The iPhone 3Gs Debacle Switches into High Gear

Just More of the Existing Customer Abuse We've Come to Enjoy...

By James Turner
June 9, 2009 | Comments: 27

Dear Apple and AT&T,

By this point, we of the early adopter/loyal customer community have come to expect, nay to cherish, the abuse that you rain down upon our heads. What other alliance of companies would take the bold step of defecating so freely on a group of people who wait in long lines to get your product, rave about it to our friends, and generally act as ambassadors to the consumer world?

But truly, you've outdone yourselves this time. Forget dropping the price of the iPhone like a stone right after people starting buying it, that was minor league stuff. No, the cluster-you-know-what that is the 3GS rollout is a work of Machiavellian genius. I can just see the meeting that came up with it. "Let's finally give the iPhone a usable camera and video capabilities, the ability to actually move data at a reasonable rate, and then make our existing user base take out second mortgages to pay for it! And to make it even more cruel, let's make it impossible to figure out just how much people are actually going to have to pay to upgrade."

Guys, maybe you didn't hear, but there's a new kid in town, and his name is Pre? Now would be a good time to bolster your existing customers, not screw them over, hmm? I'm a realist, I'm not expecting a free upgrade. But $500 or $600? Come on! Let me pay what new customers are paying, and I'd be satisfied. It's not like you're not going to turn around and sell my old one as a refurb anyway, right?

And AT&T, can you fix your fracking web site so I even know whether I can get the discount price or not?

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Y'know, didn't you sign up for that when you signed that AT&T contract of yours? Two year contract, right? $199 is not the actual price of the phone. "Come on! Let me pay what new customers are paying, and I'd be satisfied." is unrealistic.

Huh? Phone is $199 ace.

You sound quite sour. You probably bought an iPhone, so you probably thought it was good enough for the money you spent. Something new came along, and now you start complaining it's not fair you bought the previous model... Did the functionality of your current phone change in any way now that the 3GS is announced? No? Thought so.

whine whine. As the others said, what did you tkink the deal was?

Go get a Pre then, why unleash your vitriol on us?

Lighten up francis. I can't believe this is the first post out of this blog in months and it's some random whiner.

Speaking as someone who paid $599 for the iPhone and who has had a mobile phone since 1996, this be how it works. New phones come out before the old ones are two years old, if you used a contract to buy the old phone you can't get a new phone at a discount because that's how it works.

What are you whining about? Dropping prices? How horrible for you! And how is it Apple's fault that AT&T sucks? I'm surprised that drivel like this got through the editorial filter.

Seriously?! I've got a first gen iphone and didn't go to 3G because I didn't want to sign the 2 year contract yet. It was perfectly clear to me that it would be another 2 years before I'd be eligible for the subsidy. So here you are spouting off about being too thick to consider the consequences of what you sign.

Wow, in no other community do I ever see such an overwhelming sense of undeserved entitlement. Do people not pay any attention whatsoever to the world? I don't buy Apple products, and even I know they refresh their stuff every single year. Combine that with a standard 2 year cellphone contract for getting a subsidized phone, and, wow, you might not be able to get the shiniest newest fashion device every year for a subsidized price.

James, are you aware that Sprint users mid-contract can't upgrade to the Pre for $199?

Phone companies give you discounted prices on two occasions:
1 - when you join their network
2 - when you near the end of your contract

Policy sucks.

So go with Sprint and get the Pre for $199 and enjoy it, because when the new Pre comes out the following year, you'll be in the exact same situation you are now.

I suggest you go buy a Pre then. Of course, when Pre version 2 comes out, you'll be whining about having to pay full price for the newer Pre because you signed a 2 year contract with Sprint to buy version 1, AT A SUBSIDIZED PRICE! Your lack of business acumen is as appalling as your pathetic rant to attract clicks to this website.

You are truly a blessed man. If this is such a big problem in your life, you are better off than 99% of the rest of humanity.

On the other hand, you have completely wasted your blessing by complaining about such triviality.

Gee, go to the Apple website. I had no trouble upgrading and buying the new phone. Maybe ATT's website has a glitch. Things could be worse, though. You could be one of the 52 million americans without health insurance AND not be able to upgrade your iPhone. Ah, so sad.

Is this for real? Do you know how much the actual phone costs retail? iPhone 3G is something like 599 for 8GB and 699 for 16GB. The subsidized prices only come with 2 year contacts, cause that's how long it takes to pay off the difference.

Seriously, weren't you aware of the terms of the contract that you signed with AT&T (which is the one who sets the policy for upgrades, like any carrier that subsidizes phones)?

Don't you understand the concept of subsidizing phones? When you bought your iPhone 3G you did know that you where paying only part of the full cost of the phone, right? Did you expect that Apple would never update the hardware?

I think you should switch to the Pre if you think its a better phone than the 3G you currently got, but if expect to upgrade mid-contract to the Pre 2.0, I guess we'll read about it in a year or so.

