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Buying an iPhone 3G


Chris The Rock
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I chose not to renew my contact with Verizon Wireless in January of 2008, even though I was very happy with them. I signed up for AT&T because I knew that Apple was going to release a 2nd Gen iPhone, and I wanted to be able to get one - and didn't want to pay the excessive fees to Verizon to get out of my contract on the new iPhone's release day.

 

Fast forward to now...I want to get my wife an iPhone for Christmas (and hopefully I'll get one for my birthday in February). But holy crap - it's going to cost me $499 for the 16GB version, not the $299 that everyone talks about. When I look at the fine print of my contract, it says that I won't be entitled to a discount on hardware until September 3, 2009.

 

I love my wife, and I'd spend $499 in a heartbeat on a gift for her, but at the same time, I'd be using "our" money -- and she'd kill me for spending that much.

 

What am I going to do? Can I go to an AT&T store and plead with a rep to sell me the phone at $299? It seems that new customers can get them for $299 -- but how the heck can you be a new customer unless 1) you've never had a cell phone before, 2) your contract is ending with one provider and you're looking for a new one, or 3) you pay the $175 per phone early termination charge?

 

I will find out the answers myself tomorrow when I go to an AT&T store, but I was wondering if any iPhone owners out there found themselves in similar predicaments with AT&T.

 

And can someone tell me: Are there a bigger bunch of thieves than cell phone companies?

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There was an upgrade "loophole" for those in existing AT&T contracts. I don't remember the specifics but I know it had something to do with the date you began your most recent AT&T contract.

 

I renewed my AT&T contract in February of 2007 and could not take advantage of the deal when the iPhone came out. I had to buy the 3G iPhone outright at full price.

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Good luck. My experience with Cellphone companies is that once they have you, they don't give a fuck about you anymore. You probably won't be able to get a deal on the iPhone unless you setup a new line or wait until you get close to the end of your contract. They have zero interest on giving you a phone for a cheaper price since you are already locked into a contract.

 

Like Joey said, once your contract is up, nothing happens unless you want to renew it by buying a new phone. My g/f is going through this right now with T-Mobile. She wants a new phone but they won't give her a deal on it until a few months before her current contract is up (that is in March).

 

-Dean-

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I used to sell cell phones, so this was a big complaint. When you signed up for a new contract (or renewed your contract), your cell phone provider is giving you a cell phone for a huge discount.

 

What you can try (and what I usually do) is try something like http://www.howardsforums.com or craigslist. Post your phone and put the money you earn towards the iPhone. Of course, since it's a gift, it might make it a little bit more difficult.

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Sorry to hear this... A few other options you could look into would be to buy a refurb from the Apple store. You could save some money that way and they do not require you to activate it. It might be a used unit or something but, at least you'll have the option of 2G or 3G iPhone, 8GB or 16GB versions, etc (depending on the store's stock of course).

 

Maybe sign her up as a new contract under a family plan or something? Its been a while but I thought family plan deals reset your contract date and that you would qualify for the $299 iPhone pricing.

 

Hope it works out man...

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I will find out in a few hours, when I visit an AT&T store and then maybe an Apple store. This is a busted system, for sure.

 

If they can't (or won't) work with me - and I'm pretty sure this is what will happen - we'll just wait for the next major upgrade to the iPhone, and hopefully it comes out after Sept 3, 2009 when I'll be "eligible" for a discount.

 

I'm in a pickle: I know she wants an iPhone (she's hinting like crazy); but I also know that she'll kick my ass if I spend $600 (iPhone, tax, AppleCare) on one gift for her, especially when I've already bought some things. $400 is bad enough - but there's something about that $500+ figure that sends this kind of purchase into super-luxury territory, and like most of us - we don't make super-luxury money. Especially since we're about to make the last payment on our credit card and be credit-card-debt free. I wonder if there's a card that says "I wanted to get you an iPhone, but the jackasses at AT&T and Apple decided to charge me more than the next guy."

 

I'd thought about taking her shopping after Christmas to get her a phone, and having her sign up on her own plan and drop off of mine. One problem with that: I'm enjoying a 23% discount on my rate plan through my employer's discount with AT&T, and I'd forfeit that. But maybe that's the smart thing to do. Anyone know if she can keep her number?

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Didn't Joe Pesci (as Leo Getz) have something to say about cell phone companies in one of the Lethal Weapon movies?

Leo Getz: They fuck you with cell phones. That's what it is. They're fuckin' you with the cell phone. They love it when you get cut off. Y'know why, huh? You know why? 'Cause when you call back - -which they know you're gonna do. - -they charge you for that fuckin' first minute again at that high rate.

 

Lethal Weapon 4

 

At least in the US you have some options on the phones and have some decent competition. In Canada it sucks bad for cell phones, less options and way more expensive rates. They even started charging for incoming text messages.

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At least in the US you have some options on the phones and have some decent competition. In Canada it sucks bad for cell phones, less options and way more expensive rates. They even started charging for incoming text messages.

 

Partial marks. Rogers/Fido haven't charged for incoming text messages, but as in any business, they'll likely follow soon

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Update: I went to the AT&T store, and was told exactly what I was prepared for. No can do.

 

That was until the sales clerk came up with a novel idea:

He suggested I add a third line to my plan for an additional $10 per month. Then I could buy the iPhone for $299.

 

I will probably do this, but out of necessity I'll have to pick it up on Christmas Eve, since the phone has to be activated when it's purchased, and I'd rather not start paying for the data plan until my wife can use it.

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I wonder if you could then just drop the extra line later (with your old phone on it).

No, I can't - without paying the $175 termination fee.

 

I'm in good shape with this deal - I'm offering the extra line to my mother in law. She'll pay me the $10 per month and she can use the phone to keep in touch with my wife without using any minutes.

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