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6/10/2010
05:32 PM
Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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AT&T Offering Price Protection To Recent iPhone Buyers

AT&T has confirmed that it will be offering some form of price protection for those who have recently purchased an iPhone 3GS.

Anyone who purchased an iPhone 3GS in the weeks leading up to June 7th's iPhone 4 announcement probably feels somewhat chagrined. Even though you just signed a new contract with AT&T, however, you do have an opportunity to upgrade to the new iPhone without incurring any major penalties. Let's look at how.

First and foremost, AT&T offers a 30-day trial period for most of its devices, during which customers can cancel without paying the early termination fee. This trial period allows customers to test out a phone and AT&T's service to make sure everything works and they are satisfied. If not, they can return the phone for a full refund, though they will have to pay for the number of days they actually used the service. This applies to everyone who is an AT&T customer, and also AT&T's competitors Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. Just signed a contract last week but want the new iPhone? This is your ticket out.

AT&T is going one further, however, for its customers who may have recently purchased an iPhone 3GS before the iPhone 4 was announced and the price of the iPhone 3GS was discounted down to $99. Here's how it works:

Customers who bought an iPhone 3GS recently before the price cuts can get a credit for the difference between what they paid and the new $99 price:

--Customers who purchased iPhone between May 7th and May 14th will have an extension through Sunday, June 14th, to receive Price Protection -- get credit for the price difference

--Those customers who purchased their device after May 15 will have the regular 30 days to visit a store and get a credit.

Customers who bought an iPhone 3GS between May 7th and May 21st and want to exchange it for iPhone 4 will have an extension through June 21st to preorder iPhone 4 in an AT&T store:

--They’ll need to bring their current device to the store to exchange for iPhone 4 when their order arrives - cannot ship to the home.

--This wouldn’t apply to someone buying an iPhone 3GS at the new, lower price points, though those customers still have the 30-day return policy and can receive a full refund if they cancel service and return the purchased device.

When you consider that AT&T is also allowing pretty much every current iPhone owner to upgrade to the iPhone 4 at the lowest possible price, it seems as though AT&T wants to be the hero this year, rather than the villain. Last year, the upgrade criteria were somewhat arbitrary, and customers who appeared to have similar profiles weren't all offered the same upgrade prices.

One can't help but wonder if there are ulterior motives this year. For example, when does the exclusivity agreement between AT&T and Apple run out? In a few months? In early 2011? It would appear that AT&T wants to sign up as many of its customers to the new iPhone as fast as possible. Just something to think about before making that two-year commitment.

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