AT&T Won't Honor iPhone Price Announced In Its Own Press Release

Reader Rom is angry with AT&T because they won’t sell him an iPhone 3G for the price listed in their press release. AT&T says the promotional pricing ($199 for an 8GB, $299 for a 16GB) is only available to, among others, existing iPhone customers. Rom is an existing iPhone customer.

The relevant press release reads, in part:

iPhone 3G will be available for $199 for the 8GB model and $299 for the 16GB model. These prices require two-year contracts and are available to the following customers:
* iPhone customers who purchased before July 11
* Customers activating a new line with AT&T
* Current AT&T customers who are eligible, at the time of purchase, for an upgrade discount

Rom writes that he purchased an iPhone earlier in the year, and that he also purchased a BlackBerry from AT&T. After speaking with someone in the president’s office, he says that the point of contention is that AT&T is interpreting “iPhone customers who purchased before July 11” as “iPhone customers who purchased before July 11 and haven’t bought another device from AT&T since.” Although Rom concedes that the purchase of the BlackBerry eliminated his upgrade eligibility, he still is an iPhone customer, and should be entitled to the promotional price.

(Photo: jetsetpress)


Edit Your Comment

  1. outinthedark says:

    People still want these?

    Pretty low of ATT seeing as he was an iPhone customer regardless of what device has been activated on his account since release.

  2. 108Reliant says:

    I will never trust AT&T again. This is pure corporate piracy at its best.

  3. Sugarless says:

    Although I don’t get the whole iCraziness, I think they should just let Rom have the phone for the price advertised.
    If you have a customer who owns one of your hyped products and then that customer buys another hyped product and wants to be yet another one, give them the advertised price. Clearly this customer is planning to remain a customer.

  4. chris_l says:

    So in essence he should be entitled to 2 subsidized phones within a couple of months because he bought an unsubsidized phone? Man, if that’s the policy, I should have bought a Blackberry, unlocked it, threw it up on eBay to make a profit and then take that profit and get another subsidization on the iPhone.

  5. ThomFabian says:

    Here’s the question, did he get his Blackberry at a subsidized price? If so, I understand why he isn’t eligible.

  6. karmaghost says:

    there’s lots of confusion among AT&T stores as to the rules in regards to current customers and upgrades. One local store near me thought I couldn’t get one at all when in reality I was eligible for the moere expensive iPhone upgrade. The reader in the post should try another store if he can.

  7. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    He wants a second subsidized phone and is trying to get AT&T on a technicality and completely misses the point of the conditions.

  8. DH405 says:

    I see where they’re coming from. The reason they took current iPhone users is that there was NO subsidy paid on the iPhone v1. He bought a BB, most likely WITH a subsidy. Thus, his subsidy money is exhausted for 1 year.

    New iPhone pricing is subsidized. Thus, he pays more.

  9. CuriousO says:

    This guy is a whiner, he left important stuff out, this is what the ATT site says:

    How much will I pay for iPhone 3G?
    If you are upgrade eligible and your account is in good standing, you will pay $199 for 8GB (black) and $299 for 16GB (black or white). Two-year contract required.

    You have the option to purchase an early upgrade priced at $399 for 8GB (black) or $499 for 16GB (black or white). Two-year contract required.

    In the future, AT&T may offer a no-commitment option of $599 for 8GB and $699 for 16GB.


  10. CuriousO says:

    I may also add that I do not have an Att account, I actually do not like them, their service is horrible here where I live. I just don’t like when someone thinks that they are entitled or that they do not have to go by the rules. Sorry, put your ignorant card away because its not working today.

  11. Jigen says:

    I’ve been trying to get an iphone, but AT&T won’t sell me one for $200 since we aren’t eligible for an upgrade until February. Seems stupid to me since they’re losing money from selling me the phone, as well as money from the monthly data plan I’d be paying for. Sure I could buy one for $400, but I’m not going to be double the price so AT&T is gettin’ nothing.