I never bought an iPhone, until now. The 32Gb RAM and the Video camera tipped me over the line. And I'm buying a version that is subsidized by the carrier, so I will sign the 24 months contract, and no, I don't expect to be able to switch to the new version that most likely will be announced in the Summer of 2010.

Really, there is a lot of stuff to be pissed about with AT&T: Tethering, MMS support... The fact that you can't switch mid-contract to a new hardware is not one of them.

Best regards,

A reasonable compromise AT&T could offer for those who feel they need to be on the cutting edge of technology fashion but want to be cheap about it is to offer 1 year contracts. Charge say $100 extra for the phone over the 2 year price, to make up for the shorter time to pay off the subsidy. Other carriers I know offer such choices.

I do think its a little bone headed these contracts prevent people from spending more money on a carrier, and becoming better customers. I know it makes accounting sense to have the contracts, but with the speed of technology, and Apple creating an army of premadonnas, it may not make marketing sense anymore.

An other choice would be to literally expose the accounting. Show how much there is still to pay off of the subsidy, and how much of your bill goes towards it. You can get whatever subsides phone you want whenever you want. You simply accumulate debt. Want to get out of your contract all together? Just pay off the debt.

I won't get an iPhone because I can't stand AT&T for other reasons. This particular problem is not unique to them.

God, I cannot believe how many people are simply willing to grab their ankles for any company that waves a piece of paper in their face. "This is how it works", "You signed up for it", etc. ad nauseum. Just because that's how it is doesn't make it fair, nor does it mean that's how it should be in the future.

If you don't see AT&T's (and indeed, all the cellular carriers) terms as a ripoff, then you must have way more money than sense. Complacent potential customers willing to accept the absolute worst a corporation is willing to dish out are a marketroid's wet dream. No wonder we Americans get such crappy service for outrageous fees - we just bend over for it over and over. Cable comnpanies, Health care, politics, media - they're not to blame. They're just optimizing profits. Those of us who never want to hold them accountable are to blame, and this thread is a perfect example of why.

So, I had been thinking of removing oreilly from my feeds for a while, as the quality has gone way down-hill in the last couple years. After this post I think the decision has been made for me, and for that I thank you.

Even worse here in the UK with O2. No upgrade path at all. We are expected to pay off our current contracts (monthly fee x month's remaining) then take out a new 24 month contract and still have to pay for the phone.

Plus they have not even bothered to reduce the price of the 8G phone.

I think people are really missing the point here - the new 3GS is good but its new functionality is not compelling enough to get new users to upgrade at the price they are charging.

If O2 offered an ugrade fee they would make there money back and more as we we would upgrade and tie ourselves into a new 24 month contract.

As it stands my contract runs out in Jan 2010. I won't upgrade then as there will be a new phone in June so that one whole year they will have to wait for me to spend that extra £100/200 pounds...and come January I will switch my phone to a different carrier and they will lose out again.

Last point is that O2 want to charge £15 p.m to use the tethering functionality. No way in a millions years.

It doesn't prevent from spending more money on the carrier it prevents you from making the carrier spend more money. The user will spend exactly the same amount of money with the carrier (his monthly payment). When a user gets a subsidized phone it doesn't bring money to the carrier it costs them some.

Second mortgages? Goddamn, that's one cheap house you own! I'll gladly buy it from you.


I've got it right here on my Apple Message Pad with Newton Technology it says "NEVER TRUST THE BUGGERS!"

I love their technology and hate their management. I admire the people who work there and loath the people who make the decisions.

I feel your pain, but such is life.

And if you think you will get a better deal with the Pre, you had better think again. Not to mention losing access to 50,000 apps..... ouch.

Oh, the whingeing! Jim, you got your iPhone 3G at discount by signing a 2-year contract. What that contract means is so simple a child could understand it. It means that after 2 years, you can get another subsidized phone. SO SUCK IT UP AND WAIT UNTIL YOUR 2 YEARS ARE UP. Or pay the unsubsidized price if you must have it now. Do you really have to have a shiny new phone every frakking year? And do you have to cry "I've been screwed over" if you don't get a discount on it when you break your contract?

I have a 3G, got it last year. I'm in no hurry to upgrade. I'll use this one until it dies of trauma or old age, then worry about a new phone.

Seriously, what does the S give you that the regular old 3G doesn't? Video and a compass??? Faster 3G in (some) markets? More flash? (OK, that's nice.) In something like 8 days, the 3.0 firmware will be out & you can get 90% of the functionality for free.

What I want is a way to attach a keyboard to the iPhone.

the whiners are all short sighted knee-jerkers...

Even if one had to pay a $300 premium over a "new customer" or "eligible for upgrade" user, that person would have an iphone 3g that could easily, EASILY, be sold for at least $300 as an un-contracted iphone. If the person unlocked the iphone, opening up the potential buyers market to tmobile customers, it would be even easier to sell.

there is no reason for AT&T shareholders to lose money to support the gadget freaks that want to buy the latest and greatest on release day.

@ugh: I totally agree. I was on the fence as far as whether I wanted to leave this feed in my feed reader, but this post put it over the edge.

Unsubscribed. Adios!

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