5 Options If You Got Shafted By Yesterday's iPhone Price Cut

Early Adopter Syndrome can strike anyone—our fancy N95 is less than six months old and has just been kicked to the curb by Nokia for a new version that works with US 3G—so we sympathize with all of you who just shelled out $600 for that great iPod/so-so phone combo from Apple. The Unofficial Apple Weblog offers the following five suggestions on how to fix your little $200 problem.

  • If you can, take advantage of the 14-day return policy, obviously.
  • See if your credit card offers a price guarantee.
  • Call the Apple store where you bought your iPhone (press 5 to get a live person). TUAW says they had no luck with this, but our reader Autogeneric says s/he was able to get a $200 credit issued on a purchase that was 18 days old—ymmv. (See what happens when you stop lurking, Autogeneric?)
  • Call AT&T. Ha ha ha. One TUAW reader notes that he got a total of $150 credit from AT&T for his two iPhones, so it may be worth a shot.
  • Lastly, complain, both to Apple and the California Department of Consumer Affairs (see the original blog post for the address).

The rest of you who are currently iPhone-less might want to wait to see how long it takes for a 3G-capable version to come out—this smells an awful lot like “get rid of these slow-ass phones so we can release the good ones.”

“Apple screwed you: So now what?” [The Unofficial Apple Weblog]

(Photo: Il conte di Luna)


Edit Your Comment

  1. mopar_man says:

    It’s really too bad people who HAD to have an iPhone as soon as it came can’t accept the fact they paid a premium to be the first to get one. It happens with any technology.

  2. anatak says:

    @mopar_man: ask any one of them – they’ll show you the imprint from the gun barrel AT&T/Apple had pressed to their head…

  3. rbb says:

    Basic rules of computers and other technologies:

    If you can afford it, it’s obsolete.

    The moment you buy it, something that is better, faster, and cheaper will appear the day after time runs out to return it.

    If you decide to wait for the “better” version to come out, it never will.

    So, just enjoy your purchases…

  4. Daemon_of_Waffle says:

    You comment is valid for those who bought the phone the day or next that it was released. They have to suck it up. But what about those who bought one last week? The initial buyers got X months to play and show off the new thing. The buyers last week payed a premium for a week of glory? That sounds not so good. In any event, caveat emptor.

  5. rbb says:

    Corollary to the “better” version rule:

    If for some reason, the “better” version does make it to market, the features you wanted will have been deleted and the older, now discontinued model would have benn better suited to your needs…

  6. Bix says:

    There’s also the fact that price cuts like this don’t usually happen so soon.

  7. spinachdip says:

    @Daemon_of_Waffle: Which is where Apple’s price guarantee comes in handy. They’re pretty explicit about the 10-day guarantee, and from my experience, Apple staffers tend to bend the rules when I make good faith requests. If one rep doesn’t do it for you, go to the next one.

  8. rbb says:


    Actually, the people who bought one in the last two weeks are in good shape – they can return it under Apple’s 14 day policy…

  9. ct03 says:

    I bought mine expecting it to be obsolete or discounted around Christmas, which is why I “only” spent $500 for the 4GB one, but come on, a 33% discount in two months is a pretty fast and large drop. For people who bought the 4GB one, that means we spent half a grand on something that was going to be discontinued two months later. Caveat emptor, early adopter syndrome, I know, but it still stings.

  10. dbeahn says:

    @Daemon_of_Waffle: There’s a 14 day return policy – all anyone that got it in the last 14 days has to do is take it back, then buy a new one at the lower price. My bet is that in many cases, they’ll just issue a credit to the account because it’s faster and easier that way.

    Anyone that’s had the thing more than 14 days? See comment above about the issues associated with being an early adopter. You pay a premium. Especially on something like this, when anyone with an IQ over 50 should have KNOWN the price was going to come way down for the fall season and holidays. You wanted it RIGHT NOW, and you paid extra to get it. That’s how the world works.

  11. spinachdip says:

    @ct03: But if it wasn’t worth $500 to you, you wouldn’t have spent that $500. Regardless of the current price, you still have a phone that’s worth $500 to you. The value of the phone to you didn’t change over the course of the day yesterday.

