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If you have a prepaid iPhone, you’d better take care of it

We’ve already discussed with you an easy way to get the iPhone on a prepaid plan, even if you don’t have a poor credit score. Honestly, it’s becoming a better and better idea now that they’re closer to fully unlocking the phone (though your only other real option then would be T-Mobile). You’re not committed to AT&T for two years, which is a greater benefit than many realize. However, if you’re going to go the prepaid route, you’d better take mighty good care of your iPhone. Because if it breaks, you lose it, it gets stolen, etc., you’ll have to open a totally new prepaid account to activate the replacement phone.

Apparently, this is a security feature implemented by Apple and AT&T. What it secures against we’re not totally certain. This is not something spelled out in any terms and conditions that we could find, nor are Apple and AT&T technicians fully aware of the provision.

A reader of one of our favorite blogs, Consumerist, recently went through a 32-hour fiasco in an attempt to activate his replacement iPhone on his prepaid plan. Only at the very end was he informed that this was not possible. Of course, the problem for JD — and many iPhone users — is that they’ve had their number for quite some time and can’t really afford to change it.

There are two options here: get a new phone number, or ditch the iPhone completely. Out of frustration, we’d choose the latter. Screw AT&T if they’re going to implement these seemingly pointless measures. Call us crazy, but it could be more of an anti-prepay bias than an actual security measure.

The best line of JD’s letter comes right towards the end:

This situation allows me to state very simply: AT&T is holding my iPhone, and phone number, hostage. For me to use my iPhone with my phone number would require me to pay anywhere from $100 to $1000 dollars and be contractually obligated to continue paying AT&T for 2 years.

Not cool. But, this is what you get when you enter into business with a company like AT&T. If you’re not made of money, they treat you like a third-rate customer. We hope that blows up in their faces some day.