i('m a consumer whore)Phone Filter: I've decided I want an iPhone and I've got a ton of questions.
October 2, 2008 12:42 PM   Subscribe

iPhone Filter: I've decided I want an iPhone. I've got a ton of questions, my google-fu is failing me, and I haven't recived much help when I call AT&T. Hopefully you can help me in regards to porting my # from Sprint Business to AT&T.

Here are my questions. I warned you that there are a lot! I tried to break them up into categories to make easier. Again, I have googled my heart out and found answers to all of my other iPhone questions but these are the ones I still haven't found answers to. Hopefully your google-fu is better than mine, or maybe you've already been down this path before and can help me out.

1.) Transfer of Current Number
- I've had my current # for over 10 years.
- My current # is a Sprint Business #. The bill is sent monthly to my father's business, and is in his business' name, but they do not pay it. I pay the bill online monthly. I am authorized as the "Account Administrator" according to My.Sprint.com
- How do I get the Sprint Business # that is not registered in my name ported over to AT&T?
- My current phone is 3 years old, but I added text messaging to my plan last year. How do I find out if I'm under any contractual obligation to Sprint? (When I call customer service, is there a better phrase to use than "am I under any type of contract?" I want to make sure I'm not confusing the rep on the line.)
- Is it better to make the transaction for the iPhone & service online or in an AT&T store?
- Are there any specific questions/phrases I need to use with a Sprint/AT&T sales rep to make sure this happens smoothly?

2.) Can I switch my number back to Sprint in the future? (Simple answer seems to be "yes" but I have some clarifying questions.)
- I've heard that the AT&T reception in Minneapolis is spotty with iPhones. If the service sucks, and 5 or 6 months later I want to switch my number back to Sprint, am I SOL due to the 2 year contract?
- Is my only option to wait/buy out the 2 year contract, and then switch back to Sprint 2 years down the road, unless I want to pay a bunch of $$$ to buy out the contract?

3.) Monthly Fees & Total Cost
- I'm thinking about the $69.99 plan, but it appears that text messages are not included, so I need to spend $5 for 200 messages/month. Unless I'm missing anything, my monthly fee will be $74.99, as long as I don't go over my minutes, right?
- Are there any other hidden fees besides standard taxes for mobile phones?
- If my math is correct, the total cost, out the door, should be $331.19 ($199 phone + $69.99 Monthly Fee + $5 for 200 SMS/text + $36 setup + 6.5% sales tax). I like having my expectations set before I head out to the stores.

4.) Any last minute advice?
- For those of you that have gone down this path before, is there anything you wish you would have known before you made the leap to an iPhone?

Thanks in advance for all your help!
posted by xotis to Technology (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: er... "received" much help when I call AT&T.
posted by xotis at 12:47 PM on October 2, 2008

I can only provide a few details. I live in an area that technically has AT&T service but was unreliable at best. I was able to cancel my plan based on the fact they weren't good in my area, and port my number after only a few months of service.

My wife's phone ported to her new contract despite the fact I was the account holder and she was an admin on the account, from Sprint. I didn't do anything special, other then say "port the number."

I would just ask the Sprint rep.

I think you have to activate the iPhone in-store, but they are changing that shortly. It might be best in your case to do it all there, with the funky number switching mojo. I would even bring a copy of your current bill, or be prepared to log in to your Sprint account in the store to prove you are on the account if need be. Just make sure you take precautions logging into a public machine.

I don't remember any hidden fees other then the usual cell phone BS.

I wish I would have known how crappy AT&T was. My iPhone was one of my favorite devices and my blackberry suffers in comparison. I miss it horribly!
posted by Silvertree at 12:56 PM on October 2, 2008

You can switch back to Sprint in less than 2 years, but you'll have to pay the ETF. Porting requires cancellation of the old contract. Considering that you might have to pay > $70/month for poor service, the ETF is a bargain if reception is awful where you live.

When I bought mine, I was charged sales tax on the non-discounted cost ($600), not on the subsidized price. I live in CA, may not be the same where you live.
posted by meowzilla at 1:13 PM on October 2, 2008

I just (finally) got my iPhone. It's much better than I expected. Buy a dock. That is all.
posted by unSane at 1:15 PM on October 2, 2008

We bought our iphones at an Apple store. We only paid for the phone plus tax there, about $215 or so I think. The $36 activation fees came on the first bill (which was a big one, because they bill a month in advance, so it was for two months of service).

I think the billing is pretty straightforward - just taxes on top of the listed price.

We could not port our old Sprint numbers because we had moved to a different market - the old Sprint numbers were from Philadelphia and we were buying the iphones in New York. If we had bought the new iphones in Philly, porting would have been fine. Take a copy of your current Sprint bill with you.

You can persuade cell phone companies to waive the early termination fee if you can show that you live or work in an area with poor reception. That's why we switched from Sprint to AT&T in the first place. It takes a little time, and you have to show proof of address, but it can be done. Saved us $200, I think.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 1:27 PM on October 2, 2008

If you're sure you want an IPhone, you might want to think about the service provider too. Apple and AT&T are married, you know. And although the IPhone is a technological wonder, and beautiful to boot, its function relies on a provider from whom you "haven't received much help." AT&T's infamously questionable service and draconian price plans have made many people think twice. Have you considered TMobile's new G1? The plan is friendlier, the features are comparable and the service is at least as good.
posted by CollectiveMind at 1:33 PM on October 2, 2008

Best answer: (1) This might not apply to you, but I had some trouble porting my 312 (Chicago) number now that I live in NYC. For anyone who runs into this problem, it worked fine as soon as I gave them a Chicago billing address (instead of a NYC billing address). I just called later in the day to change my billing address back to NYC.

(2) You can switch back without the ETF if you do it in the trial period -- don't remember if it's 2 weeks or 4 weeks? Ask Apple.

(3) I think you can start the purchasing process on-line now.

Good luck. I love my iPhone, warts (dropped calls) and all.
posted by rdn at 1:37 PM on October 2, 2008

I have the cheapest calling plan, plus $5 for 200 text messages (which covers my usage). My bill comes to about $85 a month. Also, if you control your usage of anytime minutes for a few months, you can build up a healthy supply of rollover minutes to pad out your plan.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 2:05 PM on October 2, 2008

Have you seen the HTC phones that are coming to Sprint soon the Touch Diamond and Touch HD, they are super awesome looking, and generally outclass the iPhone. Also Sprint is getting Android early next year, while AT&T is not on the menu for that as of yet.

I would suggest looking at your options with Sprint before you jump in this trendy low functioning bandwagon.
posted by BobbyDigital at 8:23 PM on October 2, 2008

The sales guys at the AT&T store have the ability to waive the activation fee. You might try asking them nicely. They may refuse, but it couldn't hurt.
posted by paulg at 9:42 AM on October 3, 2008

I have also heard of people getting out of EFT by stating they are moving to an area with no Sprint service. In fact my friend switched from Sprint to ATT (and the iphone) with no cancellation fee under that pretense and then switched back a week later because he couldnt stand the ATT service/coverage (he was used to Sprint's network and believe me all he did was call all day long around southern california going from one contracting job to the next). Sprint really does have the best service where I live. Anyway, he was able to switch back without paying Sprint's EFT after he told them he decided not to move :)
posted by schindyguy at 6:27 PM on October 22, 2008

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