  12. Cowboys_fan says:

    I don’t get this one. Does Consumerist believe Apple should not have lowered the price, as then that would be fair? Why would I demand/expect anything from Apple? I just can’t wrap my mind around why you want me to complain when a company lowers a price. Why do people deserve something for nothing? If consumerist has its way, companies would never lower prices for fear of old customers demanding credit. Mind boggling, seriously! I can see trying to get credit, but making official complaints!? Unbelievable!

  13. EnJustice says:

    I understnd trying to get a refund from Apple if you’ve recently purchased it. It’s worth pursuing since it’s good chunk of change, and the worst that can happen is that Apple or AT&T says no.

    But why on earth would you complain to the CA Department of Consumer Affairs? Apple did nothing fraudulent by cutting the price of a product, and to file a complaint against them for doing something that could easily be perceived as consumer friendly is ludicrous.

  14. jiggersplat says:

    Here’s my take on the whole situation. Yeah, it sucks but tough noogies. Price cuts are inevitable. You willingly paid whatever it is you paid for your iWhatever, which means it was worth it to you. Apple is under no obligation to refund you that money. If they do, you should be thanking them. I know everyone here is pro-consumer, but under what pretense do people think they have the right to demand a refund and make complaints to a consumer board if they don’t get them?

  15. Beerad says:

    Yeah, I’m not quite sure why Consumerist considers this getting “shafted” (not the most professional of terms in any situation). As Spinachdip points out, if you bought it for $500, you clearly decided it was worth paying 500 bucks for at that time. While possibly a buyer would have waited if she knew the price would drop, she didn’t and took that chance. My flat screen TV is a lot cheaper now than it was when I bought it 5 months ago, but I certainly knew that would happen and it was worth it to me to buy it at the higher price so I could have it 5 months ago.

    I sympathize with the early purchasers, and it’s fair to say “I wish I had known…” but it’s not like Apple ripped anyone off or anything. I’m amazed that some people are getting credits from Apple/AT&T for this.

  16. maevro says:

    99% of the time you are going to get zilch back. Boy Genius did an interview with Apple and they basically said the same thing.

    The price of electronics decreases over time?? Wow, imagine that. I would never buy a non-3G phone anyway.

  17. NoWin says:

    Rule 1: never buy an electronics gadget when it first comes out. The price will be lowered 2 months down the road (or sooner if its a junker).

    I’m with @RBB: “So, just enjoy your purchases…”

    No story here; please move along.

  18. dbeahn says:

    What about the people that have recently purchased a 30gb iPod for the same price the new 80gb ones are gonna be? Were those people shafted too? Or people that bought the current iPod nano’s, when the new ones have twice the memory for the same price, plus have video? Also shafted?

    Everyone KNEW that apple wanted the iPhone to be as common as the iPod. Everyone knew that it never would be at the $600 price. It should have been apparent based on web reports on the cost of the components of the thing that the price would come down substantially, and quickly. People either didn’t do the research, or decided they didn’t care, they had to have it NOW.

    If you’re within the return period, then go return it. If you’re not, then you paid what you wanted to pay because you didn’t want to wait. No one got shafted, it’s just the way things work.

    If I buy gas today at $3.09 a gallon and in a 2 weeks (the return period with AT&T) it’s $2.64, did I get shafted? Should I complain to the BBB and the CA Department of Consumer Affairs?

    The real story here is “Apple customers sure can whine!”

  19. rmz says:

    @NoWin: Yeah, man, that Wii price sure has been slashed.

  20. Critcol says:

    As one of those who bought an iPhone soon after release (July 3rd), I went through stages after hearing the price drop.

    1 – Pure anger. (Never gonna early adopt again!!!)
    2 – Arrogance. (How dare Steve Jobs do this?)
    3 – Forgetting. (Aw, a text message arrived. I love my phone.)
    4 – Annoyance. (I don’t mind they dropped the price for others, but it sorta gives early adopters everywhere a bad name.)

    Now, I’d like to see them do a voucher for the price difference like Apple did with Aperture 1.0 users, but when it comes down to it, I still love my phone. Best phone I ever owned.

