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Okay, I have to rant. AT&T will be charging existing iPhone users an $18 dollars to upgrade to the iPhone 3G. This is in addition to the price of the new iPhone plus the increased voice and data rates.

In short, if you’ve been a loyal AT&T customer, you’re getting a penalty to upgrade.

Once the iPhone makes it way to other carriers, I’m switching. Sadly, it won’t happen soon enough.


  • Josh

    gravatarJul 1, 2008
    11:16 am

    All AT&T customers who want to jump to the Iphone will have to pay this $18 fee. Annoying, yes.

    But, I can’t help to wonder if switching to another carrier really would make a difference. Doesn’t Sprint or Verizon charge activation fees for new handsets, too?

  • joecab

    gravatarJul 1, 2008
    11:31 am

    And what makes you think another carrier wouldn’t do the same? Or worse? That and the higher fees sure make me feel okay with sticking to my old iPhone…

  • nor

    gravatarJul 1, 2008
    11:36 am

    Anytime you want to upgrade to any phone you have to pay the $18? Go figure…..

  • Chanpory Rith

    gravatarJul 1, 2008
    1:02 pm

    When I was with T-Mobile and got a new phone, I simply took the SIM card out of one phone and moved it to the new phone. From what I remembered, there was no additional fee.

    Understandably this is migrating from 2G to 3G speed. But considering the rate plans have increased in price, I’m still not sure why there is an upgrade fee.

  • damien

    gravatarJul 2, 2008
    12:26 am

    The $18 upgrade fee sucks, sure. However, isn’t AT&T also allowing current iPhone owners to upgrade to the new one at the subsidy price? Not sure if it’s 100% true, but that’s what I’ve read.

    In that case, what’s the big complaint? Neither Verizon, Sprint nor T-Mobile allow their customers to upgrade to a new phone at a subsidy price while they are in the middle of their contract. Heck, AT&T doesn’t even do this with other phones. The fact that they are doing so for iPhone users is a pretty big deal!

    I don’t have/want an iPhone right now, but if I were to go to AT&T and try to upgrade to another 3G non-iPhone device, then I’d have to pay the unsubsidized price – and I’ve been a loyal AT&T customer for years, too. Perhaps, I should call AT&T and complain that they are playing favorites?

    All I’m saying is that just because you are using an iPhone, don’t expect the wireless carriers to fall at your feet. You all are already getting awesome upgrade deal that’s not provided to ANY other customers.

  • Dave!

    gravatarJul 2, 2008
    6:50 am

    Just my experience: I have been recently watching the AT&T site, waiting for a phone with a full keyboard to be offered for no charge with a re-up of my contract. When the Samsung Blackjack showed up, I called AT&T and asked if the $18 upgrade fee could be waived, please. The nice lady on the other side of the phone said “We don’t normally do that, but okay.”

    I’ve been with them for 10+ years. Maybe that has something to do with my treatment?

  • Rob

    gravatarJul 2, 2008
    7:27 pm

    Only $18? It will cost ATT at least that much to process and dispose of or recycle first generation iPhones that nobody will want without the 3G upgrade.

    What a bunch of spoiled children some iPhone users are.

  • Marie

    gravatarJul 17, 2008
    8:06 pm

    Don’t bother I’ve tried them all ( Verizon, At&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Nextel) and I can honestly tell you that with all their flaws AT&T is still better than the others, if only slightly. Verizon is the worst by far!

  • Jim

    gravatarJul 18, 2008
    7:18 pm

    Marie makes a good point. Bottom line ALL cell carriers in the US screw over their customers, some in similar ways, some not so blatantly. I’m sorry to say whatever carrier you switch to, they will find a way to do the same. But I guess if it makes you feel better go ahead, stick it to them! The next one is waiting with baited breath to do the same.

  • K.D.

    gravatarJul 25, 2008
    2:19 pm

    Just as a tip… TMobile now charges the same $18 fee for ANY new handset/plan. They tell us everyone’s doing it… Who knew corporate policies were subject to peer pressure? I asked nicely for a waiver as well, with three different people. No dice. Maybe Dave! has a better tactic…

  • Erika Lopez

    gravatarAug 3, 2008
    9:03 pm

    Forget the $18. I had to pay an additional $200 to upgrade from my dying phone. What a racket! AT&T is horrible. I want to start a class action suit against them for being penalized for being a loyal customer.

