Steve Jobs on the new AT&T data plans
This morning, I checked TechMeme and saw the big news: AT&T decided to restructure its data plans to remove the option for unlimited data. This disappoints me greatly: I, like I'm sure thousands of other customers, bought the iPad WiFi + 3G based on the deal Apple struck with AT&T to offer a no-contract, $30/month, cancel-and-activate any time you need it plan. Like Gizmodo said, the purchase was insurance in case I ever needed to be on 3G exclusively for a while.
The new plans, I believe, are a total bait-and-switch. I don't begrudge AT&T's right to change their prices, but I do find it disappointing that they did it no more than a month after the iPad WiFi + 3G launched, and a couple weeks after the return window ended. So, I decided to write to Steve Jobs in what I thought would be a vain release of my frustration:
Hi Mr. Jobs,
Under any other circumstance, I would never e-mail you: your time is much more valuable than to answer silly questions about rumor and speculation.
But today's announcement by AT&T, to discontinue their unlimited plan for even the iPad is too insane.
Like hundreds of thousands of your loyal customers, I bought an iPad 3G sight unseen. You've never steered me wrong, and every time you sell a new product, you deliver 110%. When you announced the iPad 3G, you also announced a truly awesome deal with AT&T to provide no-contract, sign up any time you need it, truly unlimited 3G data for $30/month.
I paid the extra $130 and waited an additional month to get the iPad 3G because of that. Now, a little over a month later, that primary motivating factor has been removed and I either have the option to pay $30/month starting today and never cancel that if I want unlimited data any time in the future, or be stuck with a lame 2GB/month plan. If those were my options at the time of sale, I would've reconsidered.
I'm disappointed: not because a service changed its price points; that happens. I'm disappointed because, for the first time in my entire life of buying Apple products, I feel like I got sold a bill of goods. It's like buying a car because of its warranty and being notified a few weeks after the return date that the warranty's changed unilaterally.
You've always seemed like a reasonable man; I'm sure you personally didn't know about this switch, and feel just as annoyed as many of your customers feel today.
But it'd go a long way to maintaining trust in Apple to extend the return window for the iPad 3G so customers can make an informed choice about which model is right for them.
Thanks and all the best,
Much to my surprise, 15 minutes later, I received an e-mail back from Jobs himself:
I think its going to work out just fine for almost all customers. Try it.
He didn't really address my concern, but it's still pretty cool to get an e-mail from a guy I still respect.
On October 30th, 2013 I received an email about a settlement for this very issue. As part of the settlement, anyone who activated their 3G data plan prior to the discontinuation of unlimited data plans is entitled to a $40 cash payment.