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iPhone Users Angry Over AT&T Upgrade Policy 789

Posted by kdawson
from the fair's-fair-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder dept.
All is not sweetness and light in the wake of the Apple WWDC kickoff announcements, especially concerning the evolution of the iPhone. Reader Hugh Pickens writes: "AT&T will offer the new iPhone 3G S when it debuts later this month at a cost of $199 and $299 for the 16GB and 32GB models, but only to new customers and those who qualify for the discounted price. AT&T subscribers with an iPhone 3G who are not eligible for an upgrade — those not near the end of their two-year contracts — will have to pay $200 more — $399 for the 16GB model and $499 for the 32GB model. 'This is ridiculous and slap in the face to long-time loyal iPhone customers like me who switched from T-Mobile and the only reason was the iPhone,' writes one unhappy iPhone customer. 'We have to mount a vigorous campaign to change this policy. Call your local AT&T and ask for the manager and complain. Send e-mails and post in forums everywhere.' The issue is spurring heavy debate on support discussion forums, with some customers supporting AT&T. 'The option you have is to honor the contract you freely committed yourself to,' says one forum member. 'If you want to upgrade early then you will have to pay full price with no subsidy discount. You can't blame anyone but yourself for your predicament.'"
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iPhone Users Angry Over AT&T Upgrade Policy

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  • Re:BooHoo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Monday June 08, 2009 @08:52PM (#28259413)

    You know Apple releases a new phone every year, and you know AT&T makes you sign a 2-year contract. Either pay the higher price for the upgrade or live through the horror of not having the latest shiny product until your contract runs out.

    Absolutely. Besides, early adopters always get the shaft. That's the price you pay for being an early adopter.

    Me, I bought a G1 a few months ago, and the G2 is coming out this month, I understand. I'll have to wait to see if I do, in fact, end up feeling screwed. If so ... I screwed myself and I did it willingly because I didn't want to wait.

    Bunch of crybabies.

  • Here's what I do. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by reidiq (1434945) on Monday June 08, 2009 @08:55PM (#28259461)
    I've had the iPhone 3G for almost a year now. AT&T prorates their termination fee by $5 per month. That means after one year $5 * 12 = $60 off the fee. $175 - 60 = $115 that I pay to cancel my contract. Buy the new iPhone 3GS for whatever model you want at the new 2 year agreement and voila! You got a new iPhone for $199/$299 + 115 = $314/$414. Save money but you'll lose your number more than likely. Not sure if I feel the need to upgrade the phone. The firmware update is sexy in itself. I do like the 2x faster loading speeds for going into apps but I think I can hold out till next year for the iPhone 4G 2 turbo dubs edition. I hope iPhone can break of the exclusivity to AT&T, AT&T is horrid. Last and not least, TOMTOM WOOOOOOO!!
  • by paulsnx2 (453081) on Monday June 08, 2009 @09:06PM (#28259575)

    For some people, the IPhone as currently configured is just huge. They travel, or they do work that doesn't involve a computer....

    Me, I am in front of a computer all day. Sure there are time when having access to email when out and about would be nice, but seriously, it isn't something that is killing me.

    So I use a three or four year old phone. It can do messaging, and I can play a game or two, and use some Star Trek ring tones.

    I will buy a Smart phone. But only when that 1) doesn't lock me into a single provider, and 2) all this kind of crap has settled out, and 3) when such a phone isn't locked into one vertical change of command (Apple).

    I don't want to spend huge dollars on a phone only to have to spend huge dollars to get the next iteration. I will wait until the delta between iterations isn't so vast.

    So one of these years I think smart phones will let me run applications I get from third parties. They will interface with my computers as well as with the Internet. And I will be able to reasonably make a phone call. And that phone will not break the bank.

  • by docbrody (1159409) on Monday June 08, 2009 @09:31PM (#28259821)
    I don't have a problem with what AT&T is doing. I get their logic. But for me personally, this is one more reason that I might just go ahead and try out the Pre. (the other reason is because it works with iTunes). I will miss my Apps, but at least my iPhone will effectively be an iTouch.

