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Verizon Plans $20 Upgrade Fee Even If You Pay Full Price For a Phone (macrumors.com) 187

An anonymous reader writes: According to a memo leaked by MacRumors, Verizon is planning to introduce a new $20 upgrade fee starting next week. The new $20 flat rate charge will begin next Monday, April 4, and will be applied to smartphones purchased on a Device Payment financing plan, or at full retail price. The premium will also apply to those who take advantage of Apple's new iPhone Upgrade Program. Verizon cites "increasing support costs associated with customers switching their devices" as a reason for the new fees. The new fee is in addition to the existing $40 upgrade fee for customers renewing a two-year contract with a new device.
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Verizon Plans $20 Upgrade Fee Even If You Pay Full Price For a Phone

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 01, 2016 @10:33PM (#51826311)

    Verizon's "baby come back" letters are pathetic.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 01, 2016 @10:49PM (#51826353)

      I will never go back to Verizon after having went over to T-mobile. Much better prices, free tethering/hotspot, Pandora doesn't count against my data cap (and soon Youtube too), and customer service that doesn't treat me like they're doing me a favor by letting me use their service.

      All Verizon has is a good network, and even that is now irrelevant unless you live way out in the boonies (or travel there a lot).

      • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

        Please tell me how you were able to get transfered to the English speaking Tmobile support! I need to know.

        • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

          Any problems with the German support?
          (silently escapes [bedug.com]...)

        • Please tell me how you were able to get transfered to the English speaking Tmobile support! I need to know.

          Are you trolling, or just an idiot?

          T-Mobile has one of the best (least bad) customer support organizations. They did go through a period when customer support was poor, but nowadays it seems to be good again.

          • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

            Last time I talked to someone at T-Mobile it was to get a prepaid phone activated in 2014. Took three calls each time I was connected via what sounded like a poor quality voip line to someone that could not understand english very well with an indian accent.

            Maybe I Just had really bad luck that day.
            But It left me with a very bad first impression of the company.

            From the looks of the replies though I must have had really bad luck or they have tremendously improved their consumer service dept since them.

            • FWIW, everytime Ive called in the past two years, i get the call centers in GA and TN and they are always extremely helpful amd friendly. Their store staff is total shit though... At least at my local store. Then again, there is no English signage in the store.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        How does free data for certain sites not violate net neutrality?

        • Had that same thought, but then realized that indeed, it doesn't violate net neutrality. Net neutrality is about throttling, this is about billing.
          • by Teun ( 17872 )
            No, net neutrality is about treating all data traffic equal, regardless of origin or protocol.
            They can only get away with it because US law is producer and not consumer driven.

            For example, my ISP supplies me a 50/50 fiber link and also TV.
            The TV bandwidth is additional to the 50/50 internet account, not taken out of it.
            They have recently started to offer Netflix, if you take your own account it's running in the 50/50 package, if you take it as part of the TV package it will like HBO run outside of the
        • Basically because what T-Mobile is doing, or claims to be doing, is about network management rather than billing. The difference is in the profit, and profit structure - namely, that T-Mobile isn't using their free streaming program to drive its users towards a preferred application (either their own in-house, or one that someone is paying them to promote), but rather, appears to be making a legitimate effort to get lots of different services onto their approved program list.

          They also tend to not have be
      • The only problem is T-mobile's network is completely inferior to Verizon in any major city or populated area.

        Outside of a metro area it's not even a contest, verizon completely stomps t-mobile.

        • by arth1 ( 260657 )

          Outside of a metro area it's not even a contest, verizon completely stomps t-mobile.

          Living and working where neither of them go above GSM speeds, I don't see much of a difference.
          Geographical coverage in the US sucks. Big time. It's all based on cities and highways and people not travelling except between cities, on highways. Countries that are less populated have far better geographical coverage, even where few people live. The coverage here in the US is still not on par with what it was in Norway and Finland in the 1990s.

          • by dryeo ( 100693 )

            The coverage in the US seems much better then in Canada, prices are cheaper as well.

        • My 100mpbs torrent speeds on my phone in Downtown LA beg to differ. Uncapped, too.
      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        "All Verizon has is a good network"

        They don't have that, either. Smack in the middle of University California, Riverside, and only 1X data service and one bar of signal almost anywhere on campus.

        Fuck Verizon's useless crap.

    • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Friday April 01, 2016 @10:54PM (#51826359)

      AT&T similarly charges $15 per smartphone added or upgraded with AT&T Next, and "bring your own" devices. Sprint also charges an upgrade or activation fee up to $36 per device. T-Mobile does not have upgrade fees.

      You can always tell who's behind in the market, can't you?

    • by Moof123 ( 1292134 ) on Friday April 01, 2016 @10:56PM (#51826367)

      Went to Ting, which subcontracts with Tmobile in my case. I average 14 bucks a month. Perfect for people like me who have light phone usage and rare data usage. I hate multi year contracts for anything.

