updated 09:15 am EDT, Tue October 16, 2007
AT&T Contract Changes
AT&T on Tuesday announced a pair of updates to its contract policies to bolster its reputation in the marketplace and match or exceed offerings from rival carriers, such as Verizon. For the first time, AT&T will allow subscribers to switch to a standard calling plan in mid term without being forced to prolong or restart their contract. This should let users adapt their cellular plans to their usage habits over time without an according penalty. The feature should take effect in November, though the company did not say that this would extend to data plans.
Cancelation policies are also set to receive an overhaul, AT&T adds. Rather than charge a flat rate, the carrier will adopt a policy similar to Verizon's which prorates the early cancellation fees. Subscribers who have signed a one- or two-year contract will see the cost of canceling their service decrease over time. Pricing for the change is uncertain but should be revealed by the time the change takes effect in early 2008.
Both changes may be in direct response to Senate legislation, which would have mandated more drastic changes. The proposed bill would potentially eliminate all cancellation fees for select customers and would have required providers to explain reasons behind service charges, which in some cases are alleged to hide artificial price increases. iPhone adoption is widely believed to have been partly hindered by a reluctance on the part of customers to sign up for a new plan without the ability to change the plan or cancel at a discount if they dislike the Apple device.