Tuesday, August 14, 2012

ATT Wireless - When is an Upgrade Not an Upgrade?

Catastrophe stuck Eldersburg on Friday last week.  My iPhone 3 GS stopped working.  At first I thought the battery just needed to be charged.  I put it in my docking station at work.  When I was ready to go to the gym I picked it up, it made no noise.  I did the hard boot, pressed both buttons and the same time and held them, but to no avail.  I ended up running in silence, not knowing my time, not jamming to the Bulletboys.

I came home and immediately jumped on the Internet (pretty much like I do everyday) and searched for answers.  Do this.  Do that.  Nothing worked.  I sent alerts to my tech-savvy friends.  Conclusion - it was dead.  D.E.A.D- dead.  Tarter sauce!

I looked online for a new one as I know I'm eligible for a new phone.  I could get one for 99 cents, but it would take a few days to get here.  I decided that I could tough it out for a day and get a new one in the store on Monday.

On Monday I went to the AT&T store in Owings Mills near the Crossroads Medical Center on Reisterstown Road.  I didn't realize it, but that place is a former shoe box converted into a store.  And they didn't have the 3GS, just $199 4S's, and I didn't want to spend that much money.  He recommended that I visit the store in Pikesville in the Woodholme Shopping Center near Trader Joe's.

I got there and used the that wasn't made of plywood.  I would have posted a picture of it, but alas I didn't have an operating cellphone camera with me.  I asked the lady if she had any 3GSs.  She said they did and went to the back to get one.  She returned with a sassy lip and apologized and said they did not have any.  She looked in the system and the closest store with a 3GS was in Montgomery County.  No thanks.  She recommended I try online.  Then she tried to sell me a new cover for my phone.  They cost $49 for a piece of rubber shaped like the outside of the phone.  If the phone is 99 cents, then the rubber cover costs 4,800% more than the phone.  Ridiculous?  I think so.

I got back to work and went online to order the 3GS.  Then I got to a screen and it said that the 99 cent phone would be $37.05 after Martin O'Malley gets his taxes and AT&T got its upgrade fee.  An upgrade fee?  Is this really an upgrade?  I'm going from an Apple iPhone 3GS to an Apple iPhone 3GS.  Doesn't seem like an upgrade to me.

I called the customer service and asked the lady about the upgrade fee.  She said it applies.  I reminded her that upgrade means something that is enhanced or improved, to raise to a higher standard.  Since I'm trading the same phone for another, it's not technically an upgrade.  She disagreed, though with no defining reason.  I asked what was different between the 3GS that I was ordering and the one I was replacing (other than the obvious point that the new one would work).  She was confused.  I then asked her if AT&T was misusing the vernacular of the word 'upgrade'.  Silence.  Never mind.

Am I out of line?  Or is this not really an upgrade? If they want to charge me $36, that's fine.  Call it a replacement fee.  But don't call it an upgrade fee when there's no upgrade to be had.

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