Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism submits:
Can AT&T do anything right? First, they botch the iPhone launch by having widespread, and terribly painful-to-resolve activation problems. Then they upset customers and environmentalists by sending never-witnessed-before-in-the-history-of man tree-killingly long monthly bills (the unveiling of one 300 page bill has achieved YouTube fame). Then Felix told us about the frightening international phone charges (a friend racked up a $5,000 bill for a mere two weeks in the UK) and later informed us of a second sap who racked up a similarly huge bill.
Now in a particularly bizarre episode of corporate illogic, Blackberrycool.com informs us that AT&T has locked down GPS functionality in Blackberry’s soon-to-be-released 8820. Why? So it won’t outclass the iPhone. But the BlackBerry is an enterprise device. It isn’t supposed to compete with the iPhone.
So AT&T seems, whether by design or mere incompetence, out to alienate its customers. Everyone I know who has an iPhone (a decent sample, since I hang with some Apple fanatics) hates the AT&T service: lousy coverage and lots of dropped calls even in Manhattan. If you can’t get it right in the most densely populated city in the US, how much worse is it elsewhere?
And to return to Felix’s thread about the iPhone’s heart-attack-inducing roaming charges: it isn’t just that AT&T has high (well, really high) overseas phone charges. The few people who don’t know that making or taking phone calls from overseas is pricey inevitably get a rude awakening. It just happens to be particularly rude with the iPhone.
But iPhone users who try to be prudent and limit their roaming use to data still get killed. And the data roaming charges are not only punitive, but also not easy to find.
A buddy made inquiries and somehow couldn’t get a clear answer as to what the data charges for roaming were, until it was spelled out in nauseating detail on his bill. Only then did he learn the charges were a vertiginous 2 cents per kb. The damage after a couple of weeks in London of not-heavy text and occasional map-checking use?
But fear not, he doesn’t get the prize. It turns out the chump that racked up the second $5,000 bill did it on data charges only, no calls at all. His comments:
Well as you may have guessed by now these are all charges for using the edge network while roaming internationally (in England). No phone calls mind you just data. According to AT&T that’s at a rate of $2 cents per K! WTF? Why don’t you rape me and my whole family while you’re at it? From all you can use for $20 bucks a month to $2 cents per K?! $20 per web-page? Are you INSANE?
That’s like charging you $2 cents per molecule of gas for you car!