Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I do not recommend downgrading from an iPhone

The most awful of circumstances led to me downgrading from an iPhone: I lost mine on a flight from Brussels to Cannes in May, and they would not let me back on the flight to look for it. This was followed by the most awful of announcements by Apple: the 3G iPhone would not be available until July. This resulted in the most awful of necessities: I had to use a Motorola Razr for one month. Aside from the functional retardation this induced, it also enabled AT&T to screw me on the upgrade pricing for the new iPhone.

For quick reference, here's what my old Razr looked like at the end of its productive life, about a year ago:

Verizon Razr V3c, post

Admittedly, the shape it was in was purely my fault. I take pride in taking good care of my electronics, but I beat the Razr senseless out of frustration with its pathetic Verizon software, molasses-slow response, and DRM'ed restrictions. Then I tore it apart looking for the SIM card. There was no SIM card, and you had to subscribe to a paid service to transfer your data to a new phone. Want to use your own USB cable? You can't — the cable is "not approved" and you have to buy one from Verizon. Want to change the boot screen so you don't have to watch an ad for Verizon's Vcast service everytime you turn on your phone? You can't. Want to turn off the annoying low battery sound that beeps every two minutes if you need a charge? You can't — even if you set the phone to silent mode. Want to remove the cheesy default desktops and trashy gifs to save space on your phone? You can't. You can't, you can't, you can't. That's Verizon's idea of a customer's rights to the products they buy.

Having downgraded back to the Razr for a month, I must say: old phones seem positively Cro-Magnon after the iPhone. I was excited when I got a Razr in early 2005. I forgave its fumbly design flaws at first, liking the slim and sleek ideal, but eventually grew to hate fighting against it to accomplish basic tasks. Having now used the iPhone, where basic tasks are simple, complex tasks (like three-way calling and looking up a contact during a call) are logical and intuitive, and extended functionality like Google Maps and websurfing are just a touch away, downgrading to any other device is like regressing to Windows 1.0. It literally feels decades behind, where the simplest task like changing a ringtone, entering contact info or sending a text is a fight against a maze of menus and unlabeled buttons.

In downgrading to the dark ages, the unkindest cut of all came when I tried to return to 2008: AT&T refused to give me the upgrade pricing to my 3G iPhone. This pricing is guaranteed for anyone who bought the first iPhone, $199 for the 8GB and $299 for the 16GB. But because I had to use a loaner for a month, they said there was no iPhone on the account, and thus I had to pay $499 for the 3G. As the guy at the Apple Store said, "AT&T is screwing you." I spent about half an hour on the phone with support, looking for the intelligent person to make the exception. But they blamed "our contract with Apple." Apple, contrarily, said, we can't make any alterations to the price because AT&T controls all pricing.

This is a fight I plan to take to customer service ferociously until I get a rebate. That's right, I bought the 16GB at the inflated price, because I can't go on using a cell in the time of cholera. But for AT&T to penalize me $200 for losing my phone illustrates their basic inclination to screw the loyal customer.


Optima Consulting, Inc. said...

Use your new iPhone only for business calls and it is a tax writeoff. :) I am trying to make you feel better about the whole experience.

rob getzschman said...

Thanks Darin, I think it's a good consolation prize to have the government subsidize my iPhone if AT&T won't.