By Harry McCracken | Wednesday, June 10, 2009 at 4:23 pm
I swear that I’m not trying to turn Technologizer into an AT&T bashfest. But I’ve spent part of my afternoon girding myself to get an iPhone 3 GS. I’m ready to pre-order and pay up. So far, though, I’m just confused.
I started at the AT&T Store at my local shopping center. A helpful rep looked me up in the system and said that I didn’t qualify for a discount–I’d have to fork over $599 for a 16GB 3G S or $699 for the 32GB model. He stood there expectantly. But I arched an eyebrow and asked him if he was sure I didn’t qualify for some sort of discount.
He told me that I might, but said that I needed to dial 611 on my phone to find out. Why didn’t he mention this until I asked? How come he couldn’t determine it himself? I don’t know.
Back home, I decided to check out the AT&T site. Its “Answer Center” help system told me this:
The new iPhone 3G S is $199 (16GB) and $299 (32GB) for new and qualifying customers. iPhone 3G is $99 (8GB) for new and qualifying customers and $149 (16GB) while supplies last. A 2-year service agreement is required. These prices are available to the following customers:
- Customers activating a new line with AT&T
- Current AT&T customers who are eligible at the time of purchase for an upgrade discount
Qualifying customers are those that qualify for an upgrade. Upgrade eligibility varies with each customer, but in general you will become eligible the longer the tenure in your service agreement. Visit www.att.com/iPhone to determine if you qualify for an upgrade.
As far as I can tell, that says that you qualify for an upgrade if you qualify for an upgrade. Not terribly helpful. So I logged in and clicked on the Upgrade button, and got this:
Okay, so I can get “a discounted iPhone upgrade at a higher price” (is that an oxymoron?). But should I wait until July 12th, the day after the first anniversary of my iPhone 3G purchase? I can’t quite tell, since I’m not sure if the “may” in “You may qualify for a full discount…” means I will qualify or that it’s just a possibility, and AT&T doesn’t specify what the “full discount” is.
When I proceeded with the online upgrade process to determine what my higher-priced iPhone 3G S discount would be, I got this:
I gave up on AT&T and moved on to Apple’s site, where I could also log in using my AT&T account info:
$399 for 16GB or $499 for 32GB is what I expected I’d have to pay. But Apple, like AT&T, told me that I “may” qualify for a discount on July 12th. (In this case, it’s a “standard upgrade” rather than a “full discount,” but I’m assuming they’re the same thing.)
I was still curious about that discount that I might be entitled to in a little over a month, though. So I followed the AT&T Store rep’s advice and dialed 611 on my phone. I reached a friendly lady who quoted the $399 and $499 prices, but told me that on July 12th, I’d qualify for the same pricing as a new AT&T customer–$199 for the 16GB model or $299 for 32GB. This was the first I’d heard that someone who owned an iPhone 3G might get the same price as an AT&T newbie so quickly, and I’m not sure if it means that anyone who bought an iPhone 3G on the day of release can get one that cheaply on the day after the anniversary of his or her purchase.
If you bought an iPhone 3G early on and an AT&T rep tells you that you don’t qualify for a discount, ask again, or ask elsewhere. But don’t shell out $600 or $700.
If you’ve got an iPhone 3G, find out what sort of discount you’ll qualify for once you’ve completed your first year of ownership–by waiting, you might save $200.
AT&T desperately needs a consistent, plain-English guide to determining what you’ll pay for an iPhone 3G S–“Upgrade eligibility varies with each customer” doesn’t cut it.
Me, I want to get the 3G S as quickly as possible–hey, I want to share my impressions with you–and so my goal is to pick one up at 7 am at my local AT&T Store on June 19th. Which means that my next step is to go back to the store and attempt to convince it to honor the pricing quoted to me the AT&T rep I spoke to on the phone.
Wish me luck, everybody…and if you’re preordering a 3G S, lemme know what AT&T tells you about its cost.