Must Have An iPhone 5 Right Now? Maybe Your Carrier Will Effectively Pay You To Leave

Good news, Apple fans: if you absolutely must have the iPhone 5 right now, take the time to do some math and talk to your current carrier. It might be cheaper to just break up with your carrier, pay the early termination fees, sell your existing phone (or phones, on a family plan) and get a subsidized phone from a new carrier. One customer discovered that this was the case: that AT&T would effectively be paying him to leave, since the price of upgrading was so high.

He wrote on Apple stock blog Bullish Cross:

During the process of figuring out whether everyone on my family plan is eligible for an iPhone 5 upgrade, I came to discover that only my line was eligible. That my other two lines would have to pay a $250 early upgrade fee in order to be eligible to purchase the iPhone 5 tonight.

But get this. Upon discovering that I had to pay $250 for both my wife and sister to get them iPhone 5′s, I inquired as to how much it would cost me to essentially cancel my account at AT&T and go to Verizon instead. I wasn’t seriously considering leaving, but just sort of wanted to know out of curiosity what it would cost to not be under contract.

And this is precisely where AT&T completely and totally fails. This is why Apple is Apple and why AT&T is AT&T. For me to cancel the entire family plan and move to another carrier, it would only cost me $320.00.

So essentially, what AT&T told me today was that I can stay at AT&T and pay $500.00 to upgrade two of our iPhone 4S’s to iPhone 5′s, OR I can leave AT&T pay $320 and then get the iPhone 5′s for the normal $199 price elsewhere. AT&T more or less told me that they would pay me $180.00 to go to Verizon. And no one would budge to fix this. I must have talked to at least six or so people at AT&T today until finally someone realize how idiotic this sounded and decided to pay me $173.82 (via account credits) not realizing that doing so put me under no obligation to hang around. I can leave anyways.

All I wanted AT&T to do was to give us 1 early upgrade for free. Since I could leave AT&T and save $180, it makes sense that they give me one $249.99 upgrade for free as an incentive to hang around. Instead, some idiot decided to just credit my account for $173.82.

But what did that do exactly? Pretty much nothing. They just paid me $173.82 as a parting gift. Now instead of having to pay $320.00 to cancel my contract with AT&T, I only have to pay $146.18. And do you know what? I have zero moral qualms leaving because they should do their own due diligence and realize that I’m not under any obligation whatsoever to hang around. That they just essentially paid me $173.82 for the hell of it. What they should do is figure out a much better system than saying, “you can pay $500 to stay with us or $320 to go to Verizon.”

What they should have done is what I asked for. And that is to upgrade one of our lines for free. That way I can’t screw them over. Now they’re just inviting me to do so. Because I’ve generally been made whole, I’m inclined to want to stick around. But the fact that their system is so freaking broken, the only way to get them to fix it is to expose the problem.

No customer should ever be put in a situation where by canceling their contract, they get to save $180.00. What the hell is that? What kind of business is that? One of two things should have happened today. I should have either been able to upgrade two out of my three lines without any further investigation OR upon further investigation I should have come to find out that it would be far worse for me to leave AT&T. Why in the hell would they ever employ a system where I would have a $180.00 incentive bonus to leave AT&T? That doesn’t make any sense at all.

So the moral of the story is this. When checking to find out whether you are eligible for an upgrade, you should always ask how much it would cost to just rip-up your contract and move on to another carrier. I can’t imagine that I’m the only person in the U.S. where it would have been cheaper for me to cancel my service at AT&T than to upgrade to the iPhone 5 at Verizon.

How AT&T paid me $173.82 to go to Verizon [Bullish Cross] (Thanks, David!)