Thursday, April 12, 2012

Verizon Wireless to institute $30 hardware upgrade fee, beginning April 22

If everyone else is doing it, why wouldn't you, especially if it affects the bottom line? Verizon Wireless announced on Wednesday that beginning April 22, it will institute a $30 hardware upgrade fee for those customers eligible for an upgrade who purchase a new, subsidized device with a two-year service agreement.

Until now, Verizon, that nation's largest wireless carrier, was the only of the Big Four that did not charge customers a hardware upgrade fee. No. 2 AT&T and No. 3 Sprint both charge customers a $36 upgrade fee. Meanwhile, No. 4 T-Mobile charges customers an $18 upgrade fee.

Verizon's statement in a press release said:

”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.”

The carrier then recommends users utilize their trade in program, to possibly eliminate the effect of the fee completely. Realistically, if the unit is in good condition, you should be able to do far better than $30, even if you just donate the handset to some charitable organization, so that suggestion is somewhat ludicrous.

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On the other hand, it's obvious the actual reason for this change is to improve the bottom line. It's true, though, that some of the reason for the change has to do with the high cost of infrastructure build-out for Verizon's burgeoning LTE network.

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