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Bugs & Fixes: 2 iPads + 3G = A confused AT&T

Ted Landau, | April 29, 2011
If you have more than one iPad with 3G capability, AT&T may become confused about your setup and charge you for a 3G plan you neither want nor have. At least, that's what happened to Ted Landau.

Do you own more than one iPad? Do they both have AT&T 3G capability? If so, beware. AT&T may become confused about your setup and charge you for a 3G plan you neither want nor have. I know this is so because it happened to me.

When the iPad 2 came out, I bought one. It was an AT&T Wi-Fi + 3G model, exactly like the original iPad I still owned. I had used the 3G capability of my original iPad only occasionally. After initially setting up an account, I purchased a data plan and renewed it for the next two months. I then discontinued the plan, re-enabling it, usually for just a month at a time, whenever I needed 3G access. At the time of my iPad 2 purchase, the 3G data plan on my original iPad was dormant.

On March 20, I made an initial purchase of a 3G plan on my iPad 2. I set up a new account, using the same e-mail address I had used on my original iPad. The AT&T representative that I subsequently contacted about this matter told me that this should not have been possible. He claimed that an e-mail address can only be associated with one iPad at a time. As my initial account still existed (even though it was not active), I should have been required to use a different e-mail address with the iPad 2. Either the rep was wrong or AT&T somehow made an exception for me.

However it happened, my single-address/two-iPads setup may have been the precipitating cause of the problem that soon appeared. Or maybe not. No one, including the AT&T rep, appears to know for certain.

In any case, the iPad 2’s 3G activation succeeded. I used it for a few days while on a trip. A week or so after returning home, I decided to cancel the automatic renewal of the plan. When I attempted to do so, it appeared that I no longer had an active plan to cancel! My iPad 2 could not connect to the Internet via 3G. Further, when I went to Settings -> Cellular Data -> View Account, there was no indication I had ever previously set up an account. AT&T was asking for my name, address, and credit card information all over again.

Initially, I thought I must have already cancelled the plan and forgotten. However, I did find it odd that my account was apparently gone, instead of merely inactive. That would not have been my intent. But I figured “who cares at this point?” If necessary, I would worry about what it all meant when I next wanted to purchase a 3G plan. This was the end of the matter for now. Or so I thought.


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