Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Shape Shifters

That's cell phone companies for me ...

There seem to be a big push now to raid customers from other providers, evening to the point of one cell phone company paying off contract fees to gain a new customer. That apparently means the end of the low-priced cell phone.

We renewed a contract, and I got a decent iPhone 5S for $49 "service fee." My wife didn't want one, then. She was busy with her PhD.

Now she wants one. We're eligible, but to get her the same iPhone 5S it will require $15 a month for 30 months.

Enjoy this conversation and tell me what it means, for I politely signed off without understanding how to get a one-generation-older cell phone without paying a monthly fee. I think it means I can get an iPhone 5S for a flat fee, but I lose some sort of discount.

Daniel C: Hello, this is Daniel C with AT&T! I'll be happy to help you today. May I ask who I have the pleasure of chatting with? 
Me: Gary Presley 
Daniel C: Hello Gary! It is a pleasure 
Daniel C: There is both time and cost associated with activating or upgrading a customer regardless of the contract type. The activation/upgrade fees help AT&T recover the marketing and operational costs associated with acquiring a customer. 
Me: So an upgrade to an iPhone 5S is $15 a month for 30 months now when I paid a $49 upgrade few three or four months ago to get the same phone on the other line? 
Daniel C: The upgrade fee depend on the purchase option you selected for your phone. 
Me: Explain that more clearly. We always take the 2 year contract. We stick with ATT. We like the coverage. We also like to upgrade at the end of the 2-year contract. So, there are no more "free" upgrades for long-time customers? 
Daniel C: Smartphones purchased with 2-year agreement savings pay the full upgrade fee of $45/mo. 
Daniel C: Smartphones purchased with AT&T Next or No Contract (full price up front) receive a discounted upgrade fee of $15. 
Daniel C: The upgrade fee is a one-time charge that applies when you purchase a new wireless device at a discount to replace an old device. It's added to your next bill. 
Me: I'm looking at a page that says I must pay $15 a month to get an iPhone 5S (not the latest phone) to upgrade. 
Daniel C: Can I ask what page you're currently on? 
Me: <give the page url> 
Daniel C: One moment please. 
Me: Okay 
Daniel C: Thank you! 
Daniel C: AT&T Next is purchase and upgrade system that gives you control of how soon you can upgrade your device, and how you pay. 
Daniel C: The tax showing due today is the estimated sales tax base on your zip code, and the retail purchase price of the phone that you have selected. 
Daniel C: You can select from the following installment terms on a smartphone:
* Next 24 - 30 monthly installments with the option to upgrade after 24 payments.
* Next 18 - 24 installments with the option to upgrade after 18 payments.
* Next 12 – 20 installments with the option to upgrade after 12 payments. 
Daniel C: When you’ve reached the upgrade mark you will give back your current phone and pick a new one to upgrade to. You’ll stop paying the previous installment plan and start paying on the new plan for the new phone. 
Daniel C: AT&T Next is not a contract, but you are agreeing to pay off the full price of your device over the course of monthly payments. If you cancel service, the remaining balance of the device will be due in full. 
Daniel C: You can upgrade even earlier if you choose to pay off the minimum installment balance early (24, 18, or 12 payments’ worth) in as little as two months from the start of your last AT&T Next plan. 
Daniel C: Keep in mind, your phone must be in good condition and fully functional in order to qualify for the early upgrade option. Otherwise, you’ll need to finish paying off the full balance before you can upgrade again. I definitely recommend adding our Mobile Protection Pack so that you can keep your phone safe and insured. 
Me: So there are no more flat fee, one time payments to upgrade if I agree to a two-year contract? 
Daniel C: Absolutely! 
Me: "Absolutely" Yes? Or No? I like ATT service. I intend to stick with ATT. I don't want a brand new phone. I want a one-time upgrade payment.
Daniel C: Yes. 
Daniel C: I also want to make you aware that by choosing to upgrade to a new smartphone with a two-year agreement contract, the Mobile Share Value plan discount you have been receiving will no longer be available for your line. Upgrading to a new two-year agreement contract removes the discount on the smartphone access charge ($15 goes to $40 on 10GB or higher or $25 to $40 on lower than 10GB plans). 
Me: Okay. That's all I need to know. As noted, I like ATT's service. I simply want to continue with ATT with the least amount of expenditure. Thank you for your time.
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