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AT&T: Pay Us $36 If You Really Want to Upgrade That Smartphone

Phillip Dampier February 13, 2012 AT&T, Competition, Consumer News, Wireless Broadband 1 Comment

AT&T increases upgrade fee. (Photo courtesy: Engadget)

AT&T has announced it is doubling the price of its equipment upgrade fee, now charging $36 when a customer activates a new phone on their wireless account.

Our regular reader Scott sent word AT&T raised the upgrade fee Feb. 12, from $18 to $36, to “cover their costs. ” The fee now matches that charged by Sprint.

From AT&T’s official statement:

Wireless devices today are more sophisticated than ever before. And because of that, the costs associated with upgrading to a new device have increased and is reflected in our new upgrade fee. This fee isn’t unique to AT&T and this is the first time we’re changing it in nearly 10 years.

Wireless companies in North America encourage more frequent phone upgrades because of their business model: pitching subsidized phones in return for a two-year contract commitment, along with higher-priced service plans which gradually recoup the cost of the subsidy.

Consumers who hang on to their phones longer than two years continue to pay higher prices for service plans designed for those who always upgrade phones every two years at contract renewal time.  Phone companies also prefer customers who live under a term contract because they are less likely to switch providers.

In the past, loyal customers not only received extra incentives and discounts when they renewed their contracts, they also had these kinds of service fees waived.  No more.  Most companies have discontinued extra upgrade discounts for existing customers and increasingly refuse to waive service and equipment fees.

Currently there is 1 comment on this Article:

  1. Matt says:

    Been a long time since long time customers got anything from carriers. New subscribers are all they care about these days. Just looking for someone else to hook into a new contract with higher costs instead of us with old grandfathered in plans.

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  • Jonny: My smaller cable company Suddenlink (1.4M customers) started the same thing. 250GB cap with with their medium speed of 50mbps. They are only doing thi...
  • Joe V: Man these guys just don't get it. Not to worry, just as the music industry learned the hard way that to piss off their customers by giving them crap, ...
  • Mike D.: The TV providers have never been willing to fight for the consumer with the other conglomerates who bundled crap with one or two channels of good cont...
  • Sean Colbert: The comcast cap isnt even bad compared to mine. I have Hughesnet Gen4 (All I can get in my area) and I have a 20gb a month limit with an extra 50 in b...
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  • Phillip Dampier: Rats... and I knew I caught this in the proofread and made the change but it stayed a draft while the inaccurate one went live. Thanks for catching th...
  • Dave: Quit whining....bunch of babies...
  • bob: how is this fair to existing customers who reside in areas where upgrade hasnt gone through. im supposed to pay 60 plus dollars each month for extreme...
  • Michael Elling: Paul, part of this stems from the industry's infatuation with vertical models and the govt-granted quasi-monopoly structure stemming from spectrum sal...
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  • David Manthos: The bill is actually HB 2551, not 2511. http://www.legis.state.wv.us/Bill_Status/Bills_history.cfm?input=2551&year=2016&sessiontype=RS&...

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