  12. buckeye17 says:

    As everyone else is saying, I agree that he should not get the promotional price if he got the Blackberry at a discounted price. He’s just being an arrogant prick “omg look at what the terms state like uhhh omg.”

  13. rom1855 says:

    This is Rom. I’d like to ask you all that disagree with me, what’s the point of putting out rules on a press release if they will be ignored later.

    It’s irrelevant whether the rules make sense to *you* or not, and whether you agree with them. AT&T decided to change the rules of subsidies with the iPhone, only to come back and change their mind when confronted.

  14. yoyobro says:

    From what I’ve read thus far, the OP bought an iPhone v1, then bought a subsidized Blackberry after and is now trying to get an iPhone 3G for the promotional price.

    I’m all for what’s fair, and sure enough I have my gripe with AT&T just like everyone else, but I have to say your argument is a moot point. You used your subsidy money on the Blackberry thus a 1 year wait on any other promotion/upgrade/whatever, and now you’re using semantics of the “iPhone customers who purchased before July 11” rule to justify why you should get a 3G for the promotional price.

    Grats if you do get it, but I wouldn’t hold my breath too long.

  15. ludwigk says:

    Yeah, if you have another subsidized phone, then you’re not in ‘Qualify Land’ any more, even if you have an iPhone.

    You fall into “What kind of customer am I Land”, which is horrendously complicated and has to do with how much you pay per month and how long you’ve had your contract. They seriously break it down into like 4 different groups and 6 month intervals, and several monthly price brackets. Its a hot, hot mess.

    Given how crap-filled the iPhone 2.0 subsidization plan is, I understand why the first iPhone was “fuck you, no subsidizing”. I took it home, clicked a few buttons in iTunes, and had my iPhone already linked to my girlfriend’s family plan (she got a corporate discount, and a free iPhone from work). And, that was the most sublime cellphone activation experience imaginable. Now we have lines outside apple stores, activation woes, complicated subsidy schemes, and this guy who wants to get his cheap iPhone, but can’t.

  16. cac67 says:

    If this has already gone to the office of the president and even they said no, he might as well give up or take it to arbitration. Anyone want to guess which way the arbitrator will rule on this?

  17. If he has two lines of service or has an iPhone data plan and a Blackberry data plan, go for it. Otherwise it sounds like double-dipping.

    But the logic is admittedly contradictory. Let’s say he bought the Blackberry at an unsubsidized price. By the same logic, he could argue that he’s an existing, upgrade-eligible customer and and iPhone customer. He falls into two classes, there for he’s eligible for two discounted iPhones.

    It comes down to which of the three classes is he in. AT&T says “existing, non-upgrade eligible customer” (and they specifically define how much a non-upgrade eligible customer will pay). He says “I’m still an iPhone customer, regardless of my membership in the other class”.

  18. shorty63136 says:

    I bought my iPhone 6/29/07 (did not use my upgrade b/c you couldn’t do that at the time) and then used my upgrade to buy a Motorola Z9 as a “backup phone” earlier this year when they were a penny on Amazon.

    Right now – my wireless account says that I am elegible for an upgrade to a new iPhone 3G at the subsidized price ($199 for the 8GB/$299 for the 16GB).

    Tell him to try and do it online through his wireless account. It should show him eligible there. Don’t rely on the people at the call center.

  19. Geekybiker says:

    Unless they explicitly disallowed people who also received a subsidized phone he should be entitled to an upgrade at that price. Its not his fault ATT didn’t foresee his situation and now won’t abide by their advertised conditions.

  20. Ein2015 says:

    @Jigen: They do lose money selling you the phone for $200.

  21. Bodgy says:

    I was a manager at Cingular/AT&T for a number of years. People try every freaking trick in the book to scam a new phone, especially if it’s the new “hot” model. Hard to believe that people went crazy for the Moto Vader way back in the day. I think the RAZR was the probably the closest to the iPhone neediness.

