Starting April 22, Verizon Wireless will charge an extra $30 to upgrade to a new phone.
The fee applies to “existing customers purchasing new mobile equipment at a discounted price with a two-year contract.” Here’s how Verizon justifies it:
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.
Of course, if you have no interest in Wireless Workshops, online educational tools or expert consultations, you still have to pay the fee.
In fairness, Verizon isn’t the only wireless carrier that charges an upgrade fee. Last fall, Sprint doubled its fee from $18 to $36 dollars. AT&T doubled its upgrade fee from $18 to $36 in February. T-Mobile still charges $18.
Verizon was the lone holdout, but apparently it couldn’t resist the lure of an unavoidable hidden fee. I guess the money lost from abandoning the $2 “Convenience Fee” for single bill pay had to come from somewhere.
That’s the really sad thing about it. Get mad at Verizon if you want, but if the company wants to charge you more money, it’ll find a way to do it. And because wireless carriers tend to copy each other, taking your business to another major carrier won’t accomplish anything. Your best hope is an FCC inquiry, but since the upgrade fee is a long-standing practice among other wireless carriers, don’t expect the government to save you this time.