AT&T clearly doesn't want to keep me as a customer

Until now, AT&T has always made exceptions for early iPhone adopters by qualifying these customers for full upgrade prices before their contract technically allowed it. I took advantage of this when upgrading from the iPhone 3G to iPhone 3GS, from iPhone 3GS to iPhone 4, and from iPhone 4 to iPhone 4S. Not this year. Not for the iPhone 5. Those glorious days are now over.

I learned today that my account is only eligible for "early upgrade" pricing, which is $250 more than "full upgrade" pricing. So a 16 GB iPhone 5 will cost me $450 instead of $200. Ouch.

Before learning of this fact, I was already considering making the switch to Verizon because AT&T LTE is not yet available in my area. I was hesitant, however, because of expensive early termination fees (ETFs). Well, it turns out that the ETF for my line on AT&T is $215. Let's do some basic math.

If I stay with AT&T and purchase a 16 GB iPhone 5, it's going to cost me $450. If I cancel my account with AT&T, I will have to pay an ETF of $215 then purchase the 16 GB iPhone 5 on Verizon for $200. So ultimately, the cost to switch to Verizon is $415 (upgrade fees and activation fees aside).

So for $450 I can stay on AT&T with no LTE, or for $415 I can switch to Verizon and gain LTE. This is a no-brainer.

When I contacted AT&T PR, I was told that there hasn't been a change in policies and the ineligibly of full upgrade pricing is likely due to the fact that it's only been 11 months since the release of the iPhone 4S.

We want to help customers upgrade to a new device as quickly as possible – exact timing can depend on several factors unique to each account (length of contract, payment history, etc.).

What is AT&T thinking? Why did they choose this to be the year to stop their early upgrades for iPhone customers? I understand that the timing of the iPhone 5 may be playing a role, but why not make an exception by 1 month? This is the year that the iPhone supports LTE and it's no secret that Verizon offers much more LTE coverage than AT&T. Because of this, Verizon is very tempting for current AT&T customers, but ETFs are expensive and typically incentive enough for most customers to stay -- providing that the cost of the iPhone is the same on both carriers. Instead, AT&T has decided to stop early upgrades, making it cheaper for their existing customers to cancel and switch to Verizon. If both the ETF and the upgrade price are meant to offset my subsidy, why aren't these values equal to each other?

When I informed the AT&T representitve of all of the above, she put me on hold to see if she could get an exception made for me, but returned empty-handed. I told her that my decision to switch to Verizon was now an easy one and she replied with "well, it was great having you as a loyal customer for the time that we did". Yeah, ok.

Seriously, does AT&T even want to keep their customers? There is literally no reason for me to stay with AT&T -- and as a very loyal customer who has been with AT&T since I was 16 years old (and it was Cingular Wireless), it's time to give Verizon a shot.

UPDATE: I was able to work something out with AT&T, so I'm not switching to Verizon. You can read about my experience in the forums.

Leanna Lofte

Former app and photography editor at iMore, Leanna has since moved on to other endeavors. Mother, wife, mathamagician, even though she no longer writes for iMore you can still follow her on Twitter @llofte.

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AT&T clearly doesn't want to keep me as a customer

235 Comments

So because you feel that you "deserve" some special pricing it is att's fault? You signed a contract you should be glad at&t is giving you anything and not making you pay full price like verizon would..

Don't forget no Facetime over LTE for ATT customers and Facetime over LTE for all Verizon Data plans.

Exactly. as my old Gunny Sgt would tell our platoon, "Someone call the wambulance!" Now treck that hill Cpl!

No. I don't feel I deserve anything. It's just surprising to me that AT&T chose $250 as their additional cost -- more than my ETF. Why not make it $175 or $200 so that it's not cheaper for customers to leave? It's a poor business move.

Hey leanna, have you considered doing an early upgrade at an AT&T authorized retailer? I remember the first privately owned franchise AT&T store I worked at, we only charged $100 for early upgrade fees on all smartphones, (corporate AT&T stores charge $250)... Then when I moved to another store the upgrade fee went up to $175.... And then certain stores had the corporate $250 upgrade fee... If u scope around a privately owned franchised store... U may find yourself only paying $100 more... After all, all my customers were happy when I told them they only had to pay an early upgrade fee of $100 instead of $250 plus the price of the phone.... Just giving my 2 cents

Do authorized AT&T retailers sell the iPhone? Because at the iphone 3g and 3gs launch days I went to three in my area and to my surprise no lines and no iPhone.

It all depends on the dealer, 70% of AT&T stores are franchised and only 30% are corporate owned.... Plus not all dealers are owned by the same dealer... U really just have to call in and hope they get it and call in about the early upgrade fee, I know our store would let us manually discount the iPhone up to $40 off. Something we did rarely for customers who were close to leaving and not finishing the deal. U could never do that at corporate or at an apple store

Or, if the issue is expense, you could keep your iPhone 4s on AT&T, the purchase of which AT&T subsidized for you roughly 11 months ago (with the understanding that they'd make the subsidy back with 2 years of service). Just saying.

No, but at two years you can purchase another subsidized phone (in exchange for another 2 year contract) or switch to another carrier without paying an ETF.

I tried to get Verizon to move up my upgrade eligibility by just one month (I'm eligible on 10/11/12), and they refused, saying Apple won't let them. Although I feel annoyed, I also believe patience is a virtue, and it won't hurt me to wait. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change . . .

For you, though, it's a no brainer, at least if you're set on getting an iPhone right away.

your etf when you sign a new two year contact starts at $350 and goes down every month until the 24months is filled or the 20 months then full upgrade then resets back to $350 etf havnt been less then $350 in years

not true.. etf at verizon used to be 175 for years as you put it. the etf of 350 was just started on smartphones last year. i know, ive worked for them for the last 4 years. and its due to the price of the devices now costing so much compared to what used to be offered. Asurion did the same thing with their deductibles on insurance claims. they raised it to 99 for smart phones but 169 for 16g iphones and 199 for 32 and 64g iphones. funny how apple products seem to be more expensive to replace when their cost is not different from any other smart phone. lol

Leanna,
I agree, it is ridiculous, from a business standpoint, forget the entitlement or any of that nonsense, never make it cheaper and more convenient to take your business "down the street" What about adding a line for 10 bucks a month and buying the phone for 199, it will be a new number but you dont have to use the new number, you just instantly pop your sim into the 5 when you get it and use it with your existing number, pay for this for a month or two and then cancel and pay the full ETF of 325 and keep the phone (which by the way at that point can be unlocked by ATT cuz its not on any contract) or just keep the extra line for the 10 dollars a month for a "staggered" approach to upgrades, use it for nothing more than to have one line eligible each year for upgrades @ the cheapest price. Im too exhausted to work out the math on that but at its base its between 120-240 every 2 years, which will save you between 250 (early upgrade price) or 450 every year. For me who is on a single line its an extra 20 a month since i'd have to upgrade to a family plan, so thats $240 a year, which is only 10 bucks less than the early upgrade fee, plus no new commitment or 36 dollar fee, i think this approach has some merits. Thoughs?

you would need a dumbphone IMEI to avoid the data plan doing it that way.

that being said, that's what i'm doing. $20 dumbphone off CL.

the only annoyance is if i can't cut the microSIM down to nano size, i'll have to go to ATT on friday to get a new sim for my primary line, which on an iphone launch day, is not something i'm looking fwd to.

i dont understand, if i order the phone on a new line for 200 how am i going to get it without the data plan, or are you just saying after the first month you'd need a dumb phone to lower the cost, but i see no way of avoiding it the first month

what adiliyo meant by dumb phone is a dummy serial number being put on the line the iphone 5 would be attached to . when you add a line to your acount on a family share plan its 10 bucks a month extra. but when you add a smart phone its actually 10 plus the price of the data plan. Once you add the line to get the new iphone you move IT to your old number and you put a dummy or unused serial number on the new line you just added to avoid having to pay 2 data charges instead of just 10 bucks. Or if you have an old phone thats not a smart phone you can use that as well and still only pay 10 bucks for the add line

It's simple math really, let's assume you had a 16GB iphone4s. You paid $199.99 for a 2 year contract and AT&T charges $649.99 (locked without a contract), so that is a savings of $450 for the device or $225/year or 18.75/month. So you technically owe your carrier $243.75 since you still have 13 months left on your contract.

So in the end you're only returning a part of the discount they gave you last year.

You need to understand, a carrier doesn't make money by selling phones they make it providing a service...every device sold is a loss (especially all iphone sales) and if they allowed everyone to early upgrade then what would they do? Either start charge much more per month or close up...you pick.

Way to take her article out of context as if she had the sense of entitlement, or deserved.

Hey NEWS flash btw, She's a loyal paying customer, just like the rest of us most likely are, ATT has been given it's customers NO wiggle room lately, and it's getting worse.

They are basically right. Apple didn't add an additional antenna to support voice and LTE data of any carrier. If you are on LTE and a call comes in, the following happens:

CDMA - talk no data (calls take priority)
HSPA - 3G data speeds and ability to talk.

it's a benefit that hasn't been realized yet on sprint or verizon, metroPCS is the only US cdma carrier that has a voLTE handset right now, vzw says they will roll out the ability sometime in 2013

yep..imore has the article up. apparenty apple decided to make this available as a feature. No one is sure why when all other lte phones can do it on verizons network. They think it may be to keep the battery life comparable to the 4 and 4s battery life. LTE itself is a battery drainer thats why android phones on verizons network dont last worth a shit. except of course the moto razr maxx which has a redonculous 3300mh battery which my wife and mother in law have and get about 3 days out of it with minimal use.

