Thursday, August 26, 2010

iPhones and Family Plans - A Saturday spent at AT&T and Apple Stores

After two years with two different cell phone plans, we made plans for a consolidation, and due to an existing iPhone in the family, and the new far less expensive data plan from AT&T, the decision was made to go with AT&T.

Our family members were given the choice on phones and to make a long story short, all picked the iPhone. It was a long Saturday and it started easily enough with a visit to the Apple Store in Los Gatos, CA. Tip: go to Apple Stores that are not in Malls. The Apple retail staff are more laid back.

The Apple salesman was very nice and we got two iPhones enabled and old data ported over in a little over an hour and a half. It was nice and relaxing at the Los Gatos store. I saw the CIO of Cisco there and she looked pretty interested in a bunch of iPad accessories. That was the start of the journey.

Apple can only add a phone to an existing plan or create a new plan. They are not authorized to set-up a family plan. Very strange, but it is reflective of the relationship between AT&T and Apple.

Next stop was the AT&T store. We waited in line for over an hour. After that, we got the new phones correctly updated and our other son's plan migrated to a family plan. My wife decided not to go with a Blackberry Torch and the AT&T store had no iPhones. So it was back to the Apple Store at a Mall across the street in San Jose.

We waited at the Apple store for 45 minutes before getting served. It was not relaxing like the Los Gatos store. They had an iPhone 3GS that I bought and it was turned on and the data was migrated from the old phone. Then it was back to the AT&T store to get it added to the family plan. The AT&T Salesman was very nice and claimed we were all set.

We finally got home well after dinner time.  While it was a long day, it was no longer than when we signed up with Verizon two years ago. It would be nice if Apple had more ability to setup AT&T family plans.

It was all good until this week, when we started getting messages that we were over our unlimited texting plan. A quick phone call to AT&T solved that.

I will say this. Never underestimate what a teenager can do with thousands of apps from the iTunes app store. The hot tip for your teens is to teach them how to connect their iPhone to wireless networks (home and school). That way, they don't go over the limits on their data plan.

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