    AT&T is correct in denying the upgrade. He did buy a subsidized phone as his last purchase and is not eligible for an upgrade.

    I think I heard every excuse in the book. The worst was the people who thought they were important and “deserved” one.

  22. I understand the twist on wording here, but I imagine he got his Blackberry at a discount. He’s got a legitimate legal gripe, here, but he’s also being pretty whiny himself if he’s expecting additional discounts from AT&T.

  23. amkls704 says:

    Uhh I bought a BB curve in March and decided I didn’t like it so went back to my iPhone 2G and added the data back and I was able to get the upgrade pricing on the 3G. That’s odd.

  24. Sam2k says:

    If he’s not using the iPhone, which he is not if he upgraded to a blackberry, he is no longer an iPhone customer.

    Bad consumer trying take advantage of an offer that is not available to him.

  25. fredmertz says:

    ppl chrgs TT bt $550 fr th 8GB phn — s why n th wrld wld thy w hm phn t tht prc whn h s nt pgrd lgbl? Rdcls.

    Cm n cnsmrst! D sm rsrch bfr y pst ths stff.

  26. ambrooks16 says:

    Lousy consumer,

    This is not at&t’s fault. The consumer signed up for a new 2 year contract after already having the iphone. It doesn’t sound like he/she is an active iphone user, but rather a blackberry user. C’mon Consumerist, this was an easy one. They already got a greatly discounted phone in the BB. Of course they don’t qualify for upgrade pricing.

  27. CharlieInSeattle says:

    AT&T sucks ass, I’m with verizon now, and I actually have cell service at my house now.

  28. theycallmetak says:

    Wouldn’t they make money on the (required) 2 year contract regardless of whether the OP “used up” his yearly subsidy or not?

  29. colinjay says:

    Rom, do you have one line or is this a family plan? If it’s a family plan are you eligible for an upgrade on any lines? Was the BlackBerry paid for at a subsidized price?

  30. colinjay says:

    @theycallmetak: Sure they’ll recoup their expense on the iPhone, but they are out anywhere from 17-23 months of contracted service on the BlackBerry if it was subsidized.

  31. @theycallmetak: Not if they give out mutliple subsidies.

  32. *multiple

  33. t0fu says:

    just wait for the blackberry storm, it’s gonna blow the iturd out of the water

  34. forgotten_dreamer says:

    @ people who upgraded from the 2g IPhone: Right before the launch AT&T flipped some kind of switch that told the system to reset the eligibility of anyone with an IPhone set up as their active equipment (based of the serial number in the system) as a one time thing- so if you got the IPhone, then upgraded, then switched back awesome for you.
    With the restrictions on the 2g Iphone (no discounts, mandatory data plan, etc) I think your chances of arguing that you’re still an IPhone customer when you don’t have the phone or the restrictions on your line isn’t really going to fly. Still, if you got the blackberry (or some other phone) at full retail price or on e-bay or something you -might- still get some help with it.

  35. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Although Rom concedes that the purchase of the BlackBerry eliminated his upgrade eligibility..

    I think that says it all. He admitted that he’s not eligible, yet he’s still trying to get something he’s NOT “entitled” to.

  36. audiochick says:

    While I do believe that Rom is totally gaming the system here, I think technically ATT should go ahead and give him the upgrade. It’s ATT’s fault that they worded their upgrade policy the way they did. If they said iphone “users” instead of “customers” then he’d be out of luck.

  37. Scazza says:

    Reading this really shows how little people understand how upgrade credits and subsidiaries work for cell companies. Sometimes you cannot get a cheaper phone every few months… Its pretty universal across north america.

  38. Jigen says:

    @Ein2015: I’m not sure what the cost of producing an iPhone is, but I’d be very willing to bet the $200 for the phone and the $30 a month for the data plan for next 6 months would be enough to make a profit off me. I can also understand trying to play hardball with me, as $400 phone and dataplan would make them $200 more, but it comes down to the fact I will not pay that price. A smaller profit is better than no profit at all, or at least I would think so.

