So much for upgrading for free...
My new cell phone from a couple years back (a Motorola L6) gave up the fight after less than a year's use. Good thing that I hung on to some of my older cell phones - a trusty Samsung that, unfortunately (after being thrown at a wall - don't ask recently gave up the fight as well. I thought, okay, I'm probably eligible for another free phone upgrade. I signed on to our AT&T wireless account, and sure enough, they were advertising free phone upgrades and various discounts. I ended up selecting a refurbished Samsung (no more Motorolas for me) Blackjack II for $50, a steep discount from the $300+ retail cost. Checkout process is easy enough - but what happens in the end? Just before hitting the checkout button the final cost jumps to $68. I'm thinking, where did that come from? I hadn't done any plan upgrades, nor added any features or accessories.
Mandatory upgrade fees with most carriers
It turns out that just about all wireless carriers, including AT&T, charge a mandatory $18 upgrade fee, regardless of how long you've been a customer. I suppose there's overhead on the backend from shipping and processing costs with free phone orders, I can understand that. What I don't understand is why they specifically advertise the upgrade as free all over their website, when in fact upgrading will always cost $18 (some carries, such as Nextel, charge even more ($36 for a Nextel phone upgrade)). To me it's the principle - in this day and age companies need to be transparent and upfront about their costs. If they're not, it prompts a rant such as this one, and may others you'll find if you Google "AT&T (or any other wireless carrier) upgrade fee."