$200 Asterisk for the iPhone 3G

iphone 3g $199
If you are like me you didn’t notice the tiny asterisk in this image. But there is one. Do you see it?

This morning I intended on lining up at the Partridge Creek Apple Store to upgrade both of my AT&T phones to the smoking hot iPhone 3G

Since I’ve been a loyal AT&T customer since 1998 I knew I needed to call their customer service and make sure there weren’t any surprises. And boy am I glad I did.

Not pictured here with Steve is the asterisk. You have to be a new customer or have an expired contract with AT&T to get this price. In the dozens of articles and videos I’d watched about the new iPhone I somehow missed this little detail. Stupid Adam, fooled again.

So, people like me who have been loyal to their wireless company are getting hosed. No love for us on the iPhone. The loyal customer price is $399. Even on the Apple site I can’t find $399 mentioned as the price, but that’s how AT&T has always treated loyal customers… horribly. 

So, I talked to customer service. If you are like me and are looking to get an iPhone 3G for the advertised $199 instead of the loyal customer price of $399, here are a few tricks the customer service agent told me to try. 

#1 Cancel your existing account. Yes, she told me that! After 10 years as a customer, I was told the best service I could get with AT&T was to cancel my account. 

#2 Add lines, suspend lines. To get the $199 I could add 2 lines to my family plan for $10 per month and suspend my current 2 lines for free. Eh? She even told me I should just give away my other 2 lines “to anyone.” 

#3 Keep calling AT&T until you get someone to agree to give you the upgrade price before your current contract expires. (Mine is in September)

#4 Open a new account under a new name. If you are like me and have a family plan, just close your account under one name and start a new account under the other. 

Of course I am not going to do any of these. Next month we are moving across the country and I know from experience with AT&T that they’ll offer me a new two year contract than. This may also be our time to try a new company, like Verizon. 

AT&T has always had the worst customer service in the mobile phone industry. I’ve long held that AT&T is a great company as long as you never call the 800 number and that is re-confirmed every time I talk to “customer care.” 

Here I am, a customer of 10 years that would like to re-up his contract for 2 more years at a rate nearly double what he currently pays and I’m told I can do one of 4 “tricks?” 


13 responses to “$200 Asterisk for the iPhone 3G”

  1. Matthew McNutt Avatar

    Yeah, that’s bizarre. I hate to say it, but I had a pretty miserable cell phone experience when I had Verizon, but that was 5-6 years ago. I’ve had US Cellular the last couple years and have been satisfied.

    The iphones do have me tempted, though … my current plan just ran out or is about to …

  2. adam mclane Avatar

    If you’re a new customer and you don’t mind the jacked up price of service… it’s probably not a bad deal.

    The crazy thing is that I know what happens when you post anything “negative” about an Apple product. You get slammed as a hater.

    Nevermind the fact that I have a macbook, macbook pro, and an imac in my house. I’ll get labeled a hater!

    I don’t know if we’ll switch or not. It all has to do with how they handle the move.

  3. Adam Reed Avatar

    I was tempted to get the new iPhone too, but since I have been with AT&T for the past 4 years I would have to pay the higher price too. Thanks for the heads up, and let me know how Verizon goes.

  4. William Hartz Avatar

    The lower price is due to AT&T’s subsidizing the phone. That information was available from day 1 on the website from Apple and AT&T. It’s an evil that comes with all phone companies.

  5. Amy Avatar

    AT&T does not have the worst customer service. Verizon does. I cannot speak for any other companies, but for your own sanity, avoid Verizon. I have been quite satisfied with AT&T, the customer service people have always been very nice and we have been allowed to adjust our plans up and down as needed, something Verizon would not let us do.

    September is not that far away – 2 months! Why not just wait for your account to expire?

    I agree that the $199 advertising is misleading – who looks at little asterisks? But I don’t think we should balk at companies expecting us to honor our 2-year contracts. Otherwise, we could just trade in phones willy-nilly for next to nothing, which would not be lucrative to them at all.

  6. adam mclane Avatar

    Amy, thanks for your comments about Verizon. I’ll have to keep that in mind. Over the last 10 years I’ve never had a pleasant time with AT&T. (Cingular, or whatever else they’ve call it.) I hate calling them, it’s always horrible. They are politely rude and “policy” focused.

    Actually, there are some legislatures looking into the 2 year contract thing. The contracts only favor the companies and never benefit customers. I’m all about free economy. If Virgin or 02 popped up in the US and did a great job, I’d love to be able to go to the best deal for me. Locking people into lame contracts is just short-sighted biz IMO.

  7. Amy Avatar

    Oh I totally agree that the contracts are terrible – but once I have signed one, I don’t really object to abiding by it, even when I don’t want to. That’s too bad that you have had bad AT&T customer service – I guess it is just the luck of the draw whether or not you get a nice person.

  8. Tim Avatar

    Dude, switch to Verizon and get an iPod Touch. I’ve been with Verizon 9 years and LOVE them. Not only is their network coverage ridiculously awesome in even very remote areas, but their customer service is second to no one. I’ve never waited more than 2 minutes to talk with a real live person and have any issue resolved quickly. Once they accidentally charged me incorrectly for some txt message (by like $5) so to make it up to me, they gave me the next month of service for FREE! I was blown away. Another time I was in a town I was unfamiliar with but wanted to check something at the local Verizon store. So I called Verizon and not only did they give me the address and phone number, they even looked up directions on Google for me and told me how to get there from my current location.

  9. Mike Avatar

    When I got my iPhone on the first day I still had time left on my contract with ATT and I did not have to pay extra. I met someone afterwards who had gone to the ATT store and they wanted to charge an extra fee. He said no and went to the Apple store and was able to get the phone. Also there were a ton of people in line with me that were just upgrading their phones and they had to pay an $18 upgrade fee, but otherwise got their new iPhones for the listed price. BTW, this was all on the ATT Mobile Web site.

  10. Prasad Avatar

    Why is not Apple iPhone in $199 in India? Steve Jobs don’t think about Indian mobile market?


  11. eddie Avatar

    switch to verizon it way better service and there customer service it great we had att for 4 years and it was all bad it sucks and we switch to verizon no problems with them at all.

    i love it!

  12. dom Avatar

    My contract expires in 8 months so I have to wait to get the $199 price. Why can’t they let me just sign up for a 2 year 8 month contract? That way I get my iPhone, they get their remaining 8 months, and everyone is happy. Lame!

  13. […] Kristen and I have bounced back and forth on this forever. We didn’t upgrade when 3G released because one of our phones was still under contract. Then I really wrestled with the whole […]

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