The other day, I actually came to the defense of cell phone companies. Sort of. I basically argued that we are better off with the national consolidations we have than we were in a more competitive market with more local and regional carriers. So I guess I had it coming when later that day my carrier, Verizon, pissed me off. So much so that I am considering returning the phones we have on order and going off-contract.

Our contract ends two days from now. I looked around and determined that yes, we are to be with Verizon for at least two more years. It also turns out that we are due for some cell phone upgrades to finally leave Windows Mobile Island. Android is finally ready for me, or ready enough (more on this later, if anyone cares). So it all works out.

The truth is, I hate being under contract. I avoided it for years and years by buying my own cell phones. But two years ago, Verizon basically made an offer I couldn’t refuse. And then, as now except even moreso, I was sure that I was in for at least a two-year haul. I’m less sure that’s the case now, but still pretty sure. AT&T has raised prices to the point that they’ve lost their price advantage and I don’t like their cell phone selection as much. Sprint and T-Mobile are not options.

So I sign up to extend the contract and lo-and-behold, Verizon has joined the other carriers in offering an “upgrade fee.” It’s $30 a line. Truthfully, I’m paying $200 less than I had budgeted for on the subsidized phones, so the $60 doesn’t bother me in the slightest. But on principle, I am really angry about this. It reminds me why I hate cell phone companies and why I don’t like being tied to any single one of them.

So why does this irritate me? Because they’ve made it abundantly clear they want me under contract. They provide all of the incentives to get me to reluctantly agree to sign on for a period of time in exchange for a cheaper phone. So why are they charging me for something they want me to do? Like it’s a convenience for me to not be able to change carriers or downgrade service for two years? If they’re not making enough money on the subsidized phones plus contract, then charge more for the dang phones. Rationally, this is a distinction without a difference. Except that this way they get to tack on the $30 only after your mouth is watering at the new toy.

I struggle, however, to come up with a rational basis not to move forward. As long as we’re with Verizon on our current data plans for another year, which is a given, we end up ahead. There is the possibility of downgrading Dr. Wife’s plan since she doesn’t use data all that much, but I remain eternally hopeful that she will someday use the phone to its capability. There are various companies I boycott or avoid due to what I consider dishonest, antagonistic, or otherwise bad business practices (Best Buy, HP for a while, and one other one whose name escapes me). This is a reminder that there are no cell phone companies for which this is not the case.

Category: Market

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2 Responses to Who Needs A Nose? I’m Full of Spite

  1. ? says:

    This is the first I’ve heard of an “upgrade” fee. I’m not sure from context exactly what has been upgraded, but it could be a way to discourage me from doing the things I do.

    For instance, I carry only the 700 minute family plan. On those rare months I exceed this number, I simply upgrade to 1400 for that month only. Also, I swap back and forth between my Palm Pre and my old RAZR, depending on whether or not I think I’ll need smartphone service.

  2. trumwill says:

    You should be safe, Phi, at least until you renew your contract if you do. I’d be a whole other world if irate if they went back to charging for changing phones. The “upgrade fee” is actually an “extend your contract fee.” But people (understandably) wouldn’t get why they need to be charged for upgrading their phone but vaguely understand that “upgrading” something might come with a fee. But thankfully I don’t think they’re going to ding anyone from upgrading from 700 to 1400.

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