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AT&T Upgrade Fee Is a Poke in the Eye

Elizabeth Johnson

Financial Advisor

I recently had to buy a new phone after my 3 year old iPhone 3GS became unusable. AT&T Wireless, as usual, stuck me with an upgrade fee – this time it went from an annoying and distasteful $18 to a ridiculous $36.

Like usual, I called and asked that it be waived. The lady told me it was not even possible in her computer system to do so.

A few minutes later she told me her job would be in jeopardy if she waived it.

at&t upgrade fee wiaved

I asked her, “so lying to your customers doesn't put your job in jeopardy? You just told me you weren't even able to do it.”

Caught in a lie, she muttered something about if she did it, a manager would see and she'd get in trouble, but if I'd like, she could let me talk to a supervisor. She also said she could give me a $25 credit right now.

Rather than take this any further and risk a fist-sized hole in my drywall, I took my $25 credit.

Please pardon my rant, but AT&T Wireless must not think I'm a valued customer when they stick me with an “upgrade” fee for the privilege of being a customer for another two years.

As a longtime customer who has spent over $10,000 with this company, I am very put off when asked to pay a fee SIMPLY FOR BEING A CUSTOMER.


What the Heck is an Upgrade Fee?

Upgrade fee? Seriously?

I'm not upgrading anything. I bought a lower grade phone.

I am asking to continue to give you money every month for the next two years, not to move into your basement.

Hell, they should call me and thank me for being a customer, not charge me a fee.

There AT&T, are you happy? After getting $10,000 from me, you had to shake out another $11.

If you need $11 that bad, should I even trust your company?


If You Are Going to Extract Money From Your Customers, Be Smarter About It

Look, if you really need to recover more money from customers because the price of “upgrading” has gone up (SIDE RANT: Maybe the reason your cost of signing papers for customers is going up has something to do with the army of frat bots I saw with iPads strapped to their hips last time I was in your store).

If I'm correct, Verizon Wireless doesn't charge an upgrade fee. I suspect that this is not because they don't like money, but because they are smart enough to just sneak it into the price of their phones or plans, or whatever other way they are using.

Which is my point.

If you have an increased cost of doing business, RAISE YOUR PRICES. Don't hide behind some silly “upgrade fee.”

That puts you in the company of those late-night infomercials selling a ten-dollar product with twenty-dollar shipping and handling.

Say what you want about AT&T vs Verizon – at least Verizon pretends to care about their customers, or maybe more shocking, they realize that treating a customer right is good business in the long run.


How to Get AT&T Upgrade Fee Waived

If you've never had your AT&T Wireless upgrade fee waived, just call in and ask. I don't think the employees in the store have the power to do so.

Even if you've had it waived before, call anyway. They at least deserve to know how you feel about their fee.

They may have to escalate you to a supervisor or manager, or they may offer you a credit for a smaller amount in the hopes you will be tired of fighting and relent.

Most likely they will waive the fee for you.

It has worked for me almost every time.

Elizabeth Johnson

Elizabeth is an expert on Debt Consolidation as she provides helpful advice to people who are dealing with debt problems. She graduated college with a BS in Finance. After college, she took a job working at a non-profit debt counseling program. It was at this position where Elizabeth honed her expertise for helping people understand how different financial products work and finding ways to help people pay off their debts.