  39. coren says:

    @LatherRinseRepeat: That is not what he said, what he’s saying is he no longer is a member of the group which can get the iPhone at a subsidized price due to his eligibility for upgrade. He is still a member of “bought an iPhone before July 11”, and never says otherwise.

    Unless ATT specifically says he is disqualified as part of the press release, he’s right. Also, he’s a Spaceknight. You just don’t argue with a Spaceknight, they will fuck you up.

  40. mikes63737 says:


    iPhone customers who purchased before July 11 Well, he was an iPhone customer, but he isn’t anymore because he now uses and pays for a Blackberry. He is an iPhone owner, but not an AT&T iPhone customer.

    Customers activating a new line with AT&T He’s not activating a new line.

    Current AT&T customers who are eligible, at the time of purchase, for an upgrade discount He was eligible, but he used his upgrade on the Blackberry.

    So, as much as it kills me to say this, I have to side with AT&T on this one.

    Re-activate your iPhone. You should be able to get the discount because you’ll be an iPhone customer again.

  41. TonySoprano says:

    I work for AT&T

    The rules are quite clear.

    You have to be eligible to upgrade to the new iPhone3G.
    No if’s ands or but’s.

    iPhone2G customers had their eligibility restored automatically in Care/Telegence as soon as the iPhone 3G was announced.
    If this eligibility was changed by buying new equipment at a subsidized price, then there is nothing we can help you with in order to get the iPhone3G at the subsidized $199 price.
    There are zero (I repeat ZERO) early upgrades with the iPhone3G.


  42. davebg5 says:

    Trust me, stick with your original iPhone. The iPhone 3G drops calls like it’s 1996. I’ve got one and it’s a nightmare. I’m going tomorrow to swap it out for another one.

  43. Pro-Pain says:

    @davebg5: The 3G iPhone IS terrible. My best friend has one and it does drop calls all the time (maybe that’s AT&T though?). I wanted one at one time but would NEVER, I repeat NEVER get into bed with AT&T for two years to get one. Worst company ever.

  44. mariospants says:

    @CuriousO: “In the future, AT&T may offer a no-commitment option of $599 for 8GB and $699 for 16GB.”

    In the future, ATT, apple and anyone else who charges 7 Large + taxes for a non gold-plated, diamon-encrusted phone whose obsolescence and battery life is measured in months can kiss my ass. That’s what I call REAL “no-commitment”.

  45. shocker says:

    As we expect giant corporations to act in good faith when dealing with consumers, we should do the same.

  46. Corcoran says:

    Two Words: Family Plan.

    I switched over to AT&T two months before the 3G IPhone came out because T-Mobile’s service had become intolerable. Needless to say, I was ineligible for an upgrade for a long time, but my salesman explained I would become eligible for the subsidized price if I upgraded to a Family Plan. He discounted the plan by 15% to beat my current rate and I received an extra 100 minutes a month. I plan to unlock my Moto Q9 for overseas travel and keep the IPhone for domestic use.

    The drawback is that if I choose to leave AT&T within 2 years, I will be charged for 2 termination fees. So far so good though as the service is coverage is much better than T-Mobile in my area.

  47. djsyndrome says:

    @mariospants: seven large? You could buy a nice used car for that much.

    (hint: the term you wanted is ‘Benjamins’)

  48. Parapraxis says:

    I have to say, though, when I couldn’t get my iPhone on launch day at an Apple store due to an AT&T screwup, they did everything they could to get me a phone by the next Monday.

    Of course, it took several emails to Steve Jobs to make it work, but in the end, the Office of the President of AT&T is remarkably powerful.

  49. Consumer11 says:

    I bought 1st generation iPhone at full price on June 29th, 2007. Recently, AT&T would NOT allow me to purchase the iPhone 3G because I changed my rate plan last December. They told me this disqualified me even though I am a current iPhone owner. I have not used any upgrades or purchased any other phones with any upgrade/subsidized discounts. AT&T plays their own games.

