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Valued customer...?

posted Jun 10, 2009, 3:12 PM by Matteo Risoldi   [ updated Jun 10, 2009, 3:40 PM ]
If you read blogs around the 'net speaking about AT&T's offer for the new iPhone, you will have heard that their existing iPhone customers are not entitled to the prices published on Apple's website. In fact, they have to pay a $200 surplus to get the same models.
This says a lot about how much AT&T values their existing customers, and how much it cares if they leave for another provider.

But AT&T is not the only provider playing this trick.
I am currently a customer of Orange Switzerland. I have been since 2005, and I currently have 2 subscriptions with them for an average total of 70-80CHF/month. My 2-years contract obligation (which I subscribed to get my current phone, a Nokia N70) just ended. This means I can cancel my contract with Orange anytime without any penalty.
Now, you see, I want to get an iPhone. I went to Orange.ch online shop, and saw that the 32GB model goes for 299CHF if I get a 2-year Optima 30 contract (44CHF/month). Add to that 40CHF for a new SIM card.
It seemed a bit expensive, but I thought what the hell, I like that phone, and I have already a 3G SIM so the 40CHF should not apply to me.

So I logged into the website, went to my profile and clicked on the link offering me to renew my contract for 2 years to get an iPhone. Normally, this kind of online renewal also gives you a bonus on your next bill (i.e. the bill is offered up to 80CHF). I was expecting to get the iPhone for 299CHF+the bonus.

This is where I discovered the following:
- For existing customers, the iPhone 32GB costs 349CHF - that is 50CHF more than for a new customer
- The bonus on the next bill does not apply for iPhone purchases

So, here I am after 4 years, wanting to renew my contract for another 2 years (fyi, that is a minimum guaranteed of 1056CHF over 2 years, plus what I will spend over the forfait) and it turns out that it would actually be cheaper to cancel my current subscription and get a new one. Even when taking the 40CHF for a new SIM into account, it still is cheaper to change contract. But that sucks, as I would have to change my phone number. No, no, no. Can anyone explain to me the logic behind this? Am I supposed to feel that Orange cares about keeping me as a customer?

By the way, this same provider yesterday called me on the phone and tried to convince me to subscribe an option which would make me save money on SMS. One of the arguments of the representative on the phone was that with this option I "would start paying the same price for SMS sent to foreign countries as the ones sent to Switzerland". As a matter of fact, I already do pay the same price - 23cts. Also, all current mobile plans offered by Orange offer the same price to send SMS's to Switzerland or abroad. Hell, I even pay the same price to CALL to Switzerland and abroad. This is another bullshitting attitude that is pushing me away from Orange.

On the other hand, I could get an iPhone with Swisscom. Their subscription is more expensive (55CHF against 44CHF) but that would mean I could get rid of my land line, saving 25CHF per month - I had to have a land line for my ADSL service, but Swisscom now offers to give you ADSL without a land line if you have a cell subscription with them. In the long term this could even be cheaper, but I'm still waiting to know how much they will charge for the iPhone itself.

I must admit I'm drooling to get that phone. But I'll resist. :)