Downside of ATT's new plans?

cameronjpu

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Aug 24, 2007
1,288
65
I'm trying to find the hidden gotcha in these new plans. I mean, ATT hasn't been in the business of just cutting prices for just about everyone in the past, right?

I have the 450 minute plan ($40), with unlimited texting and M2M ($10), 2 GB of data ($25, grandfathered). I am 3 months into a new contract with a subsidized 5S.

Near as I can tell, for $40 + $25 I get unlimited minutes (which will be nice), 2 GB data and unlimited texting. Both plans are before taxes, so that shouldn't tip the balance.

So it seems like the new plan will save me $10 per month with no downside. But SURELY that can't be right, can it?

I mean, I must be giving up something. Maybe it's non-monetary? Am I giving up some flexibility for future upgrades? I have lots of rollover minutes which I imagine I'll be losing, but I don't see how that's a problem if I would now have unlimited minutes. Can someone help me figure this out? I must be missing something....
 

monkey28rb

macrumors 6502
Jun 19, 2010
297
17
I'm trying to find the hidden gotcha in these new plans. I mean, ATT hasn't been in the business of just cutting prices for just about everyone in the past, right?

I have the 450 minute plan ($40), with unlimited texting and M2M ($10), 2 GB of data ($25, grandfathered). I am 3 months into a new contract with a subsidized 5S.

Near as I can tell, for $40 + $25 I get unlimited minutes (which will be nice), 2 GB data and unlimited texting. Both plans are before taxes, so that shouldn't tip the balance.

So it seems like the new plan will save me $10 per month with no downside. But SURELY that can't be right, can it?

I mean, I must be giving up something. Maybe it's non-monetary? Am I giving up some flexibility for future upgrades? I have lots of rollover minutes which I imagine I'll be losing, but I don't see how that's a problem if I would now have unlimited minutes. Can someone help me figure this out? I must be missing something....

You will be giving up the ability to get a subsidized phone after your 2 years.
 

scaredpoet

macrumors 604
Apr 6, 2007
6,626
342
I mean, I must be giving up something. Maybe it's non-monetary? Am I giving up some flexibility for future upgrades? I have lots of rollover minutes which I imagine I'll be losing, but I don't see how that's a problem if I would now have unlimited minutes. Can someone help me figure this out? I must be missing something....
The incentive is that you are no longer on AT&T's older plans, where you are eligible for 2-year contract subsidies on new phones. So, in exchange for paying a little less per month, AT&T isn't paying $300 or more into the cost of your iPhone. In the end, AT&T does come out ahead.

Instead, you'll get the option to either pay full price the next time you buy a phone, or use AT&T Next, which is basically financing the phone under a payment plan. That usually tacks on an extra $30 a month or so.
 

cameronjpu

macrumors 65816
Original poster
Aug 24, 2007
1,288
65
You will be giving up the ability to get a subsidized phone after your 2 years.
Gotcha, that's the answer I was looking for, then.

So I save $240 over two years and they save $450 (the subsidy on new model iPhones). Not a good deal for me.

Of course, the world is moving away from that subsidy model, so I wouldn't be surprised if by the end of my two years, they are no longer offering "upgrade pricing" anymore anyway.

Then again, getting unlimited minutes back is a nice concept. I switched to the 450 minute plan 3 months ago in a bid to get my $110/month bill down as much as possible. They gave me the unlimited M2M and texting for $10 which has lessened the pain, but 450 just isn't enough for me. I find myself avoiding taking phone calls during the day when they are from land lines. So I should place some value on that, and that's probably $10 per month (the amount I would have to pay to get to a higher plan I think). Right now I have rollover minutes (which they gave me when I switched plans) to burn through.

I guess I will wait a bit and see how this competition plays out. Thanks for the answer!
 

Applejuiced

macrumors Westmere
Apr 16, 2008
40,650
6,404
At the iPhone hacks section.
If you don't plan on switching carriers then you're losing the subsidy every 2 years. To me its not worth it cause its nice to pay $199 or $150 for a new device instead of $650.
I have a 700 minute family plan with unlimited texting that includes unlimited mobile to mobile calling. And with over 4000 rollover minutes I wont go over.
 

deeddawg

macrumors G3
Jun 14, 2010
8,216
2,107
US
The incentive is that you are no longer on AT&T's older plans, where you are eligible for 2-year contract subsidies on new phones.
Are you sure of this? If you build a new plan on att.com with 2GB mobile share you can choose either 2-yr subsidy or Next -- difference is Next gets you a $15 discount. My upgradeable lines show the of a 2-year contract subsidized upgrade on my 10GB Mobile Share plan (though I'd use $25 discount on any line I subsidy upgraded)

So I save $240 over two years and they save $450 (the subsidy on new model iPhones). Not a good deal for me.
Maybe, maybe not. Project the numbers forward. Remember also that the subsidy upgrade would cost you $236 out of pocket for a base iphone (assuming past pricing).

