Not all AT&T customers eligible for $199 iPhone 3G | iLounge News

Not all AT&T customers eligible for $199 iPhone 3G

After several conflicting reports, iLounge has confirmed with AT&T that the iPhone 3G will not be universally available to all customers at the previously announced $199/$299 price points. According to Mark Siegel, Executive Director of Media Relations with AT&T Mobility, only “[c]urrent iPhone customers, new customers, and current non-iPhone AT&T wireless customers who are upgrade eligible will get the iPhone 3G at the $199/$299 price points.” This description omits “upgrade ineligible” AT&T customers, a category that is explained on an AT&T upgrade eligibility requirements web page. In short, AT&T customers who have had their current phones and plans for at least two years, customers who have had a plan costing between $68.99 and $98.99 for at least 21 months, and customers who have had a plan costing over $99 for at least 12 months are all eligible; those who do not meet one of these standards are ineligible and will have to pay a higher price. Additionally, following speculative reports that it might be possible for some customers to activate their iPhone 3Gs at home using iTunes, Siegel reiterated that activations will “take place in the store.”

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So what if you buy the phone at the Apple store?  Will they check to see if you’re eligible for an upgrade then?

Frankly, the way AT&T has been handling this is disgraceful.  There is a ton of misinformation out there and it is a shame that Apple and AT&T hasn’t been able to sort it all out.

Posted by Cameron Talley on June 17, 2008 at 9:43 AM (CDT)


Wow, that’s a little confusing. I had to re-read it twice just to understand exactly what they meant…

...and what they meant is that people like me, a five-year AT&T customer, who has paid every bill on time, yet does not meet all of the criteria of those ridiculous rules, must pay an additional fee that some schmuck who walks in off the street will not have to pay.

Way to treat your loyal customers AT&T. Nice going.

How much is the fee? That’s the real question that’s going to determine how upset I am going to be.

Posted by ort on June 17, 2008 at 10:17 AM (CDT)


This is crap. 

If this is true, i’m also an AT&T customer getting screwed.

I might just unlock my 1gen iPhone and go to another carrier…

Posted by PissedAT&TCustomer on June 17, 2008 at 10:25 AM (CDT)


You people think that just because you’re an Apple fan you should get the iPhone incredibly cheap? The subsidized pricing is SUBSIDIZED because it requires the signing of a new contract. If you’re already in a contract with AT&T, then you likely just GOT a cheaper-than-retail phone from them, when you signed it. It isn’t like you’re getting ripped off, it’s the exact same policy they have with EVERY OTHER PHONE they sell. If they let you buy a new phone at a reduced price once a month, they would lose money.

Maybe you guys should learn how the industry works before bashing it.

Except for the part where current iPhone customers get the discount too, that part IS unfair. However, that’s Apple’s territory, not AT&T’s.

Posted by You Aren't Getting Screwed on June 17, 2008 at 10:35 AM (CDT)


I understand why they do it, but that doesn’t mean I have to be happy about it. I’m not one of those crazy phone flipper guys. I get a new phone about every two years. I replace my old one when it dies.

I know people who go back and get new phones every 3-6 months. This sort of policy is in place to stop people like that, not people like me who have given them thousands and thousands of dollars over the years and have not taken advantage of any of their customer service policies.

And again, I need to see what the fees are. When my 16 month old phone went through the wash, they charged me $50 for a phone that would have been free for a walk-in customer. No big deal.

If they try and charge me $100 or more… they are going to lose a 5-year customer.

It would seem to me that it would be in their best interest to treat their long-standing customers well, but what the hell do I know.

Posted by ort on June 17, 2008 at 10:55 AM (CDT)


Just because that is “how the industry works” doesn’t mean we don’t have a right to complain about it, and doesn’t make it honest. It certainly doesn’t excuse the fact that this should have been mentioned A WEEK AGO with an asterisk next to that big $199 price tag next to which Steve was standing.

This is exactly the kind of thing that made me uncomfortable about Apple getting into bed with AT&T in the first place. They’re in the business of concealing the truth from their customers until they’re at the checkout window. It’s a ridiculous practice that will eventually begin to reflect poorly on Apple, maybe sooner than later.

Posted by give me a break on June 17, 2008 at 11:06 AM (CDT)


To Mr. AT&T Corporate apologist, i.e., the guy who said that it’s not fair for current iPhone users to get the discount, I beg to differ. Those of us who bought 1st gen iPhones didn’t get much of a subsidy when we bought it, particularly those who bought at the $600 price point. I can see where it makes sense for iPhone users to be eligible for the subsidized price, for that reason.

