Now that the iPhone 5 has been officially released to the public, many Americans are scrambling to work out some sort of agreement with their mobile service providers for the option of upgrading to Apple's newest mobile device. However, according to Bullish Crossings' blog posts, AT&T is paying customers to leave them and go to their competitors.
According to the blog post, when trying to figure out whether he and other members of his family were able to upgrade to the iPhone 5, he discovered that only his line is eligible. However, in order for the other two lines to upgraded to the iPhone 5, each have to pay $250 early upgrade fee. When he called and asked AT&T how much it would cost to terminate the service and jump ship to Verizon, they informed him that it would cost only $320, a whole $140 less. The author continued, writing that he "must've spoken to at least six or so people at AT&T" until someone finally figured out how ridiculous the disparity between the prices was. AT&T then offered him $173.80 as a payment through an accounts credit. However, they never specified that, by accepting the credit, he would be bound to AT&T, so he left for Verizon anyway, with a $173.82 bonus.
With people bargaining and debating with their mobile phone providers over upgrades now the iPhone 5 has come out, it seems like the early termination fees and two-year contracts sound more and more ridiculous. With Virgin Mobile offering iPhone 5's on a prepaid basis, with no two-year attachment plan, it seems like prepaid plans are more appealing for users who are tired of buying new phones every year through companies like Verizon and AT&T, and being attached to the for the foreseeable future.
If you do decide to ditch your existing contract and buy a new iPhone 5 with a prepaid carrier like Virgin Mobile, you should know that the initial cost for the device itself is higher than it would to be with other companies like Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T. This is because, most mobile carriers offer you a subsidized price on devices, and then lock you in to a two-year contract, ensuring that you won't be able to leave without pay an early termination fee.
Dealing with your mobile phone carrier might be one hassle that you never want to deal with, but, it could help you save a lot of money. There have been dozens of articles, from reputable news outlets like US News, that explain how you can save some money upgrading to a new phone, or lowering your monthly bill (Google "how to negotiate with mobile phone companies"). Personally, when I upgraded to the iPhone 4S, I was initially getting charged $70 per month for an older Sprint SERO plan. However, after doing some research online, I found that the plan was much cheaper than that, so I called up Sprint. After two hours of complaining, debating, and clarifying, I was able to make my plan much cheaper.
So, for those of you who are tired of not being able to upgrade your existing phone to new models, I definitely suggest try and negotiate some sort of deal or settlement with your mobile carrier. They're usually very helpful and accommodating...mainly because they don't want to lose your business. And, you never know, you could get lucky, like this guy.
EDIT: As of now, the only prepaid carrier for the iPhone 5 is Cricket Wireless. However, Virgin Mobile is offering the iPhone 4S for $550.