Who said anything about "deserve"? AT&T has made it cheaper to switch to Verizon than to stay with them. Who in their right mind would stay when the company is paying you to leave?

This is the point...not a smart business move of AT&T's part. I'm in the same boat...I don't think I deserve anything, but it should be at least the same cost (if not slightly better) to stay than it is to leave...

The "cheaper" part you're mentioning is the ETF. It's less expensive to pay the ETF and buy a new phone than to opt for an early upgrade and get a new phone. What would AT&T's alternatives be?

1) Maintain the same high ETF throughout the life of the contract. This would make it prohibitively expensive to break your contract just to switch carriers and get a new phone. They used to do that, along with all the other carriers, until a couple of years ago when someone brought the issue to court (I think, at the very least the government got involved) complaining that the ETF needed to be graduated. In response, AT&T and just about every other carrier I can think of said, OK, we'll make it graduated but we'll start it out higher. That's when ETFs went from the $175 or so range to ~$350.

2) Start charging an even higher ETF, though still graduated, so that even at 12 months, it's more expensive to break your contract with AT&T and switch to someone else just to get a new phone. This option may actually work but if they were to list an ETF of, say, $700 in their contracts I'd hazard a guess that everyone and their momma would be looking into AT&T and why they made that fee so high.

3) Waive the early upgrade "co-pay" and allow all customers to purchase a new phone at the 2 year price. This would make it less expensive to stay with AT&T. As mentioned earlier, AT&T has something in the neighborhood of $450 wrapped up in the subsidy for a new iPhone (more or less for other phones, depending on their cost). That can't be based on what the phone actually costs AT&T, since by selling it at the subsidized price, they lose any opportunity they had to sell it at full price. If your business model called for you to amortize a subsidy over 20 months yet you had to continually take a one time charge for the remaining 8 months left on the books, it wouldn't take long before each renewed contract constituted a loss on the company's books.

Which option would you chose? Remember, no company, regardless of how altruistic they may or may not be, is in business to do anything other than make money.

You left out option 4 -- Not completely waiving the upgrade fee but making it match the ETF so that it's not cheaper for customers to move their business to a competitor.

I suppose that is an option but the end result would be the same as option 1, keeping the ETF the same all the way through the contract. It wouldn't take much of a lawyer to make the case that having two fees that slide inversely is the same as having a single fee that doesn't change.

This isn't about "deserving" anything. The fact is that the two year contract model is an antiquated system designed to keep people in a contract until their phone breaks and they are forced to buy a new phone at... you guessed it... a cheaper price with a new contract. With the higher quality devices and the speed with which technology changes, the system needs an overhaul. Leanna is one of those people that is actually willing to do something to change the system. If I didn't have a family plane to worry about, I would be doing the same thing.

the reason cell phone carriers use the antiquated 2 year contract deal is because thats how they make their money. they dont break even until the first year. they lose money giving the phones up for the prices they do. I dont understand why canada and some euro carriers do 3year contracts, thats just ridiculous. Anyways, thats why they use 2 year contracts and stopped doing yearly contracts. its a loss for them. and the thing is, you actually do get an EARLY upgrade and people dont realize it. you can upgrade at 20 months instead of waiting the full 24months to get a new phone. people do feel entitled. you can call it what you want but when you sign a contract and then expect the companies to change the terms of the contract the because YOU are a good paying customer that is having a sense of entitlement. ALL the other 90+ million customers are good paying customers as well. its the company's own fault that people feel this way but again you are under a binding contract and should fulfill it. If you dont want a contract by the phone outright.

I was just going to say this (albeit maybe not quite as direct). A little heads up as I deal with this all the time as a Verizon employee. If you sign a two yr contract it doesn't matter if a new iPhone comes out you will wait 20 months. Really though if you want a subsidized phone and are willing to sign a two yr contract to get it why would you be surprised that AT&T or anyone else isn't willing to do it? To be honest it is pretty cool of them to give u any deal at all and 450 for an iPhone 5 when you still have over a yr on your interact is pretty damn nice of them. This attitude that we as smartphone consumers have that we feel we deserve something is just not right. I'm not judging you just as AT&T should never have one it in the first place if tey had no desire to continue it. The point is appe gets its 650 (or whatever it is per phone) the carrier pays them for the contract and giving you a subsidized $400 gift every year just so you can get the new iPhone is not a good business practice and just to let you know the Verizon grass is not any greener as we don't even give the early upgrade price. Just buy the phone outright then you don't hav to deal with contracts or better yet sell your iPhone 4s you will still get quite a bit for it if it's in good shape. This is wht I do.

Remember, iPhone 5 won't do simultaneous voice and LTE data on CDMA networks and that is Verizon!!!!

+1 It's simply amazing how some people don't get it.

Contract

1. a : a binding agreement between two or more persons or parties; especially : one legally enforceable

b : a business arrangement for the supply of goods or services at a fixed price

c : the act of marriage or an agreement to marry

2 : a document describing the terms of a contract

Well said... It's amazing how many fanboys (and girls) think they "deserve" the latest edition at the cheapest price.

If you can't afford it, don't get it. Besides that, I'm sure you will use it as a business expense and write it off on your taxes.

Also, if you (or others) have unlimited data on ATT, I would pay the full price and stay.

As for me, I have unlimited data on ATT but zero service in my area since I moved. I now have to switch to Verizon... but I will not be getting the iPhone this time. I'll wait for Apple to take the lead again before I go back.

But also remember that Verzion no longer offers individual data plans-they are all shared, no different than AT&T allowing FaceTime only with shared data.

Been thinking about doing the same. At least you get the response of giving you some sort of discount. It tells me I have to pay for it in full or wait until May. Called ATT and they said I'm able to get the same discount you are. I get terrible reception with ATT in my office and no LTE here in Seattle either with them.

Exactly. It was mentioned in the forums as well but more relevant today considering some thought AT&T may have been holding off until after Apple made their announcement. Guess not.

They'll lose me and our 4 lines as well over this. I'd even jump on data sharing. Again, nope.. Verizon, here we come...

Great post as always, Leanna! You're right, AT&T should make exceptions to customers who have been loyal for years. I've been a customer since 2007 when I was 10 and my parents since 1999. As soon as I'm able to pay for my own plan, I'm moving to Verizon, too.

I'm on a Verizon Family Plan Leanna, and a couple of years ago I was eligible for discounted pricing every year as the primary line on the account. That all changed last year, and now I have to wait the full 2 years. None of us like it but the iPhone's are very expensive for AT&T and Verizon to sell as they make their money on the data plans. Verizon sales reps are told to sell Android because of the margins on the phones.

My point in all this is get used to it. Verizon will be the same for you next year and you will probably be un satisfied.

Orrr... you could pay the ETF to terminate your AT&T contract. And then buy a new phone on AT&T at the "full upgrade" price.

But, yeah, who would want to be on AT&T, anyway? Especially, if you ever travel to Europe, where the AT&T iPhone 5 won't have LTE service, but the VZW iPhone 5 will (if you're in an LTE area, of course).

If you are hard set on an iPhone 5 and LTE is an appealing feature today, this is a no-brainer. Go to Verizon. That said, I don't think it is a slam on AT&T. Wait until next year when you want to upgrade to the iPhone 5s/6 (whatever it ends up) on Verizon. They don't do such nice early upgrades, ever. But then maybe you can go back to AT&T ...

Leanna,

You may actually use the data and voice more than you realize. Data is used to when you access emails while on the phone, look up a location on the maps. Simply put even when your phone receives an email, text message etc... it is essentially talking and surfing.
I believe this information is correct. Please let me know if it is not

sms also runs through the cdma network on the same band as voice, so a text will also break a data connection.

when i had verizon it was really annoying if i was listening to pandora or something and people sent me texts, as it would cut the connection and the handoffs being as slow as they are, it took a while to start the stream again

I thought so, but apparently not. Apparently the iPhone 5 is the only LTE phone on Verizon that doesn't support simultaneous voice + LTE data. I read that it is because an additional antenna is needed to do this, and for whatever reason, Apple chose not to add it (maybe being a world phone, their antennas are already complicated enough). Even on AT&T, the data will drop from LTE to 3G while making a call.

I didn't think it was a big deal, although it will be a bummer to have the hotspot die while taking a phone call.

You are correct ... Verizon's network itself doesn't support voice over LTE. However, most of Verizon's other phones can support data over LTE and voice over CDMA simultaneously. Because of the way the iPhone is designed for so many different bands (GSM / CDMA / 5 different LTE bands, etc.), it cannot do both at the same time. This is actually good news for global travelers as their iPhone will work better internationally, but is bad news for those wanting simultaneous voice and data while in the US.

The iPhone 5 has CDMA and LTE radios. If you are in an area that has both CDMA and LTE available then you will be able to use voice and data simultaneously. If you are in an area with no lte you will be able to use either voice or data.
Edit: unfortunately I was wrong. I had contacted Verizon in the last week and they had said that for phones with separate chips what I said above would work... Looks like iPhone 5's single chip design does not support simultaneous voice/data.

That's not what the article earlier said. Due to a chip design decision, the iPhone 5 will NOT be able to use voice and LTE at the same time. Even on GSM networks, the iPhone 5 will turn off the LTE connection. The nice thing about GSM is that they have been running dual modems for quite a while. So that means the iPhone 5 can do voice and 3G data on GSM networks.

