Yesterday, TUAW reader Stephen wrote and asked whether dropping EDGE would "stick". And that simple request led me a lot further than I expected. So let me start from the beginning. As you can see from this picture, this month I was charged only for voice minutes. So as far as that goes, dropping EDGE does "stick". But there's quite a bit more to the story.
Stephen wrote because on Tuesday he called AT&T and removed the data plan from his iPhone. He reminded me that you have to disable the EDGE Internet feature in addition to canceling the data plan, so I decided to give AT&T a call. I wanted to confirm that EDGE was disabled on my account--I was scared of paying $24.07 to look at a picture.
The first service person I talked to told me that EDGE was a service provided by Apple, not AT&T and that she could not put an Internet block on the account. I thanked her, hung up, rolled my eyes a teeny bit, and called back. The second service person said, "Sure, no problem", removed (as she put it) "the internet feature from my plan" and assured me that the phone would not be able to access the Internet and cause per-kilobyte charges. If I wanted to add the feature back, she said, just call and they'd be happy to put it back on.
Now here's where it gets strange. A few minutes after hanging up with the second representative, James T., a Customer Relations Advocate of AT&T called me back. "Is this Erica Sadun?" he asked. A little freaked out, I said yes, I was.
James told me that AT&T is not allowed to take the data feature off the iPhone plan and that this was done in error by a representative who wasn't trained fully and didn't look to see that I had an iPhone account. Since the plan had been removed he would not force me to add it back on. They would allow me to block the per-use feature, however, he wanted to make it clear that this was not a proper action and that AT&T did not officially allow the data plan to be dropped from an iPhone account.
In summary: AT&T says they're not going to force me to keep my dropped data plan--I dropped it a few weeks ago, if you remember. They allowed me to block Internet access. On the other hand, the message is loud, clear, and spreading fast: AT&T doesn't want you to remove features from your iPhone account.