AT&T Admits to iPhone Data Calculation Errors
If you follow me on Twitter, or have talked to me in recent days, you may know that I have been struggling with AT&T over several erroneous data usages that have been charged to my account. Since AT&T introduced limited data plans with the announcement of iPhone 4, I have been extremely careful not to go over my data allotment. August 25th was the first day of my latest billing cycle, so some time before noon I used both the AT&T iPhone app and the phone shortcut “*DATA#” to make sure that my data usage had been set to 0. Much to my surprise, I both told me that I had already used 50 megabytes for the month. Bewildered, I opened my MacBook Pro and navigated to the detailed usage statistics readout on AT&T’s website. According to the table, my iPhone had transferred about 50 megabytes of data during the two o’clock hour in the morning, a mere two hours after my new billing cycle started.
After noticing this obvious problem in my reported data usage, I called AT&T customer support and reported my problem. After explaining my problem to the customer support agent, she rattled off several scripted replies. These included ensuring that I was actually on wifi, that nobody else was using my phone, and several other similar occurrences, all of which could not be the case. Eventually I was told that it was possible the data was actually used earlier the previous day, and that it was just then being reported. This was a possibility that I would accept, instead of reporting the usage in real-time, the data used during the day would be reported in a single. I told the representative that I would believe this, but that would mean the data should have been on last month’s bill, and that it should be fixed. I was assured a note would be made and the data would be put back on the correct month. I forgot about it for a few days, hoping the problem would solve it self like I was told it would.
Two days later, Friday the 27th of
September August, I was in an AT&T store assisting my father purchase DSL service for his home. While there, I questioned if the correction had been made to my data usage. To my surprise, she informed me that no notes had been made and that she didn’t believe any change was intended to be made. As perplexed as me, she called AT&T corporate to see what was going on. After talking to corporate over the phone, the voice on the other end wanted to talk to me about the problem. I spent another 20 minutes talking to this service representative. She was very condescending to me, suggesting that I did not understand how to set up wifi on my iPhone, and even more upsetting, suggesting that the phone was updating apps over wifi. After explaining to her that I have been using iOS devices since the original iPhone was released, and that I know apps don’t update without manual intervention and cannot download updates that are bigger than 20 megabytes over 3g, she finally relented that she could not find a reason for the data usage. By this time, the store had already been closed for 20 minutes, and I was the only non-staff member in the store. Frustrated that I was going nowhere, I handed the phone back to the in-store representative; she offered to credit my account if I go over my data for the month. Not really satisfied, but glad the gesture was made, I asked for a callback to my phone when I could talk in-length to someone.
The days past and, unsurprisingly, there was no callback. I made a tweet mentioning that I had been waiting a week for a callback, and a few minutes later I received a tweet from an official AT&T representative wanting to assist me. I conversed over twitter and eventually got a call about my problem from AT&T. Timur, the representative, also could not identify where the charges were coming from. To add to the 50 megabyte charge I had noticed, he also noted that nearly every day I was being charged strange amounts of data some time during the two o’clock hour. After running through the same list of possible causes, and me shooting them down one-by-one, he relented and also offered to reverse any overages I incurred. He also offered to escalate the problem and have people look into it. Again, this wasn’t a perfect solution, but it was better that being stuck with the incorrect data usage charges.
Today, much to my surprise, I received another call from AT&T, this time from someone much higher up in AT&T. The woman informed me that I had brought erroneous data charges to the attention of AT&T. She told me that most, if not all, 3g-capable iPhones were being charged erroneously like I had been experiencing. She told me AT&T was unaware of why the data was being charged, and where it was coming from, but that the issue would be fixed shortly and that all the erroneous charges would be removed. I was shocked that AT&T would finally admit to a problem this large, especially considering that chunks of incorrectly-charged data could quickly eat-up the relatively skimpy data plans that AT&T now offers. I am wary to believe what I was told,
but when trying to check my data usage shortly after, it did not show up - maybe they are fixing this major problem. If you have noticed a problem similar to mine, I suggest you call AT&T to dispute the charges.
TL;DR: AT&T has been charging me, and probably other iPhone users, data that was not actually used. They called to tell me this was the case and that they are working to resolve the problem.
I was able to check my data billed this morning, nothing had been removed and instead I was billed for another large chuck of data. This is really starting to cause a headache for me because now I have used up half of my allotted data for the month, with 25 days left, and I have to keep track of what I know I didn’t use so I can dispute it later.