AT&T is planning on doubling its ETF fee for smartphones?

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AT&T is planning on doubling its ETF fee for smartphones?
Joy and happiness can start to set in for anyone who recently purchased a brand spanking new smartphone, but those feelings can easily subside once you find that you're not completely satisfied with it months after you've signed a contract. Customers aren't tied down to a carrier because they can simply leave and just pay the customary ETF fee noted on their contract, but it looks like AT&T might be changing things up very shortly to make it extremely painful in ditching that smartphone. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the number two wireless carrier in the country is somewhat following Verizon's lead in raising its ETF fee on smartphones. Currently, customers who break their smartphone contract will have to pay a $175 ETF fee, but the increase is speculated to raise to $325 with it dropping by $10 for each month the customers stays put. Conversely, the ETF for non-smartphone devices will go down from $175 to $150. That provides little solace as the trends point to smartphones being the future – which also means it'll hurt more to break your smartphone contract. It's rumored for this new ETF change to go into effect starting on June 1st.

source: The Wall Street Journal via MobileCrunch

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43 Comments

1. AZNphoneGeek

Posts: 200; Member since: May 15, 2009

hahaha hahahaha hahahaha hahahaha

2. Exalpha

Posts: 5; Member since: May 21, 2010

WOW!!! I wonder, does the June 1 date have anything to do with the HTC Evo 4g??? and also if i were to end my contract before june 1 would it apply to me...?

4. easytochris

Posts: 126; Member since: Jan 21, 2010

if you are currently in a contract you should most likely be held by your current contract's terms. the new contract would be in effect for all new activations upgrades that fall under the new stipulations. they legally cant hold you to an etf that you havent agreed to until you agree to it under new terms

6. Exalpha

Posts: 5; Member since: May 21, 2010

alright cool...thanks alot

13. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Nothing to do EVO 4G and more to do with recuperating any possible loss on high-end phones.

16. theGodpapa

Posts: 181; Member since: Dec 15, 2009

funny how VZW got RIPPED up on ths site when they announced that they did this months back, and here comes copy cat wirless doing the same thing as usual....sad.

18. immabee

Posts: 3; Member since: May 19, 2010

r u joking. att only has 1 high end phone. i mean 2 counting the new pre.

37. whocares

Posts: 235; Member since: Dec 19, 2009

They arent doing it to copy verizon. That is just ignorance. VZW did it because of the "Bogo Bandits". Att hasnt had a real reason to until iphone 4g and the increase of smartphones....

3. JeffdaBeat unregistered

I think this definitely should happen...but for the iPhone only. For years, there have been some shady folks buying iPhones with a $400 discount and then go out and sell them for no contract. In the end, they got hit with a $175 ETF. That doesn't match the price of the subsidy. This will stop folks from trying to scam iPhones and sell them because there will be no profit to make. My problem, however, is with the other smartphones. They all get the usual $150 off and then at the very most, a $100 mail in rebate. So where does the extra $75 come from

5. Hotzb22

Posts: 109; Member since: Mar 30, 2009

in att"s pockets

7. GlenF

Posts: 50; Member since: Nov 02, 2009

This ETF change would also take on new meaning if Verizon was to get the I-phone next year. Anyone that bought the upcoming 4g this year would still have a very hefty fee to go get VZW's version ion the spring. There's also the crazy growth of Android on VZW, Sprint and even T-Mo to consider. Let's be honest, the Backflip is NOT a Marquee phone

8. 3watts

Posts: 56; Member since: Jul 28, 2009

Let's see....they copy VZW's plans within hours of the changes and now they are following them on smartphone ETF's. Plagiarism is the sweetest form of flattery.

9. whocares

Posts: 235; Member since: Dec 19, 2009

Im pretty sure it has nothing to do with verizon... try gaming.

12. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Verizon has had this or planned this for some time now and the FCC was investigating it. Good call on the gaming.

10. macron2000

Posts: 81; Member since: Sep 07, 2009

This is part of the reason why there may be growing population who opts for Unlocked smartphones instead of the carreir branded ones. You would not be held to such a termination fee in that case or some of the other carrier related discords. Besides, some of the hottest phones to date are those that have never been released by a carrier. Perhaps Google was on to something good if they had been able to see it through. Take a page out the European's book, where a phone, is a phone, is a phone. No worries about carrier red tape.