Current plan: $75/mo plus $236 every upgrade. Four year total from today $3,836

New plan: $65/mo -- savings of $10/mo assuming 450 minutes was all you need. Subsidy upgrade would cost $236 up front plus the loss of the $15/mo discount, so call it $24.83/month additional cost for a subsidy upgrade. Compare to Next upgrade cost of $0 up front and $25/mo for 26 months, retain the $15/mo discount. Net four-year total of new plan would be $3716 with a subsidy upgrade in two years or $3720 if you do a Next18 upgrade in two years. Trade off on the last is you'd still owe $50 on the phone, so subsidy upgrade on the new plan would cost a little less.

Now if you truly do need more than 450 minutes, which it sounds like you'd find of value, that's another $480 cost to your current plan at $10/mo for 48 months.


If you don't plan on switching carriers then you're losing the subsidy every 2 years. To me its not worth it cause its nice to pay $199 or $150 for a new device instead of $650.
I'm not sure how $199 or $150 (plus $36 upgrade fee) is nicer than paying nothing up front? :confused:
Subsidy is effectively $18.75 per month per line ($450/24), then add the phone cost ($236) and your cost of ownership is $27.33/month over 24 months, or $686 for a typical $650 phone.

I recommend people project their past usage and upgrade patterns into the future for two, four, or six years and work out which option is to their best advantage.


Note: I'm disregarding sales tax since you effectively pay it either way and the specifics will vary state by state on subsidized plans.
 

ricktat

macrumors 68000
Feb 18, 2013
1,555
1,191
You can still get a phone with the subsidy but you have to pay the extra $15 per month.

The next time you are ready to get a phone you will be debating Next versus buying outright vs paying the extra $15 and still getting the subsidy.

I switched last month to the family 10GB plan. Just like this, I will save monthly but it will cost me more when I get new phones one way or the other.

For $10 a month.... I would keep what you have.

You would need to save $20 a month to break even.
 

aneftp

macrumors 601
Jul 28, 2007
4,247
463
I'm trying to find the hidden gotcha in these new plans. I mean, ATT hasn't been in the business of just cutting prices for just about everyone in the past, right?

I have the 450 minute plan ($40), with unlimited texting and M2M ($10), 2 GB of data ($25, grandfathered). I am 3 months into a new contract with a subsidized 5S.

Near as I can tell, for $40 + $25 I get unlimited minutes (which will be nice), 2 GB data and unlimited texting. Both plans are before taxes, so that shouldn't tip the balance.

So it seems like the new plan will save me $10 per month with no downside. But SURELY that can't be right, can it?

I mean, I must be giving up something. Maybe it's non-monetary? Am I giving up some flexibility for future upgrades? I have lots of rollover minutes which I imagine I'll be losing, but I don't see how that's a problem if I would now have unlimited minutes. Can someone help me figure this out? I must be missing something....
Actually its a GREAT deal for people like you who just used their full subsidy upgrade!!

It's a so so deal for people who are already subsidy upgrade eligible.

By getting a $199/$299 iphone in the past 3 months. ATT has only "subsidized" you for for 3 months. They are letting you off the hook.

So I highly recommend people who aren't on some unlimited grandfathered plans and currently on tiered data plans and WHO RECENTLY USED their full upgrade, to switch. It's a no brainer.
 

Nikhil72

macrumors 65816
Oct 21, 2005
1,130
653
I rationalized it after realizing that if i pay full retail for any new iPhone and take into account resale value of old iPhones, the savings month to month are worth it over the subsidy from AT&T. Of four lines, I'm the only annual upgrader; the others are okay with waiting or with hand me down phones from me.
 

Applejuiced

macrumors Westmere
Apr 16, 2008
40,650
6,404
At the iPhone hacks section.
I'm not sure how $199 or $150 (plus $36 upgrade fee) is nicer than paying nothing up front? :confused:
Subsidy is effectively $18.75 per month per line ($450/24), then add the phone cost ($236) and your cost of ownership is $27.33/month over 24 months, or $686 for a typical $650 phone.

I recommend people project their past usage and upgrade patterns into the future for two, four, or six years and work out which option is to their best advantage.