    I guess AT&T has figured this in. The only reason to give a discount to upgraders would be to lock them in for another 2 years. I guess they figured that enough people will pay full price or stick it out until the end of their contract that they don't need to provide an incentive - not now anyway. They might be right... im not even sure what i will do myself yet (have not looked into what ATT cancellation fees will be, how long Sprint will try to lock me in, etc).
  • Re:usury. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecated@e m a . il> on Monday June 08, 2009 @09:52PM (#28260001) Journal
    I'm not arguing about fairness here. In fact, I think that the subsidies administered by cell phone providers are inflated a bit too high. I'm just stating that those who are complaining about this practice should have done a bit of their own homework, at the very least.

    A common practice is a common practice.
  • Re:BooHoo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Brian Gordon (987471) on Monday June 08, 2009 @09:55PM (#28260033)
    You use a wikipedia reference when wikipedia would answer you? Just go to the AT&T article and look at the little numbers on the right. Looks like $119 billion in revenue and $10 billion in net income so it's so about 1/12 it's in the ballpark.

    Sometimes I wonder how you spend $100 billion in one year. Where can you go and say "I have $100 billion to spend"? Delay upgrading your corporate phones one 6-month cycle, that's what an odd billion? That will feed me for 500,000 years. Fire all the sites' maintenance guys who work on the southwest middle lawn. Get the other guys at each site to cover for him. In return, 500,000 years of the warm fuzzy feeling commoners get knowing that while they starve their taxes are making their adored queen comfortable and happy.
  • by frdmfghtr (603968) on Monday June 08, 2009 @09:58PM (#28260059)

    I'd be upset too, if I didn't know that apple released new products yearly with their masterplan of planned obsolescence.

    And if you're an Apple fan and don't know this, you're not paying attention.

    I don't think I would call it planned obsolescence...tech is advancing just that fast, and the products being replaced are NOT obsolete; they still work, and work well. Do you expect Apple to slow down product development just so you don't feel the need to upgrade every year?

  • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Monday June 08, 2009 @09:58PM (#28260071)

    So the issue is that a new model has been released and only people who are eligible for a new phone can get it at a discount? Apple never should have caved on the iphone price change retroactivity, now they can't improve anything without the existing users demanding free upgrades for life.

    Yup. All you get by caving in to pressure is more pressure. I'd expound, but I'd fail at Godwin. ;)

    I know the iPhone crowd is somewhat enriched in whiny emos and self-entitled types (before anyone flames, I said *enriched*, not that it describes all of them), but still - what other community would react with such moral outrage that they have to actually live up to their contract? Under what scenario did they think they would be eligible for a *subsidized* upgrade for no reason?

    The winning strategy for Apple/AT&T is to charge them $20 to switch phones, put their contract back to two years, and charge them the new subscriber price plus the pro-rated portion of the discount on their remaining contract. So if they've been under contract for a year out of the two, give them half the discount, add $20 to switch the service, and put them back at a year. The consumer gets a fair deal and AT&T and Apple make money.

  • Re:BooHoo (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vipz (1179205) on Monday June 08, 2009 @10:08PM (#28260165)

    Same here. In fact, I "pre-screwed" myself by consciously buying the G1 without a contract, paying $380 for the privilege to remain out of a contract.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 08, 2009 @10:29PM (#28260457)

    COST THEM MONEY, and they will drop you. Here's how to do it.

    1) Call customer support, EVERY DAY. Each call costs them at least $25, because they outsource it.

    2) Have free roaming? Start roaming. Costs them big bux.

    Do this, and trust me, they will glad to be rid of you.

  • Re:BooHoo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mysidia (191772) on Monday June 08, 2009 @11:01PM (#28260829)

    They could have a 10000% profit margin in their text messaging and cellular plans business.

    While having massive losses or only modest profit in other businesses. It just depends on how much of their business is cellular.

    A lot of the business ATT has in phone companies it acquired is not cellular. Think plain old telephone service.

    Long distance, and other carrier services...

    Recall that in the areas where they are ILEC, they have build-out requirements imposed on them.... highly massive infrastructure costs to deploy certain telco services to all residences..

