We have a problem with out local cell tower signal. It is constantly fluctuating, between 4 to zero bars. This results in quite a few dropped calls. (Yes, AT&T, you need to get off your butt and put some of that iPhone contract $$$$ back into your crappy network.)
Yesterday, I called to complain. And was suggested a MicroCell. I was told it was $150, but that there was currently a $100 rebate. I was given a $50 discount as well. However, there is a $20/month service charge. This is for “unlimited minutes at home”. We looked at the rate, and our current plan an minutes usage. We fall right into that gap, that I presume most families fall into. Somewhere above the 700 minute plan and below the 1400 minute plan. Gone is the 1000 minute plans that most people needed. Don’t ask my why they just don’t get rid of the plans and sell minutes by blocks (ie: $10 a block) but they don’t.
Our thought was to drop our plan down a notch and utilize the MicroCell unlimited home minutes. Except, if we did that, we’d probably be right about 800 minutes. Blargh….once again caught in the “no good option” web.
So last night I picked up the MicroCell. After having 5 dropped calls in a two hour period. And having to resort to Skype to make calls. Which made me think, why doesn’t AT&T just let you connect via the WiFi connection. (I can do that with the Skype app).
I unpacked the MicroCell. Only to discover it was not quite what I expected. I figured I was buying some boosted antenna and powered relay. A device that would pick up the signal and re-broadcast. No, what I have in fact picked up is merely a WiFi access point running in AT&T’s spectrum. In fact, that unlimited talk they’re charging me $20 for runs on my Comcast broadband connection. So wait, now I am paying AT&T to let me use the connection I pay Comcast to use. (Not a single AT&T employee I spoke with mentioned this little fact of minor importance (er, most significant aspect) during any of the sales process.
Does this sound like the biggest scam?
Supposedly, I can drop the $20 service. But get this, if you do that. AT&T is still going to charge you for minutes (even though you’re using you’re own network connection for data transit), on top of this, I’ve heard for all those suckers who are now on the “2GB data plan”, that data usage will count towards your quota. Oh, that’s right. Even though you’re using Comcast’s cable connection to transmit data, AT&T is going to charge you…suckas.
But who will get the last laugh? I think the consumers this time. Why? Because if Verizon gets the iPhone. All these dropped calls, the attempts to remedy will be good faith for getting out of one’s contract. Second, because the way AT&T is handling the MicroCell is so sketchy that I think it’s going to open them up to a lawsuit. And I think the likes of Comcast, are going to find themselves aiding and abetting such a class action lawsuit. If I was Comcast, I’d be advertising to have anyone using the MicroCell on their network to contact them. Expressing, we don’t believe there is anything wrong with your use of such a device. But we believe AT&T’s charging of our customers for the use of our data to be in bad faith. And I think it’d be hard to find any jury of 12 who would think it not bad faith.
It’s rather akin to having the water company charge you for using water from your own well….
It’s bad enough that AT&T is charging customers $150 for a fix to their crappy network.