Verizon upgrade fee isn’t as bad as it sounds

April 11, 2012
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There is a lot of chatter and angry readers this afternoon regarding the news that Verizon will start charging a $30 upgrade fee for those looking to upgrade their smartphone. While I'm not a fan of the fee and don't like it one bit myself, it isn't as bad as it sounds and won't be going away either. I'll tell you why below.

Verizon is actually the last carrier to implement this fee. As in they've been the good guys for well over a year while all the others were charging similar fees. We wont see this reversed like the $2 monthly fee earlier this year either -- but it can't hurt to try. AT&T, T-Mobile and the rest of the US carriers all charge upgrade fees, Verizon is actually the second cheapest too.

AT&T and T-Mobile both have been charging $18 for their fee for a long time, and this February AT&T doubled that fee to $36 -- making Verizon's $30 seem not so bad. With AT&T and that other wannabe LTE carrier charging $36 each, and T-Mobile only charging $18, this makes Verizon's seem ok if you ask me -- even if I don't agree with the fee in the first place. Another thing no one's mentioned this morning is the EU (early upgrade) fee is being raised from $20 to the same $30 as the new regular fee.

There is some good news here though. Business and prepay customers do not have to pay this fee, and if you are getting a new device but NOT resigning/extending a contract you don't have to pay it either. That does mean you'll be paying full price for the device though, so there's a catch on that one. What does and does not apply can all be read in the image posted below for those with more questions.

Thoughts on the upgrade fee? I know you're mad but everyone else does it too. Does that make it OK?


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  • Captain_Doug

    Still lame. How does this show they want to keep customers? How is this rewarding customers for staying with them? Doesn’t make me as a customer feel very valued.

    • Bigbcp97

      How is it that a company who, for years, didn’t charge a fee, decides it is time to recoup some of the incurred business costs by charging a fee is considered “bad customer service”? I think people don’t realize that upgrading your phone is a CHOICE, not a necessity.. No one is making you pay a fee. They are charging you a fee if you choose to upgrade. Covers business costs, the cost of subsidy on devices, and keeping the network at the top of all carriers.

      • Captain_Doug

        But it is bad business. The longer you stay with a company, the less you should pay. It’s the reason you stay around. They used to have NE2 upgrades, then it was changed to just a bonus dollar amount, now that’s gone too. And now they’re charging us to stay on? I understand if they wanna charge more for phones. Those things are getting expensive. But if you were going to charge customers at any time, why would you choose to place that fee as they are renewing their contract? There is not a single worst time to say “oh by the way, we’re charging more now that you’re out of contract and can leave us.” It’s stupid. I understand the rising costs of service, especially the costs of running the largest/fastest network out there, but still, charge us to upgrade? It’s bad business. What are we getting in return for staying with Verizon? What rewards do we get for being loyal customers?

      • Neera

        Fully agree that it is bad business. Customer retention is important and by doing this they are certainly alienating a lot of their loyal customers.
        What really gets me is that even if I were to buy a new phone out of pocket and not renew my contract that my monthly bill stays the same. If you buy a phone subsidized from your carrier they are making up the cost of the phone via our monthly payments. So we are paying the cost of the phone if not more over the life of our 2 year contract. 

        So why not lower the monthly costs if you do not buy a phone through them?!

      • Captain_Doug

        Yep yep. I’m cool with this if they reward those who do buy their phone for full price. 

      • Captain_Doug

        Yep yep. I’m cool with this if they reward those who do buy their phone for full price. 

      • http://jeremyperez.com Jeremy

        A choice huh? Phones never break or get damaged? Let’s say a car dealership tried this. You already have a car and you want a new one? Upgrade fee!! How about the next time you go put gas in your car, let’s get a dispensing fee tacked on there. As far as covering costs, it should be built into their plans. Subsidy on devices, isn’t that the whole point of locking customers into a 2 year plan with an ETF, so you make the money back on the service?

        This fee is just a way every carrier sticks it to loyal customers.
        The “activation” fee is what they use to stick it to new customers.

      • foxyshadis

        I take it you’ve never bought a car from any kind of dealer – that’s the
        worst industry to use, because that industry invented most of the
        devious tactics phone companies use to pad their bottom line. The
        equivalent of upgrade fees is trade-in value, which is always at least
        25% and usually close to 50% what they will later sell it for on the
        lot. Subsidy on cars, they make it up in the financing terms, same as
        cellcos make it up in the obnoxious monthly fees. The one part that the
        mobile industry hasn’t figured out is how to screw customers and make
        them love you, something car dealers excel at. Maybe if they paid their
        sales more than near-minimum wage, you’d get more fast-talking
        schmoozers and less hate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chwith Jon Gee

    I personally don’t like it but it’s not like it’s a deal breaker. The companies that I’d go to do the same so meh! Besides, it’s not like they aren’t already triple charging us for using the same pipe anyway. Why aren’t more people getting upset about THAT?

  • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

    Fast on updating fee’s while slow on updating phones.. haha awesome Facebook comment.

    This isn’t a deal breaker for me, but it does suck

  • http://sucktackular.com sucktackular

    The plural of fee is fees, not fee’s.

    • Oneflyguy87

      The singular of Dick is you……….. Dick!

      • http://sucktackular.com sucktackular

        I’m a dick for providing useful information to help the writer? That’s strange. What does that make you, then?

      • don’tdisqus

        no, being a dick makes you a dick. big thumbs up.

  • Eric Peterson

    My issue with it is why do I have to pay a fee to stay with a company? I’ve only had Verizon so I was not aware of other carriers doing this. But being the lesser of 3 evils doesn’t make it better. I think this should be fought and should be pulled.

    Verizon: Oh your $180/month contract is coming to end, would your like to upgrade your phone? We know its expensive how much you already pay and it doesn’t really offset the full price a smartphone over two years.
    Me: True, but its ok. I like you guys so I want to stay with you.
    Verizon: Cool! $300 for a new phone, we will lock you into another 2 year agreement ($150 if you break up with us).
    Me: Damn that’s steep…but ok.
    Verizon: Oh yeah…and another $30.
    Me: WHY?!
    Verizon: Because f**k you…that’s why.

    • lol

      that made me LOLOL

    • laughterjones

      Epic and true.

  • polarbehr76

    It is a bunch of B$ and verizon knows it. Looks to me like “hey lets make another $30 dollars off our stupid customers.” We will pay it too, since i am grandfathered in i wont bee leaving anytime soon. 4g just came to my area but i do not yet have a 4g phone so it looks like i am screwed.

  • Ken

    Verizon already is the most expensive carrier, by approximately $40.00 a month.  They also are charging $100.00 more for new devices than other carriers do for similar devices.  $199.99 AT&T and Sprint while Verizon markets $299.99.  NOW they want to charge $30.00 to upgrade a device?  Where does the extra $ we already are spending go?  

    • joeblow

       AT&T has the exact same prices as Verizon so don’t spread lies.

  • ravenas

    Nice try to spin something. Either this is from a Verizon shill or one of their deluded masses. I’ll happily be over here with my Sprint plan. You know the one without all the extra fees tacked on for data and messaging.

    • kk1207

      Oh you mean like extra fees that Sprint charges for roaming in the U.S. and throttling your data speeds when you use too much? That alone makes Verizon worth it. If you are a homebody and never go anywhere, sure Sprint will do just fine. But, if you have a real life, there’s no competition with Verizon.

      • don’tdisqus

        joeblow obviously works for or is in bed with big red. go waste your marketing degree elsewhere.

  • http://twitter.com/mikedonatello Mike Donatello

    “I know you’re mad but everyone else does it too”

    Seriously?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/6AD36B44ZOJV4KKYA5D5HIXRUA Gary

    my büddy’s step-mother earned $19519 the priør week. she works on the interñet and got a $316100 home. All she dïd was get lucky and work up the information laid out on this wêbsite LazýCash5.Çom

  • Rohit

    reeks of VERIZON PROPAGANDA!!

    • http://www.androidcommunity.com Cory Gunther

       lol you’re lame

  • Gkluther

    This is Crap!! If we want to see what the real costs are let’s start separating the installment payment on the phone from the actual cost of service. This is just another way to hike Verizon’s bottom line. Don’t kid yourself, they are just padding the bottom line. 

  • Reginald Bailey

    I can understand businesses like Verizon adjusting their costs to do business, but I think in this case they just want to increase the bottom line. Since the FCC and Congress are taking a harder look at the wireless market, with this being an election year, Verizon wants to secure a new revenue stream that is justifiable and palatable to members of Congress.
    This is not to say that I think this is wrong as hell, but they are the largest carrier now and they can wine to the government that they also provide internet and land line access to the masses at a reasonable price and that the smart phones are hogging the available bandwith that they have, so they need to charge a fee compensate for this problem. Which they will undoubtedly assure the government that they will use this added revenue to try and secure more bandwith.

    • foxyshadis

      MSN’s article about this showed their profit margin graph: They went from 68% to 60% since they started selling iPhones, although sales have increased enough to keep absolute profit pretty steady. Awwww, poor company, making more money than ever but only getting to keep 37% of the money as profits instead of 40%, better jack up the fees to fix that.