  • Kyle

    gravatarAug 4, 2008
    1:55 pm

    And looks like you’ll be waiting until at least 2010.

    Article on TUAW

  • cjeanc

    gravatarAug 25, 2008
    3:41 pm

    this fee is not only for iphone owners / updgraders. it is for all upgraders. makes not much sense. seems to me as though if you are a new customer, you pay 36 for activation and returning you pay 18 to continue using the service. both charges have no real meaning behind them. just plain bogus. something to put on the bill to make the customers bad and the company happy.

  • Josh

    gravatarSep 14, 2008
    2:58 pm

    i have never heard of a company so willing to give up more money. i mean, i have the lowest rung rate plan with a cheap phone. i want to upgrade to the 16gig iphone, pay more money per month, and volunteer to extend my contract 2 more years, and they refuse because i am not qualified for an upgrade???

    goes to show what it means to be a loyal customer who pays on time every month. i am begging them to take more money from me, yet they would gladly take a random dude off the street and let him get the iphone at the contract price. i will probably switch providers at the end of my contract just for the principle of it all. i miss cingular!!!

  • Mike

    gravatarSep 22, 2008
    3:04 pm

    I don’t like the fact that the sales person tells you to call and ask for a waiver that they always do it, then when you call they say no. That’s shady business.

  • karl

    gravatarNov 4, 2008
    11:15 am

    tried to upgrade from curve to bold, they asked me to pay addional fee because my current contract is not over yet, duh, being loyal willing to shell out $300 for new phone, what a stupid sales policy, i will switch to another carier, AT&T SUCKS big time!!

  • Brian

    gravatarJan 10, 2009
    4:12 pm

    Heck, If you are a new ATT customer you can get the HTC Fuze for FREE. If you are a existing (loyal) customer, an upgrade cost you $250 for the Fuze. I don’t quite see the logic in this, if you are still committing to a two year contract.

  • jorge

    gravatarMay 28, 2009
    2:49 pm

    trying to waive upgrade time w/ att but they wont budge. seems rhather conterproductive ( they sell me anothe rphone and increase rates by adding the pda plan) in any case i gave them an ultimatum waive the upgrade or im going w/ sprint when the palm pre comes out in june 6

  • Bill Wyse

    gravatarSep 23, 2009
    9:11 am

    Just objected to $18.00 upgrade fee and the agent waived it. Told her no one informed me of the fee when I upgraded my phone and signed on for another two years, just was charged sales tax on the phone.

    So, worked this time…who knows two years from now.


  • D.C

    gravatarDec 11, 2009
    11:15 am

    I don’t understand why a company would charge you $18 to stay with them another 2 years. I called AT&T today to find out why they charge an upgrade fee and the agent said they charge it for renewing with them. I told her so you are charging me to stay with you and she said yes. You would think they would pay you to keep your business.

  • Joshua

    gravatarDec 24, 2009
    9:32 pm

    There are websites out there, authorized dealers who will give you a free phone, pay the upgrade fee and all the rebate bs is done up front. You pay nothing, just sign 2 year agreement and wham..ur done..I always buy through dealers online. Just be sure you research the companies first.

  • Jon

    gravatarFeb 5, 2010
    10:09 am

    Upgrade fees pay for the company’s overhead. It’s like walking into Sears, buying a refrigerator, and being charged extra for the electricity, receipt paper, the salesman’s time, etc. I told AT&T I wouldn’t pay for it (no, I don’t have an IPhone) and they waived it. No reputable company should ever pass on overhead as a separate fee to the customer; it is offset by the profits. If their profit isn’t enough, charge more for the product, but until we as a society refuse to subsidise these fees for overhead we will continue to be nickle-and-dimed to death.

  • AlOliver

    gravatarFeb 12, 2010
    1:23 pm

    Well said Jon. And though other companies do the same sometimes, it sure as heck-fire doesn’t make it right!