    As for AT&T getting their network to work properly, that’s another issue…

  21. spinachdip says:

    @NoWin: FWIW, electronics makers tend to use higher quality material for the launch, then switch to cheaper parts for later shipments. So there’s *some* value to buying Version 1.0, albeit not enough to offset the inevitable kinks.

    Oh, and you should see the drop in the quality of Gillette razor blades after the initial launch. They’re like drug dealers – once you the user’s hooked, they’ll take the weak shit as long as it gets them high.

  22. NoNamesLeft says:

    I don’t know what the big deal is. No matter when there is a price drop, people are going to get screwed. No matter if the drop happened today or two years from now, the people who buy before the drop are going to be short changed.

    What did they expect when the phone was not subsidized by AT&T? The phones are not selling, they are too expensive and the average person can’t bring themselves to spend 500 dollars for a phone.

    Good grief.

  23. QuantumRiff says:

    I bought a new video card, processor, and ram a few months ago, and only 2 months later, the prices dropped substantially. Did I get shafted? Or is it just that thats the way technology has worked for the last 20 years? Or what about the suckers that bought a car last month, only to see the closeout specials this month. Do they deserve a “rebate” from the company they bought it from?

  24. Jordan Lund says:

    Oh come on! Apple discontinues product so fast that Saturday Night Live made a joke about it… How bad does it have to be when it can’t even escape SNL’s rapier like wit?


  25. BillyMumphry says:

    Some days I swear this site is called The Communist. As others have said even if you paid 1000 to get an iphone, that was the value you assigned to the phone at the time. The company can do whatever it wants and it’s a damn good thing they have that right. Free market all the way. The 10-day policy is merely a courtesy.

  26. yahonza says:

    Another weird post where the Consumerist is complaining about prices being too low (by suggesting that a complaint to the state should be made).

    Hey Consumerist, consumers like low prices. Why not praise Apple for making a desirable product more affordable?

    Apple has better customer service than most companees, IMO. I’ve gotten my ipod replaced four or five time in the past year, just bring it in to the store and it gets replaces on the spot. And you give them shit for lowering prices? Sheesh, what’s a company got to do? If you are going to criticize companies for doing good things as well as bad, why should anyone take the Consumerist seriously?

  27. Elijah-M says:
  28. spinachdip says:

    @dbeahn: I cosign that. If they thought it was overpriced, they shouldn’t have bought it.

    This all hearsay, but I have friends who were shopping for computers, and Apple employees would tell them to hold off on making a purchase until the following Tuessday, wink wink, nudge nudge.

    @rmz: Wii is the exception that proves the rule, I think. I understand the price of the Wii can’t go much lower since it was already set pretty low at the time of the launch. Nintendo was going after non-gamers, a largely unproven market with fewer early adopters willing to pay a premium.

    There were serious doubts about how competitive the Wii would be. No such problem with the iPhone – in fact, they set the price high because they knew the demand would overwhelm the supply otherwise.

  29. BrianH says:

    @spinachdip: You succinctly said what would have taken me 10 sentences. That summarizes it beautifully. (I’m serious in case this sounds sarcastic…)

    I am so goddamn sick of people having no impulse control, wanting the best of both worlds (early product adoption AND riding the downward price coaster as it unfolds…)

    For the “within 14 days people”, there is a reasonable policy… for others, that’s life & you know how it works.

    The sense of entitlement, the whining and the bullying/threats from consumers I see nowadays is pretty damn disgusting.

  30. stephenkg says:

    If you are an Apple Iphone early adopter and are upset with this sudden price drop, call the corporate office and lodge an official complaint. 408-974-2042, press “0” for the Operator and ask for Corporate Customer Service.

  31. dbeahn says:


    See if Apple sends you a refund :)

  32. hoo_foot says:

    Complain to the California Department of Consumer Affairs? Are you serious?!? Apple did nothing wrong! Thanks for encouraging readers to clog up government bureaucracy with whining about a price drop. Now legitimate consumer complaints will take even longer to be processed.

  33. uberbitter says:

    My boyfriend bought a 4G iPhone a few days ago and had no problem returning it at the AT&T store (for the cost of the restocking fee) and buying a new 8G one. In fact, when he called the store they were just going to credit him $200 (they thought he had an 8G phone).

    Based on the their return policy he didn’t think there would be much of a hassle, but he was pleasantly surprised by the offer of the credit.

