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[Updated] AT&T Adds Usage Meter Placeholder on U-verse Accounts

Phillip Dampier March 22, 2010 AT&T, Data Caps, Editorial & Site News 7 Comments

Stop the Cap! reader Michael writes to alert us he found AT&T’s U-verse online Account Overview now includes a section called “Usage & Recent Activity” that includes a placeholder for a future usage meter.

“I canceled my U-verse TV and bumped my Internet speed up to 12Mbps last weekend, and I remember checking to see if my account updated sometime around the middle of last week.  The old website was still in use then.  Today was the first time I got redirected to the new site, which includes this new placeholder for a usage meter,” writes Michael.

Stop the Cap! reader Michael sent us a screen shot of his AT&T U-verse account, showing this placeholder for a future usage meter. (Click to view the full screen shot)

While customers like Michael are currently being told their “internet plan provides you with unlimited usage — there are no usage details to display,” the potential for usage meters can set the stage for future Internet Overcharging schemes down the road.

AT&T alienated many of its customers in Beaumont, Texas and Reno, Nevada when an extended usage cap trial was underway.  Complaints were filed against AT&T with the Better Business Bureau over dubious marketing practices that sold customers on unlimited broadband, only to dispatch letters to newly signed customers telling them it wasn’t unlimited… after signing up for service.

Stop the Cap! learned the Beaumont/Reno experiment was coming to a close this April.

Internet Overcharging schemes are vastly unpopular with consumers.  A 2008 study found an overwhelming majority of customers (81 percent) opposed to usage limits or usage-based billing, with 51 percent willing to take their business to another provider if implemented.

In Beaumont and Reno, customers threatened to cancel service when they learned of the experimental overcharging scheme being tested.  Some managed to get exempted from the trial.

Customers routinely reject the notion that a company already earning billions in broadband profits today needs to set the stage for even higher pricing and profits tomorrow.

AT&T has spent millions lobbying for the introduction of their U-verse system on favorable franchise terms with the promise it would deliver more competition and lower prices for millions of Americans.

For customers like Michael, usage meters are the first step towards breaking that promise.  When followed with formal usage limits or usage-based billing, higher broadband bills are a sure thing.

AT&T customers should contact AT&T and put them on notice — any effort to impose usage limits or usage-based billing will result in immediate cancellation of your AT&T account.

Stop the Cap! will continue to closely monitor AT&T and we’ll recommend further action should conditions warrant.

Update 3:00pm EDT 3/23 — AT&T tells Broadband Reports that whatever users are seeing, it’s some kind of website glitch, and that the company has no plans to implement a usage meter. “We did do some upgrades to our account management portal this weekend, but we haven’t been able to recreate this screen,” according to AT&T spokesman Seth Bloom.

While that’s good news for AT&T customers, we are unsure exactly how such a glitch could occur with such depth, including wording that specific Internet plans providing unlimited usage.  Further, specifying “U-verse Internet Usage” on the tab above it seems surprisingly specific for a “glitch.”

Barring any new evidence, we’ll take AT&T’s word for it, but readers should continue to report any further “glitches” they might encounter.  If possible, include the URL with any screen shots, which we’ll happily provide to the company in any effort to recreate the page.

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Ian L
11 years ago

Just a thought: if AT&T provisioned U-Verse at the maximum speed your line allows, then sold tiers by cap ($65 for unlimited, $55 for 200GB, $45 for 100GB, $35 for 50GB, $25 for 20GB) what would everyone think about that? Could be what AT&T (and Verizon for that matter) may try.

Jason
Jason
11 years ago
Reply to  Ian L

The problem with metered service rates and caps like you suggest is the company execs can’t help themselves once they get into that piggy bank of incremental revenue. Accept any sort of caps plus penalty charges and you’re only going to see more ways from them to squeeze additional revenue out of you with that pricing model.

Michael Chaney
11 years ago

I would be royally pissed! That would mean I’d pay $20 a month more for the exact same unlimited service I pay $45 a month for now. That’s a 44% price increase for adding NO ADDITIONAL VALUE WHATSOEVER! As was quoted, I have finally cut the cord. My first week without cable TV has been great. I don’t miss it, or the extra $81 a month I was paying for it, one bit. But what this means is that my Internet service is now my sole news, entertainment, and information connection. Caps are now VERY personal to me, and I… Read more »

jr
jr
11 years ago

AT&T’s greed knows no bounds

Tim
Tim
11 years ago

If they implement a cap, I am gone. I would go back to Time Warner. Caps are not going to work for me.

Ian L
11 years ago
Reply to  Tim

Remember that TWC implemented caps in Beaumont not too long ago. They then repealed them, however if you’re thinking that they won’t come back after AT&T implements theirs (if they do) then you’d be sadly mistaken.

Tim
Tim
11 years ago
Reply to  Ian L

I remember and I know that it is possible. However, if they, Time Warner, do implement a cap in my area, then I will cancel Internet altogether. I am willing to give it totally up just to make a statement. Others should do the same. Trust me, if it came down to that, I would be out there making their, AT&T and TIme Warner, world as miserable as possible.

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