I've got AT&T and I don't understand this at all. Why would your plane increase $30/mo if you get new phones? We were three years into our iPhone 4 pair last fall and upgraded to a pair of iPhone 5s. There is the normal one-time with-contract cost, and the stupid $35 activation fee. But our plan didn't increase.
Does AT&T lower your plan after two years, because the phone is paid for? If so, I was ripped off the third year of my iPhone 4.
Does ATT lower your plan? No, of course not, not without asking. They're more than happy to collect all the money from you they can. Call 'em up. Ask for their best deal on the features you want. Get the price without upgrading. Then ask what happens when you upgrade your phones. Not only do you have to pay that up front $200 per phone, the monthly price will also increase and you will have a 24 month contract. You are not getting that $650 (or whatever it would cost) phone for just the $200.
Yes, you paid too much for the 3rd year of your iPhone. You didn't see an increase in your monthly charge when you upgraded because you were still paying an inflated 24 month contract rate on your 4's. You are paying every month for your upgraded phones.
When you got your 5s's, you called up ATT and said we want to upgrade our phones, right? You didn't ask if you could get a lower rate if you didn't upgrade, did you? I'm guessing the whole phone call (or store visit) was about upgrading the phones. They're not going to volunteer the lower rates, you have to ask. Once you've got all the info, at least than, you can make an informed decision about whether the upgrade is worth over $1100 (in my case).
I think what may be happening for many is that they're so used to upgrading as soon as they can, they don't check out what the monthly price is without an upgrade.
Keep in mind this is the industry that charges both the caller and the receiver the same minutes for the call. That charges both the texter and the textee for the text. Yeah, that doesn't matter that much anymore with all the unlimited talk and text, but they used to do that. Even Ma Bell didn't do that. The caller was charged for the call.
Oh, that activation fee? When we got or 4s's, I politely, but firmly requested they waive that fee. This was before we had completed the deal. They did wait it. No, what they did was to credit our account for the amount of the fee.
I have for many years now, assumed that they price being quoted is not written in stone. I always ask the merchant for a better rate. I decide ahead of time if I'm willing to accept the official rate if they won't negotiate.