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Starting April 22, Verizon Wireless(s vz)(s vod) customers upgrading to a new phone will be hit with a $30 fee. The U.S. carrier suggests the fee is needed to continue providing consumer guidance as phone choice becomes more complicated. From where I stand the fee is because Verizon’s cost of doing business is going up and it didn’t plan accordingly, so it’s passing the costs along to consumers.
Here’s the official statement from Verizon Wireless:
“On April 22, Verizon Wireless is implementing a $30 upgrade fee for existing customers purchasing new mobile equipment at a discounted price with a two-year contract. This fee will help us continue to provide customers with the level of service and support they have come to expect which includes Wireless Workshops, online educational tools, and consultations with experts who provide advice and guidance on devices that are more sophisticated than ever.”
Note that the fee isn’t for customers upgrading while still under contract. This cost is for people buying brand new hardware with a new contract. Essentially, consumers are paying to for the privilege to get a new phone with two-year commitment.
I realize Verizon Wireless isn’t the only carrier in the U.S. to charge a device “upgrade fee” but I believe this is the costliest fee out there. (I’ve always thought the “activation fees” were ludicrous too, but that’s another issue for another day.) And the reason for the new charge is ludicrous.
The monthly service contracts themselves should be paying not only for network services, but also for customer service representatives that are knowledgable enough to answer questions about handsets, platforms and services. And by most measures, Verizon already charges the most for its voice and data services. Essentially the U.S. premium provider just added more premium charges for little direct consumer benefit.
Sorry Verizon, poor planning on your part shouldn’t mean more money out of my wallet. I’m not even a current Verizon Wireless customer and I’m disappointed in this move. Maybe if I walk into a store and buy a new handset without talking to anyone, Verizon will waive the charge? Not likely….