If you want to talk about unfair, I think it’s more unfair for new customers to ALWAYS get every discount when loyal customers do not, unless they already have an iPhone. (Note that this doesn’t affect me, since I have an iPhone now, and might just stick with 1st gen for a while anyway.)

I understand that this is typical corporate behavior, and it makes sense to a POINT to put all your focus on attracting new customers, but at what point does it do damage to your ability to keep your most loyal customers happy if they are denied the subsidized price.

Let’s face it, Apple and AT&T are not going to lose money, even at the subsidized price.

Posted by JTG on June 17, 2008 at 11:11 AM (CDT)


Yeah, I estimate that I have paid AT&T roughly $6,000 over the last 5 1/2 years. In that time, my wife and I have had 6 phones… all of them bottom of the barrel freebies.

And now AT&T is going to have the nerve to charge me a fee to upgrade to an iPhone?

Posted by ort on June 17, 2008 at 11:33 AM (CDT)


Can someone help me get over my confusion?

““[c]urrent iPhone customers, new customers, and current non-iPhone AT&T wireless customers who are upgrade eligible”

Does that mean:

1) “Current iPhone customers PLUS non-iPhone customers who are upgrade ligible”


2) “Current iPhone customers who are upgrade eligible.”

I ask because I switched from Verizon last year at the iPhone launch.  I’ve been an AT&T customer for just one year, so that means I’m not upgrade eligible.  So that means I can’t get an iPhone 3G for the subsidized price, right?

Posted by Marginal on June 17, 2008 at 11:36 AM (CDT)


I feel for you, ort. Maybe there is time for AT&T to rethink this before July 11.

As ort pointed out earlier, the question that remains unanswered is this: How high will the upgrade fee be for non-eligible, current AT&T subscribers? If it’s more than a token fee, I expect a lot of people to bolt, even if they have to pay a premium on their early termination fee just to make a point.

Me, I’m sticking with AT&T for a while yet, despite the crappy call quality and spotty network in my area, for various other reasons of convenience, at least until my current contract is up. And as I said, I’ll probably keep my $65/month bill (with tax) for 1st gen iPhone rather than pony up an extra $15 plus tax. I’m already paying about as much as I want to pay for phone service, and although faster Web browsing on the fly would be fun, I’m already paying through the nose for wireless at home. At some point, enough is enough.

Good luck, ort!

@Marginal: I’m not really sure about the source of your confusion, because it seems pretty clear in the wording that all current iPhone users with AT&T accounts in good standing are eligible for the subsidized price.

Posted by JTG on June 17, 2008 at 11:44 AM (CDT)


I believe AT&T needs to re-examine how they deal with potential or current customers. So far, we have learned:

1. That at-home iTunes activation, which was part of what made the original iPhone such a revolutionary device, is no longer possible.

2. That the 3G plan is going to be more costly than the original iPhone plan, even though 3G coverage is considerably more spotty than that of EDGE.

3. That SMS messaging will not be included in the 3G iPhone plan.

4. That the subsidy for the 3G iPhone will be limited to select persons.

I am not enamored with how AT&T has chosen to operate this time around. The first time, I was truly and surprisingly pleased—the at-home activation and the ease of choosing a plan was refreshing for this longtime AT&T/Cingular customer, and I was also really thrilled with their efforts to improve EDGE service and speeds prior to launch. Now it would appear that they are getting over their temporary customer care phase, and pursuing the almighty dollar with extreme vigor. Nothing wrong with that in a free-market society, but I’d expect some ramifications.

Posted by Flippy Hambone on June 17, 2008 at 12:20 PM (CDT)


AT&T seems to be making this more complicated than it needs to be. They don’t want to lose their subsidies. Current iPhone owners and new customers haven’t received any subsidies yet, so there’s nothing for AT&T to worry about. Current AT&T customers should be able to get the same deal as everyone else; a subsidy on the iPhone that is paid back over the course of the 2-year contract.

If an existing customer has received a subsidy that hasn’t been paid back yet, then you either a) charge a prorated fee to recoup the remaining portion of the subsidy, or b) add the 2 years of the iPhone contract to the end of the existing contract.

I think people would be able to understand that, but they’re making it seem very confusing by messing with the price of the iPhone, instead of charging directly for the subsidy on the existing phone.

