How can I get a good deal with AT&T retention specialists?
April 22, 2008 11:53 AM   Subscribe

What's a good way to get a good deal from AT&T retention folks if I'm off-contract but planning to get an iPhone?

I'm off contract with AT&T, and am planning to get an iPhone once 3G comes out, but my current phone is on its last legs, so it'd be nice to get a freebie that could also be used as a backup if the iPhone needs repair in the future.

I'd like to:
Go into AT&T Store, sign up for a 2 year contract (which I will have to do anyway with the iPhone), get a free phone, and then later get the iPhone which is going to be given to me as a gift. Will this work?

Any experience with talking to the retention specialists at AT&T to get a good deal on a service plan... ie, free text message package, etc? Then when I get the iPhone, I can just pay for the additional data plan, but keep my extra service plan.
posted by gramcracker to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Go into AT&T Store, sign up for a 2 year contract (which I will have to do anyway with the iPhone), get a free phone, and then later get the iPhone which is going to be given to me as a gift. Will this work?

I'd be careful; my assumption would be that they'd make you sign up for a new 2-year contract to activate the iPhone, and just add it onto the 2 years you're already locked into, for a total of 4 years.
posted by designbot at 12:10 PM on April 22, 2008

The most recent issue of 2600 has a good article titled "Gaming AT&T Mobility" which outlines some social engineering tricks to get perks and upgrades from AT&T/NSA.
posted by fatedblue at 12:11 PM on April 22, 2008

The iPhone would likely override the current subscription, ie. if you signed up for a free phone with a 24 month contract, kept it for 2 months, then bought an iPhone and activated it you would be "renewing" your contract for 2 years and you'd be back at a 24 month contract. Obviously you would want to ask the clerk to be positive but this has always been the case for me when I was eligible to "upgrade" before my contract was even up, the contract simply got reset back to the original time frame.

Keep in mind that there are various fees tacked on at points, not large ones but a $35 activation fee paid twice, and an "upgrade fee" of ~$18 paid once, those could start to weigh in on your idea of a "free" phone so you'd want to find out in advance what you're looking at and whether it's worth it to activate the free backup phone before you get an iPhone or just keep it around/sell it on ebay/whatever.
posted by genial at 12:28 PM on April 22, 2008

Response by poster: Good thoughts, thanks, I didn't realize that. I'd like to see if I can get a good deal on a plan from the retention folks, and then just two months later add on the iPhone data plan only for $15 or whatever.
posted by gramcracker at 12:48 PM on April 22, 2008

I just bought a cheap AT&T phone on eBay when mine died on me.

You should also be able to get an AT&T GoPhone with the minimum number of minutes you're required to purchase, and then replace the GoPhone's SIM card with your current phone's card.
posted by ShooBoo at 1:02 PM on April 22, 2008

GoPhone service sets you back $49.99/month for only 200 minutes (but with rollover), charged at $0.15/minute, $0.15 for SMS. That's fine for occasional use and you buy into unlimited data at the same time. Taxes take it up to $50-something/month.
posted by moof at 1:44 PM on April 22, 2008

AT&T has little motivation to do anything for someone who wants an iPhone. I'd suggest you just buy one of the billion old Nokias on ebay to tide you over. Genial may or may not be right - I didn't think contracts ran concurrently, but rather back to back - but why risk it for a free phone that you can have for $20 on ebay?
posted by phearlez at 2:43 PM on April 22, 2008

If you want a good deal, you're not going to get it on the iphone. They've got no incentive to give you a deal. The Nokia N75 has 3G, a nice screen, and it's free. The N95-4 has 3G, 8GB onboard, GPS, etc, etc, and is less than the iphone. Since you have to get a special, expensive, data plan(which nonetheless isn't any faster) with the iphone, there's little room for retention to cut you a deal. The Nokia can use the standard medianet plans, which are already kinda cheap.

Remember that you won't be able to swap sim cards with an iphone like you could with a Nokia, either, so there's no way out of extending your contract, and if you unlock it, you risk another forced firmware update which kills the phone.

Good luck, but don't expect much, and for the love of god, please, please don't be one of those people who calls and bitches about anything they can just to see if they can get offered a deal. Those people make customer service suck for everyone else.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 4:44 PM on April 22, 2008

Go Phone is the answer for now.

You DO NOT NEED to sign up for the go phone service at all. Just go into Walmart, Target, etc... and buy the Go Phone you want.

Take the SIM card it comes with and toss it in the trash, take the SIM card out of your dying phone and put it into the Go Phone, you are back in business, no new contract, no change of phone plans.

I've done it many times, no muss, no fuss
posted by Mr_Chips at 8:23 PM on April 22, 2008

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