AT&T cuts family rate plan prices, makes them simpler too

38 Comments

Credit: Flickr / dslrninja

Is AT&T(s t) feeling heat from T-Mobile’s(s tmus) “un-carrier” moves? I think so, but you be the judge: AT&T just announced new family plans that are both simpler to understand and less expensive. The carrier introduced the new plans on Saturday, saying they’re available starting today.

What makes these more simple? Instead of using a chart to determine costs based on the type of device being added to the existing mobile share plans, new and current AT&T customers simply choose the number of smartphones on the plan. Two smartphones get unlimited talk, texting and 10 GB of monthly data for $130. Each additional smartphone added to the plan raises the price by $15; all smartphones on the plan share the 10 GB.

att family plans

That’s a money saver for me as we have four smartphones on an existing mobile share plan. We collectively get 6 GB of data to share and our monthly cost now is $240 per month. Under the new plan, we’ll actually get an additional 4 GB of shared data and our monthly cost is $160, or a savings of $80 each month going forward. That’s huge.

AT&T currently has a deal through the end of March to offer a $100 new line credit for either switchers or existing customers who add a line. That’s still in effect with the new plans and includes tablets and hotspots as well as phones.

Given that T-Mobile has been aggressive in its service pricing, it’s easy to suggest this is a defensive move from AT&T. There’s more to it though. These price cuts, along with the relatively generous 10 GB of monthly shared data could be construed as a shot across Verizon’s(s vz)(s vod) bow as well. For example, the same unlimited talk, text and shared 10 GB on Verizon’s Share Everything plan is currently $260. Let’s see if that carrier keeps the status quo or bends to additional pricing pressure going forward.

38 Comments

rhett

this is a fraudulent bait and switch going on at the AT&T stores. Upgraded two phones on our family plan and was assured the cost is $15 per phone month (as it was). Saw the bill and was charged $40 per/month. At no point did the sales rep disclose this, even after I asked about it only being $15 per month. I never was even shown the fine print, simply asked to sign the electronic pad. This is an additional $600 per year (from just the 2 phones). Spoke to customer service and they said many people are angry about this. Blatant and malicious fraud candy coated as a newly discounted family rate plan. I smell a major class action lawsuit in the works. Customer loyalty will be tested as more are seeing this as it is….

Jen

This is only for AT&T Next customers when I look online as I am already an AT&T customer and wanted to see if I could change to save money. With Next you have to pay a monthly fee for a phone you “buy” to have no contract. This is for new customers. I can not change my plan because I am still in a contract so this is not fair to existing AT&T customers who will be paying more than $100 more than this “new” plan costs. People need to read the fine print. The offer ends at the end of the month too. I fell as a long term customer I should be able to get a plan with the same pricing and not be forced to be a “Next” customer. Since AT&T introduced AT&T Next they changed the upgrade time frame from 18 months to 24 months on my plan, so I am sure other customers had the same thing happen. And AT&T wonders why customers feel they are seen as having poor customer service. It’s because they are so out of touch with what the customer wants and needs. It’s time to ditch the big companies and go to Smart Talk etc…..so disappointed in how they treat old customers versus new customers.

richr

What happens when a grangfathered customer upgrades. If you use a subsidy, do you still pay only 15 dollars a month?

Ross Banick

I believe the reason AT&T is losing customers is due more to the way they treat their customers, than to direct competition from T-Mobile. Case in point, AT&T lost me as a long-time (data grandfathered) customer when they insisted my kids had to pay for a data plan that I didn’t want and that I couldn’t use (because I had a long-standing data block on the kid’s line which was very effective). What had irked me was that AT&T insisted on charging me for data, on that unsubsidized phone that I had bought on the open market so. They thought it logical that I should pay for data that I didn’t want my kids to have, and that I voluntarily blocked anyway – even though AT&T had never subsidized the phone in the first place. It was clear to me, a reasonably well educated person, that AT&T didn’t care one bit about me then (even after my FCC complaint), and they still don’t care about their customers. In disgust, I switched to T-Mobile, who graciously allowed me to use my unsubsidized unlocked phone (they don’t care what phone I use), and, who did not require a data plan for my kids gaming phones (they were simply happy to have me as a customer). Much to my surprise, I fortuituously saved about $20 a month – which was an unexpected bonus – because I left AT&T because of their policies – not necessarily due to their prices (I had assumed AT&T & T-Mobile were the same price, but T-Mobile turned out to be appreciably lower cost – for better service overall). The area coverage is the same as far as I can tell. It seems that this reporter did his homework well, and he also found out that the T-Mobile plan is $20 cheaper, for a family of four, even WITH data. So, that matches my experience. In summary, the real reason AT&T is losing subscribers, like me, is that their pricing policies are patently unfair, forcing people who don’t want data, and who use their own phones, to pay for data, nonetheless.

