Hardware voice dialing crippled to push AT&T $4.99/mo voice dialing service

Until recently, my wife and I were using Nokia 6102i phones. The phones weren’t anything special–the shell was fragile (which can be forgiven, since the phone was Nokia’s first clamshell design), the menus were laggy, and the phone had very little storage space. The features, on the other hand, were pretty good. MP3 ringtones, Java games support, speed dialing, Bluetooth support, and, best of all, voice dialing. When driving and using my Motorola H700 headset, I could tap the button on the side of the headset and issue a simple voice command and the phone would dial out. I could make calls safely and conveniently while driving.

When my wife and I were eligible for new phones recently, we did our research on other carriers and phones. We were disappointed in the rate plans and selection of phones at AT&T and strongly considered switching to Alltel. The only reason we stuck with AT&T is because my parents are also with AT&T. My parents live two and a half hours a way and moving to another service provider would mean they would have to use minutes to call me or for me to call them.

Already disappointed by rate plans inferior to those at Alltel and T-Mobile, we were stunned to discover that NONE of the regular phones available at AT&T featured voice dialing. One of the salespeople at the store assured me the Samsung A737 supports voice dialing, but it does not. Still amazed that none of the phones supported voice dialing, we read through a rate plan brochure and noticed that AT&T sells a voice dialing feature–which performs the same function as our old Nokia 6102i, but through an external service rather than directly through the phone and Bluetooth headset hardware–for $4.99/mo.

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

After walking out of the store with our new Samsung A737s (which apparently block users from transferring Java games by data cable, yet ANOTHER downgrade from the older Nokia 6102i), I dialed my parents and immediately forbade them from renewing their contracts with AT&T.

I understand that AT&T is in business to make a profit. I don’t take issue with that. But when AT&T forces users to purchase additional features (whether it be voice dialing at $4.99/mo or data usage to download freeware Java games at $.01/KB) by collaborating with hardware vendors to cripple phones, that steps over the line between good business sense and firmly into the realm of greed.

I refuse to pay $6.99 PLUS an additional $2.50 (estimate based on data usage at $.01/KB and a file size of 250KB) for Tetris and I refuse to pay $4.99/mo PER LINE for a feature that was built-in and easy to use on older hardware.

Unless AT&T changes their business tactics, they will be losing four customers the DAY my, my wife’s, my mother’s and my father’s 2-year contracts are over. I’m sure Alltel and T-Mobile have their flaws as well, but my family is so tired of AT&T’s greed that we’re willing to give one of the company’s competitors a try.

Message originally posted on the AT&T Support Forums.

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