Note: I'm disregarding sales tax since you effectively pay it either way and the specifics will vary state by state on subsidized plans.
I never paid an upgrade fee on any of my lines in over 10 years.
They always waive it for me due to my works discount.
And I have unlimited data on 3 of my lines that I never want to lose by switching plans and then be open to data overages. And also a 25% FAN discount on my plan that saves me more than the $27.33 projected above;)
 

deeddawg

macrumors G3
Jun 14, 2010
8,216
2,107
US
I never paid an upgrade fee on any of my lines in over 10 years.
They always waive it for me due to my works discount.
Sadly, this doesn't apply to all. Yes, some are able to get them waived with a phone call, but there's a degree of time/effort involved as well.


And I have unlimited data on 3 of my lines that I never want to lose by switching plans and then be open to data overages. And also a 25% FAN discount on my plan that saves me more than the $27.33 projected above;)
Data usage is an important criteria everyone should consider. Some value the "freedom" of not needing to worry about data overages, others never use enough data to justify keeping unlimited, and a few actually use enough data to make it worth it.

FANs are a good item to consider as well. I ended up with increased savings vs. the discount on my previous family plan. I haven't really mentioned it because FANs vary, but certainly should be considered in the overall cost structure.
 

scaredpoet

macrumors 604
Apr 6, 2007
6,626
342
So I save $240 over two years and they save $450 (the subsidy on new model iPhones). Not a good deal for me.
I wouldn't necessarily put it that way. you are technically still saving money, depending on your upgrade/phone-buying habits. They just happen to be saving more than you are.

I myself am strongly considering getting the 10GB Mobile share plan and adding my iPad Air to it to take advantage of the $100 per new line offer (if I do it before the ned of the month). With my corporate discount, I'll be paying only about $15 more per month and getting a boatload more data, plus not having to worry about data or tethering for my iPad.
 

Rigby

macrumors 601
Aug 5, 2008
4,741
3,689
San Jose, CA
So I save $240 over two years and they save $450 (the subsidy on new model iPhones). Not a good deal for me.
It's not really an apples to apples comparison, since the plans are quite different. You have to weigh the pros and cons. The no-contract mobile share plans have a few advantages beyond just the unlimited calls:

-Tethering is included (with the old individual plans, you only get this if you take the most expensive data package)
-Ability to share the data across several devices
-Upgrade phones on your own schedule (with the subsidy model, you pay extra if you upgrade early or leave money on the table if you upgrade too late)
-Ability to switch carriers at any time

I was on the 450 minute + 3GB data plan and paid ~$70 (including a FAN discount). Now I will pay $60-$65 (don't know the exact discount yet), but will have to pay full retail next time I upgrade my phone. Also, I got my current phone for the subsidized price just 6 months ago, so basically AT&T is waiving 18 months worth of payments for the subsidy by letting me have the no-contract device rate. Together with the pros listed above, it works out well for me.
 

spinedoc77

macrumors G3
Jun 11, 2009
9,356
3,375
I'm trying to find the hidden gotcha in these new plans. I mean, ATT hasn't been in the business of just cutting prices for just about everyone in the past, right?

I have the 450 minute plan ($40), with unlimited texting and M2M ($10), 2 GB of data ($25, grandfathered). I am 3 months into a new contract with a subsidized 5S.

Near as I can tell, for $40 + $25 I get unlimited minutes (which will be nice), 2 GB data and unlimited texting. Both plans are before taxes, so that shouldn't tip the balance.

So it seems like the new plan will save me $10 per month with no downside. But SURELY that can't be right, can it?

I mean, I must be giving up something. Maybe it's non-monetary? Am I giving up some flexibility for future upgrades? I have lots of rollover minutes which I imagine I'll be losing, but I don't see how that's a problem if I would now have unlimited minutes. Can someone help me figure this out? I must be missing something....
Won't he pay more for the smartphone since he's still on contract? $40 versus $25? Or will ATT force him to buy out his subsidized phone?

For the OP, it's virtually the same for anyone signing up today. You can get a "free" phone every 2 years for $199, or you can buy your own phone or let ATT finance it at 0% and get a hefty service discount every month. If you do the math it works out to be pretty close whichever plan you take. Each way has it's pros and cons though.
 

