Posted by: Burth Helm on September 1, 2006
So last weekend I lost my cell phone. This is not the first time: Earlier this year I accidentally destroyed a different phone, spurring me to do a series of product reviews about the inexpensive phones you get when you’re ineligible for the cheap promotional prices (one by Nokia, two by LG, one by Samsung, and one by Motorola). Here I am again, but this time the situation is a little bit different.
I want out of my Verizon Wireless deal. I’ve been thinking about T-Mobile, which got some of the highest J.D. Power & Assoc. ratings. But my question is, will joining T-Mobile or another provider be a case of meet the new boss, same as the old boss? Is there any wireless provider in the U.S. that doesn’t make you feel like you’ve signed yourself into serfdom? Finally, is it rational to end a deal with a giant telecom provider for purely emotional reasons?
Verizon’s phone service is fine, and staying with them would certainly be cheaper than going somewhere else, at least in the near term. Right now I’m even eligible for a free phone upgrade with Verizon, on the condition I sign a new 2-year agreement. But I feel like I’m being bullied. If I don’t sign that deal, I’d either have to pay the $175 termination fee, or the full retail price for a phone, which is also over $150. I realize losing the phone was my fault, but a large part of me feels like if I renew a contract, it should be because I’m happy with the service — not because they’ve cornered me into it. And I’m not happy with the service. Get ready for the rant after the jump.
My problems with Verizon are small, but they add up. I don’t like being milked for every last cent for extra features. I’m sick of contract terms that feel patently unfair. Example: if you catch yourself going over your minutes, you can call, up your plan for just that month, and pay about $10 more. Forget to catch the overage? Your phone bill doubles for an extra 57 minutes, as if somehow you cost Verizon far more money. Then there are slick announcements like the one in June, where Verizon Wireless said it would prorate its $175 termination fee. That sounds fair, right? Except it doesn’t go into effect until this fall, and it won’t actually apply to current contracts. Then there’s the way they lure you into renewing your contract when you are at your weakest, like when you need to replace a phone, or are over your minutes. I know a lot of people just deal with this stuff. And perhaps this style keeps more customers on board than something radical like just keeping them happy. But why is cutting a straight deal with customers so hard?
In the meantime, what should I do? Swallow my pride and get the upgrade? Or pay $175 and get free?