Imagine such a scenario : You have an old smartphone, and your phone dies on you. Ok, happens, you grab another used phone or your old phone, and start using the line by that phone. And you use it to only make normal calls, not use internet or anything, because phone is not capable of such connectivity or data. And you dont even have any contract with AT&T or the like.
You would expect to not get charged for data, in such a case – since you not only have any kind of binding contract with AT&T, and you arent using a smartphone you got through a contract from them, and, you arent using any data ? Right ?
Well you are wrong.
Joel Runyon was forced into a data plan automatically, after AT&T realized that he was making calls from a smartphone, even though he wasnt using any data. Without any notification, without any agreement, without any legal basis, AT&T automatically chose a data plan that cost $30 extra monthly for Runyon, and kept billing Runyon after that. They didnt feel the need to seek his consent or approval for this smart move either. And remember – Runyon did not buy a subsidized smartphone from AT&T – it was his own unlocked, totally free phones.
AT&T defends themselves by saying that even if he is not using any data, and even if he didnt buy a subsidized phone from them, he is capable of using data, therefore he should be charged. And what solution they proposed to Runyon was telling him either to get a phone that could not connect to internet (highly unlikely these days) or, keep paying for data plan even if he doesnt use it.
So, US smartphone users – beware : AT&T sees the right to do whatever they want with your wallet. You can read more of this travesty at Runyon’s own blog here.