Newsome is blogging again! Actually, as near as I can tell he started blogging almost immediately after I put his blog in the “Dead Blogs” category. Interesting, in November he touched on an issue familiar to HC readers while trying to procure a Blackberry Storm*:
Much to my surprise, my quoted price was not $200, as widely advertised, but $500. I called customer service and was told that my contract was too recent to permit an upgrade and that I would, in fact, have to pay $500 if I wanted a Storm. I didn’t like this, but contracts are contracts, so I asked how much it would cost to terminate my contract early (by about a year and a half). $125 was the answer. So, I asked, “you’ll sell this phone to a stranger for $200, but an existing customer has to pay $500?” I was told that was the case. Again, not good news, but I understand the math so far. I had one more question: “But if I wanted to, I could pay $125 to terminate my contract today, come back tomorrow and pay $200, thereby achieving an actual price of $325?” I could tell the phone rep was uncomfortable, but ultimately she agreed that I could do that. “But you won’t sell me the phone for $325 without having to go through all of that?” She said she couldn’t. The cost was understandable, even if a little frustrating, but the unnecessary hoops were more than I could handle. So a wonderful thing happened.
I canceled my Verizon account, drove to the local ATT store, bought a 16G 3G iPhone and had my number ported over. At the end of the day, I have a much better phone at a lower cost. $125 is a lot of money, but amortized over the remaining 18 or so months of my Verizon contract, I’m more than happy to pay an extra $7 a month for the iPhone experience.
This is a much better example than the $60 I was talking about saving with AT&T and the Fuze! While I can’t… ahem… endorse getting an iPhone… I’m glad that Newsome is happy with his and I think Verizon got their just deserts.
On the other hand, AT&T apparently has a trick up their sleeve and now I can even better see why they are so excited about selling the phone as part of a plan! If you read the fine print, the offer is good only if you make every payment in full and on time. In other words, if you’re a day late or a dollar short, you’ll get billed for the balance of your savings on the phone (minus the initial rebate). In this case, $310. Further, I wouldn’t be at all surprised that if you were late or short and they pulled the trigger on this that you wouldn’t be let out of the two year commitment. If it’s legal for them to hold you up to your end of the bargain even when they’ve abrogated theirs, I have no doubt in my mind that’s exactly what they would do. My faith in AT&T (and its competitors) is such that my heart skipped a beat when I logged on to the account manager and discovered that they knew exactly what kind of phone I had even though I never told them. I mean, I guess abstractly I knew that they could figure such things out, but it’s still a bit disconcerting. Fortunately, there’s not much they can actually do with this information other than try to sell me unlimited data transfer.
A great reminder of why I purchased my phone independent of my provider. They’re not the boss of me, no.
* - Not to be confused with my employer’s product, the Stormphone.