If you're thinking of upgrading your aging iPhone - I've just gone through all the pain and suffering, so you won't have to.
Few starting lessons:
A quick review of the website ConsumerAffairs will tell you what you need to know customers hate AT&T, customers hate Verizon, and that remains the case for T-Mobile and Sprint.
Each of them has a stunning 1 star rating -and reading the complaints you can't help but find some of your own experiences in the painful text. Long waits on hold, issues unresolved, customers hung up on, you know the drill.
Ok, so maybe Consumer Affairs is the home of unhappy customers. Could be. So I set out on my journey to update my phones.
First stop, my carrier of the past 7 years - AT&T. We've had issues, but mostly we're ok.
Me: I'd like to upgrade one of my families phones to the new iPhone 6s. AT&T: You have three choices: 1). You can buy the phone for cash and keep your plan. 2) You can 'rent' the phone from us for $25 a month and keep your plan (but not own the phone at the end - you need to go 30 months to own the phone. 3 You can pay us $199 for the phone, sign up for another 2 years, and lose your 25$ a month line 'discount' so it goes form 15$ to 40$ a month. Me: Would anyone do #3? AT&T Nope. It's priced so that you won't. We don't want any more contracts - period.
Final result - ATT operator admitted the only way to get a 'deal' was to threaten to fire them, go to customer retention, and right now - with the demand on the iPhone so high - they frankly would let me go. Ouch. Ok. Next stop Verizon - in person.
Me: I've got 4 lines, and a bunch of data. I'd like to move t you. Verizon: (after looking at my bill) You've got a good deal, and yeah, we'd pay you $100 a line to come to us, but we'd charge you more - so you should stay with AT&T. Me: Huh? So you don't have an incentive to steal away AT&T customers? Verizon: Not really, we're pretty much the same. Our phones come unlocked and work on their network. And their phones can be unlocked and come on ours -
So we're pretty much the same. Me: Ok, never mind.
Final result- neither AT&T nor Verizon really want to sell me a phone, and Verizon isn't particularly interested in landing new customers. Ok, next stop - the Apple Store. My favorite place to shop. Can easily drop serious cash without blinking and eye.
Me: I'd like to buy an iPhone. Apple: (rep looking weary and confused) Ok, how can i help you. Me: I'd like to buy an iPhone 6s with 64 gig in Space Grey on the Apple Upgrade Plan. (using all the lingo so he'd know I was real experienced customer). Apple: Ok, well first we need to do a soft credit check, then get a valid credit card and drivers licesne, and if you qualify - we can see about you getting on the plan. Me: (slightly pissed off) I own 40 apple machines, i'm a business customer, and i'm pretty sure credit isn't a problem. Apple: Yeah, I know. I've worked here a long time and i've never been more unhappy and more confused. My head hurts. Let me go get some help.
Pause here - this is terrible. I've NEVER had an unhappy Apple rep. Never. But this guy was miserable.
Apple: (returns with an iPad and a co-worker) This is a new calculator software to help us figure out plan options. We got it today. Everyone is confused. We can figure it out together. Apple Rep #2: Or you can go home, and get on your computer and do it yourself. Really it's almost easier. Me: So you don't want to sell me a phone? Apple: We'd love to - it's just confusing - you can't buy the phone in the store, you need to reserve it on line. And then - if you qualify - you need to pick a time and a device, and a color and a time and a location and come in to pick it up. If you miss the time, you're phone is gone. Me: Does that include Apple Care? Apple: Yeah, it does. 99$ deductible, and that's only for damage. Theft means you owe us for the phone, and you need to file with your own homeowners insurance to get it covered.
So - to recap.
AT&T doesn't want to sell me an iPhone. Verizon doesn't want to sell me an iPhone. Apple would let me reserve an iPhone (on line) but I need to go into a store with a line that will surely be blocks long to get one.
Final point - even if you pre-order, on line, and reserve, Apple doesn't take a credit card. So it seems almost impossible to understand how their reporting sales numbers for the iPhone when the pre-orders don't include any cash changing hands.
So, for phone buyers... stand in line for Apple iPhone Upgrade... or pay ATT or Verizon for their new lease plans. But either way, the days of commitments and subsidies are long gone. And the fantasy that an iPhone costs $199 is distant memory. Wake up, your iPhone costs $750, and if you brake it or lose it - that's your problem.
Here's the Apple warm and fuzzy 'reservation' email. They don't want a blood test, but they're making it pretty clear they want pretty much everything short of that.
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