That was a joke of a gimmick advertising on att's part to begin with. i liked the whole whoops on the phone forgot aniversary order flowers while talking on the phone scenario they had to dream up to convince you, that you needed it to begin with. an absolute JOKE of a concept

haha! i agree.

not all carrier companies will have the plan you're looking for. what may come from at&t is what verizon won't have and vice versa. in fact, i was talking to a verizon manager the other day, telling me how at&t lingers around verizon, once verizon takes an advantage on something, that's when at&t watches and masters what verizon started but did not completely follow through. but then again, verizon do have more customers and can afford to lose customers whereas att can't. don't worry too much about LTE as it is rapidly growing and will come to THEATERS NEAR YOU! (jk) but will come to where you're residing soon. unless you live in a farm in the middle of wyoming..in which case..is odd that verizon covers that area haha jk

I agree they should at least "price match". I have been with AT&T since 2000 and will be leaving them for Verizon on 9/21/2012. It's been a good run but I feel like that if I have to pay full data sharing price I want the best phone and data network where I live and work. I'm tempted by Sprint's unlimited plan but Sprint can't commit to where/when they will rollout LTE.

Exactly. If the price was the same, I may not switch because it's not the hassle. Though, because AT&T doesn't have LTE in my area, I may have still decided to switch.

Unless LTE is compelling (and my family plan is keeping me on AT&T where Verizon has coverage too) you may want to consider just adding another line.

If your current line contract expires in less than 8 months, that will be cheaper than $215, then you move your numbers around and cancel the extra line.

As a customer of both Verizon and AT&T, Verizon will not offer any sort of early upgrade pricing until 18 months have passed, no exceptions. I'm afraid you will be in worse situation next year when the new iPhone is released if you switch to Verizon

I had the iPhone 4 which I got in June 2011, which has the same $250 upgrade tacked on - so it wasn't just about the 11 months in your case.

Wow QQ more. Pay full price or move on. You do know that ATT has to eat the difference when they let you upgrade early.

NO they don't, they are making a RIDICULOUS amount of money on charing us for Texts, data, etc etc and our service plans.

Regarding comments about Verizon requiring a full 2 years for upgrades -- I know this. My husband's contract will be up with AT&T by next year, and he'll cancel and move to Verizon and get the new contract price and give me the new iPhone. The following year, my line will be eligible, then his the next, so on and so forth. I have it all planned out :)

I recently hit the Throttle cap on my "unlimited" data plan on ATT< so i called in to complain and got some old grandma sounding lady on the phone who sat there and lectured me for about a half hour on why i should use less data.

I left with the 'solution' of, it won't be a problem as long as i use less data.

Hey Leanna, Not sure how important warranty is to you, but if you switch a phone to another number outside of YOUR plan, you lose the warranty. Verizon is not upfront about this information at all, but it's how I lost the warranty on my iPhone 4, which was activated on a family member's line.

I don't know about now, but when I signed on to Verizon about 2/11/12, they gave me the upgrade in 20 months instead of 24. It was the no longer available "New Every Two," and I'll get an additional $50 off if I wait till 10/11/12.

Seeing as the Verizon iPhone is still CDMA at heart, if their policies are like Sprints, you'll need to leave the new phone with your husbands number for at least 30 days before you can switch things out. Not a huge problem but we ran into it when my wife used my son's upgrade option to get a new phone for herself. She had to put up with getting calls from our son's friends for a month before we could get things straightened out. :)

She is not taking into account that she could sell her old phone and easily make up the difference for the ETF!
Verizon will have voice plus data on LTE so that is no longer a factor.

@BMH69 "Verizon will have voice plus data on LTE so that is no longer a factor."

Apparently, this is not the case! The iPhone 5 lacks a secondary antenna to make this happen.

For what it's worth, I got an iPhone 4 on Verizon July 6 last year - the last day I could lock in unlimited data. You'd think, if anything Verizon would *want* to offer me subsidized pricing as incentive to get me off unlimited, especially over 12 months. Nope, still full price at $650+ until March 2013.

Given no AT&T LTE I understand wanting to switch, but be aware Verizon won't be giving you any better treatment come next year (even if it's in their best interest as well).

You could be smart and wait until next year and get the iPhone 5S for the full upgrade price. Or you could sell your current iPhone for $150-$300 and further reduce your upgrade cost.

That actually wouldn't be smart. Did you forget that it's my job to write about the iPhone and review it and other products for it? :P I literally have to get the iPhone 5 on the day it's released. And yes, I could sell my iPhone 4S, but I won't -- I keep all my iPhones :) But for the sake of argument, lets say that I do sell it, it doesn't change the fact that switching to Verizon is cheaper and gives LTE. I was considering moving to Verizon even it was more expensive, anyway. The fact that I'm saving money made it no brainer.

I'm also thinking of switching to Verizon. One thing that is giving me pause is that apparently even with LTE, the iPhone 5 will not support simultaneous voice and data for Verizon (for AT&T it is supported, although data drops to non-LTE speeds). Initially I didn't think this was a big deal, but with Verizon's plans, tethering is included. If you were using your iPhone as a modem and received a phone call, your model will go dead for the duration of the call.

Other LTE phones do support simultaneous voice and LTE data for Verizon. Apparently Apple doesn't because it didn't want to add an extra antenna just to support this.

Bummer!

So wait untill you are eligible for the full discount! I'm sure the 4s will make it for a few more months. I really don't get the have to have it because it's a half inch longer and faster. Doesn't impress me, I will keep using my 4, yes that's 4 not 4s.

As mentioned earlier, some peoples job revolves around getting the new iPhone quickly - perhaps a tech writer that writes about iPhones would be a good example?

well, if its a part of her job then shouldn't her employer supply her with the item in question? Shouldn't the place of employment give her a budget to spend on acquiring new phones for the purpose of review? If its that important, a business will make it happen. I work in that same kind of environment and trust me, when a product is rolling out, they had their hands on it weeks before it hit shelves or they paid someone to stand in line to get it as soon as it released.

This just sounds like someone who can't bother to wait or needs to find a better employer.

No. It doesn't work like that. I'm technically my own employer. When you hire someone to do your yard work, you expect the landscaper to have is own equipment. If he doesn't have the tools needed for the job, you won't hire him. Same thing. If I don't have an iPhone 5 to write about, I don't have work.

The same thing happened to me, only my out out fee is $225 (strange since I bought the phone the day it came out). I threatened to quit AT&T. They connected me with Customer Retention. They agreed to move the date to the day the iPhone 5 came out. The only stipulation was that I would have to purchase from AT&T either via web or in a store, because the note to move up the date would only show up on their system and not in the system used by Apple. Fair enough.

So the morale is, threaten to quit them and get to customer retention. If you are a "loyal customer," as I apparently am, then they DO have the power to offer you the $199 new customer price.

I am still probably going to Verizon, anyway. Better LTE coverage and better phone coverage in my area. Even with the no talking and data at the same time restriction.

Umm, 1st: A Savings of $35 to make the switch doesn't worth it IMO. 2nd: Customer loyalty still exist?? I could've sworn that died ages ago, which is why personally, I NEVER expect any loyalty from anywhere period, specially from big companies like these 2 carriers.

3rd, assuming you currently have a iPhone 4S, you can pre-order the iPhone 5 on AT&T, have them unlock the 4S, Jailbreak it, and sell as high as $425 on eBay?? I'm just curious. Again, this is assuming you have the 4S, Leanna.

I apologize if I'm coming off with a strong tone here, believe me when I say that is not my intention here. Also, unless I'm mistaken, aren't Verizon users not allowed to upgrade for 20 after signing contract?? Please correct if I'm wrong on that. I mean, I can understand your reason to switch, but you need to make sure you don't screwed in the long run by Verizon. Which was my reason to give them the finger and went to AT&T to begin with.

Also, I'm not in the whole AT&T vs. Verizon BS. I've had my share of BS from both.

  1. It's not just the savings of $35, it's the gain of LTE plus the fact that I can add my Verizon iPad and ultimately pay less per month. An AT&T iPad is not an option because I need Personal Hotspot and Verizon doesn't charge me extra for personal hotspot.
  2. I've been loyal for over 11 years. I expect AT&T to also be loyal to me.
  3. I don't sell my iPhones. I like to keep them. Yes, I do have the 4S, my husband will use it when I get the iPhone 5.
  4. I do know that Verizon doesn't allow early upgrades, and I have a plan for that. See my comment above. This year, I'll have more monthly bills with my husband still on AT&T, but after that, my bills will be cheaper since Verizon lets me add my iPad for only an extra $10. And I did the math and I'll save money if I wait until next year to bring my husband to Verizon because he, too, has an ETF (though it's not as high as mine).

Good for you! I went through almost the same thing with Verizon and they finally gave in and let me upgrade to the 4s. Welcome to Verizon :-)

please understand that if you've been getting a free "early upgrade" each year then you haven't been as loyal as you claim. Loyalty would mean that you honor the contract to its fullest extent when you sign it. They've been more than loyal to you by "breaking" their own contract and giving you a new device, which they are not required to do.

