To see your date, use the “Check your eligibility” links here.
This post on TheNextWeb seems to have the most information on how AT&T calculates eligibility dates for customers to upgrade to the iPhone 4S at the fully subsidized prices. Reader Julien Deveraux discovered:
- “Tier 1 customers,” aka those who spend the most money per month (unlimited minutes + 2gb data + unlimited texts) are eligible every 12 months for early upgrade.
- “Tier 2 customers,” aka [almost every subscriber,] who have either the 900 or the 450 minute plan but who still use the highest data plan and highest texting plan are eligible every 18 months.
- “Tier 3 customers,” the ones who spend as little as possible and or the ones who’ve had late pays or service interruptions must wait the full 24 [months].
I’m one of the unlucky1 customers unknowingly in Tier 2 this year with the November 25 subsidy date. It’s the first year I haven’t been able to get the full subsidy on day one of the new iPhone. My rate plan hasn’t significantly changed in the last four years that I’ve been with AT&T, and I have a perfect payment history, so it looks like they raised the tier 1 boundary sometime in the last year.
I called AT&T today to see if they could move my date forward, and the rep (“Kevin”) was extremely helpful in calling around to various departments and even local store managers to see what they could do, but nobody could actually move my date, despite his opinion that I was one of their “best customers”.
I did learn a few things, though:
- They supposedly can’t change the date in the eligibility system that Apple connects to, so I won’t be able to buy a fully subsidized iPhone 4S from an Apple Store until November 25.
- AT&T’s Customer Relations department has some flexibility, but they’re facing the same 4- to 8-week shipping delay on the iPhone 4S, so it probably won’t save much time even if I could convince them. (But I couldn’t.)
- AT&T store managers can override the eligibility date if it’s within 30 days, so if I can find an AT&T store with the iPhone 4S in stock, I can probably buy it there starting on October 26.
- The official word is that they’re blaming Apple for this, saying Apple didn’t like their early subsidy changes in the past, but that sounds like bullshit or a miscommunication somewhere — Apple gets full price regardless. AT&T pays the subsidy.
I’d love to know the monthly-bill-price boundary to be a Tier 1 customer, but I can tell you that it’s almost certainly above the ~$80/month that I’ve spent for the last year. Knowing this number could make plan add-ons, such as tethering, more worthwhile.
I recognize how much of a first-world problem this is. ↩︎