AT&T Quadruples Text Messaging Prices, Insists Consumers Demand It.

August 18, 2011 ,

Late last night AT&T confirmed that they are once again raising the price of text messaging on consumers.  The current $10/1000 message plan is being eliminated, leaving only the $20/unlimited plan for consumers who do not want to pay $0.20 per message.  This change follows AT&T’s announcement in January that it was eliminating both the $5/200 plan and the $15/1500 plan. 

At the very least, this constitutes a 100% increase in text messaging prices for the over 70% of adults who send and receive less than 1000 text messages per month.  It is a 400% increase for customers who send and receive less than 200 messages per month (over 50% of adults send and receive 300 messages or less per month, so that number is not insignificant).

The incongruity between real world usage patterns and AT&T’s pricing is highlighted by AT&T’s comments about the price hike to Engadget.  An AT&T rep claims that the “vast majority of [AT&T] messaging customers prefer unlimited plans.”  If the vast majority of adults use barely half of the existing 1000 messages they can purchase for $10, why would they clamor to pay $20 for an unlimited number of messages?  While the vast majority of AT&T’s customers might prefer unlimited data plans, it seems unlikely that they have been demanding to pay double or quadruple for a service that essentially costs AT&T nothing to provide.

To end this post, I’ll just quote the end of my post from January when AT&T last gouged customers with text messaging pricing.  Sadly, it is just as applicable today:

Normally, this is the type of unjustified price increase that the Federal Communications Commission would look in to.  Unfortunately, the FCC has ignored problems with text messaging and refused to move forward on a petition that we and others filed over three years ago.  Until the FCC moves, carriers will continue to nickel and dime consumers.  Those new buckets will just be pretty wrapping on higher prices.