BTW, I've been with Verizon since 96(previously Alltel) and they will straight spit on you, even if you threaten to leave. They do not care. A contract is a contract and you will like it. They know that many of the other providers do not compare to their service so they will let you go, knowing you'll come crawling back to whatever scraps they offer you.

you think you deserve some special pricing? you signed a contract and should be glad youre even getting a subsidy

Don't forget that Verizon has the shared plans which might be more than your plan at AT&T. I'll have to wait to upgrade with AT&T or add a line to avoid the shared plans with Verizon. I haven't had my 4S with Verizon a year and the unlimited data plan is something I won't give up. I wish I hadn't upgrade with AT&T earlier this year so I could have gotten a new iPhone. Who knew how nice the new iPhone would be but I should have known better and waited.
If you have unlimited data with AT&T I'd find a way even if you had to add a line and switch to a family plan and cancell to one phone when you can with the iPhone 4S contract runs out.
Just a thought as I'd hate to give up my rollover minutes.

Im done with contracts, after this one is done with verizon im going unlocked. A cellphone contract is modern day slavery its b.s. its been good without cable bill i bet it will feel better with no phone contract.

AT&T has firmly been in the "our needs are more important than our customer's desires" camp for a while now. People love to point out a sense of entitlement on behalf of iPhone users, but the things I'm frustrated over AT&T doing are not just things I want, they're the things that made me want to be an AT&T customer. When the iPhone came out people were happy that the cell phone providers had less control over our devices and gloried in the hoped for future where providers became "dumb pipes" and we were only forced to choose between plans that we liked. Now AT&T has forced us to deal with data sharing, capped plans, throttling, and a completely mercenary price scheme for anyone who wants to use tethering or other features they can't blatantly make money on. The point was raised earlier about how cell home companies make obscene amounts of money on texting compared to their overhead providing the service. This should be common knowledge by now, and yet we accept it. Now that iMessage has come about all of a sudden iPhone plans become more expensive. Instead of being cool and offering a plan that benefits customers and makes them the most attractive provider (like when I was on Cingular) now they have plans designed to make them money at the expense of me paying more and more for the services I want. While this is their right as a company it is a terrible business model. And before the big business supporters jump on me for not supporting AT&T taking as much of my money as they can, what about my rights a a consumer? Specifically, my right to get the most for my money, which is all the author of this post is talking about doing. I'm in the military too, and you can talk about the wambulance all you want, but if charging up that hill is stupid and you do it anyway, you're taking part in idiocy just to be a follower. AT&T making money doesn't help me unless they use that income to provide me better service at a better price, which they seem diametrically opposed to doing. I'm going to enjoy researching what C-Spire has to offer me, and if it's reliable service without incremental costs for a true unlimited plan that lets me fully utilize my device UNDER THE DATA PLAN IM ALREADY PAYING FOR, then you better believe I'm jumping ship. I'm not a follower and I'm not a fool, I'm a discerning customer. Sticking with a cell phone provider doesn't have anything to do with being on a "winning team" as far as I'm concerned, unless that winning team is me.

I have a similar problem and I still have an iphone 4! My upgrade date is early December, less than 90 days away. Asked a online chat rep could they budge the date a little, its so close. I've been a customer since the iphone 3G for years and pay $100/month. Said no they are being told not to do so for anyone not matter what (I'm sure if you pay enough per month/multiple lines then you already get quicker upgrades though)

I asked, ok, what's to stop me from adding a line for $9.99 per month until this line expires and getting a 2yr pricing on the new line and paying $10 per month extra for a few months rather than $250 now? He replied, surprisingly, nothing people do it all the time actually and ATT won't stop you.

I asked if I'm going to do that anyway, why won't ATT just bump the upgrade then. I'm going to get this phone period either way. Heck, make it $100 above 2yr pricing even and call it a day for the less than 90 days. Nope, ATT is not budging $1 this year for anyone (again, I'm sure if you have 10+ lines or pay $500+ per month you will get what you want).

As it's been said, this is just a bad business move. It's about keeping customers happy. It's not like we're not being raped monthly for data and minutes vs. what it costs already; but we're talking under 90 days here! Trust me, they are not losing money overall letting people whose contracts expire in 2012 upgrade now (as they did once before where all contracts until the end of the year got to upgrade early).

If you were with Verizon you would more than likely be in the exact same situation. Also you are going to miss out on that simultaneous voice and data.

As much as I hate the phone companies, this is what you get with a contract.
Expecting anything from ATT or Verizon is mistake number 1.

Before I got upgrade for July 2012 now they change it to oct2012.... I dono the reason even they dont hav the reason

Leanna - In theory you could get an iPhone 5 on AT&T with a new phone number for the basic $199. But, of course, it would be a pain to notify everyone of your new number.

And it might be worth it just to try out Verizon for a few years anyway. We'd love to read a Verizon vs. AT&T review some time in the future.

Of course from the point of view of a Verizon iPhone customer that is eligible for an upgrade on October 6th. I have been told that I will not qualify for the 24 month renewed contract price by Verizon and that I will have to pay the full price for the iPhone 5 as if I was buying one without a contract.

So it's the same situation. The only advantage I will have is that I will keep my faux-unlimited-data plan. Though I am sure that my early termination fee is far lower than yours and 4G LTE is a little mute for me right now since my area still has no service unless I take a drive 5 miles down the highway to closer to the freeway (and when I am out of town on business it is only really to Los Angeles & Pasadena both of which do have LTE but both carriers offer LTE in these areas).

I do understand your anguish that after years of a Carrier working with you and for you it is now a situation that they are becoming less flexible and maximum what little they can get out of a contract with the cost of the devices to them become ever higher an the margins become much smaller. Though bear in mind that in 12 months time or so when there is an iPhone 6 then Verizon will be even more inflexible than AT&T ever were.

I think he meant you could add a line to your family share plan to get the iPhone 5 at a discount and then switch the iPhone 5 to your current number and put a basic phone on that number you used to get the IPhone 5. Only thing is you would have to get the "dummy line" for 24 months at $9.99/mo.

While I can understand wanting the new iphone, which I will also do as I have been using only apple products since the very first apple computers, I also have been with ATT for 25 years as my cell service. I never once considered attempting early termination, in fact I didn't even realize you got a break from a full termination fee. I for this reason never jumped on a 4s even thought I was done with my contract, because I knew the 5 was coming shortly. I never understood why people bitch about this situation when you sign a contract thats exactly what it is, a contract, do you also expect to get out of a lease or rental contract early just because you want something new?
What if you had a product that you sold to people under a contract and they all came to you bitching, wanting you to let them free for nothing after agreeing to your contract?

I think people are "bitching" because the "rules" are enforced so ununiformly. I GUARANTEE if you had a $500-1000/month phone bill with multiple lines ATT would bend for you to upgrade every year.

But the little guy, some who still have the iphone 4, and due to the weird release schedule the past 2 years, are now getting screwed over 1, 2, 3 months of missing the date. These people have clearly been customers almost 2 years and paid a minimum $60-100 a month on even a basic plan. Att would lock then all in for another 2 years as well; $1500-2400+ in profit each line minimum. Why not give them just a small break? If they can bend the rules for high paying customers, why not maybe not give the full 2 year discount but have the discretion to offer $100 over 2yr price instead of $250?

this is simply not true. My family has a business account with VZW that totals over 600 a month and the most they even offered us was an 8% discount on the "voice" priceing part of our plan(which was only like 200 of the total cost). I see it as ATT not budging on pricing because NO other providers budge. They've realized they do not need to lose money to keep you because no one else will lose money to keep you.

I think the larger issue is that Apple has created a beast that the carriers aren't willing to keep subsidizing. They aren't alone as other manufacturers are doing this too but the iPhone is costing them more to subsidize. With unlimited data going away & shared plans the new reality, upgrades are going to get more & more expensive. I'm not saying I like it any more than you or others here. But it is the world we live in.

Oh & your husband just letting you have his upgrades? He must not be too interested in smartphones. My wife & I argue over the upgrades on our 5 lines lol.

Ok, so mathematically it adds up but wouldn't it be cheaper to stay with AT&T and wait until you are eligible? How long are we talking about here? But, I've been with Verizon and things have been good since I've been 18 so I can recommend it.

Word has it that Verizon and Sprint iPhone 5s cannot do simultaneous LTE data and Voice calls. Supposedly the single antenna chip design saves power but cannot handle simultaneous LTE and CDMA. As opposed to other Verizon 4G Android phones that use two antenna chips to perform LTE plus voice. So you might want to be careful about jumping to Verizon so soon for the iPhone 5.

In the third paragraph from the bottom, the third sentence, you said, "I understand that the timing of the iPhone 5 may be playing a roll..." I think you meant to say "...playing a role..."

I had this same issue with sprint when I bought my iPhone 4S. Sprint didn't want to work with me to get an upgrade so I moved to ATT. It cost me a total o $315 to Get my iphone and cancel my contract. I don't understand why these companies don't just let you get a upgrade whenever you feel like it, and that way they have you under contract for another 2 years.

AT&T isn't screwing us grandfathered (loyal) customers like Verizon is. (On Verizon you must pay FULL price for the phone or you lose your 'unlimited' data. Ultimate slap in the face right there. If AT&T did that I'd be instantly gone.)

Also, on Verizon you may have Facetime over cellular but only because the FTC makes them. I'd rather have the ability to surf/speak at the same time on AT&T than Facetime on cellular.

I am FAR from an AT&T fanboy but this time they win. Verizon is not the better option unless your area doesn't have ATT&T LTE and you are in need of it. (For the record my iPad 3 has Verizon LTE and it's great when it works but I've found it only seems to be in major metro areas and the LTE isn't as 'widespread' as their commercials would make you expect.. just my experience though.)

AT&T is screwing people.

