Cell Data Plans

Required – Costly data plans on new “Smartphone” cell phones

Do you currently have a data plan? If not, this may apply to you. It seems cell phone companies are now making it a requirement to get a data plan if you get a new Smartphone added to your account.

Our family of four each has a cell phone. We have a “family unlimited text” plan on top of the regular charges. Currently 3 of our 4 phones are considered “Smartphones”. Two of them are Treo 750’s and one is a blackberry. We do not pay for a data plan for any of our phones and have even turned off the picture messaging on one of my sons phones so that he cannot use any data plan. He did connect to the net once which caused him to lose that feature on his phone. He can still send unlimited regular text messages.

Our two year agreement with AT&T is currently due for renewal. That means we are eligible for new phones too. Sadly, we can’t get new phones because doing so would force us to pay for data plans for any Smartphones we have or get in the future. This would almost double our cell phone bill. The data plan per phone is $30. This is a new requirement from AT&T to insist you buy a data plan with any new Smartphone you add to your account. It doesn’t matter if you buy this phone from eBay or the Apple store or get it for free from a friend. If you add a new smartphone then AT&T will tack on a $30 / month fee per smart phone on your account! We were told this rule came into effect on the 6th.

Our family does not wish to spend another $120 per month on a cell phone plan. That means we can’t upgrade our phones or, if we need to, our phones would need to be downgraded to a simple “free phone” without any bells and whistles. No more QWERTY keyboards. I love my phone and I am happy to keep it, but I also know that cell phones don’t last forever. Eventually we’ll need new phones and eventually we’ll either have to buy a data plan or take a downgraded phone that we don’t wish to have. My only hope is that customers speak out about being forced to pay for something they don’t wish to use and that cell phone companies change this policy.

Today I took a stand and called the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to lodge a complaint about the new practice of charging for a data plan that I don’t want and don’t use. I have internet in my hone and nothing is that important that I can’t wait until I get home. I don’t need to surf the net while out and about. The break from the net may even be good for me! The same holds true for my family. If you agree, contact your cell company to see if this same data plan requirement applies to you and your future phones. If you are not ok with it, call the FCC too. Together we may be able to stop cell phone companies from charging us for services we do not wish to buy or use.

You can contact the FCC by:

PHONE: Our Consumer & Mediation Specialists are available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET to answer your questions and assist you in filing a complaint. Call toll-free at 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) voice or 1-888-TELL- FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY.

For all the other methods, download/print the complaint form:
›› Form 2000B English (PDF)
›› Form 2000B Español (PDF)

POSTAL: Send your complaint to the following address, making sure to include copies of all supporting information.

Federal Communications Commission
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Complaints
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554

FAX: The completed complaint form may be faxed toll-free to: 1-866-418-0232. Be sure to include all required information to prevent delay in the processing of your complaint.
›› Fax Guidelines

EMAIL: You may email your completed complaint form and supporting documents to fccinfo@fcc.gov.

If your cell company doesn’t force you to have a data plan with your smartphone, let us know. Maybe we’ll consider moving to a new cell phone provider!