The premise of Apple's iPhone Upgrade Program is simple: get the new iPhone every year for a monthly fee. Subscribers have found out that it's not as simple as expected, though, and they're slapping Apple with a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Northern California.
The suit asserts that Apple favored new customers buying phones at full price over existing phones on the plan.
"[Apple] allowed non-iPhone Upgrade Program customers to snap up the limited inventory of the new devices while telling countless iPhone Upgrade Program customers to 'check back later,'" attorneys wrote in the summary.
9to5Mac originally reported the news.
Those on the plan have to make at least 12 payments on their phone before they can upgrade to the next one, but not being able to get the iPhone 7 means they'll have to keep paying for a 6s or 6s Plus. If Apple customers don't get the iPhone 7 at launch, it could potentially set off a domino effect where they can't get the next phone at launch, either, because they haven't made enough payments (or because there is limited supply). The time is calculated from when you bought the new phone, not when it launched.
The class action suit is asking to be reimbursed for payments customers make to older phones while they wait for the new phones to be available, as well as asking for next year's iPhone to be available to Upgrade Program members online via pre-order.
Apple famously sells out of iPhones online and in store quickly upon new releases, and it's not uncommon to see lines outside of stores. Those who were told to check in on launch day and make appointments at the store to pick up phones may not be able to get the phone they wanted, color they wanted, or any phone at all due to stock shortages.