I've had an iPhone 4 since they were initially released(27 months) and AT&T is telling me my upgrade fee is $499 for a 16 gig iPhone 5.

I'm going to call them in the morning to see if I and get this straightened out - if not, I'm running to Verizon.

well keep in mind, an early upgrade from verizon would be full unit price(650+ in this case). I know you said 27 months, but even if accurate, the 499 is still cheaper than over $650.

I just hope some of these people that say they are going to leave do so at&t can feel it in their wallet and get it together all these empty threats just make them more bold and screw us worse

I understand your plight somewhat. Verizon is not the answer especially if you are grandfathered in. I'm not a fan of At&t but I love my plan. I actually have never signed a contract with AT&T since I purchase my phones outright. Thank goodness for Viggle and Reward Zone points. Another iPhone paid for without me signing a contract.

To illustrate just how asinine AT&T is, I bought the 4 26 months ago, and last year swapped out the wife's 3G for a 3GS (not 4S mind you). I was hoping to upgrade both, but nooooo. The bottom of the line phone bought last year still requires it's contract to be filled (next May) in order to get full upgrade pricing. Wow... :(

Not to hijack the thread, but my sister is a Verizon unlimited customer on a iPh4. Verizon announced that for those on the unlimited data plans, they can either migrate to the sharing plan and get a subsidized iPh5, or stay on the unlimited plan and not get a subsidised iPh5 (pay full price.)

It is clear that Verizon is trying to push customers off the unlimited plan.

I got to thinking ... I was comparing specs between the iPh4S (which I have) and the iPh5, and was surprised that the 4S may have a smaller screen with less color saturation, and it may be a bit heavier and thicker and slower, but it essentially does everything competently, and almost all that the 5 will do (except simultaneous video and pic snapping - and a few other nice to haves, but no definite got to haves)...

Ultimately, I think it would be better for her to buy a used/refurb iPh4S, and keep her unlimited plan, maybe get a discount for not upgrading her phone (I calculate about 10 bucks/mo, don't know if Verizon would go for that)...

Anybody else thinking along these lines?

Heaven to Betsy...you're treated like us common'ers! Welcome to normal wireless life. :-D

Seriously though, be happy with $250. Non-iPhone's would most likely be at full price.

On a related note, I have always said AT&T fueled the adoption of each device. Without such price "fixes" each other, most everyone would have stayed on the 3G vs going to the 3Gs. Great move by Apple getting them to do that though.

AT&T will do EVERYTHING IN THEIR POWER to discourage you from staying as a customer. They HATE customers.... All they wanna do is tinker with their tech toys, shunt data off to the NSA and send Randall another million. They don't care about you.

BTW: I haven't seen a 'carrier' in the US YET that cares about customers - AT ALL. So, math is all you got left.

I don't really understand how you got an upgrade every year, they did NOT do that for the 4s or 4 for sure. Is it possible you don't understand how upgrades really work on AT&T?

I'm the same way. I don't even try until my 24 months is up.

Got iPhone 1, 3G and 4 on the days they were released. Didn't even try with 3GS or 4S. Just figured it wouldn't be worth the extra price I'd have to pay for the purchase. *shrug*

However, for this particular article the point is AT&T's pricing and cancellation fee is absurd because it's cheaper to leave them than stay (if you want the i5). MOST people won't bother but the prices shouldn't discourage people from leaving AT&T to get the i5.

its actually not cheaper if you compare apples to apples. Verizon will not let you upgrade early at a cheaper price. Even the day before your 20 months is up, its still full price for a new phone(trust me, I tried everyday for 2 weeks until my plan was up). So if you compare ATTs 199+250 vs 600+ on verizon, ATT is still cheaper.

She could just buy unlocked phones each year and avoid the contracts all together. ITs only $50 extra a month over 12 months or $25 extra a month over 24. The thing is she wants her cake and to eat it too. Cheaper phone and free/early upgrades!

they did have the partial upgrades for the iphone 4. But after the contract was given to verizon they no longer offered the partial upgrades. So if you tried to upgrade before verizon got the iphone 4 you were able to do so. But after verizon got the iphone 4 you were sol

I have been able or "eligible" since I stood in line and purchased the 3G for an upgrade price for then the 3GS, 4, and 4s. Now I am not for the 5. Like Leanna said, we get used to being able to upgrade and now I too am looking to move to VZ.

Some of you guys fussing about her not deserving "special treatment" as you're making seem don't seem to understand the fundamental idea that as a business, you'd think AT&T would want to KEEP their customers, and not make it possible (and cheaper) for them to leave and give their competitors their business. They are making it easy for people on the fence to say screw it and jump ship...what kind of future sense does that make for AT&T? None, that's what.

Thank you. That is exactly my point. Charge me more, I'm ok with that and will pay it -- if it's not more than Verizon. Why is my ETF cheaper? Isn't the point of the ETF to offset my subsidy? And isn't the point of the extra $250 to offset my subsidy? Then why aren't these values at least equal? It's a terrible business move -- especially the year that the iPhone gains LTE, something that AT&T is already lacking in.

you can make this argument every year though. The "NEXT NEW IPHONE!" will have ESP and can tap into your thoughts, which the currently iphone5 is already lacking in.

I tried reading this thread, but it is just too long. If the ETF is cheaper than the $250 subsidy, pay the ETF to ATT and then your are out of your contract. You don't have to leave ATT, you're just not tied to your contract. Then buy a new phone at the $199 price and sign a new 2-year contract, WITH ATT!

What she's doing then is called Fence-sitting and not being very loyal. She'll fall to whichever side the wind blows her to. None of the providers want those kinds of customers as they can't make money from them.

Why is it a customer's job to be a loyal to a company anyway? The company is the one getting my money -- shouldn't they be trying to keep me as a customer? I'm not asking for a full upgrade, I knew those would eventually stop. I'm simply baffled that AT&T is making it cheaper for me to leave and go to Verizon.

Would everyone be calling me "self entitled" if I chose to buy the exact pair of jeans at at JCPenny instead of Macy's because JCPenny sold them at a cheaper price?

AT&T has not offered a partial upgrade for any costumer after verizon got the iphone. I know this because i wanted to go from the iphone 4 to 4s when it was released and i was told that they no longer offered partial upgrades for iphone users because they no longer have an exclusive contract. In retro spec im glad i didnt get the 4s becuase i have my upgrade for the iphone 5

I have a similar gripe with AT&T . I also have been a customer since Cingular and have had all of the iPhone iterations.
The last 2 purchases, the 4 and 4s, I could not get full upgrade pricing and paid the $250 extra. Why then am I not eligible sooner for an upgrade than 18 months. Doesn't the extra $250 (each time) help subsidize the cost of the phone, thus decreasing the time for full upgrade ? When I go to check the eligibility, I am in the same boat as everyone else.

if you go Verizon.. get ready to upgrade every two years.. the 1yr upgrade is the only reason i have sticked with AT&T. Last year i had a similar issue and they only moved my date up once ll the iPhones sold out.. this year im eligible in 06/13 good thing my job is giving me a company iPhone 5 on Verizon

As a Verizon cosomer, I can tell you that there is absolutely no early upgrades, no matter what. I have an extra line just to get the new iPhone every year. Dont get me wrong, I love being with Verizon. They have amazing cell coverage, and the customer sevace is the best. I don't miss AT&T at all.

I get an upgrade on verizon every 18 months. I have 6 lines, have been there for a decade and have a corporate discount. ETF declines every month of your contract. Anyhow, this is all economics. They lose money on every subsidized phone they sell, and paying for 1 year of service probably doesn't cover their loss. The 2nd year is when they start making a profit. Don't forget, Apple doesn't subsidize squat to the carriers, so the carriers are on their own to make a buck. Public companies don't have the luxury of satisfying every customer. Wall street won't allow that.

I hd a similar experience with an EarthLink customer service rep before i became a bllsouth customer. I have faster dsl now than I did before... T half the price

I am absolutely beside myself over this. I have been an AT&T customer since 1997. During that time, they have bent over backwards for me. They have been a phenomenal company. Until now. I have spent the last 30 minutes on the phone wrangling with them over this. They absolutely will not budge in providing my with the same benefits I have received for the past 4 years - an early iPhone upgrade eligibility. Therefore, I am on hold with the cancellation department (which is backlogged, surprise!). We have 2 lines, and pay through the nose in services.

The thought of moving to Verizon makes me sick. However, there is a principal here. It's not entitlement, it's called expectation. The company has bent over backwards for me every year. I've never called to complain, and I've stood up for them countless times in public and private forums.

But customer service is worth something to me. I will pay the fee associated with breaking my contract. That is my prerogative just like it is theirs to not do a thing for a loyal customer. And even then, it will be cheaper for me to buy Verizon. So, I'll suffer a fallback speed of EV-DO. I'll suffer the indignity of wearing red. Because hey, this is America, and I vote with my pocketbook.

Update: Wow, the best they could do for me was offer a $30 credit on my account for 6 months. Unreal. And, I can't cancel if I plan on porting my number. So, looks like I'll just have to sign up for Red tomorrow morning and let them handle the cancellation of Blue. Interesting note, too - she said that they've been receiving hundreds of calls of people wanting to cancel. Maybe that will wake them up a bit...

Sad day for AT&T.

