Has AT&T lost its marbles? Maybe.
Here’s what happened to me after I responded to an email from Apple, inviting me to upgrade to the newest iPhone (wait time: three weeks). It offered me the first phone for a reasonable $199. But the second phone on my two-line account would cost $599.
Must be some mistake, I thought. Last year’s upgrade to the iPhone 3 cost exactly the same for both phones. So I contacted Apple.
It wasn’t a mistake.
A helpful agent named “Tiffany” — no last name given — informed me that my second line hadn’t billed enough in 2009 to qualify for an upgrade. She’s right: Everything is billed to a primary number, so the second line technically is a freebie. Either AT&T or Apple had changed the way they determined who would get a subsidized handset.
“It’s AT&T’s policy,” she said. “Contact them.”
So I did.
I spoke with a helpful customer service representative at the wireless carrier, who told me Apple required AT&T to impose these strict limits. I politely appealed to a supervisor, who just reiterated what the representative said. He promised to ask for a waiver, but added, “I can already tell you that they’ll say ‘no’ to this. They’re very strict.”
I’ll wait to hear back from AT&T before I appeal this to someone higher up the corporate food chain. In the meantime, I have a few thoughts I’d like to share with the readers of On Your Side:
Has AT&T lost its marbles?
I mean, they could have signed me to another two-year contract by offering me a second phone at a reasonable (though by no means cheap) price. Instead, I may take my business to a competitor once the iPhone is no longer exclusive to AT&T.
Also, have I lost my marbles? I don’t need another phone. Besides, the best feature of the iPhone 4, the new operating system, is freely available to iPhone 3 users.
Someday, we’ll all look back on this madness and laugh. Until then, it’s Apple and AT&T who are laughing — all the way to the bank.