I’ve been doing some thinking about whether or not to jump into this year’s circus that centers around pre-ordering or buying a new iPhone 5 and I’ve decided to sit things out a bit. There are a couple of reasons for my decision. First, its money. I’m an AT&T customer that has no interest in switching. Verizon’s service just isn’t as good in my area. I did the pre-order thing last year on got my iPhone 4S on October 8, the same date as a lot of other folks. So, after talking with AT&T, I’ll save $200 bucks if I purchase on October 8. More on that in a minute.
I’m also not interested in playing the get up early or stay up late game or dealing with websites that may or may not be able to handle the traffic. And I’m far past the standing in line game. Been there done that. Enjoyed it. Don’t need to enjoy it again.
But back to the money and the calendar thing. I will pick up a 64GB phone when I do and I’ll gladly pay the $649 price that comes with not being at the end of a contract. But I’m not going to pay $849 for a couple of extra weeks of having the latest gadget. That’s the price I’d have to pay if I pre-ordered or stood on line.
The last couple of years AT&T has shown some loyalty to existing customers by overlooking a few weeks or so on the calendar and letting them get new phones at that $200 price point. Apparently this year, AT&T isn’t that interested in rewarding customer loyalty the same way. I spoke with several AT&T reps today and actually have an email guaranteeing me the $649 price on October 8. That’s a good thing, because if I check my eligibility through AT&T’s website, it only shows a May 2013 date for a full upgrade. There’s no mention there of when I could obtain the $200 cheaper price point. If I check it via Apple’s website it shows November 8. As the TUAW link I referenced earlier points to, AT&T is blaming Apple for going back on the precedent it set the last couple of years. I got that from both AT&T reps I talked with today as well, but who knows what is really true there. Bottom line on that issue is that wherever the fault lies, AT&T and Apple are using the calendar to their advantage in the instances when someone just has to get in on the game at the beginning.
My advice is that if you’re in this situation, give a call to AT&T and escalate your way up the support ladder. Depending on the rep you get, you might catch a break.
But there’s a catch, and a bit of a risk to my decision as well. We all know what will happen. At some point tomorrow or this weekend we’ll begin seeing iPhone delivery dates slip to 1 to 2 weeks or so, as the pre-order crush takes over. October 8th is the first day I’m eligible for that cheaper price. But guess who else is? Only all the folks who bought the iPhone 4S on pre-order or the launch day last year. So, there’s no guarantee that AT&T will have phones in the store that day, and to take advantage of the price point, I’m pretty much relegated to buying at an AT&T store.
So, if you’re like me and got an iPhone 4S on the first day, October 8, last year, and are thinking of waiting until that date this year, given AT&T’s snubbing of customer loyalty, you might want to keep in mind that this was the day that quite a few iPhones were delivered, bought, and activated. That might mean short supply.