  • A.realist

    Here is the thing though, a cell phone is a luxury item, not a necessity. Want to complain? Get a home phone. Twenty years ago, people were not even talking about the outrageous fees adsociated with said luxury item. Yes wireless technology is convenient. But it is not a life or death situation

    • Mo

       Here’s the thing though, that’s nonsense.  Home phones were “luxury items” as well – want to go back to the AT&T days where you would *rent* your phone?  Stop defending companies who want to rip off their customers with nonsense fees that are pure profit.

    • Pawejm

      first off cell phones have basically become a necessity for a TON of people. THOUSANDS of jobs depend on them all day long. and yes life or death situations are possible. literally. what if your wife, husband, or child got into an accident and are in critical condition and u don’t even know about it because all u have is a home phone and your at work or something. get real dude because your defiantly not a realist. cell phones are everywhere nowadays. they’re defiantly way more then a luxury item. if i were to take a poll on this post rite now i wonder how many people would say that a cell phone is a “luxury”? i really wonder?!

      • NML

        Please..take a poll.  My vote is for luxury item.  Can’t live without a cell phone….really????

    • don’tdisqus

      I think I hear the 21st century calling on my Droid, it’s for you.  They said SRSLY W(ho)TF HAS A LAND LINE

  • A.realist

    Here is the thing though, a cell phone is a luxury item, not a necessity. Want to complain? Get a home phone. Twenty years ago, people were not even talking about the outrageous fees adsociated with said luxury item. Yes wireless technology is convenient. But it is not a life or death situation

  • Ciberquill

    l understand that if you want an early upgrade..you pay the 30 dollar fee..plus 20.,..and you can upgrade earlier than your upgrade date….

  • Abrown1403

    Verizon was better off staying the “good guy” now it seems they’re just money hungry like the rest of them. At this rate i might just go without a cell phone all together not like i need it anyway

  • Dtessierjr0017

    Complete greed! Verizon use to be the best cell carrier around, now they are just money hungry a**holes. How many fees are people willing to pay? First you have a monthly fee to use the service, then a monthly data fee, then a text fee and so on. You have to pay for the phone, and now people are going to pay an UPGRADE fee! Come on people take a stand this is insane, what is the fee for? You get some training thing on how to use your phone, who cares. This is just another way to charge more money for something that 99 percent of people will not benefit from. Verizon is now the worst phone carrier in my book, and this is coming from what WAS a loyal 15 plus year customer of theirs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Greg-Thompson/685179863 Greg Thompson

    This fee is ridiculous. Verizon says they provide so many services to help customers learn the new complex phones, that they can no longer absorb the costs. Considering that the have not added staff to the local phone stores to provide these sessions is interesting. On top of that Verizon chose not to notify their own customers via normal monthly statements a matter of only a week prior to starting this fee. That demonstrates how little Verizon thinks of their customers. So for anyone interested in an upgrade to the Droid Razr based on the latest special and if you have a 2 year upgrade allowance of $50, this $30 fee amounts to a 60% price increase…

  • Tony Hunter

    Oh I see, Verizons ridiculous fee is not as bad as the other vendors ridiculous fee.  Well, now it all makes sense.  It’s sort of like deciding to be poisoned with gas instead of shot in the head. I mean, you still die, but the gas is less painful.  I get it now! 

  • Pawejm

    After twelve years of business with a company, you would think they would not pull this kind of stuff on you.  I feel like i am being penalized for being a loyal customer and renewing my contract verizon. I get charged a fee just to stay their customer?! It’s RIDICULOUS! It is not enough that almost every phone requires a minimal data plan of $30 but now you need to pay an extra $30 just to get a new phone?! Verizon is just continuously trying to find a way to steal an extra buck from loyal hardworking customers. This is all a marketing ploy and verizon is the only one who really benefits from it. 

  • bobhopeisgod

    The part that gets me is how disingenuous it is. On the upgrade page, they list the phones at a certain price, telling you that you’re getting an upgrade discount. Then after you pick the phone, they say there’s a “fee”. On a discount. So on the final page you see “Discount: $100. Fee: 30$”. Why not just say there’s a $70 discount? Or instead of telling me the phone will cost $49.99 to upgrade, tell me the truth. It’ll cost $79.99 to upgrade. It’s like airlines and hidden baggage fees. They want to make it seem cheaper to get people to pick the phone, and then find after they’ve picked it that they’re going to get screwed.

