Carrier bureaucracy, customer service, and power users: the triangle of suffering

So. I'm doing my best not to turn this into yet another "You guys let me tell you my whole long story about how I dealt with terrible customer service from AT&T." But, well, it was bad today. Feel free to skip the rant in blockquote below.

I pre-ordered the One X. Three days later, I discovered it was cancelled, for reasons unknown. Calling in, four reps, one disconnect, and forty five minutes later, I'm told it's because they can't ship to an address that's not my billing address. Makes sense, I suppose, for fraud reasons. I try to convince them to do it anyway, no dice. Ok. Can I pre-order over the phone? No, only on the website or at a local store. Weird. Ok.

I call the local store here in Orlando where I'm staying. They tell me that they can reserve a phone for me, but that I cannot buy it outright. For the first two weeks of sales, stores are not allowed to sell the phone outright, they're only allowed to sell upgrades. "Luckily," I qualify for some kind of early upgrade where they knock a measly $150 off the full price of the phone in exchange for a 2-year extension. Ugh. Yes, I'm going to do it.

So here's my question: is there a carrier that has friendly, non-insane policies for the power user? The kind of person who wants to buy a new phone when he's out of town. The kind of person who just wants to buy the phone outright and not extend her contract, thank you very much. The kind of person who would literally pay five bucks a month to get some kind of VIP customer service with a rep who is empowered to help you in whatever way you need instead of send you on a horrific journey of transfers between strange and confusing customer service divisions.

In the US, my sense is that not only is the answer "no," it's getting worse. I understand that power users can cost carriers more and cause more hassle, but I'm paying a lot for this service (much of which I don't even use to any viable extent, like my tethering plan) too. I mean, really, what's a power user to do?