Starting tomorrow, AT&T is planning on raising their upgrade fee from $18 to $36.
In an e-mail sent to media outlets, AT&T confirmed the fee increase, saying “Wireless devices today are more sophisticated than ever before. And because of that, the costs associated with upgrading to a new device have increased and is reflected in our new upgrade fee. This fee isn’t unique to AT&T and this is the first time we’re changing it in nearly 10 years.”
The change in the upgrade fee comes just a week prior to the highly anticipated launch of the Samsung Galaxy Note on AT&T network.
The raise in the fee has already created a torrent of negative comments on Twitter. Comments have included “Well, this is one way to thank your loyal customers,” “y’all appreciate y’all’s customers huh? Great way of showing it!” “AT&T’s upgrade fee says ‘THIS is the fee for all the trouble we had to endure *selling* it to you.’”
Two petition drives related to the fee increase were started at Change.org today. Change.org is the site that became famous when employees petitioned against changes in Black Friday store hours at several national retailers. Change.org has also been in the headlines lately concerning a petition related to allegations of worker abuse at Chinese plants involved in the manufacturing of Apple products.
One of the petitions, which has gathered 144 signatures as of this evening, states “The upgrade process is simple. You go into the store (or online), pick out a phone and the rep makes the simple necessary account changes. The serial number of the new phone is inputted into the system and the contract date is renewed for 2 years. Irregardless of the device chosen (even the most basic of phones), the process is always the same. How could this process cost ATT more?”
The second petition, which appears to have started within the last few hours, has 25 signatures so far. This petition states “We need to say NO to these charges. Please sign the petition and stand up to this big corporation to keep it from making money from the middle class during hard economic times.”
There have been recent incidents in which large companies have rescinded proposed fees after receiving customer complaints. One of which comes to mind is Bank of America’s $5 monthly fee for ATM use. Another is Verizon’s $2 billing charge.
Those examples may be the reason that AT&T provided so little notice of this price increase. The the increase will already be fact by the time many people hear about it.