Friday, April 9, 2010

AT&T Doesn't Want You to Marry Outside Your Area Code

Maybe they're conspiring with your mother-in-law to get you to stay in the same city where your husband got his first cell phone at the age of 16. (OK, nowadays, 8?) AT&T is way behind the times when it comes to family plans.

A few months ago, coachubby and I decided to take that final step into coupledom: getting joint phone accounts. A family plan, if you will. (More accurate: couple plan.)

Being frugal, we tried T-Mobile. Within minutes, my AT&T number was "ported" over to T-Mobile. Ta-dah! Instant crappy coverage. I lasted through one week of having T-Mobile drop my important reporting calls before I convinced coachubby AT&T was the way to go. (That way, some day, when I'm not a student, I could easily switch over to a fancy schmancy iPhone.)

"Since you just left, we consider you a win-back!" said the sales lady while Coachubby and I watched Olympic cross country ski racing on the store's flatscreen.

Sweet. Activation fee deactivated.

"Would you like to keep your numbers?"
"Yes indeed," I said.
"Ok, write them down for me so I can port them over."
I begin to write: 480-
Coachubby begins to write: 765-
"Uh oh," says the lady.
"What-oh," says I.
"You have different area codes."
"That's right. Mine's from Phoenix, his is from Indiana. We don't want to change our numbers."
"That'll put you in two different billing categories. I can't put you on the same plan."
"Are you kidding? We're together on T-Mobile right now. They did it within minutes. AT&T is way better than T-Mobile, right?"
Lady vanishes.

Coachubby and I watch more olympics. Way better than watching it on my computer. Or on an iPhone. Not that I would know.

Lady returns.

"One of you would have to switch your number because you have to be in the same billing area."
"Not it," says I.
"Hey!" says coachubby.
"OK, then, it's off to Verizon!" says I, like one of those really annoying customers who thinks the salesperson cares whether I buy her plan or not--and who thinks she has any power to change AT&T's entire archaic billing structure while I sit and watch the Olympics for half an hour.

Coachubby and I go to a Verizon store, and 10 minutes later, have new phones and the numbers we've had since college. (Believe it or not, padre still has my cell phone from high school, which looks more like a fashionable defense mechanism than an electronic device. Remember clip-on phone covers that match your clothes? Padre has a butterfly phone.)

I'm going to guess that Verizon and T-Mobile bill according to the zipcode where the bill is sent, not according to phone number. Nobody changes their number when they move anymore. That is an ancient practice only remembered by a generation that I am not a part of.

So get a move on, AT&T! Because someday, when I decide I want to be able to scan barcodes with my phone and figure out what's playing on the radio in seconds, I might need to switch to your network.

Or get a Google phone.

That's right. That's a customer threat that you should listen to, because I'm not the only one making it--people have been ticked off about your anti-family plan since 2008. And 2009.


  1. I have ATT (because I was originally a Cingular person). And I do not like to tell people to switch to Verizon, but I believe that the iPhone will be coming to Verizon. So in a bit you should check that out.

  2. That would be sweet. I had ATT for almost 7 years before this billing blunder. Bah!