  • Why, Verizon? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sable Drakon ( 831800 ) on Friday April 01, 2016 @10:52PM (#51826357)
    Seriously, with added fees like this, it's as if they're trying to get people to leave their service and forcing them into T-Mobile's very very welcoming arms.
  • because we CAN!

    Even on 04/01....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 01, 2016 @11:03PM (#51826389)

    In the UK, upgrade fees are unheard of. You're being ripped off.

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Saturday April 02, 2016 @12:24AM (#51826525) Homepage Journal

      In the UK, all phones use GSM, which means that you can move service to a new device by moving the SIM card. The phone company actually has to do stuff on their side to switch service to a new CDMA device, which usually requires a phone call to their customer service team. So there's a decidedly nonzero cost to switching to new devices. With that said, they could probably set up an automated system if they wanted to drive the cost down into the single-digit cents range instead of the single-digit dollar range. There's just not enough competition in the pathetic U.S. cellular service market to force them to bother.

      • That's irrelevant. I never heard of such a cost before now but I live in Europe.

        If your technology requires so much work that the upgrade cost is needed to cover the work involved, your system is broken and you shouldn't charge your customers for your failures. It's embarrassing at the least. Who would want to do business with a company with such bad planning skills?

        On the other hand, it could be that the most profitable market segment in the country which requires the most upgrades are lower income people.
      • by msauve ( 701917 )
        "The phone company actually has to do stuff on their side to switch service to a new CDMA device, which usually requires a phone call to their customer service team."

        Welcome to 2016. I've had to do nothing but move the UICC [wikipedia.org] ("SIM") card to a new phone for the past several phones (so, going back at least 6-8 years). Prior to that, one could do an ESN change via the web, so again no interaction with customer service needed. I think the last time I had to call CS to get an ESN change was in the 1990's. I'm o
        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          Interesting. On Sprint, moving the SIM does not seem to work, because I tried that first when I moved to my iPhone 6S from my iPhone 5.

      • If that's true, they're doing it wrong. I have Ting, running off Sprint's CDMA network. I've swapped phones on the same account back and forth a half dozen times in a single day for testing. All I used was a web form. It just a couple of minutes each time to activate. No call required and certainly not $20 worth of effort for them.

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          It is true that you can do it online, but think about the average cell phone user for a moment. Now ask yourself if an average cell phone user know what an MEID is.

  • by CanadianMacFan ( 1900244 ) on Friday April 01, 2016 @11:03PM (#51826393)

    I've always just bought my phone on my own because I have an inexpensive plan and put the SIM the new phone. Turn the new phone on and it just works. When I've needed a new SIM because the size changed I've just gotten a new one for the new phone and changed the SIM for my phone number on the website.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 02, 2016 @01:01AM (#51826585)

      Verizon is a cdma and not a standard gsm network, they don't use sims like gsm networks and plans are directly tied to the phone. Support for sim cards are only used for 4g. US cell companies generally suck. Only t-mobile and at&t are gsm with somewhat different frequencies, while verizon and sprint are cdma networks. So yeah, half of our choices are proprietary networks that are locked down to a single phone often including "connecting" fees.

      • This is the reason I dropped Bell many years ago back in Canada. The audacity of asking for a $35 fee to activate my new phone that I just paid full price for. And activation consists of no more than scanning a few bar codes into their computer. I will never go with another provider that doesn't use SIM cards. I should have the freedom to use the device that I choose, and upgrade when I feel like it, with no cost other than paying for the phone.. I'm pretty sure Bell has switched over to using SIM cards now

      • Maybe it's time for the networks themselves to upgrade and go to a somewhat modern system. It's always hard to realise CDMA is still so much in use there.

  • "Verizon cites "increasing support costs associated with customers switching their devices" as a reason for the new fees. "

    The reality is "we want to continue increasing our profits, and nickel and diming our customers with added junk fees is the way to do it."

  • I don't get how this would work. This $20 fee would be triggered every time I take my SIM and insert in a new phone? So when my phone battery is dead and I pop my SIM onto my wife's phone just for a quick call I'll be charged $20?

  • by quenda ( 644621 ) on Friday April 01, 2016 @11:59PM (#51826489)

    Can someone please explain this for us dumb foreigners? I never could make any sense of the US telephone system.
    Its crazy with being charged for *incoming* calls, and roaming charges when you have not even left the country.

    Why would the network care if you change handsets? Can't you just buy a new phone from the local tech-shop and swap the SIM over?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Verizon hates its customers. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc. just want to make money, but Verizon is too big to care about lame stuff like mere profit. They have to be dicks about it.

