AT&T and RIM: Alienate your repeat customers with "Early Upgrades" and overpriced devices

$399.00 PLUS an "Early Upgrade" charge? WTH?As some of you are aware, I am a BlackBerry user.
Written by Jason Perlow, Senior Contributing Writer

$399.00 PLUS an "Early Upgrade" charge? WTH?

As some of you are aware, I am a BlackBerry user. For the most part, this is not by choice -- I could certainly get by with another mobile device such as an iPhone 3G or T-Mobile G1 or any number of other competing units, if it wasn't for that fact that I use corporate email, specifically Lotus Notes, and the only way I can wirelessly sync a device with it is by using our BlackBerry Enterprise Server. In other words, if I want mobile corporate email, I can have any device in the world that I want as long as it's made by RIM.

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At the end of last week while traveling on business, I noticed that my AT&T BlackBerry 8820, which had been serving me for just over a year, was no longer taking a charge. Alas, the internal USB connector had become wobbly and dislodged from the PCB, as if it contracted a case of electronic rectal prolapse.

So the first thing I did when I got home was run to the local AT&T store and see if I could get it replaced at a reduced cost or repaired. No such luck -- the store clerk told me it was out of warranty, I would have to get a new unit.

"Okay, do you guys have the new Blackberry Bold? I need a full keyboard and I might as well upgrade to 3G".


"Great, let's go with it."

"Okay sir. But understand, you don't qualify for an upgrade at this time, so I'm going to have to charge you $75 as an early upgrade fee, you'll have to pay full retail on the unit, you'll need to renew with a 2-year contract, and the rebate on the Blackberry Bold is only $100"

"What the hell! I'm spending $75.00 more than I should be?"

"I'm sorry sir, but there's nothing we can do."

What a new AT&T Wireless customer pays for a Blackberry Bold (Source: ATTWireless.com)

"So what you're telling me is even though I am a repeat customer, you're going to charge me more than what you would charge a new customer, plus hit me with additional fees because my device died early."

 "Unfortunately, yes."

"Goddamit. If I bought a freaking iPhone 3G you'd still be charging me that damn fee, but at least the stupid phone is half the price."

 "Yeah, the new RIM devices are awfully expensive. Do you really need one?"

"Well, I don't see a point in getting an EDGE-based Blackberry now, and I'm stuck with it if I want corporate sync."

"Man, that bites for you, dude."

"Goddamit. Just wrap the thing up and give me the new holster. Here's my freaking Mastercard."

"You want the 8GB storage card with that too?"

"How much is it?"


"Oh, what a bargain. Screw that, I'll buy it on Amazon."

Have you too been bitten by the dreaded "Early Upgrade" charge at your wireless carrier? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

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