Not trying to start a flame war but why put yourself in a position to get pissed off and leave? Business dynamics change. They probably have data that says in a few years you will be back or Verizon or the others are no better. I have been with AT&T since 97 like you. Although I am not an iphone user (since the 3GS was new) I just do not understand why this happens to people. You mention the principle of the matter. There is no principle. You expect an early upgrade and ATT is saying no. You signed a 2 year deal. It is expensive for the Phone companies to subsidize these devices and quite frankly, ATT does not have all of their eggs in iphone's basket anymore so why should they lose money on you? They are still a plus on new subscribers (those pissed off Verizon customers coming over). I am not saying they want to lose you, but they are a business and they will replace you with a new customer without unlimited data so they come out on top in the long run. You will go to Verizon and loose all of your "clout" as a newbie with big Red. You think they are going to bend over for you?

If you want the phone pay for it. Yes it is expensive but, AT&T is not in a position to subsidize a new iphone for you every year. It would be like them call you a cheap SOB for not earning enough buy the phone outright every year, and if you do earn enough to get off the nickle.

I just hate seeing people get themselves whipped up over a phone. If you want it, buy it...and every two years you can get one subsidized, that easy. And yes, I buy phones off contract all the time, I might even grab me a unlocked iphone 5 to check out...that way I do not get pissed off because I am expecting something that is not reasonable.

Good Luck!

I hear what you're saying. And normally, I'd be the one saying it. This is also why I'll gladly pay the ETF over this. I'm not expecting the world, just the same level of service they've provided me for 4 straight years. It's just maddening. I had a feeling this would happen when Apple delayed the launch of the 4S last year. I was hoping they'd at least wait until October to release the 5 (at least for their sales figures' sake), knowing that carriers act this way inside 12 months. But nope. All of my expectations/hopes were dashed. I'm not saying the carriers don't have the right, just that they show a little consistent loyalty. And, as Leanna says, the timing couldn't be worse for AT&T to suddenly decide to end a very popular perk.

I just had a similar experience with AT&T. I'm in the military and just moved to an area where AT&T cell reception is bad. I did some research and I can get a cell signal booster for the house. I went to an AT&T store and spoke with the rep and he said they were out of inventory for the booster, but was very familiar with the issue out where I lived. He called customer service and the booster is $200, but will drop to $100 since I've been a loyal customer. I said I'm not paying for it. They're suggestion is to speak to their relocation specialists and they can let me out of my contract free of ETFs. I asked the rep that in other words, AT&T was willing to lose a customer who pays a monthly bill of $180 over a cell booster that costs $100? She didn't really have a response, but simply apologized. The rep in the store couldn't believe it. If the iPhone 5 coming out and the amount of LTE coverage from a competitor, you would think AT&T would work harder at keeping customers. I'm not asking for a free handout over something I did. But, they know of this problem and yet, they won't help their customers.

WOW, I have been a loyal AT&T Customer for 12 years and have NEVER received any special treatment in terms of early discounts etc. Even when I have asked and I have 5 lines with them. Quit your complaining!

ah but my dear leanna!!! $215 is just part of the equation (I hope anyway)- I was a loyal 9 year T mobile customer who jumped ship last year to verizon to get a 4S- I was tired of blackberry and since I had a problem (big problem) with T mobile and a certain Android phone called the LG 2X, I decided also that T mobile no longer wanted me as a customer. so I jumped ship figuring that all I had to do was to pay the $200 early termination fee - whew! was I wrong. I only had T mobile for 6 days during the billing cycle when I ported my number to Verizon - they went ahead and charged me a whole month- said it was their policy - then added to that the $200 termination fee AND they went ahead and pulled two different fees out of a hat which amounted to $115 more. Of course, i refused to pay. Of course they refused to listen to me because I was no longer a customer but had turned enemy of the state. I wrote them a return receipt certified letter containing a check for a $200 early termination fee and my usual (always the same) monthly bill divided by 30 then multiplied by 6 since I only had the service for six days in the month I purchased my 4S. Well, no need to mention that they did not like this and eventually turned this over to collections and it was a big mess. Now, AT&T will not get a signal at my house, so I do not know what their last bill policy is and how many "fees" they can attach, but if it is anything like my experience with T mobile, it will not be easy to do this and it will probably end up costing you more than the $215 that you claim is your termination fee, so I advise you to be careful. They love you when you are a pyaing customer, but jump ship and they want to exectue you.

Actually AT&T does not have voice over LTE either...yet. LTE is for data only. When you make a phone call on an LTE phone it is HSPA+ for Voice and drops to HSPA+ for data if you use it. Once you hang up the phone call it takes about 30 seconds or so for LTE to return to your data.

Well i paid full price for a 4s after 2 months of signing contract with at&t and i did it at apple store they even gave me a discount if i renew the contrat it was 2 month so i said lets go with it i just what the new at&t data share plan an i love it now i have hotspot and add ipad for $10 and i think its. Not the iphone 5 a must have its the ios 6 update the one we all want good luck and make the right decition

So what? Switch. I get tired of dealing with whinny people like you. A little thinking outside the box, and you could get $300 to $350 for your 4s on craigslist or ebay. Boom....that covers your $250 up charge. Why loose tenure and or your unlimited data plan. Att's retention department would waive your upgrade fee. Idiot knee jerk reaction plus you being disengenious in your post. 40 percent of my gross activations come from number portability. Why? All carriers don't pander to their customers and you sure won't get any special treatment starting fresh with Verizon. You out of all people should know how phone subsidy works. A $599 phone takes more than 11 months to recoup a $400 discount of $199 contract price. You will be back.

Tenure apparently had negative value with AT&T so why keep it?
She definitely thought this out more than your post, and she definitely isn't getting special treatment being a long-standing AT&T customer.

Charging a higher early upgrade fee than ETF fee is just stupid. In fact, charging a higher early upgrade fee than the add-on cost of a smartphone line on a family plan times months left until free upgrade is just stupid.

Until carriers start giving discounts for month to month service once a contract expires, their story about subsidized price recouping doesn't hold much weight with me.

Tenure means nothing to any company. I own a business and I want people, even repeats, to pay full price. It actually takes away from my bottom line, which isn't big to begin with, to offer discounts, esp what people ask for(most people start off at 50%, honestly?).

All phone providers offer a $400 discount every 2 years saving you at least $17 a month over that 2 year period. If you go no contract, you do not save that money so its your call. Don't sign on the dotted line if you can't agree to the terms.

This is the biggest waste of a article, think about the article you just posted. All I hear is a teenager crying that all there friends is going to have the new iPhone and she is not. You don't deserve a upgrade until your 2 year mark but AT&T will let you upgrade at 17 month mark. You know what could of effected this, not paying your bill on time, changing your rate plan, changing the primary on the account, or 140 other things. Lets talk about how sh***y Verizon is, they FORCE everyone off there unlimited plans if they wants to upgrade. I still have my unlimited to this day with AT&T. One thing you forgot to worry about AT&T will not prorate your last bill and Verizon is going to charge you prorating which will be at least over $50 extra!!! FYI all carriers don't prorate your last bill so don't make a new article about that. Is Verizon network a better LTE network? Hell yeah but with AT&T HSPA+ network as a layback and LTE, there is no comparison, they maybe slow at deploying network but at least there doing it right.

I'd hardly call this a waste of an article. Leanna raises a good point. We all know that the carrier owes us nothing. However, when they have freely and without reservation let users upgrade each time a new iPhone has been released in the past (4 years running), it is not unreasonable to expect the same level of service. And yes, we sign a 2 year contract. We also agree to be released from said contract for a fee - which Leanna calculates (as do I) as being cheaper than staying with AT&T and paying full price for a new phone.

Again, as I said earlier, this is not about entitlement. It's about expectations of customer service based on past experiences - that have been pretty consistent over 4 years. That's called setting a precedent. And there's nothing wrong about complaining when that precedent is abandoned at a time when it makes little business sense to do so (considering all of the things Lenna listed as being aligned against AT&T's favor at the moment).

You just said the carrier owes you nothing but they have been nice in the past 4 years and you guys turn it into a negative. Appreciate what you had and move on, don't cry about it. No one ever told you will be eligible every year, AT&T doesn't even have to let you upgrade early at 17 monthes. Its not cheaper because like I said you have to pay prorating for Verizon.

This is a great point which is what ultimately made me put a pause in my AT&T cancellation plans. Guess I'll just wait it out and see if they'll pull a 180 on this new policy. In the meantime, Apple's total sales numbers will appear weak (with less people upgrading), and this will be bad for Apple and innovation in the long run. The Apple haters in the media will have a field day which will affect stocks. Ugh. The next few months will be rough.

This is a good point and I didn't address it in this article because I didn't think it was relevant to the point I was making (the EFT is cheaper than upgrade fee). But for me, personally, I'm not concerned about unlimited data. I'm almost always around WiFi and don't' use that much data. For someone else, it could be a deal breaker, just not me.

So why's LTE so important then? Just curious. I'm assuming you still live in the Denver area, but we're projected to get AT&T's LTE in November as a soft launch and December as an official. Just saying.

In actually in Salinas, CA, now. And it's important to me because when I do use data, I want it to be as fast as possible. I use data everyday, just not enough to need unlimited.

3G is fast enough for anything you'd do on a regular basis. I handle several business aspects on my 3G signal just fine. LTE is for those speed freaks that need their mp3s in less than 20 seconds or their facebook statuses updated before they pressed send. What you'll find is you'll hit your 2GB limit in 5 days instead of never hitting it when you've got the increased pipeline. C'mon, think about it. Increased download speeds and lowered download limits? Smart business!

