AT&T’s ever-erratic pricing has forced me to cancel my service.

Every year I put a note in my calendar to contact AT&T to get on yet another plan to reduce my phone/TV/Internet bill. The provider always has deals that last a year. For five years I’ve called their customer loyalty department and they usually give me a good deal. Nobody wants their bill to increase, yet every year I have to to go through this pointless exercise that I know is a waste of my time and is surely wasting AT&T’s money. It doesn’t make me more loyal. In fact, this year it forced me to quit.

More than a year ago I switched my Internet service to a local option that offered the same price yet was four to five times faster than AT&T.

Once I made the switch I still used AT&T for TV and home phone.

Just recently I received a $177 bill from AT&T. I didn’t remember what my monthly bill was, but I thought that was extraordinarily high. I had made a one-year deal with them but forgot for how much (Turns out it was for a little more than $100 a month). I looked at my bill history and noticed that my one-year fixed contract had been gradually creeping up month after month. I’ve never paid for any additional services ever. It should stay the same, but it hasn’t. AT&T has gradually increased my bill.

Service Month Bill Amount
July, 2016 $104
August, 2016 $108
September, 2016 $121
October, 2016 $121
November, 2016 $121
December, 2016 $120
January, 2017 $128
February, 2017 $128
March, 2017 $128
April, 2017 $128
May, 2017 $141
June, 2017 $177

After seeing that $177 bill I called up AT&T’s customer loyalty department to see what they could do to lower it. They could get it down to $140 plus taxes but also offered to completely switch me to DirecTV for $100 a month plus taxes. I didn’t want DirecTV. I asked them if they could lower my bill anymore as I wanted it back to the original pricing, not 75 percent more. They said they couldn’t go any lower than $140. I asked if $140 the final amount and they said that there would be taxes and fees but they couldn’t quote me that amount over over the phone. The next day I received a quote via email which was for $183! So, they “lowered my bill” by raising it yet another $6. I shouldn’t have ever called.

It’s now time to leave AT&T

I had enough of having my chain yanked and I was tired of making these yearly calls and tracking my ever increasing bill and paying for hundreds of stations I never watch.

First step is to see how I’m going to replace the services I have with AT&T, which includes home phone, general cable channels (with sports), and HBO.

I currently pay $65/month for my Internet service through a local provider. I can add local phone to that package for an additional $34/month.

YouTube TV is available in my market and that costs only $35/month

I can purchase HBO à la carte through HBO Now for $15.

Now to compare the two TV and phone packages:

  • AT&T: $183
  • My package: $84

That’s a savings of $99/month or $1188 a year!

Wait! I can’t leave yet

I went to my local provider to make the switch away from AT&T for my home phone. I wanted to keep my phone number.

I signed up for YouTube TV and then called AT&T to cancel my TV service. Turns out that because my phone is going to be ported in two weeks my account is locked. They can’t make any changes to it even though the TV is a completely different service. I was forced to keep AT&T for another two weeks. I asked what I could do. They said I should contact the phone provider about moving up my date (not possible) or releasing the port.

I called the local provider and told them my story about my locked account and they said they had never heard of this before. Releasing the port is not an option as it would make the number I want to keep available to anyone. I asked AT&T if they can put a cancellation request for the switch over date in two weeks. They said they can’t do that and I have to call back again and make the request.

I’m of course aggravated, but none of this would have happened if they hadn’t been so sneaky about increasing the pricing of my never-changing service. But I’m happy that they did it because now I’m going to save more than $100 a month. AT&T and their competitors are up against competition that’s both lower and consistent. It’s only a matter of time before everyone wises up. Their days are numbered.

 

Creative Commons photo attribution to smswigart.

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You don’t have to be doing anything illegal, criminal, or something you’re ashamed of to be concerned about your online privacy. Yes, criminals and unscrupulous people can take advantage, but even if you lead the most humdrum mundane life, well-meaning people, businesses, and government agencies can use your personal data against you.

For example, in aggregate, your data could be used to:

  • Impersonate you
  • Fool you into a gauntlet of trust
  • Let others pass judgement for personal behavior expressed online

This type of behavior happens all the time in social media. If you haven’t yet had that “creeped out” moment online, it’s just a matter a time. Sadly, each of us has a treasure trove of online data that others could use to extort us or take our past history out of context.

At the Security BSides conference in San Francisco, while reporting for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, I approached attendees and asked them when they realized the importance of online privacy. I was fishing for personal stories, and I got a ton of them. Definitely watch this video to hear these eye-opening moments. And after you’re done watching the video, please tell your tale. You can post it anywhere, just add the hashtag #privacystory. A HUGE thanks to the people at Remediant for their financial support of this video.

Since the current state of technology can reveal, trade, and store our data forever, the ONLY protection we have are laws. With the Trump administration’s interest in deregulation, it’s a free-for-all with your personal data.

Creative Commons photo attribution to hyku.

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