A little over a year ago, I sold my soul by signing a 2-year contract with AT&T. In retrospect, I made a fatal error in not having contractual rape protection beforehand. Here’s the deal:
My phone now turns itself off at will. If i put it on my pocket, it might turn off. If i put it on a desk, it might turn off. Basically, the vibrations caused by me typing this sentence may well have turned it off. It was a good phone, a simple Sony Ericsson phone whose sole purpose was to make phone calls. Despite the overwhelming majority of “smart” phones owned by every single person around me, I managed to hold off till now. Unfortunately, my phone’s inability to satisfy its minimum requirements of being on have forced my hand.
So I decided it’s time to drop the bills and get a new one. I walk into an AT&T store and tell him I want a new phone. I’m looking at the new blackberry which just came out, the Bold. He then asks if I am already on a contract. I gladly respond to his query, informing him that I am an existing customer with AT&T. My assumption is that, while I may still have to sign a new contract to get a discount, being an existing AT&T customer is a benefit here. Ah, my naivety.
AT&T Guy: Sorry, you cannot buy the phone.
AT&T Guy: We are not selling the phones to existing customers. Only to new customers.
AT&T: It’s a new phone. Only new customers can buy it.
AT&T: That’s just how it works. You might be able to buy it when it is not as new.
Me: When will it be “less new”?
AT&T: Umm. Maybe… in a month?
Me: Why a month? What is that based on?
AT&T: It’s just the policy.
Me: Listen. My phone is broken. I need a new phone. Can I buy another phone? What about the iphone? That’s old now. Can i buy that?
AT&T: No, that’s still considered new. You can’t buy that till your contract expires…. *checks stuff*… which is May 2009.
Me: But the iphone has been out for a month.
AT&T: It’s just store policy.
Me: So let me get this straight. If I wasn’t already with AT&T, I could buy a phone. But since I am, I cannot buy a phone.
At this point, I leave the store, still in utter shock as to what just happened. AT&T actually refused to take my money. I walked in with a bag of money, showed it to them, and said please take all of my money because I have no use for it, and then they said No. I’m still shocked.
I then called AT&T customer service and the guy on the phone seemed pretty understanding of my situation. He said he dealt with this kinda shit all the time, and had a great solution. I was all ears. His solution was that I sign another 2-year contract for an additional line at $9.99 a month, and use that new line to get the phone. Seriously. This was his “inside method” to get me my phone. I get to pay $240 over 2 years for a line that no one will use so that I can save $200 on the phone. Freaking genius. I asked if I could sign a 2-year contract for a new phone, and have the 2 years added on to my current contract (which is gay, but at least satisfies their interest to have me finish my initial 2 years). He said No. Awesome.
All in all, I’m not really sure what to do now. 6 months is a long time, and I kinda do want an email phone now. But the Bold is too expensive on its own ($550), and paying $399 for an iphone i would normally get for $199 makes me want to shoot things (by things I mean AT&T, and by shoot I mean stab in the face). I guess I could also just use one of the temp phones I have lying around for 6 months. I just find it so fundamentally retarded that they are refusing to take my money. How is that ever, under any circumstances, a smart business decision?