Keep in mind that you can trade in your current iPhone to AT&T and get money for it towards the new iPhone 5 so let's say they give yu $150 for yur current iPhone that means that the new iPhone $300 and not $450 still cheaper than going with Vzw no data and calls at the same time just saying

Soooo, AT&T made exceptions for you for the 3GS, the 4, and the 4GS, and since they won't for the 5 you're crying boohoo? They probably just looked back at your whining history and said enough is enough. What are they supposed to do? They're now offering the 4S (brand new, not used, for $99 bucks with a new contract). How much should they "give" you?

You're gonna LOVE Verizon, I look forward to your post when the 6 comes out.

My guess is after a few weeks, you will get a full upgrade pricing. Secondly, don't forget, Verizon and Sprint will not support simultaneous voice and data. (not that I love ATT). Not even, on their LTE networks.

This article is obnoxious, long time reader, first time comment... no longer neither. This site has gone down the crapper, thank you leanna for confirming that for me... you suck and whoever wrote the piece yesterday stating sprint is gsm... you also suck at what you do. Please take some pride in what you do.

Hi Sam, Please give my regards to the rest of your colleagues in the AT&T PR Dept. p.s. Glad you pledged not to return to this site, but also hope you are nit darkening anyone else's doorstep either

Well I think you will not notice a real difference with Verizon , everyone thought wow Verizon will get the iPhone and all the problems will be solved , which of course did not happen . I am a Verizon customer , 9 years total 4 years month to month out of contract .
Sometimes they are great and others they seem an arougant bunch .
At &t rates seem,a little cheaper for the same plan
and with verizon you will lose the talk surf combo .
I've never had a smartphone , but I work construction and the phone has to survive some
Real tough times .
I guess I don't understand people wanting the latest thing then upset that it may cost something . The phone costs $650 unlocked and they offer it for $250 Extra to try to keep you as a customer . You still save $200
It seems kind of crazy to go through all that to save $35 and lose your unlimited plan .

If Verizon is a better fit then leave. AT&T owes you nothing. I don't understand you. This is the same scenario if you were on Verizon. They could give two shits about you and your contract. They wouldn't treat you any differently. Same goes for Sprint too.

I pretty much agree with you. In her article and her comments following, she comes off as an arrogant little whiner. In the end, her argument is mute considering Verizon would do the exact same. In fact, from my experience they're even more stringent with their upgrade policies. It's clearly evident she's made up her mind to leave for Verizon with her new iPad purchase anyway. The article seems to be a personal attack on AT&T because she was turned down with her feeling of entitlement.

I am not whining. I fully understand that Verizon doesn't give early upgrades. I knew AT&T wouldn't always give full upgrades and that this day would come. What I wasn't expecting was for AT&T to make it cheaper for me to pay an ETF and buy the phone on Verizon. This is about AT&T making a poor business decision. If my ETF was $250 or if the upgrade fee was $215, this article would've never been written. It's just astonishing to me that a company would make it cheaper for a customer to leave.

What is the ETF for leaving Verizon a year early? Is it cheaper for Verizon iPhone 4S customers to cancel their accounts and move to AT&T?

If it was up to ATT or any carrier they would charge you the full EFT even a day before your contract was up. I believe they lost a lawsuit which forced them to pro rate the ETF's to be less the closer you are to finishing your contract. I think it reduces like $10 a month. It is just the timing of your account, not really a business decision.

So you think a "smart" business decision is to make an exception for one individual (you) or have for a business to focus on one small set of customers?? You would make a terrible CEO. You clearly don't understand that ATT doesn't care if you switch. Why?? Because they look at the big picture - most people don't switch (even if they are unhappy or even if it makes monetary sense), many people just buy the iPhone full retail without blinking, and there are customers in your exact same situation on other carriers that may switch to ATT because Verizon, Sprint, or TMobile won't let them upgrade early. I understand what you are saying on the individual level, and if this were a small company it would matter. But news flash - they have approx 100 million customers. You simply don't matter. Get over yourself.

Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile will often let you upgrade early. Also, Sprint Premier has it in their contract that the main line gets an upgrade every 1 year.

Sprint has enough people jumping ship, thats why they offer that. No different than T-mobile giving everyone SUPER UNLIMITED DATA! They cant afford to lose the 20 customers they have.

Sprint premier?? That died long ago...around the same time verizon stopped their annual upg and with ATT. I'm not saying they don't make exceptions, I'm just saying that its no longer the rule. Get with the times buddy. Don't comment unless you know what you are talking about.

Leanna: That's exactly my opinion. If I'm the CEO of AT&T and I see this math (like I conversed with AT&T Enterprise rep yesterday), it is a serious risk to churning loyal customers. The rep was really shocked to learn that my ETF was lower than the iPhone 5 surcharge for early upgrade. Appears as if they are taking us all for granted. In the cases where AT&T cell service is crappy (like where I live in NC), it's not just about saving the $35 by switching, it's a game changer for those already dissatisfied with AT&T for other, more fundamental reasons!

ATT isn't making it cheaper for you to leave to go to Verizon. Pay the ETF to ATT and get out of your contract. You don't have to leave ATT. Just pay to get out of your contract and then sign a new one. I've talked to them about this before, and they told me I could pay the ETF and get a new phone, I could pay the early upgrade fee, or I could open a new line, and get the new contract pricing on the new line.

That's fine but then you lose your number unless you port out to Google voice or a prepaid carrier then port back into the new line you opened. You can't open a new line with a new phone then put that new phone on your current line without cancelling the other line or paying full retail for not returning the device. I have heard of ATT allowing people to pay the ETF on their line and change the contract end date yet not cancel the line.

When at&t was the exclusive platform for the iPhone they worked hard with apple ,
Wait----- apple decides the iPhone needs to be free and accepted by any carrier ,
Sorry AT&T .
Maybe the finger should point to apple . They screwed up the release dates thereby
Denying you the time appointed upgrade .

One of the iPads I added last week says its eligible for an upgrade at a discounted price, how is that and it's month to month?

"I was already considering making the switch to Verizon because AT&T LTE is not yet available in my area"

So many people just ignoring this fact. Why get an LTE IPhone when you dont get LTE Service.

Because Apple screwed up LTE.... At least for Verizon and Sprint. And before you argue that the weakness is on the CDMA end, it's not.

If you want a iPhone that will roam get a Verizon iPhone. I was on a road trip with some friends and I was browsing the internet and the Verizon phone was roaming!!! I can't remember the last time any of my phones on AT&T have roamed. Nor is LTE a deal breaker when you have Hspa+ and voice and data at the same damn time. Imagine talking to your wife on the phone while your driving to meet up with friends and they text he let's meet here instead. Guess what you won't receive it on Verizon. Good luck though!!

I am going to mention this several times in this thread. If the ETF is cheaper than the early upgrade fee, pay the ETF to ATT - it gets you out of contract, but you don't have to leave ATT. Buy the new iPhone at $199. It's not "technically" cheaper to leave ATT.

I have to say it is possible you are right and they don't want you as a customer.

I have no idea how soon a carrier makes up the subsidized price on an iPhone but if they don't make it up in 11 months and if they gave to you the upgrade pricing now anyway then they have not made up the subsidy they have lost money on your contract (and allowing you to in essence break the contract.). Then if Apple released iPhone 5S 9 or 10 or 11 months from now (in case Apple is trying to up their release schedules to compete better with Android) you'd want upgrade pricing for that one also, even though again they would take another loss to keep you. So they might never make their money back on your phones in that scenario and in fact lose money on you every single time.

If that is the case, then if I was AT&T I might as well let you leave. It would costs me less to let my competitor Verizon have you.

It is odd the discrepancy in price between the upgrade ($250) and the ETF of $215 but then the iPhone you bought (which is the basis for the ETF) is not the same as what you're buying and might be subsidized at a different rate. Or simply the prices are set by different departments of AT&T. This is the problem offering people these deals that Verizon avoids by simply not offering them at all and letting you pay ETF or shut up and wait.

You get LTE, I stop bleeding money, and Verizon gets a customer. The world continues to spin on its axis. The rivers still flow to the seas. Hey, lucky you, lucky me.

A contract is a contract is a contract. No one is "earned" exceptions to the terms and this thinking needs to stop. Carriers cannot afford bitting the subsidizations to keep you in line of braggin rights, otherwise prices would jump. If ditching ATT for Verizon to keep the braggin rights is cheaper then so be it but dont QQ to the carrier for your inability to fulfill you end of the contract.

If you want to maintain your braggin rights, you better be prepared to pay. Seriously, am I the only person that sells their phones on cragislist and then takes that case to buy a new one? Subsidizations with no contract is FTW!!!

I had this same exact experience. In the past AT&T has given the main account line (me) an early upgrade. They did this every year since the original iPhone. In fact I was told that they did it because I spent more than $99 a month with them on my total plan. This year they changed that or acted like they knew nothing about that.

I called 3 times and was told that this year they are not allowed to "budge" on iPhone pricing and assist with early incentives, but if it was with another phone they could do something. While I understand I agreed to a 2-year contract, these incentives kept me with AT&T.

I would gladly pay full retail ($750 for 32GB) iPhone if I could and take a discount like other countries on the plan.

Basically with this AT&T is saying that I don't already pay them enough (over $200 per month for my plan or over $4800 for 2 years). I really wish the US government would deregulate/regulate the carriers to share bandwidth as they do in the UK and Europe.

AT&T is just proving how bad they really are.

oh yes the government...that is the answer. You can buy a full price iphone and get a plan without a contract and discounted plan. Straight talk or whatever no contract plan is in your area.

