Iphone 30 day contract question
January 8, 2009 9:57 PM   Subscribe

I bought an Iphone through ATT dec 9th. Found out today i will be in Japan this year starting this spring for one year ATT Contract states:"simply return it either to a store or by mail within 30 days from the date the equipment." I assumed that that meant 30 full days of use (hence return today would be OK, but they insist that it meant 30 calendar days irregardless of what time the phone was picked up or activated, and so they denied my return. Any thoughts on my options? Should the contract not be more clear on precise what 30 days means?
posted by dougiedd to Shopping (21 answers total)
If you're talking about this return policy, it says "simply return it either to a store or by mail within 30 days from the date the equipment was purchased or shipped" [emphasis added]. Do you have something that is missing those crucial words?
posted by grouse at 10:05 PM on January 8, 2009

Unfortunately it's not in AT&T (or any carrier's) economic interest to make it easy for you to return your phone. 30 days is generous though, T-Mobile only gives you 14 days for "buyer's remorse."

Still, you should be able recoup much of your investment (maybe make money if you bought the phone at a discount) by selling it on eBay or through some other venue.
posted by wfrgms at 10:08 PM on January 8, 2009

Unfortunately, they mean 30 days from when the contract started (I speak from experience). What you can do is call them up and tell them that you are going to Japan for a year. They will probably offer to hold your contract until you get back. Also, AT&T has the best global coverage in the world. They can probably switch you over to an international plan. Finally, the iPhone is still an awesome iPod Touch with wifi capabilities even without a calling plan. This could be very useful in Japan. So, just call them up, explain your situation and ask them what your options are.
posted by CoralAmber at 10:17 PM on January 8, 2009

Why am i wrong to assume 30 days means 30 days? In their interpretation, i really did NOT have 30 full days : why should one assume 30 days means less than 30 days?
posted by dougiedd at 10:55 PM on January 8, 2009

oh, they want $10/month to hold contract and max 6 months/yr hold...
posted by dougiedd at 10:56 PM on January 8, 2009

if i count out thirty days from the day i signed the contract, il and on today? what am i missing?
posted by dougiedd at 10:57 PM on January 8, 2009

Oh, so this is a question about whether the 30 days includes the last day or not? It was a little confusing from the strange place where you chopped off the contract language, and your mention of activation.

Yeah, I think that a return within 30 days should include the last day. Constructing it differently would mean that a requirement for a return "within one day" would not actually include any additional days. Additionally, since they wrote the contract ambiguities should be resolved in your favor.
posted by grouse at 11:07 PM on January 8, 2009

Except it would be day 31. December has 31 days in it.
posted by internet!Hannah at 12:28 AM on January 9, 2009

Let us know if you pass through Tokyo. We'll have a meetup for you :)
posted by gen at 12:49 AM on January 9, 2009

If you can't get out of the contract and are forced to buy the phone, hey, you can now unlock the 3G (blog.dev-team.org) and then use it on SoftBank Mobile's network here in Japan.

(Currently living outside of Nagoya, for what it's worth, and pleased as punch with my Japanese iPhone)
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:23 AM on January 9, 2009

Are you in Japan because work is sending you there? I would consider that part of relocation costs (canceling the contract) and charge it to them - if it falls within the allocated relocation budget? (Or charge the holding of the contract - whichever is less)
posted by defcom1 at 4:42 AM on January 9, 2009

If I'm not mistaken you may have until January 15th to return or exchange it because it was purchased during the holiday season. Not sure what the beginning date was for purchases to count as a holiday purchase but check your receipt again. Also go into a store and make a stink about it. You should also be able to go to an Apple store and either try to return it there or at least find out what the holiday return policy is.
posted by eatcake at 5:19 AM on January 9, 2009

I think you are probably going a little too specific with 30 days. Unreasonably specific, I'm sorry to say.

Definitely see if you can get out of the contract entirely - I had a friend do this without any cancellation fees when he moved to Korea. That said, you will lose your number. If you are dead set on keeping it, you might be able to transfer it to one of those prepaid phones, maybe, and then cancel the contract. I have no idea if that'll work, though.
posted by averyoldworld at 6:29 AM on January 9, 2009

Except it would be day 31. December has 31 days in it.

Dec 9 to Jan 8 = 30 days. Dec 9 was a Tuesday, four weeks later = 28 days, plus two more to make it to Thursday.

I think you are probably going a little too specific with 30 days. Unreasonably specific, I'm sorry to say.

I disagree; one could just as easily say that it is AT&T that is being too specific, and since they were the ones that wrote the contract of adhesion, they don't have that luxury. And mobile phone salesmen do not have the best reputation for following even their own company policy, let alone the law.
posted by grouse at 7:20 AM on January 9, 2009

. . . one could just as easily say that it is AT&T that is being too specific . . .
I think the term "day," as AT&T uses it, is not likely to be considered sufficiently ambiguous for that argument to hold much water. But who knows, maybe a small claims court would find it persuasive and amusing and go for it.

Of course, the contract doesn't say 30 days from the time the phone was purchased. It says "from the date the equipment was purchased or shipped." The starting date is 12/8/08, and it's been 31 days by that measure. Where's the ambiguity? If it had said, "30 days from the purchase of the phone," then I could maybe see spinning the interpretation that way. But it doesn't - it gives you the date.

You're in Hawaii, right? The Attorney General has issued an opinion which distinguishes deadlines determined by "day" and by "hours." It's not substantively on point, because it addresses the application of deadlines imposed by law, the computation of which is set out by §1-29 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes. Nor is that binding authority in any way. But in the absence of anything else, it's probably persuasive. If they wanted it to be 30 full 24-hour periods, they'd have specified that. The point being, the Attorney General (of 1992, mind you), saw hours and days as being separate things, and if you but that, then AT&T was plenty specific about what they meant.

That said, §1-29 does state that time in which any act required by law must be performed excludes the first day. This doesn't strictly apply to your scenario, but that's the argument I would make if I were going to fuss it up.

Actually, I would make that argument. "The state excludes the first day from computation of deadlines. Calculating like the state does, you'll see that the deadline for return is today." It's better than leading with principles of contract interpretation. Hell, print out §1-29 and take it into the store with you. I'm rooting for you.
posted by averyoldworld at 10:57 AM on January 9, 2009

So if ATT lets me out of my contract but forces me to keep the phone, where does that leave me functionally speaking for those in the know?
posted by dougiedd at 2:36 PM on January 9, 2009

OK: citing 1-29 ATT makes the decision to let me out of the contract with no 175 penalty; keep the phone
where does that leave me in terms of future service on my returns to US for brief 4-6 week periods?
Wait for ATT to offer pay as go for the 3G?
posted by dougiedd at 2:59 PM on January 9, 2009

Google seems to think that you can just take any AT&T prepaid sim card and plug it in and that it'll work straightway. But you might just call AT&T and ask if that's the case - I wouldn't check with the store.

Did they actually let you out of the contract, or is that just a hypothetical?
posted by averyoldworld at 3:40 PM on January 9, 2009

They said they will but i noticed in their contrct lnguage a provison about billing you for full price of the phone
posted by dougiedd at 4:08 PM on January 9, 2009

I bought an iphone and 32 days after I bought it I flew to live overseas. Not only did I get to keep the phone I got to cancel my early termination fee. And now with the unlock I am back in business. Sweet
posted by tarvuz at 6:45 PM on January 9, 2009

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