AT&T’s bad iPhone math

Recently, Amber bought an iPhone. I was the one tasked with figuring out the billing. I went into an AT&T store with a willingness to give AT&T my money to add a second line to my account. What I walked out with was a headache.

I have a wireless account with AT&T, the billing is straightforward.

Equation A:
$39.99 voice plan + $20.00 unlimited data (and 200 SMS messages) = $59.99

For the sake of this conversation, I won’t include the $15 of fees and taxes that I’m charged on a monthly basis.

I went into the store to add Amber’s shiny new iPhone to my current iPhone plan. I was told by one of the worst salesperson ever that they normally charge $9.99 for an additional line, but because we were both going to have iPhones, AT&T would also charge a second $20.00 fee for unlimited data (and 200 SMS messages). That’s reasonable, because I don’t expect to get an iPhone plan for $10.00 a month.

In theory this works out to be:

Equation A ($59.99) + $9.99 second line + $20.00 unlimited data (and 200 SMS messages) = $89.98

$90 monthly for two iPhones seems like a pretty good deal. Too good. Here’s the actual math she used:

Line 1 [Equation A ($59.99) + $20.00 unlimited data (and 200 SMS messages)] + Line 2 [$9.99 second line + $20.00 unlimited data (and 200 SMS messages)] = $109.99

Look carefully and you see three $20.00 charges for unlimited data and SMS messages. I don’t know why AT&T couldn’t just come out and say “You get $10 off the second line when you add it to your account” in this situation. Instead she introduced a third fee for data. Eventually, she gave up on the idea of math and got a flier about pricing (it was in Spanish… oh dios mio!) and told me it would be $109.99 monthly.

Confused? I sure was. To make matters worse, I was given a flier in Spanish and a business card with some kind of indecipherable chart on the back of it to remind me of the shoddy math that she had used in the store.

ps. If you’re one of those hip people who speak Spanish, do use the phrase ODM instead of OMG?

2 thoughts on “AT&T’s bad iPhone math”

  1. Actually, you didn’t get charged $20 three times for data. AT&T’s cheapest “family plan” is $59.99 a month alone, which is $20 more than a single line, not counting the data usages. So it sounds more like this

    $ 59.99 – Family Voice Plan
    $ 9.99 – Additional Line
    $ 20.00 – Data Plan for Line 1
    $ 20.00 – Data Plan for Line 2

    But yeah…iPhones rock. I want one, but I hate the exclusivity contract between Apple and AT&T

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