    • http://twitter.com/Adaptistration Adaptistration

      I think they keep the fee separate so they can charge it even if you buy the phone elsewhere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1543975886 Janace Peake Jarski

    I have been a loyal Verizon customer for 14+ years and can not believe that my continued patronage is actually costing me money. REALLY?  
    In my mailbox and email inbox I receive coupons from companies that I utilize, hoping that I will continue to spend my money with them or offers that will entice me to switch me to their service.  I have to say that I am insulted by the idea that my long term relationship with Verizon means so little to them.  
    I have started a petition, much like the one that blocked Bank of America from charging their customers $5/month for using their debit cards.  Please pass this on to as many people as you can, especially those who use Verizon as a carrier.  Although this petition is aimed at Verizon specifically, I believe that AT & T is charging the same type of fee to their customers as well.  
    We should all be OUTRAGED and make sure that we let Verizon know about it.  Please follow the following link and sign this petition… http://www.change.org/petition… .

  • bigpapapump

    If you want to combat it, just stick with your same phone and unlimited data plan.  No extra fees, and when you’re paying month to month you can easily switch to a new company with no penalties. 

  • Phil

    This $30 fee is also for basic phones. If they need the money that bad, then just charge me $30 more for the phone and stop telling me the phone is “free” then back door me for $30 bucks. I don’t understand your acceptance just because other companies do it. So it’s OK to be shaken down as long as all the companies shake down their customers. Glad you are happy to pay an extra $30 for a “free” phone.

  • Crystal

    Does reading about two other people who got mad and shot their friend make it ok for you to shoot your friend……didn’t think so and in this case three wrongs don’t make a right. Their service is as good as it gets but does not come without issues. I have been a loyal customer for over 6 years and went to upgrade and low and behold…$30 extra bucks. I am going to get a hold of Verizon for a time/location for all of those workshops because I pay for them now I sure as hell intend on getting my money worth.

  • travis

    Take advantage of verizons greed and buy the stock? The only way to hedge out risk

  • Joe

    Actually, I’ve been with AT&T for awhile and they do technically charge an upgrade fee, but they waive it if you ask. I’ve never paid an upgrade fee with AT&T. I was thinking of switching to Verizon, but after they refused to waive the activation fee and now they have this upgrade fee I’m having second thoughts. Company’s that value the customer reward you for your business. I had some small issues with AT&T, but I’m starting to realize that the grass is always greener on the other side right. Sticking with Verizon after hearing this joker try to rationalize a punishing fee to retain business.

  • Zachary

    This VZW upgrade fee is complete bogus! I went to the store to buy the phone at the listed 2-yr upgrade price on the shelf. I sign the 2-yr contract to get the reduced price of the phone (I had to give something to get something) at that price only to find out on my BILL that I was charged an UPGRADE fee.

    I call the VZW call center and they state: the charge is stated online, on your account that I am looking at”. I further ask them to please help me find this fee and what is the purpose of it. The phone line goes dead and I call back and a gent tries to find it under the Customer Agreement and Terms and Conditions in the footer of the website, but no where is it listed. No where is this fee justified or explained. He took the charge off.

    The store associate who sold the new phone is suppose to inform you of the fee, the call center agent informs me, but they’d get a lot of push back because it’s bait and switch. VZW lists one price on the shelf and when you get to the cash register it’s magically jumped $30, without justification. Listing a $30 more expensive phone would make anyone reconsider their options.

    Why wouldn’t they make the phone $30 more expensive instead of socking it to loyal customers on the back end when no one notices it?

    Defending this company and saying others charge this upgrade so that makes it okay is terrible reasoning. With airlines you have a choice with cell phone carriers you don’t. Not all areas have the same reliable reception or service.

    Cell phones have replaced land lines and I believe the basic function of a phone- to call others in case of an emergency- is a necessity. The other gadgets and apps that come with a phone aren’t a necessity, but VZW isn’t charging me an upgrade fee to use those features.

  • SpinGirl

    I can up grade you guys to 2 Bean Cans and a string for free!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Sharonaaaaaa Sharon Reeves

    BULL CRAP!!! They give you the gift of a free phone for giving them your business… and then they CHARGE YOU for staying w/them!! I absolutely hate being ripped off.. makes me angry! And you wouldn’t like me when I’m aaaaangry!!!

  • MS

    I went in today to buy a basic phone–I don’t need or want all the bells and whistles. They tried to charge me a “stupid” tax of $30. I canceled the deal and will buy a phone off of E-bay as I have done before. Oh yeah the clerk said, “Our fee isn’t as bad as AT&T’s $35 fee”.