhone fashion, I cannot upgrade the phone. I cannot install apps because they say that I need a certain version of firmware on my phone, but like I stated, I cannot upgrade my phone, so therefore I must forgo some frequently used applications. Sort of a quandary.

If only the next 6 months fly by quickly. I can live with this for the time being I suppose. I just need to remember to press and hold the #1 in order to see if I have voicemessages…
The new Droid phones are looking really nice. I like the idea of the Bionic, but it is made by Motorola –who have apparently pissed off many Droid fans by locking down their phones, which means that Motorola is off the table for me…not that I plan to root the phone or anything, but if a company is going to mimic Apple, then I will not consider them.
There is the Samsung galaxy S2 that is rumored to be coming stateside –and is likely the one that I will go with. Of course, I will change carriers, so I am hopeful that Verizon is able to pick up this phone as well. If not, there is always the HTC, which I have liked since the EVO…

Which brings up early cancellation fees. I understand that as of today, I would have to pay a $90 fee, and since the phone that I most want is not yet available, there is no need to break my contract just yet. Just my desire to stick it to AT&T in my own small way by switching carriers. Which I guess will have to wait for now.

Anyway, that is all for now. No actual resolution just yet, just venting.

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