Dominic

This is nuts for folks with minimal requirements. We have 2 lines at 550 minutes each, 300 meg and 2gig data, and 200 texts each. Complete with 2 year contract and iPhones at $199 each. We pay 105 a month all in. Admittedly get a discount with a corporate code, but it doesn’t amount to much. This “new way” of charging costs folks like us much more……

Steven

Teachinical u can say $100/4 lines Tmobile plan is data unlimited, but after 500mb 4G/LTE speed, the speed will limited to 2G/3G.

Steven

The new att family share plan is also eligible for curent in contract customer before 02/02/14. But on this plan, next time to get new phone u have to buy by Next plan, or pay full price.

Nitish Kannan

4 lines t mobile unlimited everything is 100 bucks a month att is a fail.

Steven

Actually on Tmobie for $100 and 4 lines, u get unlimited talk and text, but only 500mb data per line. With this new att plan, 4 lines for $160, come with unlimited talk and text, and share 10gb (like 2.5gb per line). To get the same data amount, Tmoblie would cost $140. Att plan is $20 more expensive than Tmoblie each month, but please consider network coverage. If u have good Tmoblie coverage in your area, it is a better deal for u.

Paolo

tmobile is still cheaper and you get more data – 2 lines at unlimited data and 2 at 2.5GB is the same $160/mo

Ben Anderson

I’ll stick with Republic Wireless. Unlimited everything for at most $40 a month per line.

Gar

I just “switched” and any line on a contract is being charged $40pmonth. ATT reps are just following what their system is allowing them to do. The new plan automaticallysets the rate based on contract status.

eric coultas

considering the plan does not start till tommorrow no wonder the info the reps has is wrong.

Nick Smith

Here’s the catch, as per AT&T:

“3. Value pricing for no annual service contract or on an installment agmt. Other charges & restr’s apply.

4. Savings: Compares 4 phones on AT&T Mobile Share® Value w/ no annual contracts to Verizon Share Everything®. Bill credit: offer ends 3/31/14. Must activate new postpaid wireless line. Must be in good standing for 45 days. Credit rec’d w/in 3 bills. Other charges & restr’s apply.

5. Customers who choose to upgrade at the end of their current agreement are required to sign-up for NEXT, bring their own device or purchase a phone a full retail price in order to keep this plan.”

nlwnola

Customers grandfathered in 2yr agreements prior to today get the $15 rate. those who sign a two year contract today and on pay $40

Electric Monk

I really don’t know where you got this from. As I said in my reply above. I have two current contracts (signed up long before today, but still within the contract term), and I have been charged $40 per line on the website. The fine print pretty clearly states that the $15 price does not apply to “annual service contracts or installment agreements” with no mention of OLD or NEW.

nlwnola

Don’t mean to argue. As an AT&T mobility manager we rolled these plans out today, as they are our current Mobile Share Value plans with additional service credits. If you refer to your Customer Service summary for your plan, for lines out of contract or on AT&T Next it shows a $15 service credit will be applied monthly to your plan. So you would be billed $40 on your bill, and then see a $15 credit making the line $25 as of the old plan structure. In order to take care of our existing customers. AT&T has decided to extend this to any customer who signed a contract prior to 2/2/2013. You should see on your bill a charge of $40 then a credit for $25. As well as making those customer who were at least 5 months and 1 day into a 2yr contract as of 1/18/2014 eligible for an AT&T Next upgrade. We were made aware of this early this morning. Then the press release came later. It is the first time AT&T has gone this aggressive into the market place. I am personally very excited. I’m saving over $65 a month by this. If you feel you need to verify i would contact a retail store. They were given a detailed presentation. Not sure how it works in the call centers.

