06/10/2013 03:34 pm ET

AT&T Eliminates Early Upgrade Discount


Wireless giants AT&T and Verizon appear to be locked in a fight to see which company can offer its customers the worst deal, with AT&T announcing over the weekend that it will no longer offer early upgrade discounts to users with two-year contracts.

AT&T customers will now have to wait a full 24 months before they can upgrade their phones at a lower subsidized rate, instead of doing so after 20 months, as many have grown accustomed to.

The new terms mimic a policy change by Verizon in April and are just the latest development in a slew of customer-unfriendly moves by big cell phone carriers, Engadget points out. Let’s not forget that both wireless providers did away with unlimited data plans. And The Verge points out that AT&T just last month sneakily added a new “Mobility Administrative Fee” of $0.61 to the bills of its wireless customers.

AT&T’s new upgrade terms apply to all customers whose contracts expire during or after March 2014. Those customers who agree to sign another two-year commitment can still get a partial discount.

GigaOM suggests that the policy change is a cost-cutting move on the part of AT&T. But Consumerist points out that without the early upgrade, AT&T will no longer be providing its customers with an important incentive to renew their contracts before the two-year period is up.

In the meantime, if you find yourself needing to upgrade your phone early, don’t fret too much. AT&T promises a “variety of options to best suit customers’ individual needs”. Among them: “purchase a device at full retail price.”



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