T-Mobile And At&t PrePaid Customers Complaining About Per Minute Overcharges

March 14, 2014 - Written By Justin Diaz

Some think that At&t and T-Mobile may be overcharging for pre-paid voice minutes that consumers are using. It is common to think that the length of a call would span from how long the call was recorded on your device, or rather how long the actual call lasted during its time of being in progress. The reality is that this is not actually the case, and that carriers treat the call length like people would most services where a charge is based off of time. The time that At&t and T-Mobile are recording begins when a person hits send or call, once they have chosen who their designated recipient will be for that call, and ends when the person finishes the call and hangs up by pressing the End Call button. This makes sense because the action of calling begins when the cell towers receive the signal from a designated device, and stops when the person making said call ends the transmission. Now, i’m not saying that this is how the carriers should be doing things, just that this is how they are done.

As reported by the Washington Post, some customers are experiencing what they think to be an overcharge when they use up their per minute voice calls. As an example, customers who have reported starting and ending a call before the timer on their phone read 1 minute, were getting charged for two minutes of usage time. Contrary to belief, this does not mean that customers are getting overcharged. The call length begins when the transmission starts, and ends when the transmission ends. Since the start time begins once a tower receives the signal, which is likely near immediately after one would press the send button, it sounds more like customers aren’t accounting for the time it takes for the call to actually reach the tower and the bounce to the recipient.

As stated by At&t to support this theory, they were quoted saying to the post that time displayed on the phone does not necessarily reflect the start and end times that are recorded by the carrier and then charged to the customer. Surprised? You shouldn’t be, because the cell tower is already working even though your call hasn’t shown up on the screen as started yet. At&t further elaborates on their statement to the post by saying that call times begin when the send button is pressed, and ends when the end button is pressed. T-Mobile was recorded saying something similar in regards to the complaints being made by their customers. This may seem like a totally crappy way of doing things from a customers point of view, because they aren’t actually getting any use out of that time being taken away from their bucket of voice minutes. Perhaps they’re right. Maybe the idea of charging for when the call timer starts on a person’s phone and when it ends is a better way to go about it. There are things that might need to be taken into account though if this were to happen. What if the call timer doesn’t start at the same time for one person as it does the other? What if location that affects signal strength has an adverse affect on when a call is recorded by the carrier for one person but not another? Until carriers decide that per minute calls should be recorded from the moment the timer starts on a person phone instead of when they press to call, people are getting charged the correct amount. You might not like it, but that’s the way it is.