Electric Monk

My problem is that my “bill” which should reflect the credit won’t be issued until it’s too late to know if your info is correct or not…

Electric Monk

EM from my phone:

Tried call center, they said you were wrong. Went in, they said you were wrong … Double checked with the manager, they confirmed you were RIGHT. Thanks for going through the trouble to set me straight.

Ask for a manager people!

Lame that ATT corporate is hiding the ball on the discount, but I appreciate you spending the time to do good customer care.

nlwnola

Anytime. I’m sure those front liners haven’t read their news feed yet. It’s out there for them to read. I’m glad management had the right info. The leadership here in the southeast has been pushing us to cover it with all of our people before today. I’ve been in the industry for over a decade. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen Cingular/AWE/ or att in general go this whole hog into anything like this. It’s actually on the right side of the consumer. Fact remains that signing contracts and using phone subsidies does nothing but inflate hardware prices and the customer ends up paying the carrier back even after the phone is paid for. I think a new generation of leadership is taking hold. This industry has changed so much and it’s nice to see a huge company like AT&T being nimble enough to turn on a dime and make it happen. Randall said the end if the 2yr contract was coming this year. I see it happening every day! Personally I’d rather pay for my phone either full up front or on my bill. Let’s me know that I know where the money is going. While I don’t care for the way our pink competitors CEO is behaving, very unprofessional in my own opinion. I like the change they are pushing. Now let’s see what Verizon does since AT&T has shot this across their bow. :-)

richr

What happens when a grangfathered customer upgrades. If you use a subsidy, do you still pay only 15 dollars a month?

Rafael Tito Perez

No when u upgrade it goes up to 40 dollars a month per phone that is upgraded so if you upgrade three phones your monthly bill goes up 75 dollars nice trap from att

jordan buckley

Whoa! Thank you T-Mobile! I’m on a 6-line family plan and this will save us $110 a month. Huge. Now off to read the fine print and see if there’s a catch.

Electric Monk

You missed the fine print at the bottom where it says that pricing only counts off-contract. For my two on-contract phones, the price is $40 per line. So the $130 quoted there is $180 for me. Lame.

nlwnola

Those customers who had signed a two year contract prior to today, get the added benefit of only paying the $15 per line. if you sign a 2yr contract today and forward you pay $40. hence do NEXT.

Electric Monk

Wrong. I have a current contract, and it’s charged me $40 per line. I’d love it if you were correct, but you are not.

nlwnola

system will run a script and attach a $25 credit to the accounts, the rate charged will still say $40 then credit $25. Just got off the conference call this morning. AT&T Mobility Manager here. Its a way of making sure our existing customers are well taken care of in this plan movement.

Electric Monk

But that’s not mentioned ANYWHERE, so I’m getting screwed because the pricing looks higher? That’s ridiculous. Bad messaging/customer support on ATT’s part, hiding the ball to make me pay more.

Electric Monk

IE, because I signed up for the 6GB since the 10GB said it would cost $180/mo.

Rafael Tito Perez

Then when we upgrade our phones later you tack on 25 per new phone a month doesnt save us any money. So for a family of three you will raise my bill by 75 dollars a month because I needed new phones, ripe off either way, give us a break now screw us later,

Josh LeClair

That would explain why I can’t switch my plan over and it wasn’t even showing up when attempting to start as a new customer.

Seems like a pretty big detail to leave out of the article.

jordan buckley

Actually, ATT is letting on-contract customers switch to this pricing. More details in The Verge’s writeup: http://www.theverge.com/2014/2/1/5368768/att-discounts-large-mobile-share-value-plans, and in AT&T’s official video (pay attention at 0:37): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AANCZBuOm8I.

I actually just did this. I’m on a 6-line mobile share plan, all lines on 2-year contracts, and I just called and had the rep switch me over, effective immediately. I had to call twice though because the first rep told me I couldn’t do this till I was out of contract, so if you get a rep who doesn’t know that, just try again.

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