PhoneNews.com has been able to confirm a new set of GoPhone Pick Your Plan Offerings currently being trialed in the Northeast and Texas which are designed with the best of intentions to ease confusion and make prepaid a viable option, but end up being more expensive and less friendly to the prepaid consumer as a whole.
Starting with the reduction in plans from five to four, AT&T has wisely decided to keep the $29.99 plan with a $250 account limit with any overages being deducted, and instead increases the next tier by $14 to $44.99 for an additional 250 minutes and 5000 night/weekend minutes.
The first major blow to the service starts with the $44.99 and higher tiers requiring a $25 activation fee with the second blow being the account limit being cut in half to $125Â with any overages automatically deducted, causing the customer to lose tens, if not hundreds of dollars in purchased airtime if the more expensive plans are selected.
The next two plan tiers are set at $64.99 for 900 minutes and $84.99 for 1350 minutes and add 450 minutes only to each tier for an additional $20 with the same $125 account limit. Â The only advantage in the above tiers is unlimited AT&T network calling and unlimited night/weekend minutes being included.
The reduced account limit for the higher tiers is likely a result of AT&T wanting to clamp down on people cashing out large balances when used for data only or moving large balances to postpaid plans.
The new Pick Your Plan service also does away with data options of any kind and relies solely on 1Â¢/kb data access which makes it quite expensive to use even occasionally, and makes the web2go plans from T-Mobile look positively generous in comparison on FlexPay.
AT&T would be better served bringing back data access and taking a page out of the UK carrier playbook with nominal tiers for large blocks of prepaid data access and hard caps instead of offering unlimited data and pulling the offering hiding behind cloudy excuses such as abuse.
If these new GoPhone Pick Your Plan options are indications of the new offerings AT&T has in store for GoPhone PYP customers on a wider scale, this only reaffirms the second class status that AT&T regards for prepaid users.
The elimination of unlimited data will also drive savvy and normal customers even further away to other alternatives such as Sprint, T-Mobile, or even Verizon with Month-to-Month data access as well as better alternatives for voice in T-Mobile Prepaid, Boost, Virgin Mobile, and Verizon.