Wow. Between Rene fanboying all over the site, and the rest of the authors crying over stuff no one else gives a lick about, this site has REALLY gone down hill.

I mean, really. Who the hell CARES about what this author is writing about?

As far as the carriers are concerned I treat them like dirty underwear. I change them frequently and often. It took me awhile but if you REALLY do the math it is better to buy the phone outright and get a cheaper prepaid plan.

Not that I haven't played the game. Back in the day I wanted to get the new Moto V60 (yes at one time it was the newest). VZW wouldn't budge on giving me the new pricing even though at the time I was month to month. So after a long discussion I said Bye Bye and went to Voicestrream (Tmobile now).

I've been on all of them over the years VZW, ATT, Tmobile and Sprint. My last carrier was Sprint and I was sick of having to pay through the nose for a product I wasn't getting anymore discounts for. I bit the bullet and bought an unlocked Gnex in February and got the 30.00 prepaid with Tmo. The service is just as good as if I was on contract with them. And I get better signal in Areas where Sprint would just die. Oh and the savings make this even easier. From what i have saved it's already paid for the cost of the Gnex. ATM i'm having some hardware issues. If I can't get them taken care of I have no compunction in not going and getting another new phone.

At this point ATT has no one to blame for the churn but themselves. Lets see after this weekend if they decide to stay the course.

If you have been an AT&T customer since you were 16 then that means you most likely, or at least SHOULD, have unlimited data. Why give that up just because you have to wait a few more weeks/months? You are not going to get your unlimited data from Verizon.

Rene - I'm shocked and dissapointed you let this type of article to be posted on iMore. You always say that you don't want to make headlines just to get hits, but this is clearly one of them. A much better article would have been an in depth analysis as to why ATT has this policy in place and the possible effects on churn. Not some illogical emotional rant about how some random customer wants to save a couple nickels and now her feelings are hurt.

I'm not being illogical nor are my feelings hurt. What's illogical is that AT&T has made it cheaper for me to jump ship. That's what this is all about. The ETF and upgrade fee should be the same. I'm ok with ETFs and upgrade fees. What doesn't make sense is when the ETF is cheaper making customers who must have the iPhone 5 easily choose Verizon.

I will agree that the ETF and the upgrade cost should logically be the same. But that's simply the monetary cost, not the cost of the time/effort it takes to switch carriers (compare coverage, plan costs, go the store etc). I think ATT either hasn't recognized this cost issue yet or simply believes people won't switch to save $50 bucks or whatever you would be saving. I have a long career of wireless sales and management. 1 thing I know is that most people won't switch carriers unless it's drastic. They will complain about their carrier for years and years...but switching is rare. I think the title of the article is misleading. ATT does want you as a customer, but doesn't care if you (the individual) leave because they know most people won't. That have 103mill customers. If you go to verizon over this guess what?? They still have 103million customers. So I don't see any incentive for ATT to make you happy

New service with Verizon for you is a minimum of $50 (1GB) + $40 (Smartphone) + $10 (tablet). What are you paying now, and how much would you save by switching? FYI, if you call AT&T's retention department, they may lower your upgrade pricing fee in relation to your ETF, OR they may discount your service for so many months. They gave my cousin the $20 unlimited text plan FREE for 6 months when she threatened to switch to Verizon, which saved her $120. There's more help than just calling the department that handles current plans or sales. ALWAYS ask for retention, and ALWAYS be firm and insistent (yet still polite).

FYI, in regards to LTE, my best friend actually is a *high* level employee in AT&T's wireless division. This story's ending sentence here was confirmed to be factually true:

http://gigaom.com/mobile/whats-att-planning-hidden-specs-unearthed-in-th...

I hear ya Leanna. Ive been with Verizon for a while now and very happy with their service. Aside from the fact they tried to bully me out of my unlimited data this AM with my pre-order...anyways, how about you write an updated article and let us know what your Verizon experience is, good or bad? I would be interested to hear.

Why are some of you ragging on Leanna? If you do not like the article do not finish reading it, and certainly do not flame the author because after reading the article, you deem it not post worthy? Some of you need to grow up. Disagreement is fine but rudeness? Come on.

This is an article about the authors opinion. When you give people your opinion there will be people that don't agree. Since the premise of this argument lacks falsifiability we can't prove a right or wrong. Leanna is doing a great job at defending her opinion. You can't expect people who disagree with her to not post why they disagree.

I'm not sure why everybody is giving Leanna such a hard time here. It is pretty simple:

1) Verizon's service in her area is equal to or greater than AT&T's service
2) Simultaneous voice/data and grandfathered plans are not factors for her
3) Leanna wants an iPhone 5.
4) Under her current AT&T contact, the total cost to her is X
5) To move to Verizon, the total cost to her is Y

If Y < X, she would be smart to move to Verizon.

If AT&T knows Leanna is smart, they can either lower their X to match Verizon's Y, or let her go. That they did not indicates that, yes, they have some other priorities higher than keeping her as a customer at this time.

Not sure why so many people feel like they have to get all personal about somebody making a rational decision.

To Leanna
I wrestled with the same decision last year with the 4S. For some reason I only got early upgrade pricing last year ( paid 650 for 64gb). So you did well to get a full discount last year.

It was cheaper for me to go to Verizon but for a savings of 40 bucks I felt all the hassle of the switch was not worth it. Plus I found Verizon used to overcharge me from time to time when I was with them.

Good luck.

Leanna, with as much whining as you are doing about this mediocre upgrade of a phone, I wouldn't want you as a customer either. Whine away.

AT$T doesn't want loyal customers. They want profitable customers. Customers who will bend over and take it as they are forced to pay for unlimited voice, unlimited text, and exorbitant data prices.

FOR THE RECORD. AT&T only allowed a signing of a new contract from the first iPhone to the 3G. Every other release they gave the EARLY upgrade (Upgrade price +$250, even if your not buying an iPhone) BUT my at&t store is giving an Jawbone Jambox & a $50.00 iTunes gift card to anyone who is using an early upgrade (equaling a $250.00 value) so its not terrible this time around, plus i always manage to get a craigslister to buy my previous gen for around 350

Today I called ATT to try and upgrade my iPhone 4 32g as I am currently 2 days away from the end of contract. The only option I was given was an iPhone 4S for $99.95 for a 16 gig model, or $299.99 for a 32 gig iPhone 5. I immediately went to the straight talk website and ordered a new att sim card for the iphone 4 and will be literally cutting my cell phone bill in HALF and keeping my number--but now I have unlimited talk, text and data for $45 a month. Screw ATT.

You think AT&T is bad , Verizon is worse.

A friend of mine who bought his first iPhone ( 4) on Verizon , back in February of 2011 , cant upgrade till this November !
They told him the earliest he can do it ( and get iPhone 5 at lowest price) is 3 months earlier than his 2 year contract runs out.

I got it done. I've had an iphone with AT&T since the beginning. I now have 3 phones. One 8GB 3GS, One 16GB 4S, & One 64GB 4S. I called a month ago and got the ETFs on all three phones. I also went so far as to find out what throttling would look like with LTE. Turns out the throttled LTE speed was roughly the same as full 4g speed on my 4S.

So I presented the CSR with my case...Low ETFs, Cheap Competition (Virgin,Straight Talk, Cricket). And a long history as a "serial upgrader" As always I was told by the CSR that they couldn't help me. So I asked to speak with a supervisor. After presenting my nearly flawless mathematical evidence. I asked. "So what would you do? If you were in my shoes?" the reply...."Hang on Sir. Let me see what I can do....how about if I waive all the early upgrade fees in exchange for a 2 year extension on your contract" Done. 3 phones on their way. Can't wait.

Technically, AT&T loses for every iphone they sell at $199.99 and only break even when you fulfill your end of the deal of a 2 year contract. MSRP of a typical iphone is $649.99 (thats a 16GB iphone 4, as of the time AT&T had stock). AT&T makes up the difference when you pay the data plan each month.
If you want to beat AT&T game, do a little more research, on the true value of a GSM iphone. You can make money off your used GSM iphone unlike a Verizon phone which runs on CDMA. Lets say you keep your AT&T iphone 4 (assuming this is what you have), and upgrade to the iphone 5. I bet you when you are eligible, you can still dispose of the iphone 4 and unlock it (from AT&T since you fulfilled your contract of the iphone) and get $300-$400 through ebay, since may countries run on GSM network (unlike CDMA). If you don't believe click this link http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_sacat=0&_armrs=1&_nkw=iphone+4+unlock+us...

SPRINT DOES THE VERY SAME THING AND MY HUSBAND AND I NEVER EVER HAVE PHONES THAT WORK. I HAVE BEEN WTIH SPRINT FOR OVER 8 YEARS.

I did the same thing. AT&T has some of the worst business practices. They shut my phone off after I had paid my bill on time, and then was rude to me because I was upset. I bought an iPhone 5 at Apple the day of the release, but after their hassle, sold it for 800 bucks and paid off my ETF and bought a new Verizon one. Screw AT&T. I can't believe you even stayed with them (I read your next article) after they provided you bad customer service. Doesn't make sense to me. Never going back!

Are you really saying that to him? Need we remember or shal i say remind you, that he is more than deserving as with all in this situation.These big wig corporations for one get crazy money for these phones, and more importantly WE keep money in there pockets. WE therefore should be calling the shots! BTW iwouldnt be surprised if att is planning a merge with Verizon which is why att has been doing stupid crap to piss their customers off.