Deguello

macrumors 6502a
Jun 29, 2008
912
480
Texas
Won't he pay more for the smartphone since he's still on contract? $40 versus $25? Or will ATT force him to buy out his subsidized phone?
AT&T will put you on the $15/$25 a month plan (depending on data pool size) as long as you were on contract before 2/1/2014.
 

spinedoc77

macrumors G3
Jun 11, 2009
9,356
3,375
It's not really an apples to apples comparison, since the plans are quite different. You have to weigh the pros and cons. The no-contract mobile share plans have a few advantages beyond just the unlimited calls:

-Tethering is included (with the old individual plans, you only get this if you take the most expensive data package)
-Ability to share the data across several devices
-Upgrade phones on your own schedule (with the subsidy model, you pay extra if you upgrade early or leave money on the table if you upgrade too late)
-Ability to switch carriers at any time

I was on the 450 minute + 3GB data plan and paid ~$70 (including a FAN discount). Now I will pay $60-$65 (don't know the exact discount yet), but will have to pay full retail next time I upgrade my phone. Also, I got my current phone for the subsidized price just 6 months ago, so basically AT&T is waiving 18 months worth of payments for the subsidy by letting me have the no-contract device rate. Together with the pros listed above, it works out well for me.
I thought tethering worked on any amount of data? That's what the reps explained to me when I signed up, although I'm on the 10gb plan they said if I downgraded I would also be allowed to tether.

An ATT's site under their mobile share plans they say "Tethering and Mobile Hotspot use are permitted with up to five (5) simultaneous devices."
 

lordofthereef

macrumors G5
Nov 29, 2011
12,871
3,408
Boston, MA
Sadly, this doesn't apply to all. Yes, some are able to get them waived with a phone call, but there's a degree of time/effort involved as well.
For a person who is avoiding day time calls to save money (the OP who we are helping here), I would say the degree of effort is minimal.

I have had great success logging into AT&T chat and simply asking. For one reason or another AT&T reps seem to just toss money at me. Most recently I was charged for sending texts to Canada. I called and asked about this (I was buying a car and we lived near the border in a recent move and didn't realize it was a Canada number). When they explained, I was more than happy to accept the charged, But what did they do? Gave me $50 to be sure to cover me in my car search...

I am not saying this is the rule. But I do suspect a lot of people just accept the upgrade fees for what they are and move on. Unless you are a new customer or have a really bad track record making your monthly payments I would expect they would extend the courtesy to you (anyone) as well. I would love to believe I am something special, but fully accept I am not lol. :)
 

spinedoc77

macrumors G3
Jun 11, 2009
9,356
3,375
AT&T will put you on the $15/$25 a month plan (depending on data pool size) as long as you were on contract before 2/1/2014.
Wow so you get to double dip? Get a subsidized phone and the service discount? Very nice.
 

djplaxe2109

macrumors 6502
Feb 4, 2013
438
0
I never paid an upgrade fee on any of my lines in over 10 years.
Me either. I just call and complain that the sales person used pushy tactics after I said no thanks to the dozens of cases, warrantee, and even the remote control helicopter... Then I request that they refund the $30 fee and they always do.
 

Rigby

macrumors 601
Aug 5, 2008
4,741
3,689
San Jose, CA
I thought tethering worked on any amount of data? That's what the reps explained to me when I signed up, although I'm on the 10gb plan they said if I downgraded I would also be allowed to tether.

An ATT's site under their mobile share plans they say "Tethering and Mobile Hotspot use are permitted with up to five (5) simultaneous devices."
Read carefully. ;) This was referring to the old (non-mobile share) plans.
 

Applejuiced

macrumors Westmere
Apr 16, 2008
40,650
6,404
At the iPhone hacks section.
Me either. I just call and complain that the sales person used pushy tactics after I said no thanks to the dozens of cases, warrantee, and even the remote control helicopter... Then I request that they refund the $30 fee and they always do.
Lol:D
I dont have to go that far.
I usually just tell them I been a customer since 1998 and wonder if they can credit me back that fee like they usually do every year. They put me on hold for a minute and come back saying my account has been credited.
 

rodetrip

macrumors regular
Feb 21, 2014
104
68
wow i feel so lucky for the plan i have with at&t, ive been a customer for about 2 and a half months now. those whole two months i was calling them alot and was demanding a lower bill from the retention department.

my current plan is 450min, unlimited m2m texting, 3gb data. i am also getting a 15% student discount that gets taken off from the talk($33 only for 450min) and i was given a $10 discount for 12 months from complaining to the retention department too much. i pay $74 a month :)

i do consider myself lucky because i have an awesome plan for my iphone 5s! :)
 

aristobrat

macrumors G5
Oct 14, 2005
12,245
1,313
I thought tethering worked on any amount of data? That's what the reps explained to me when I signed up, although I'm on the 10gb plan they said if I downgraded I would also be allowed to tether.

An ATT's site under their mobile share plans they say "Tethering and Mobile Hotspot use are permitted with up to five (5) simultaneous devices."
FWIW, it's the old "not Share" plans that typically don't allow for tethering. The Share plans (regardless of size) do allow for tethering.