    • Re:Please explain (Score:5, Informative)

      by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Saturday April 02, 2016 @12:37AM (#51826545) Homepage Journal

      Why would the network care if you change handsets? Can't you just buy a new phone from the local tech-shop and swap the SIM over?

      There are two main systems for providing cellular voice communication in the U.S.: GSM and CDMA. GSM, as used in most of the world, uses a SIM card to determine which cell towers it should connect through, and then uses a database that maps the SIM card's identifier to a subscriber account. CDMA uses an MEID, which is an identifier that is baked into the device itself (similar to an IMEI). The towers/billing systems then use a database that maps the device's MEID to an account number. As a result, your account is quite literally tied to a specific physical device, not to a card that can be moved from device to device.

      To add further complexity, many CDMA-based devices do actually have a SIM card, but it is used exclusively for talking to the LTE portion of cell towers (or when roaming overseas) and is not used for primary voice communications or for 3G data.

    • Its crazy with being charged for *incoming* calls,

      This part is a side-effect. The original intent was to make sure that if you called a mobile phone, you would not be charged more than if you were calling a landline.

      The Congress is usually against regulations, but in this case, it actually added more regulations than Europe. In Europe, they had operators solve that issue by giving different area codes to mobile phones that required more money to call them (that being said, a European can still choose to pay for incoming calls if he wants to, so that people

    • by thsths ( 31372 )

      The US was the first country to introduce mobile phones on a significant scale, and they made a few odd decisions.

      In the US, mobile phone number are just regular local phone numbers, there is no "mobile" area code. So if you receive a call on a mobile, you have to pay for the cost of the mobile network, because the caller pays a standard landline rate. (And that actually makes some kind of sense.) And if you are not in your home are, you may be asked to pay an additional charge (even that makes a bit of sen

    • Can someone please explain this for us dumb foreigners? I never could make any sense of the US telephone system. Its crazy with being charged for *incoming* calls, and roaming charges when you have not even left the country.

      While neither make sense, the reality is most people never exceed they minute allocations nor get charged roaming fees. Given the proliferation of plans that make cell to cell calls not count against minutes so your existing monthly allotment is often not used. Roaming charges were more common when carriers were regional, but since now the major ones are nationwide and have exchange agreements those are pretty much history as well.

      Why would the network care if you change handsets? Can't you just buy a new phone from the local tech-shop and swap the SIM over?

      Money, although you can often negotiate a credit for the charge.

    • Someone else has already covered the MEID/IMEI part, so...

      Its crazy with being charged for *incoming* calls, and roaming charges when you have not even left the country.

      Phone service in the U.S. was originally like the rest of the world. When you made a long distance call from a landline, the person making the call paid the long distance connection fee of x cents/min. But by the time mobile phones rolled onto the market, most of the U.S. landline market had switched to fixed rate monthly billing. That i

  • I'm seeing in "You may like to read:" a story "10 Confirmed Dead In Shooting at Oregon's Umpqua Community College".
    And find myself wondering, is that ten or two? All part of the light-hearted fun of April Fools.

    • On a day where idiots are expected to out themselves, slashdot has a lot of celebration going on.

      They get one day a year to turn the world stupid. It sucks, but we can't kill them, so deal.

  • When a person upgrades their device they pay the costs associated with that upgrade, so how does that cost the service provider anything, exactly?
    • by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Saturday April 02, 2016 @12:42AM (#51826555) Homepage

      Well...CDMA requires a record change at the carrier side, not just a SIM swap. So you have to call a 3rd-rate call center, repeat your phone number and personal identity info a half dozen times, half to a machine and half to a human, and talk to someone who's never even seen a non-GSM phone try to follow a script to find out the IMEI number of the new phone. They will fail at least once and may need to involve a supervisor. That costs them at least $1.30. The rest is pure profit.

      • The part I don't understand is: I walk into an Apple Store, and I buy/replace my iPhone. If I pay for it, no charge from Verizon. If it's on Apple's payment plan, $20. The way the payment plan works is that Apple signs you up for a loan with a third party bank. What does Verizon care how I pay for a phone I buy from somebody else?

        On top of that, Verizon is rarely involved. Apple Stores have access to activate phones and update accounts, and the labor is done by an Apple employee. This part at least is a pur

  • Many companies have "customer retention specialists" who will waive fees if you threaten to bail to a competitor AND you are a "valuable enough" customer to make it worth their while.

    In many companies, almost all customers are "valuable enough," so unless you've made a nuisance out of yourself so much that you are a "net loss" for them, they'll probably work with you.

    On the other hand, if this company's attitude makes you want to quit just on principle, then by all means quit. If enough people do, it will

  • by chromaexcursion ( 2047080 ) on Saturday April 02, 2016 @02:56AM (#51826769)
    How to convince people to switch carriers.
    guaranteed to make people walk.
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