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AT&T just redefined the word ‘bonus’ as a $10 price hike for data you didn’t ask for

AT&T just redefined the word ‘bonus’ as a $10 price hike for data you didn’t ask for


The FCC will host a memorial service; unlimited and bonus will share a casket

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AT&T has a gift for wireless subscribers on many of its old Mobile Share Value data plans: it’s giving them an extra 15GB of “bonus” data — and it’s making them pay an extra $10 a month for that “bonus.”

It’s almost like the company is forcing people to move to a more expensive plan, only AT&T figured out a way to make that not technically true. Instead, it’s worded in a way that suggests the company is providing you with a SURPRISE BENEFIT that costs you money! It is quite literally an offer you can’t refuse.

One email subject line provided to The Verge by a tipster: “We’ve added 15GB of data to your plan and increased your monthly rate by $10.”

“Feels like a complete cash grab,” writes our tipster, who claims he never hits his data cap.
“Feels like a complete cash grab,” writes our tipster, who claims he never hits his data cap.

But it’s the wording at the company’s support document explaining the change that really gets my goat (bolding mine):

Enjoy more data. Starting with your October 2019 bill, you’ll get an additional 15GB of data on your Mobile Share plan. This bonus data comes with a $10 price increase.

AT&T confirmed to The Verge that there’s no way to opt out of this “bonus.” Here’s the company’s statement:

An offer you can’t refuse

“We are communicating with some customers regarding changes to their mobile plans. Customers have the choice to change their plan at any time and can always contact us with questions or to understand their options.”

This probably won’t surprise AT&T customers one iota, of course — this is the company that was just finally slapped on the wrist with a $60 million fine for throttling what were supposedly “unlimited” plans back in 2011, and the company that’s now pocketing an extra $800 million in “admin fees” every year after more than doubling that inexplicable surcharge last June. This is the company that’s now making you pay its property taxes on your business internet bill, while it repeatedly jacks up the rates of its few remaining grandfathered unlimited cellular plans.

In fact, AT&T actually already pulled a move like this back in March with a different bunch of Mobile Share Value data plans — only that time, some customers only had to pay $5 extra to double the data on their plan, while others got an extra 30GB of data for $10 more.

It’s quite possible that many of these Mobile Share Value customers would be better off with one of AT&T’s new unlimited plans, which are not at all unlimited for a whole variety of reasons but might wind up costing quite a bit less than the Mobile Share Value plans, which admittedly aren’t unlimited either. That’s probably what AT&T is hoping for, too.

But we’d probably all be better off if the wireless industry hadn’t beaten the word “unlimited” beyond recognition, if it had more and not less competition, and if net neutrality was debated on common sense instead of whether washing machines can make phone calls.