The heart of tech is coming to the heart of the Mediterranean. Join TNW in València this March 🇪🇸

This article was published on July 15, 2010

Even Steve Wozniak gets screwed regularly by AT&T

Even Steve Wozniak gets screwed regularly by AT&T
Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten
Story by

Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten

Founder & board member, TNW

Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is a serial entrepreneur who founded not only TNW, but also V3 Redirect Services (sold), HubHop Wireless Internet Provider (sold), and Boris is very active on Twitter as @Boris and Instagram: @Boris.

We got forwarded this email exchange between Steve Wozniak and CEO of Henk van Ess about data plans, the MiFi and the new iPhone 4 and about how they are dealing with international data traffic costs. It gives you an interesting look at Wozniak’s gadget use.

It also gives us a sad look at how mobile operator treat their customers. I mean, if even Steve Wozniak gets screwed all the time, what chances do we have of getting fair treatment? Pretty depressing.

I highlighted some of the juicy bits in the text. Advance to the next page for the email thread.

>You will probably use the Mifi in Europe. Did you know that you can
>save big on data costs thanks to a loophole @vodafone?

No, I did not know that.

But I am one of the luckiest persons alive. I have 2 iPhones with unlimited data plans for $64 a month. They don’t offer unlimited plans anymore. They offer plans like 100 MB per month for $150. The most they offer is 200 MB per month.

They keep trying to take my unlimited plans back when they think I’m not looking. I was expecting them to do this when I bought my new iPhone 4’s. So, in line the night before, I had a friend go to the AT&T store in the mall and they told him I would not lose my unlimited international data plans. I then asked the friend to go back and get it in writing or on video. My friend came back and said that they couldn’t tell him if I even had the plans, that I had to go down myself. So I went to the AT&T store and they swore up and down that I would not lose my plans and they knew what they were talking about.

The next morning I refused to give my credit card for payment until the Apple Store sales person and his supervisor assured me that I would not lose my unlimited plans.

After purchasing my iPhone 4’s I went to the AT&T store and they still showed me having the unlimited plans on their computer. The next evening I went back to the AT&T store and they checked my account and I still had the unlimited international data plans.

The next day I flew to Bogota and when I arrived I discovered that I no longer had an international data plan at all.

I had done everything a person could have done to be safe about this, but they still tried to take my plan away behind my back, figuring I wouldn’t notice it for months. I dealt with a few level of AT&T people on the phone and eventually it hit a ‘media’ person, meaning PR. She told me I would still have the plans.

Of course AT&T would never accidentally remove one of the expensive plans, right?

I did get one iPhone with a 2 GB tethering plan and I tested it recently in Korea and it did indeed work internationally. But the tethering plan is via USB or bluetooth only, not wifi. I have U.S. mifi devices (CDMA, Verizon, the better network in the States) and that’s what I wanted. The best I could come up with was to tether my iPhone to an AirBook and then share it over wifi (it worked). But I really want a mifi version of it.

In Barbados a month ago I felt like jailbreaking one of my 2 iPhones with the unlimited international data plans and running miwi on it to make the iPhone a mifi. But I didn’t get this completed to test it there.

Here in Germany I plan to take the SIM from my unlimited data iPhone and put it in my tethering iPhone to see if I wind up with tethering without a limit. That would be a partial success, but not as sharable as a mifi.

Oh, by the way, I also have a Palm Pre with Verizon. At first they charged but then they made free a built-in mifi ability (Mobile Hotspot).

I plan to use a friend’s GSM mifi here (the type I tried to order from you) with my unlimited data micro-SIM installed. I expect it to work. That’s a good step forward for me. And back home it’s an unlimited data mifi with my unlimited domestic data iPhone plans. Except that these unlimited plans do get cut off at some amount, like 5 GB.

Of my Verizon CDMA mifi cards in the States, one of them has an old unlimited data plan. The other one had an unlimited plan but I switched the number to Google Voice and when I changed the mifi number, minutes later, I had lost my unlimited plan and found out it was no longer available. They got me good on that one.

There are more snippets from the conversation in this article over at