  50. Shadowman615 says:

    My 3G doesn’t drop calls. But perhaps I just haven’t talked on it enough to have really experienced it yet — I’ve only had it for 2 weeks.

    But it sounds to me like if he already bought the blackberry at a subsidized price, he would no longer be an iPhone customer and would not be eligible for the subsidized iPhone 3G. ATT sold the Blackberry at a subsidized price with the contract attached to it to recoup their losses. An upgrade to the iPhone 3G at nthe low price now would mean a new contract to recoup ATT’s losses on the iPhone sale — which means their losing out on the Blackberry.

  51. Hey OP, I think I may have a solution for you. A “trick” to becoming upgrade eligible that I’ve found is upping your minutes on your current plan. In December, I got 3 new phones for the family (out of 5 possible), thus blowing their upgrade eligibility. About a month later, I upped the minutes on our plan. After I did that, the upgrade eligibility had been reset on all the phones. Give it a shot, it may work.

  52. chicotc says:

    att told me no to my promotion pricing they told your not eligiable for the special price until your upgrade date. as they told me that only for new or exisiting customer which is complete bs on att end. they f*ck up on every order i place either warr. care or new service trust att is so big and they have lots of misinformed representatives.

  53. nickmil says:

    Anyone with half a brain could assume this would be AT&T’s position before it happened. Why should AT&T give someone the SUBSIDIZED price for an iPhone when that person has already used their upgrade eligibility to purchase a SUBSIDIZED phone before the iPhone 3G was released? It would be like giving him the Blackberry for $50 (or free, or whatever stupid price was paid) and having no contract to show for it to recooperate the costs. This person is (most likely) blatantly trying to scam the system solely based on semantic wording of a press release.

    The reasons original iPhone customers were given the subsidized price, were two-fold. First, they needed to stay in the good graces of the early adopters. Two, the original iPhone, contrary to the 3G, was UNSUBSIDIZED. Every single person who bought the original iPhone paid RETAIL price. Therefore, most people, even if they were already AT&T customers previous to buying the new iPhone, would at this point be upgrade eligible. Granted, there is some gray area in the policy, but not enough for someone to honestly believe that they could purchase a BlackBerry at the subsidized price, then turn right back around and purchase an iPhone at the subsidized price as well. For example, no one would assume that they could walk into an AT&T store and buy a new Tilt for $199, then walk in a month later and purchase a Treo 750 for the same $199. It’s absurd.

    Shame on you Consumerist, this post should be tagged as Bad Consumer, not as a mark against AT&T. One strike against you as a consumer advocate.

  54. coren says:

    Sorry folks, but as much as you wanna blame Rom, ATT is wrong here. Nowhere in that press release do they designate “iPhone customers” as people “currently paying for a plan on an iPhone”. Not that it matters, since nowhere in this article does it state that Rom is not paying for an iPhone plan. Reread what he got from the office of the president, he’s being denied because of his Blackberry purchase, not because of the state of his iPhone plan (if that were the issue, he’d have been told).

    Rom’s in the right, ATT is trying to weasel out of what they announced to the public. Sorry if their press release was wrong, but that’s why you hire someone to be a press agent.

  55. Dyscord says:

    Yeah, this isn’t the OPs fault. I can see how you guys might think so, but ATT says that if you are an iphone customer, you can buy it at the discounted price.

    Why you would want a 3G phone when coverage is spotty and you already have an iphone I dunno, but ATT is at fault here for not honoring their press release. They should have worded it better really.

  56. describe_one says:

    I hate AT&T! This is just another reason to dislike them.

    I switched to Cingular from AT&T due to poor reception, poor service, and dropped calls. Cingular was great; I had none of those problems. Ever since they have been purchased by AT&T, the problems have resumed.

    I’m not sure how they could crap up Cingular, but I’m heading for the hills and waiting for Android phones on another carrier.