I thought it was a bit fishy when AT&T got ahold of Om Malik to ‘clarify’ that no contract was needed for the SIM-only deal, and wanted to check to see exactly how easy it was for Joe Blow to get. However, I don’t need another SIM card, contract free or not, but my friend Matt does. I asked Matt if he would mind attempting to order the contract-free SIM card online, and he quickly obliged.
However, we’re not off to a good start, as Matt couldn’t even find the SIM-only deal on AT&T’s website anymore. As such, he decided to engage ‘Natalie’, the friendly online chat sales representative, to see if she could help him. The conversation follows:
Thank you for your patience! An AT&T, sales representative will be with you shortly.
You are now chatting with Natalie, an AT&T, sales representative.
Natalie: Welcome to AT&T online Sales support. How may I assist you with placing your order today?
matt: hello Natalie, I had a question: where on your website can I buy the sim-card only, no contract deal?
Natalie: Unfortunately the sim card only purchase is out of stock here online.
Natalie: To start service on a phone you already have you would want to visit a local store or call our sales department at 866.246.4852.
matt: Ok, thank you for the heads up… two more questions for you
matt: One, where on the site would I find that for future reference?
matt: And two, can the sim-only option be added with just an unlimited data plan, or does it require voice?
Natalie: The sim card only option is for activating new Contract or Prepaid service using your own device. The process was always available in the stores and over the phone but it was not available here online.
matt: I understand, but I was under the impression that had changed.. that it was now available as an option online. Thank you for clarification.
Natalie: You are welcome.
matt: Do you know whether I can use my own device and add the PDA Unlimited plan, using the sim-card only?
Natalie: Would you have any more questions I can help you with online?
Natalie: Yes you can use a data only option on the PDA phones . You will go to plans and choose data plans and add the PDA data plan to that line.
Natalie: The line is still automatically assigned a number but you are not required to sign up on a voice plan. However, if the phone is used to make or receive a phone call, you are just billed $.40 per minute when used.
matt: Ok, that makes sense… and I know that this isn’t your realm, since it’s not an online option… but can that same plan be used with my own device with the no-contract sim do you know?
Natalie: If you choose the Prepaid option for service you will not have the data only option for service.
matt: I’m sorry, I don’t mean the prepaid option I mean using the month-to-month option where I bring my own device, and get a no-contract sim card.
Natalie: We do not offer service month to month. The sim only if when using your own phone with our service. You still have to choose a contract option for our service.
matt: There were several news announcements a couple of days ago saying that if you were to bring your own phone to AT&T, you could get a sim card with any of their regular plans (not promotional plans) and get just a sim card, and not have to sign a contract.
matt: Natalie, here’s a link with the news: http://www.engadget.com/2008/01/22/atandt-says-sim-only-service-available-contract-free-2-year-plan/
Natalie: With the sim card offer you still have to sign a contract for your service. The offer is for customers who had their own devices that they wanted to use with our service. When the sim was only you had a 2 year agreement if you choose a regular plan or no contract if you choose the Prepaid service plans. It was never without a contract on the regular service plans.
matt: I’m sorry, but that’s directly in contradiction to what your company has said… I AM bringing my own device to the table, so should I be able to get a sim with no contract then? (Not prepaid)
Natalie: It also states it here on the page you sent to me: http://www.engadget.com/2008/01/20/atandt-offers-sim-only-service-attempts-to-maintain-most-open-s/
matt: yes, which your company later issued a correction to, stating that there was no contract required
matt: That was the link I sent you
Natalie: Unfortunately that is incorrect information. You are more than welcome to check in the local store or call sales at 1-888-333-6651 to verify the information.
matt: Ok, thank you Natalie
Natalie: You are welcome.
Natalie: Thank you for visiting AT&T. I look forward to chatting with you in the future. Have a great day!
So it appears as though ‘Natalie’, whom AT&T has entrusted with interacting with consumers online, is not only unaware of any statements that AT&T has publicly made regarding the SIM-only contract-free, but she also has no issues making very direct and absolute statements regarding such deals. Has anyone else tried to get their hands on a contract-free SIM-only deal?