Saturday, July 11, 2009

AT&T says we can't give them more money!

Back in January AT&T bought Unicel and made me unhappy by, amongst other things, forcing me to stop using my Ubiquio smartphone. At least, using it as a phone; ever since, I've been carrying my old phone as a PDA and my new phone as a phone.

We didn't get any choice about how to handle the transition: we had to update our commitment and get new phones, period. And we had to do it that day, with whatever phones they had to offer then, with whatever money we could afford to spend on them then. So we took the freebie phone and went home.

Having to carry two devices and have the loss of integration that results has been bugging me ever since, and from time to time I've thought about buying something else. A few months ago I put the AT&T HTC Fuze onto my Amazon wish list, but I didn't go ahead and buy it because I wasn't sure I wanted to spend that much. Not just for the phone but also for the data plan that AT&T requires with it.

Recently Siobhan started talking about wanting a better phone with a keyboard and Outlook sync capabilities, and that kind of crystallized my resolve. Seemed the HTC Fuze was ideal for her, too, though there are probably other phones that would do (she doesn't need it to be Windows Mobile like I do). So I poked around the budget and worked out how to make it work.

Only it turns out AT&T refuses to let us do the upgrade because the forced transition from Unicel to AT&T back in February counts as a "re-up" of the contract, and thus, we're not eligible for another upgrade until a year from October. Yes, that's right. For a mandatory transition to a freebie phone, AT&T refuses to let me buy a far more expensive data plan and a costly phone from them for 20 months. We tried ordering through, then through, then by calling in to AT&T, and finally by going to our local AT&T office, and no one could help us. They are intractable on the subject.

Our only option now is if we buy the phones we want from a third party they will deign to let us upgrade our plans to include data services and set up the new phones with them. So I'm in the market for a reasonable price on some Fuzes. At present I have bids in on a few barely-used Fuzes on eBay, and I have a few other oars in the water if those don't pan out. Could take a while, which is unfortunate, because if they didn't have this bass-ackwards bookkeeping mixup, we'd've had our phones by Tuesday, and they'd've had our money by now.

Somewhere in AT&T's corporate structure there's probably someone with the authority to say "whoops, that's a stupid, unintended consequence of a bookkeeping decision, let's fix that!" but there's just no way in a million years I could find that person. Everyone loses.

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