Posted by Carl Jonard on June 17, 2008 at 12:37 PM (CDT)


First, this really isn’t much of a surprise. Did we really think EVERYONE was going to get the quoted prices? Shame on you if you did because that isn’t the way our wireless system works here.

Secondly, I am still not holding my breath on the “activations will take place in the store” idea. How are Apple stores going to handle this? We have to wait for an associate you activate it via one of their computers through iTunes? Yeah, I like the idea of my new phone being connected to some computer that anyone has access to. Additionally, how will the stores deal with the “eligibility requirements”? Are they paying commissions to Apple salespeople like AT&T does? Just sounds like a big headache to me, and if this does in fact happen I wonder how and why Jobs would have gotten himself bent over to not be able to simply sell the iPhone at a full-retail price in stores.

Posted by Jordan on June 17, 2008 at 12:46 PM (CDT)


“Except for the part where current iPhone customers get the discount too, that part IS unfair. However, that’s Apple’s territory, not AT&T’s. “

how’s that unfair? anyone with a current iphone paid RETAIL FOR IT.

att didn’t subsidize anything. we paid RETAIL for a phone and full price for all plans. why wouldn’t current iphone users be able to upgrade? anyone else with an att phone has gotten all sorts of subsidization from att. current iphone users would be getting nothing more than what any other new att customer would get, we’re just getting it a year later.

Posted by dan on June 17, 2008 at 1:05 PM (CDT)


Good point, Carl. AT&T’s screwing around with the phone pricing details is causing unnecessary confusion.
The last time I checked, AT&T had planned to allow all existing customers to reset their plans to zero on the day they buy the new iPhone. If this is still the case then it’s ridiculous. If AT&T is so worried about recouping subsidies, then they should tack the iPhone’s two-year contract onto the end of the customer’s existing expiration date and be done with it. So you just bought a new phone in April and your contract doesn’t expire until 2010? Fine, here’s your new 3G iPhone at the subsidized price, and your contract now expires in 2012.
I think forcing people to sign a two-year contract for the iPhone is stupid anyway. Everybody knows that Apple revamps its iPod line nearly every year.

Posted by Paul on June 17, 2008 at 1:28 PM (CDT)


The problem with extending the contract is that it will get ridiculous really fast.

Since these new phones are subsidized, you can bet that a year from now when the new iPhone comes out, AT&T will make iPhone 3G owners pay this new fee as well.

If they start extending contracts out, three years worth of new iPhones will leave you with 5 years of contract. That’s just insane.

The bottom line is this. AT&T needs to release every detail of their new plans ASAP. Having little half-bit of info pop out every other day isn’t doing anyone any favors.

Posted by ort on June 17, 2008 at 1:45 PM (CDT)


I’m a new AT&T customer as of April because I wanted to get an iPhone, but waited for the 3g version to come out.  So apparently I’m not eligable to get the iPhone at a lower price.  So if I bought it at a higher price, does the data plan come back down in price?  I’d rather have it that way anyways….

Posted by Ap on June 17, 2008 at 2:11 PM (CDT)



When ATT “extends” your 2 year contract, it’s not added to your existing one.  You will never have longer than a two year contract from the day you sign up.

Posted by Adam on June 17, 2008 at 2:58 PM (CDT)


I called AT+T today because I was a bit confused about everything myself.  I signed a new contract at the end of May and they told me that in order to get the $199/$299 pricing I would have to return my phone (30 day buyers remorse poicy and therfore leaving me to use my old Sony w810 with the messed up battery) or buy one at full retail price (which they don’t know what it’s going to be).  I’m a bit pissed because of two things.  First, I already send out the warranty for the new Sony z750a phone I bought at the end of May,  therfore I can’t return it.  Two,  I asked somebody from AT+T a few weeks ago about it and they told me no problem that I could purchase one for $199 or $299 and then just change my data plan and now today I get told something else.  Is this true or did I just get a moron on the phone?

Posted by Scott on June 17, 2008 at 3:48 PM (CDT)


If I buy it at an Apple store, are they going to look up my account and say ok that $299 iPhone is going to cost you $499 (or more) because you didn’t sign a new contract the day you bought it?  This whole thing is ridiculous.  I get told one thing a few weeks ago and then today I get told I would have to pay full retail price (whatever that’s going to cost).

Posted by Scott on June 17, 2008 at 3:59 PM (CDT)

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