So, you saw that AT&T had upped the early upgrade fee last week and thought you would just avoid that and buy the device outright. You can go ahead and scratch that idea too, as they have also bumped the off-contract prices of some devices up to match the early upgrade fee. As if the fee jumping by $125 wasn't enough, they had to go and raise the outright price of some phones up to $150. The price of phones that were already above the early upgrade fee with no commitment were untouched, but less popular devices that had reasonable off-contract prices were hiked to just above the price of the phone as an early upgrade.
The whole ordeal is absurd. The price of a phone off-contract should not be relevant to an early upgrade fee, or maybe they shouldn't have raised the fee to begin with. Sure, there would be more people doing what I said and buying outright rather than signing a contract to avoid the early upgrade fee, but that should be a viable option. Rather than giving their customers a choice to do what they want, they're channeling their customers down a single path and trying to keep everyone on contract. For a phone to jump from $229.99 to $379.99 for no reason other than AT&T trying to charge people another fee is a shot below the belt to both current and new customers.
This just shows AT&T's motivation to keep the US subsidized and oppressed by the increasingly inevitable contracts of wireless service providers. T-Mobile is open to both month-to-month and contracted customers; Verizon typically tries to keep customers on their two-year contracts and has raised the early termination fee, but you don't see them boosting the price of their devices; and Sprint is about the opposite of AT&T right now, offering an early upgrade to all of their premier customers.
There's a reason more than one person has turned the well-known blue globe logo of AT&T's into a Death Star (just do a Google image search of “AT&T”). They don't seem to give two cents whether they're upsetting customers. I understand, it's a business and they have to make their money, but they're just getting greedy now. When customers are complaining about high prices and you gouge them even more in any way you can, people are eventually going to cave and jump ship. With the circling rumors of a Verizon iPhone and the high number of people claiming they would switch to Verizon if it got the iPhone, AT&T should focus on taking care of their customers rather than keeping them tied to a contract. What do you think about the price change in the off-contract devices? Is it fair? Would you buy one with no commitment now, knowing they have jacked the prices?