AT&T’s iPhone 3G S Upgrade Price Drop Is A Marketing Stunt

Earlier today, AT&T issued a press release aimed at calming down its angry customers (I am one of them) who pre-ordered the new iPhone 3G S and were not eligible for an upgrade.

Previously, only customers who were eligible for an upgrade could get the iPhone 3G S at the best price. So if you bought your iPhone 3G last year at launch, like most of us, you theoretically wouldn’t be eligible for a full upgrade until December of 2009.

According to AT&T’s press release:

We’re now pleased to offer our iPhone 3G customers who are upgrade eligible in July, August or September 2009 our best upgrade pricing, beginning Thursday, June 18.

That’s incredibly nice of AT&T except that most 3G customers aren’t eligible until December anyways. Still according to AT&T, those eligible for their best upgrade pricing are customers “who spend more than $99 a month per line”.

My opinion is that this is just a marketing stunt from AT&T. If you read various iPhone blogs right now, they are all excited about this piece of news basically saying that AT&T redeemed itself and did the right thing. You should not be fooled by their good words. Unless you spend over $100/month on your iPhone plan, you will not be eligible for the best price ($299 for the 32GB).

For those of you who spend more than $100/month on your iPhone plan, you might be eligible. In this case, read the following information from AT&T:

If you’re one of the customers who benefits from this change, and you’ve already preordered from an AT&T store, we’ll adjust the price of the device when you pick it up. If you benefit from the change and you pre-ordered from AT&T online, we’ll send you an e-mail and issue you a credit.

If you pre-ordered an iPhone 3G S through Apple’s online store, your upgrade eligibility will be reassessed based on AT&T’s new upgrade policy for iPhone 3G owners. If you are eligible for the lower price, Apple will issue you a credit for the difference as applicable.

I called AT&T this morning and they confirmed I was not eligible. I was very polite and friendly with the customer service rep and explained her my situation. I switched from T-Mobile to get the iPhone back in 2007. I’ve been a loyal customer since then and I pay my bills as soon as they show up in the mail. I told her that I feel left out and that it would be a nice commercial gesture to credit the price difference (roughly $200) to my account. In the end, she credited my account of $50, which is better than nothing.

Still, I feel that AT&T is not doing the right thing here.