    What’s worse is the way AT&T Wireless treats their employees. My wife worked there and she was “shackled” in what she could say and do. She took incredible abuse from customers for saying what AT&T required her to say (one creep said, “Lady, I hope you get cancer and die!”) and then from the other side, awful abuse from her managers (save one), who were known for never helping and always criticizing. But they themselves were under constant pressure from above, who were themselves under pressure from above and so on. So you can never get to the real jerks who start the insanity.

    The thing is, they are making so much money, they don’t have to care. They pretend to and give their employees a script that is designed to make you think they care, but it’s still the same AT&T who is as controlling as they can possibly get away with.

    I’d walk, but it just wouldn’t matter. But I’ve learned the lesson, namely “If you can screw people out of their money and can get away with it, do it.”

    Thanks for the lesson AT&T.

  • anonymous

    gravatarFeb 28, 2010
    10:20 am

    I have called once about the $18 fee and told them “verizon does not charge an upgrade fee” they took it off my bill. Spread the word maybe they will get the point.

  • iPhoninator

    gravatarMar 15, 2010
    10:55 pm

    I HAVE A JAILBROKEN AND UNLOCKED iPhone! and I’m with Tmobile~ AND MY LIFE IS GREAT! I didn’t pay at&t’s lame fee, and my coverage and data plan IS GREAAAAT! OHHHHH HOW IT’S GREAT TO BE ME! AND I LOVE MY iPhone! and i don’t use at&t and i get most of my apps for FREE and i can customize my entire phone~! ohhh yeah it’s great to be……ME!

  • Ready to Drop AT&T

    gravatarJun 18, 2010
    8:52 am

    What iwant to know is why is it now when you go to upgrade with AT&T, why is it you can only upgrade to one of the phone they select for you? I have always upgraded online, and now when I went to uprade to the phone i wanted I was told i had to either be a new customer or I had to add a line. What the crap is that? New customers get preference and existing loyal customer get ther curb!Found out that any refurb phone is free to a new customer and for existing customers AT&T will select which refurb they will allow you to get for free and which refurb you have to pay $99.99 for. What is that all about?

  • Regret AT&T

    gravatarJun 21, 2010
    7:24 am

    I renewed my contract with AT&T and got a “free” standard phone. $18 for a “one time charge for Upgrade”. The new phone wasn’t even an upgrade. I spoke with customer service and she was of no help. Asked for the manager and I got her voice mail. If I had it to do over, I’d go with someone else. This fee makes no sense and no one has yet to explain how I was “upgraded” in any way. RIP OFF.

  • Rachel

    gravatarJul 12, 2010
    4:42 pm

    I agree that the upgrade fee is ridiculous. However, I went and priced a plan at Verizon to compare (because I thought the same thing- “I’m switching”), and their plans cost $50 more for a comparable plan.

    I am begrudgingly sticking with AT&T.

    ::grumble, grumble::

  • Jeff

    gravatarJul 15, 2010
    8:11 am

    Call them. Fight the fee. If you go back and forth a couple times, holding your ground, you can get the fee waived. I just did it moments ago. Their stand was we discounted the phone x amount of dollar and we are trying to make up some of those operational type costs by charging you the upgrade fee. My argument was if ATT isn’t making enough profit ,then increase the price of the phone if you have too, don’t go charging me an extra fee for simply renewing with you guys. (thanks jon)

    What solidified the argument was that I have been using ATT wireless service now for 4 plus years. Then I added that I also have Uverse, Internet and LAN line through ATT.

  • Marc

    gravatarJul 23, 2010
    6:30 pm

    this is totally idiotic on att’s part. I have uverse, internet, main line and phone with them, I have been a solid customer paying all my bills on time for decades and with cingular/att for wireless now going on 6 years.
    Their argument of discount is bogus since they lock you into a plan for 2 yrs to MAKE UP THE PRICE DIFFERENCE. I am not going into an iphone, I am looking at the bottom of the line nokia, for 2 lines. Basically, becuase of this and the ridiculous price I pay each month for my phone bills. I will not pay such a thing. this is insulting. either I get the phone at the “free” price or I don’t stay. I honestly have been unhappy with my internet service with them now for 2 years anyway. Nothing to hold me to them. I suggest to everybody else, if you are not getting an iphone, just go somewhere else where the customer is still respected.
    how dare they treat me like this.