  34. Buran says:

    Why are we continuing to harp on Apple when products drop in price all the time? It’s just how things are. In fact, products drop in price from merchants that do NOT have a price-matching guarantee AT ALL, and I don’t see this kind of screaming.

    What am I missing? If you buy something early on, you had to have expected this. If you didn’t, you just had no idea about how this works.

  35. idiosynch says:

    You’re all right, of course — it’s Apple’s decision to reduce prices: they’re a big company, and they will take whatever steps they want to increase profit. Good on ’em.

    That said, it’s my prerogative as a consumer to get really annoyed when a company makes decisions I don’t agree with. I can mouth off about how much I don’t like their policies to my friends and family, and I can say that I will certainly not be giving any more money to Apple unless they take steps that — to me! — makes things right. Being an Assassin for a product/company is a time-honored tradition, after all.

    No, most/all of you don’t agree with me, and hey, that’s okay too. Though, I’m the one who just shelled out big bucks for an Apple product, I’d like to think that maybe they should consider doing the Good Customer Service thing to make their existing customers happy.

    Hey, they did it for Aperture, right? Same deal: released at price point A, then reduced the price $200 a short time later… and offered a $200 voucher to the early adopters. What’s different about this situation?

  36. Buran says:

    @hoo_foot: I filed a complaint to the Missouri Attorney General about ticket scalpers a few weeks ago.

    Last week it hit the news that Missouri’s response is to legalize scalping! (!?!)

    Complaining to the government doesn’t help — they’ll just wave their hands and say “We’ll legalize that for you now” and then turn around and respond to your complaint with “We’re sorry, that’s not illegal in this state.”

    Never mind the fact that people are getting ripped off left and right, or that it was quite illegal when I filed the complaint.

    Thanks for nothing, Missouri.

  37. d0x says:

    Im sorry but this is a joke…why post this?

    I can understand being pissed if the price is cut say, within 14 days of purchase then yes by all means you should get the difference.

    The price you pay for being is early adopter has always been that you get screwed out of money, features and reliability and that will never change. There is no sense filing complaints.

    Would you rather them never drop the price? Or perhaps delay it for such a long period of time that they can produce it for cheaper..?

  38. Canadian Impostor says:

    I bought my iPhone fifteen days ago, a refurbished 4gb model for $399.

    Yesterday when the price cuts came I immediately called Apple, who has a 10 day price protection policy, to see if they could help me out since the 4gb iPhone sells for $299 new now. Of important note is that as of yesterday they do not sell refurbished 4gb iPhones anymore.

    I got disconnected twice, probably due to high call volume, but the third time I got through, told the CS rep that I bought an iPhone recently and wondered about price protection. To my surprise instead of him discounting it to $299 he told me the refurb 4gb iPhones are now $249, and he refunded $150 to my Visa card.

    Bam, $249 iPhone.

  39. ct03 says:

    @spinachdip: You’re right, and I don’t feel like I’m entitled to a refund or anything. Apple is a weird case though, because they’re so arbitrary about what they’ll do in situations that they almost coddle their users. I bought a Belkin case the same day I got my iPhone and it scratched it after a few days. I brought it to the Apple store in early July, said “this case sucks,” and after some thought, they gave me a brand new iPhone. So maybe people expect more from them? Who knows.

    I do think, though, that just as predictable as the people who feel irrationally outraged that they bought a product on its launch and the price dropped after, are those (not you) who get so much joy laughing at them.

  40. nakmario says:

    I think its funny that when MS drops the price of the Zune by $100 everyone assumes its because MS is not selling enough.

    Perhaps Apple needs the $200 price-drop because they overestimated demand and now have too much supply on their hands…?

    Maybe I can LOL at Apple for having way too much supply instead of LOLing at the early adopters who got the shaft…?

  41. kahri says:

    @idiosynch: Aperture is software, completely different pricing model.
    People, let’s compare apples to apples (pun intended ) remember this is a cellphone. I know it’s an apple, but it’s still a cellphone so your comparisons should be w/ cell technology. If you haven’t noticed, it moves at a blinding pace. My first Treo was about $550 when it was released and now it’s not worth $50. You can’t expect the value of a cellphone to move at the same pace as your other electronics. Just calculate the depreciation of your car compared to your computer. A 2004 computer is worth almost nothing today yet a 2004 car still retains much of it’s original value. Just ask those poor schmucks who paid $1000 for their PS3 on launch day.

