I’m sorry, but this isn’t a film post, a memoir or a musing, and it’s definitely not funny.
I went to the Toronto Film Festival for five days and four hours and received a $1,524 AT&T bill for data charges on top of the $199 paid for the first 200 MB. A total of $1723.
I am very angry about this and would greatly appreciate it if any of my readers would tweet this and post it on Facebook.
I’ve learned since that bills like these are a commonplace with AT&T. (See the videos below.) Here’s why:
The 200MB plan is pro-rated by the dates of the monthly plan, which in my case was August 17th to September 16th. In order to get all 200 MB I had to backdate to August 17th, otherwise I would have paid $199 for 50 MB.
I knew in advance I was going to use a lot of data because I was going to be working at the Toronto Film Festival setting up publicity for Tabloid, a new movie by Academy Award-winning filmmaker Errol Morris. I would always be on the run, needing to receive phone calls and e-mail everywhere and at all times. Worse, when I got there I discovered there was no wireless—only wired—Internet service in both my hotel room and the interview suite that was used for Mr. Morris’ interviews.
I was told that the AT&T iPhone app worked in Canada by an AT&T operator. The application had a line graph that tracked international usage. But as AT&T cannot finish their accounting for international charges until 90 days after the data is used, it’s impossible for them to display charges they haven’t received yet. There’s no possible way it can work and they know that.
If AT&T hadn’t provided the app, I wouldn’t have been comforted by the low readings it was providing me. I wouldn’t have had any idea how much data I was using, and that would have put the fear of god into me. Still, I did try to turn the data off—via “Airplane Mode” and changing the settings—but this shut off the phone, too. What I didn’t know, and no one told me until afterwards, is that if I turned off “roaming,” I could have had telephone service without data. I didn’t imagine that it was possible to use a phone in a foreign country without turning roaming on.
When I got on my plane in Canada, the AT&T app said I’d used 120 MB, but after I got home to my apartment in New York it was a heart attack-inducing 300+ MB. 20 minutes after I shut off my international plan, I received an e-mail and text from AT&T stating that they were suspending my already canceled international data plan AND domestic data plan. The -email falsely claimed that I had ignored an earlier text and e-mail about excessive usage sent to met while I was in Canada. An operator later confirmed that no such e-mail or text had been sent.
Eventually I found a sympathetic operator who filed a four-page application for a full refund.
On Friday I received a text saying there would be no reduction of any kind. An operator confirmed that there would be no explanation for the denial or any possibility of reconsideration.
Reid Rosefelt is a veteran film publicist based in New York City. He has promoted hundreds of films, for such diverse moviemakers as Jim Jarmusch, Pedro Almodóvar, Errol Morris, Ang Lee and Werner Herzog. His personal clients have included The Sundance Institute, IFC and HBO Films, as well as Harvey Keitel, Ally Sheedy and the late Adrienne Shelly. His production publicity credits include Desperately Seeking Susan, The Godfather: Part III and, most recently, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire. His blog can be found at http://my-life-as-a-blog.com/.