I gotta tell you, lately AT&T has been on my list. (No, not the nice list. The other list.) Sure AT&T does a lot of great things for me. They make it possible for me to record many shows at once thanks to U-Verse. (I adore, U-Verse, by the by.) They provide me with a cool little phone in a pink case that can tell me things like the weather in addition to making and receiving phone calls. But that doesn’t make me like you AT&T.
You see, this all started a few months back. At that time I was young, carefree, happy. (Or something like that.) As soon as Stephen was en route to Germany, I called my friendly neighborhood AT&T customer service representative. I gave them the rundown: my man is going to be in Germany for a few months. Hook a sister up.
By the end of the phone call, Stephen had a 50 MB international data plan and an international calling plan. (Here’s your first hint that I didn’t know what I was doing: I have no idea if megabytes are supposed to be MB, mb, Mb, or mB. I also had no idea how many of those my husband would use.)
Imagine my surprise when he has used 150 megabytes of data in a two-week period. I was frustrated, but I wasn’t mad. I should have been more prepared when selecting the appropriate megabyte plan. I called AT&T. They were happy to up his plan to 200 megabytes. They were also happy to charge me $200 a month for it. (At this point, my husband wasn’t using any data at all, but it was cheaper to up the plan than pay the ridiculous overage charges.)
During the month of June, I joined my husband in Germany for a month-long visit. We ate great food, saw some amazing sights, watched many an episode of Friends. We also occasionally called or texted each other.
When I saw the AT&T bill, my reaction was something along the lines of:
$1,542.93. I don’t know about you, but I’m not used to that comma being there when looking at my phone bill. I like my phone bill to be comma-free. Meaning, not in the thousand dollar range. That number huuuuurts. One thousand, five hundred, forty-two dollars, and ninety-three cents.
Of course, I paid the bill. I owed it. We also vowed to be less phone usey from that point on. No big deal, really. At this point I was back stateside and communication was primarily via Skype. So I guess you could say that I was a little more than surprised when we got our next bill.
$992.48. At least this time there was no comma. But seriously, why so high? My relationship with AT&T at this point was becoming very painful. I give and give (money that is), but what am I really getting back? (Heartache.)
When my husband deployed, we decided to suspend his phone line. Now I was under the impression that you could suspend the phone line due to a deployment. Translation: you don’t pay for it, you don’t use it, when you are ready to un-suspend (say, at the end of a deployment), you can turn it back on (like magic) and everything’s all good.
Well, “Brody” at the AT&T store told me that’s not how it goes. When you suspend a phone, it no longer works but you continue to pay for it. No thank you. That’s not what I want. (Why would anyone want that?) That means time for the big c: cancellation. Brody tried to talk me down. He didn’t want me to do it. He warned me that there was a big fee. How big? $275. Child’s play! $275 is nothing compared to quadruple digit bills. Cancel that bitch.
While Brody worked out the particulars on his little computer, he tried hard to be as helpful as possible. “Will your husband still be able to contact you? How will you stay in touch? The AT&T representative that called you the day before the billing cycle was over really was doing you a courtesy. Do you know what wifi is?” Now perhaps it is my youthful visage, or the fact that I was duped into paying $200 a month for data that my husband doesn’t use, but yes, Brody, I do know what wifi is. Thank you for thinking so highly of me. Cancel me, already!
Luckily (for Brody that is), my mom was there and kept the mood light. She was smiley and friendly. Had she not been there, I believe it is 99.9% likely that I would have lost my cool. I just bit my tongue and tried not to go red in the face.
I wasn’t mad at Brody (well, kinda), but mostly I was mad about the whole situation. It doesn’t help that I have to go through all of this because my husband is deploying. This isn’t a fun chore. It’s a sucky one. I feel like I’m trying to take care of my family because my husband is making a huge sacrifice, meanwhile this evil corporation is out to get me. Sure, people buy us a meal when we go out to eat or shake my husband’s hand in the grocery store, but it’s easy to feel alone and misunderstood when the phone company is gouging you. Or when your apartment flooded and the maintenance guys then moved all your furniture around and wouldn’t put it back where it belongs or compensate you in any way. (True story.) Or when someone tells you that your husband shouldn’t go to a particular part of Afghanistan because that’s the bad part. (Also true.)
In the end, I blame myself for not being a savvy customer. I should have been more attuned to how much I was being charged and plan my phone usage accordingly. Guilty. And I can’t expect any special treatment just because my husband is deployed. Even if I do think I deserve it.
What phone company do you use? Do they treat your right? (Cause getting out of your contract really isn’t that expensive.) Anyone else ever have a shockingly high bill?
PS This has nothing to do with U-Verse. (I like that part of AT&T. That’s like the non-evil twin in the AT&T world.)*