    And "tarrifed" services, which are price-regulated, so they can't charge person A and person B in the same community different prices for their basic phone line (just because it's 100x as expensive to reach person B due to geography, doesn't mean they can charge person B $200/month instead of the normal $15/month, in order to recover costs).

    Yes, it can be expensive to deploy hundreds of antennas in a county to provide wireless connectivity. I won't say mobile services are dirt cheap.

    But compared to the costs of providing land line service to millions of homes, it could be just plain tiny......

    And i'm sure ATT has other businesses.

  • Re:BooHoo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mysidia (191772) on Monday June 08, 2009 @11:10PM (#28260915)

    Maybe you signup for service with a 'temporary' carrier first, get just their free low-end phone, or preferably get an arrangement without a contract, or you rely on the fact you can cancel a new contract before 30 days without penalty if you return the phone.....

    Then you transfer the number from ATT to the temp carrier, while cancelling your ATT contract. Then a few weeks later, after that's a done deal, you go buy the new ATT contract and request to get the number transferred back to ATT

    You cancel service with the temp carrier before the 30 day "trial" limit.

  • Re:BooHoo (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mysidia (191772) on Monday June 08, 2009 @11:22PM (#28261033)

    Based on the normal timeframe of the wireless industry: the porting process for a wireless-to-wireless transfer should be completed within 2 and a half hours from the time the porting request is made of the old carrier by the new carrier.

    See here [fcc.gov].

    If a carrier imposes an unreasonable (ridiculously long) timeframe such as 30, 60, or 90 days, they may incur the wrath of the FCC, e.g. regulatory action may result.

  • by nobodyman (90587) on Monday June 08, 2009 @11:43PM (#28261197) Homepage

    If you honestly think that you can take an income statement from the whole of AT&T and extrapolate the iPhone profit margins you are out of your mind. For all we know they are losing money hand-over-fist in one area and are compensating with obscene markups on iPhones.

    Instead, let's go with what we know. We know the unsubsidized price of the phone is $200 more than the new contract price. So we can safely assume that $8.33 a month of your bill is going towards paying off your "loan".

    I really wish that the market was just fundamentally changed. No other industry can get away with this shit. Would you be willing to "buy" a new Prius for $15,000 so long as you were forced to gas up and Toyota dealerships at $10.00/gallon for the life of the car? Hell no. Yet that's what were doing with phones. And people seem to love it.

  • by Ziwcam (766621) on Monday June 08, 2009 @11:47PM (#28261233)

    (the other reason is because it works with iTunes).

    For now... There's no telling what Apple will do (intentionally or not) to break that functionality in the future.

  • Re:iPhone Users? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ziwcam (766621) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @12:08AM (#28261375)
    Protip: Dial *NEW# then hit send. It will tell you when you'll be eligible again.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @12:11AM (#28261405)

    "I'd be upset too, if I didn't know that apple released new products yearly with their masterplan of planned obsolescence."

    I love this bit of stupidity.

    Apple doesn't release new phones regularly: "Wah. iPhones aren't competitive with models X, Y, and Z."

    Apple releases new phones regularly: "Wah. Planned obsolescence. Apple == teh General Motors of cell phones. Wharrgarbl."

    As an iPhone user, I've gotten enough free upgrades from Apple, just in terms of firmware alone, to justify giving them another couple hundred bucks. A compass, faster CPU, better camera, and you'll throw in the 3.0 software for free? Well, OK, Steve, you talked me into it.

    Besides, it took three whole days last week for AAPL to go up enough to pay for my new phone. Somebody call the waaambulance, and alert the violin section.

