AT&T Gives Some iPhone 3G Owners a Break

By  |  Wednesday, June 17, 2009 at 1:02 pm

AT&T SmileyFinally, news involving AT&T and iPhones that won’t cause anyone to become violently angry! Faced with widespread grumbling by iPhone 3G owners who thought that they deserved to be able to upgrade to the iPhone 3G S for the same price as new customers, the company has rethought its pricing plan. Some customers–ones who spend more on service plans, apparently–will qualify to get the 3G S for the new-customer two-year-contract prices ($199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB). That’s $200 less than the price AT&T had planned to charge, and $400 less than the unsubsidized, no-contract price.

Those lucky customers are the ones who AT&T has been telling would qualify for the cheaper upgrade at any point prior to September 30th of this year. My eligibility date is July 12th; the AT&T site is still telling me I’ll have to pay $499 for a 32GB phone, but I’m assuming I’m good. I’m also assuming that I’ll get the lower price even though I plan to buy my 3G S at an Apple Store, not an AT&T shop. (I guess I’ll find out bright and early on Friday.)

No word yet on what AT&T will do for anyone who pre-ordered and paid for a phone already, but one hopes that they’ll simply rebate the $200 without having to be asked.

I’ve written that I didn’t think AT&T was obligated to offer the steepest discount to people who had already gotten a subsidized price on an iPhone 3G and were still under contract. But it’s a classy move on its part to do so–and a smart one. After a week and a half of some of the most intense negative coverage I can remember for a tech company, it just did something that will tickle some of its most loyal customers. Especially those who’d already decided to pay the higher price and will now end up with $200 back in their pockets.

I said that this news wouldn’t upset anyone, but I could be wrong–does anyone want to contend that every iPhone 3G owner should qualify for the full price break? (I’m glad that my upgrade qualification date wasn’t October 1st…)


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5 Comments For This Post

  1. mike Says:

    Apple’s first $100 “rebate” established a precedent that it can’t live down. “Give a mouse a cookie…” comes to mind. Are businesses expect to enter markets at the long tail cycle and skip the early adopter part?

    At a high level, we’ve got to stop the instant-gratification entitlement expectation.

    We all know technology advances incredibly every 6 months or so, so why would you ever have an iPhone with a long-term contract knowing the next version will be so much greater?

  2. Shawn Says:

    Here’s what I don’t get, if I owned any other phone I’d have to wait and pay full upgrade price, why do these iPhone owners get preferential treatment? When the next Blackberry comes out I should start demanding new customer pricing even though I haven’t had mine long enough to qualify for upgrade pricing and when I’m told no just take it to the web. What about all other types of phones, why should iPhone owners be treated ANY different?

  3. Paul Warner Says:

    I had a feeling this was coming, so I may actually go get a new iPhone. Shawn does have a very good point about the treatment, but my old cell provider was a local outfit that would sometimes allow you to do the same type of upgrade as AT&T is doing with the iPhone. So it’s not unheard of, but not very common either.

  4. Kris Says:

    What some people seem to be missing here is a concept called loyalty. A similar incident happened to me several years back. When a customer who has been with a company for (in some cases) decades sees that brand new customers can get these massive price breaks for signing up but I am only eligible for a small fraction of that even though I have been a loyal customer for ages he thinks, ‘well maybe my business just isn’t as important as theirs’. So, if the only way to get these perks is to not be a customer, then I simply won’t be one, and off he goes to another company with another “great” deal. Winning over new customers is key for businesses, they get marked on this (sales reps) and bonuses paid accordingly, nothing similar is done for retaining existing business so no effort is put in to that area and existing customers are screwed. I didn’t read this comment as saying that anyone who signed up any time (I could have misread, but I doubt it) should get the same deal, caveat emptor should still apply, but existing customers with renewals coming due should be eligible for the same deals, if not better deals, as new customers.

  5. Jamal Says:

    It was the end of my euphoria after getting the iphone and used it for a week. I was a verizon customer for over 6 years but the iphone lured me to ATT and I am already regretting it. Several drop calls which I NEVER experienced with verizon. ATTs survival will be at stake if Verizon offers iphones. I think ATT should heed the loud and clear complaints from customers.

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