I bought an AT&T $300 data package prior to leaving Cannes, which was way too costly to begin with. It gave me 300 megs of data, but I’d burned through 260 or so by the end of the festival. So I called AT&T and asked if I could buy another $300 package, and they said nope — they can only sell one int’l data package per customer per month.

So I was forced to agree to pay an extra $60-something dollars per month for a year to be on their international data plan, which gives you unlimited overseas and Canada usage, and no horseshit. They also agreed to give me back the $300 I’d paid out previously if I would go for it, so I said okay.

But before giving the final approval I made double-triple sure that AT&T wouldn’t turn around and hit me with some outrageous charge, like they have twice before after my using their service in Europe. I asked the AT&T guy to state twice in Jack-and-Jill language that absolutely nothing shocking would happen charge-wise, and that all I’d see on my monthly bill when I got back would be an extra $60 per month.

Four days ago I called to see what the monthly is (I was figuring about $340-something as I’m already paying $280 for a family package, myself and the two boys with 2000 minutes total plus unlimited texting), and the message said that I owed AT&T about thirty-two hundred bills. Obviously a result of the int’l data package not having kicked in all the way through the system, and AT&T charging me on an international per-byte basis all through Cannes and Italy and Sicily.

I didn’t lose my temper. I simply called and explained what had happened, step by step, and that obviously somebody in the int’l department had made a mistake. It took about a half-hour of explaining and re-explaining and waiting and doing deep-breathing exercises, but the AT&T guy I called finally came back on the line and said he’d spoken to international and that I had nothing to worry about and that all I owed AT&T was my regular monthly and to forget about the $3200 figure. Whew!

But this is what AT&T is like. Untrustworthy, occasionally predatory, no coordination. If somebody says one thing the next guy will say something different. This is why everyone hates them, and why the option of switching to Verizon for iPhone service, which may happen sometime in the fall, is being seriously examined by more than a few AT&T customers.