The lunacy of my iPhone churning escapades with 3

I have been banging on about leasing or renting phones for some time. I very much believe that the marketplace is going to need to evolve to address the hardware dating issue. For me, anyway.

I’ve had my iPhone 4 from 3 for 16 months and it’s on a 24-month contract. The new iPhone 4S is out. I want it.

What do I do?

Well, I walk into the 3 store yesterday and I ask for an iPhone 4S. I was quite prepared to pay some kind of early upgrade charge or .. whatever, really. I didn’t care. I just wanted the iPhone 4S and — like the good Apple consumer I am — I was prepared to pay. My expectation was that the whole experience will cost a bit of cash.

The chap in the store recommended that I take out a new line instead of upgrading the existing line and paying the upgrade charges. I’m sure that this makes his figures look better. It also saved me money.

“Just don’t phone up and cancel your current one immediately!” he said.

Here, then, is what I did with Three.

1. I took out a new contract for an iPhone 4S. I paid £279 up front as I wanted the 64GB version. It’s a 24 month contract. [Interestingly the chap in the shop never ONCE mentioned the contract length. <s>He didn’t ask if I wanted 18 months</s>.]

2. I’ve got 8 months left on my iPhone 4 contract.

3. I called up to find out how much it would cost for me to kill this contract today. Answer = £240 charge.

4. I went on to envirofone’s website to see how much they’d pay me for the iPhone 4. Answer = £215.

That’s almost cost neutral.

(When, errrr, you ignore the £279 up front I paid for the 64GB — the 16GB would have been free, I think).

My point is this: Why didn’t 3 just take my old iPhone 4 from me, terminate the existing contract and establish a new one?

Instead we went through the rigmarole of establishing an entirely new line. Great, their figures will be enhanced. That’s another contract customer! Until, that is, I give their retentions team heartburn by phoning up and killing the old contract, adding a churn to the figures.

Still, I’m happy. I’ve got the 4S now and it’s nice and fast.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

8 replies on “The lunacy of my iPhone churning escapades with 3”

“He didn’t ask if I wanted 18 months” Why would he? 3 don’t do 18 month contracts. Its either PAYG or 2 years. 

Shoot me down if you think i’m talking bollocks Ewan, but after reading you posts about leasing and the desire for simplicity, and the facilitation of fast device replacement cycles, wouldn’t the sim free route be the most viable. 

Hook yourself on to a super attractive sim only, buy new handsets on a whim (and receive them fast with you amazon prime). It may not be as fire and forget as with your initial leasing plans (especially with the selling and insurance part, though you could hold your nose and  walk in to a CEX to sell it), but seeing as you are now resigned to the traditional contract route to get the device of you choice, surely my suggestion is the simplest as it cuts out all the your gripes about networks

It is pretty awful as they could surely make the customer experience better when people want to “trade-in”.  That said, perhaps the more expensive, shorter contracts might be better for you?  I go SIM only these days, though I might try a 12 month contract with O2 when the new iPhone comes out.

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