11. BlackberryUser

Posts: 609; Member since: Jun 26, 2009

This amuses me only because the ATT Fan Boys were so hard on Verizon for doing the same thing. I think this is business and I understand why carriers are choosing to go this route. They pay for the phone discount through your monthly fees. That said, I think the fee's are too high.

14. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

So, for anyone with an AT&T contract - these changes only affect new contracts.

24. BlackberryUser

Posts: 609; Member since: Jun 26, 2009

That is 100% correct, legally they can't modify a contract without giving you an opportunity to opt out of it. There have been a few occasions where carriers have made modifications to terms such as fees which gave you a short period where you could opt out and cancel your contract. I believe Sprint was one of the carriers to do this, most carriers like Verizon and ATT will just have your terms change at contract renewal. Things like an ETF can't be modified without purchasing a new phone.

36. whocares

Posts: 235; Member since: Dec 19, 2009

Its true I mean att is the ONLY compay to get As across the board from the bbb.

15. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

The iphone has an MSRP of 599, so a declining ETF starting at 325 is no big deal.

17. jtucker1987

Posts: 89; Member since: May 06, 2010

I'm on AT&T with an iPhone and I can tell you straight up that this was only a matter of time. Most likely though I'll stick with AT&T when a verizon iPhone comes out because AT&T has been improving their network drastically. My area was upgraded to 7.2 Mbps and I no longer have dropped calls or failed messages. They're doing something right finally. I think we need to get rid of subsidizing phones all together. The ones who would be able to afford smart phones and need them at the same time at cost are college students, business people, and other professional jobs. There's no need for a fifth grader to have a blackberry I'm sorry.

19. iHateCrapple

Posts: 734; Member since: Feb 12, 2010

I don't think most college kids would be able to afford an unsubsidized smartphone though...unless their folks are caked up?

20. YouLostTheGame

Posts: 441; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

I think this move points increasingly towards the possibility of a VZW iPhone. AT&T doesn't want all those iPhone customers running out their doors when the VZW iPhone is announced/launched. For me this move only brings the VZW iPhone one step closer to fruition. I mean after all this time has gone by since VZW upped it's ETF charges, there hasn't been one word from the ATT camp about it, and now all of a sudden when the new iPhone is getting ready to be announced/launched, ATT moved to increase specifically their smartphone ETF. Call me crazy but I just think there's more to this than meets the eye.

25. BlackberryUser

Posts: 609; Member since: Jun 26, 2009

I disagree, what was Verizon's driver for it then? I think this is a business decision due to lost revenue from subsidizing phones and having people cancel before making back their money.

27. jtucker1987

Posts: 89; Member since: May 06, 2010

I agree with you. I don't think it has anything to do with a verizon iPhone. I mean AT&T has the iPhone most likely till 2012 so when someone signs a commitment this year they will be free to get a verizon iPhone in 2012. It definitely has to do with losing money from subsidizing (or at least that's what they claim). I really wish AT&T offered one year contracts like verizon does :/.

38. YouLostTheGame

Posts: 441; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

I see what both of you are saying but I just feel the timing is suspicious. I feel if it was truly all in the name of lost revenue, they would have done this months ago. People didn't JUST start unlocking their iPhones. But we'll just have to wait and see.

21. Man_of_God

Posts: 32; Member since: Jan 27, 2009

Most BB's have a MSRP of at least $400+, Backflip is $500, Expo $400+, and several of the keyboard non-smartphones are at least $300+. So this seems fair to me. Lowered on dumbphones and higher on smartphones. You can always buy the phone outright and not have to worry about an ETF.

22. Mateo8326

Posts: 472; Member since: Jul 15, 2009

Didn't the FCC stop that with verizon or no?

23. VZWtrainer

Posts: 50; Member since: Jul 24, 2008

They did not because they have absolutely no jurisdiction to do so.

26. BlackberryUser

Posts: 609; Member since: Jun 26, 2009

They asked for justification, but that was as far as it went.

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