  42. kahri says:

    So no one else has noticed that the Razr ($500 on release)is practically free today?

  43. spinachdip says:

    @nakmario: It’s not an assumption, it’s logic.

    For one thing, the iPhone is meeting its sales goals. And from everything I’ve read, the price drop was planned from the very beginning, and makes sense with the price structure for the new iPod Touch. As I said above, it’s very likely that the initial premium was to curb the demand when the supply was low and the anticipation was overwhelming (that’s just a guess though).

    Plus, the iPhone price cut was announced as part of a well-publicized media event. If it was bad news, do you seriously think Jobs would have announced at the Keynote it and dampen the excitement over the new iPopd unveiling?

    Meanwhile, the Zune price cut was unscheduled and announced not-so-coincidentally the day before the Keynote, not with a splashy media event but a quiet press release.

    YOu see the difference, yes?

  44. idiosynch says:

    @Kahri: About your second comment: yeah, a four year old phone is free w/ contract. You don’t say!

    About the first: To me, Apple can’t claim to be a leader in customer service and claim to be changing the market, and then do things that are lousy customer service and claim it’s okay because it’s what everyone else does. Depreciation isn’t as relevant in this case because of Apple’s own claims that they’re The Best In The World at giving their customers value, treating them right, etc. etc.

  45. sncreducer says:

    Everybody else has already covered what pathetic, whining assholes the people complaining about this are, but…

    Consumerist editors, you need to explain your rationale behind reposting the recommendation that iPhone buyers contact the California DCA. I’m a California resident and taxpayer, and the idea that you’re encouraging people to waste the dept’s time over this BS non-issue is unbelievable. The DCA exists to help with *real* consumer issues – you know, the kinds of lies, BS and rip-offs you usually cover here on Consumerist.


    It’s not a defective product. It’s not a company committing fraud. By the logic of those complaining, no company should be able to hold a sale or cut a price without refunding money to everyone who ever purchased the same product before at a higher price.

    Apple fanboys – you didn’t get “screwed.” You bought a product at a price that *you* deemed fair. That’s it. Do you still own the product? Does it still work as intended? Then shut up and stop wasting everybody’s time with your idiotic complaints.

  46. sncreducer says:

    Whiny little b!tches –

    Your tantrum paid off.

    Now STFU.

  47. ivealwaysgotmail10 says:

    iphone users all get 100$ back in a gift card…. so my question is

    WHY THE FUCK DIDNT STEVE FUCKIN JOBS MAKE THE PRICE 299 399 in the first place! They would have sold out SO QUICK, Ohh i know,, becuase he didnt want youtube videos showing people being mauled for their iphones, That 200$ brings the price point to a diffirent crowd. hehe

  48. wesrubix says:

    Apple didn’t screw anyone. People who thought the iPhone was worth $599 (+tax for some) screwed themselves. Component cost of only $200. Making money never looked so evil? so Apple.

  49. FrankTheTank says:


    Sounds like Apple is coming through.

    Apple, the consumerist-y-est company EVER.

    I love those guys.

  50. spinachdip says:

    @wesrubix: $200? That actually doesn’t leave much of a margin, considering Apple must have spent a crapload on R&D and parts don’t assemble themselves, especially since the manufacturing of different components are contracted out to different companies, i.e. the touch screen, the chip, etc.

  51. crimsonwhat says:

    Quit bitching! It’s your own damn fault you can’t keep yourself under control when it comes to frivolous pieces of crap.
    I’m sick of all this iphone “piss and moan about paying $200 more and now the price dropped” stories.
    It’s business! Prices change. Move on with your life and maybe next time think long and hard before standing in line for the next piece of tech junk.

    And that’s all I have to say about that.

  52. nardo218 says:

    So, you paid $500 for a freaking *phone* that you knew was going to have problems. Do these kind of people even care about getting $200 back? I don’t get it. Why do you need this shiny thing?

  53. DeeHaney says:

    babies with their new little toy.