  • Re:BooHoo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by debatem1 (1087307) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @01:30AM (#28261867)
    I just switched, and my number was available instantly, although they wanted about 900 forms of identification before they would go through with it.
    In retrospect, telling my friends and family my new number was probably a better choice than handing everybody else my SSN, but hey, them's the breaks.
  • Re:BooHoo (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @01:58AM (#28261993)

    At this point, the iPhone is probably the easiest phone to unlock EVAR

    Really,

    Even easier then my HTC Dream, Nokia 6500 Classic and Nokia N71. I didn't think it was possible but apparently unlocking the Iphone is even easier then buying an unlocked phone to begin with. Sorry but your theory falls apart when phones are sold outright and unlocked (if this isn't done in your country it isn't my fault). Besides this HTC and Nokia aren't actively fighting unlockers with each update (no matter how futile this is). If you bought a locked Nokia bought from a Telco you just have to ask for it to be unlocked and they are by law obligated to do it (you are still bound to the contract you signed under contract law however) with Nokia its a simple code to unlock, you cant do this with an Iphone due to the design of the device (no supported unlock path, telco's are justified in not supplying hacks to unlock phones).

  • Re:BooHoo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @02:20AM (#28262121) Homepage

    I looked at the three year plan one cell company wanted me to enter into years ago and decided to buy the phone for full price instead.

    Of course, our short attention spans allow us to both sign a two year contract and expect a new phone the next year on that same plan ...

    I bought my phone 7 years ago this month. Paid $180, did have to replace the keypad at some point with one from a different phone of the same model I bought off Ebay for $3. The thing still works great, but sadly, Qwest is going out of the cell business completely on Oct. 31. I was proud to have the oldest phone of anyone I know, but I got there without really thinking. I've never been all that excited about cell phones and once I made I plunge, I stopped thinking about it altogether. Maybe that is another kind of short attention span.

    Anyway, I've been testing out a drug dealer phone from boost mobile. Doesn't do anything fancy but the speakerphone sounds great, way better than my wife's iphone in both input and output. The phone is only $60, and for $50/month (no contract period) I get unlimited talk and text. If something really cool comes out, like an iPhone Nano or an iPhone shaped to fit one's palm(*), I can go for it without any contractual issues.

    (*) Thin looks cool, but the iPhone's dimensions are not ergonomic as a phone. I have plenty of Apple hardware and love their notebooks for the sleek melding of form and function. With the iPhone however, function and design are poorly integrated by the fact that non-phone priorities overwhelmed the primary purpose of the device.

  • Re:BooHoo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Forge (2456) <kevinforgeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @02:52AM (#28262295) Homepage Journal
    My fault for not Clarifying.

    I live in Jamaica. Our telecoms regulations are somewhat different and our phone companies are a lot different. (especially the dominant cellular provider).

    The most popular phone plan (Something like 93% of the market) is "prepaid". Meaning. You can buy a phone and spend less than U$10 per year on call credit if all you do is receive calls. (They require at least one top-up every quarter)

    With that kind of structure, the phone companies take a gamble every time they subsidize the cost of an instrument. For this reason, mid range phones are sold at near cost and High end phones are sold at a profit.

    Note the prices [digiceljamaica.com]. The Exchange rate is roughly JM $90 to US $1. So that Bottom of the line Nokia 1200 is selling for under $13 with no contract or obligation. A true disposable phone. While the BlackBerry Storm is $777.
  • Re:BooHoo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CubicleView (910143) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @08:45AM (#28264155) Journal
    I agree, you know you've spent too much on the phone if you're more concerned about the car having crushed your phone than anything else in the proximity to your pocket... That being said, shiny things do not last forever, they wear out and or become obsolete quite quickly. Generally speaking you get better value for money with last generation technology, ie stuff that was new last year. But if you want new stuff as it becomes available then you pay the premium. This has always been the case and is not news imo.
  • by pwfffff (1517213) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @10:07AM (#28265125)

    Google for 'Android Cupcake' and then consider buying yourself a new phone.

  • Tough shit. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JasonEngel (757582) on Tuesday June 09, 2009 @03:53PM (#28270621)
    I completely agree with that post's final sentence: "If you want to upgrade early then you will have to pay full price with no subsidy discount. You can't blame anyone but yourself for your predicament." Every American cell-phone user knows this is standard practice. If you want to buy a new phone from your provider before your contract is up or your upgrade option renews, then you pay the non-subsidized price. I simply do not feel the slightest bit sorry for these whiners who feel that buying an iPhone last June/July somehow makes them special.

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