Consumer Alert: AT&T’s Next Plan

Larry 'n NassauI saw a commercial last night for an AT&T cellphone plan called Next. Under this plan you will be able to upgrade your phone once a year without paying an upgrade fee or signing up for another two-year contractual commitment. Sounds good if living at the cutting edge of gadgetry is what vibrates your chimes.

But, if this sounds wonderful just remember that many things wonderful need exposed to a little of day’s light. I’ll include a link (click HERE) to the full story but basically signing up for a two-year contract means you’re usually paying some upfront money for your phone plus a monthly rental fee for the length of the contract. After two years AT&T will have made the price of the phone back and probably a little extra and you get to keep your phone.

Under the Next plan you’ll continue paying any existing fees along with a much higher monthly rental fee. At the end of a year you will have more than paid for the retail cost of your phone. You will then be required to turn in your phone for a new one and AT&T will continue charging you monthly rental. Basically you’ll be paying full retail, and more, for every new phone they give you.

Additionally, you will not be permitted to keep your phone. With each new upgrade AT&T gets in return a paid for used phone that they can refurbish, resell, and realize an almost one-hundred percent profit from.

It’s already difficult for many of us to truly justify owning the level of cellphone we haul around in our pockets and purses. My father in law relishes whipping out his three-year old simple Nokia pay-as-you-go phone and bragging about how little it cost him. I, however, have to think real hard to defend why I’m paying something close to 1960s monthly home rental cost for my state of the art, do everything but scratch my back, smartphone.

But, while I’m not giving up my smartphone, I know enough about technology and marketing strategy to not be taken in by this latest scheme to get deeper into my money clip. I know that between now and the end of my two-year contract little is going to occur that will make my phone obsolete. My HTC One X will continue doing everything I enjoy doing long after the upcoming HTC One XXX Squared or iPhone 8S will do a year or two from now.

Think I’ll just keep what I have and spend that money on sharing the occasional meal with my wife at one of our favorite eateries. I’ll still have the means to call for a reservation.

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