All good things, as they say, must come to an end. For years now, Verizon has been the only one of the Big Four wireless carriers not to charge their customers an upgrade fee when they re-signed a two year contract, but that’s all about to change. Starting on April 22, Verizon will start charging a $30 upgrade fee whenever an existing customer extends their contract in order to snag some new hardware.
According to a statement put out by Big Red, the new fee will help the company “continue to provide customers with the level of service and support they have come to expect.” That apparently includes Verizon’s online support tools, their in-person Wireless Workshops, and “consultations with experts who provide advice and guidance on devices.”
AT&T enacted a similar move earlier this year when they doubled their upgrade fee from $18 to $36, which put their fee right alongside Sprint’s in terms of cost. At the time, I half-jokingly wrote that I hoped Verizon wouldn’t take the hint considering the two carriers history of gleaning ideas from from each other — as it turns out, being right sucks. It’s worth noting that T-Mobile’s upgrade fee is still sitting pretty at $18, though I have to wonder if they too will jump on the bandwagon.
In fairness, it’s a fee that doesn’t come into play but once every two years or so (unless something tragic happens to your device before that), but it makes for an unsightly bill that can temper the joy of new phone ownership. Families in particular will have it rough — the bill for a bog-standard four-person family plan could easily double if everyone gets a new phone at the same time.
Verizon notes that budget-conscious consumers can trade in their old phones in an attempt to offset the fee, but your mileage will definitely vary on that one — if you’re rocking a beat-to-death handset, it may be worth keeping just for the sentimental value rather than fork it over for a pittance.