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Cellphones The Almighty Buck

Verizon Doubles Early Termination Fee and More 520

Posted by timothy
from the infuriating-design dept.
An anonymous reader writes "If you buy a smartphone through Verizon, be prepared for an increase in the early termination fee. Verizon is doubling the phone-subsidy to $350. What's more, is that Verizon also actively charges customers for accidental data transmissions of as little as 0.02kb. 'They configure the phones to have multiple easily hit keystrokes to launch 'Get it now' or 'Mobile Web'—usually a single key like an arrow key. [...] The instant you call the function, they charge you the data fee. We cancel these unintended requests as fast as we can hit the End key, but it doesn't matter; they've told me that ANY data--even one kilobyte--is billed as 1MB. The damage is done.'"
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Verizon Doubles Early Termination Fee and More

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  • by DomNF15 (1529309) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @05:38PM (#30079450)
    people were using the buy one Blackberry get one free promotion, canceling service, and selling that second Blackberry at a profit. What, are you feeling bad because you didn't think of it sooner? So am I :-)
  • Re:Wow (Score:2, Interesting)

    by InlawBiker (1124825) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @05:39PM (#30079486)
    Well, the phones they're subsidizing are pretty expensive these days. I imagine the Droid w/o contract is near the $600 iPhone and N900 price. Can you even get it without a contract? Meanwhile T-Mobile now offers contract-free *actually unlimited* service. I switched to them for UMA service because I get no signal from any carrier where I live. Now I just wish somebody would write UMA into Android so I could get myself a shiny new toy.
  • Re:Wow (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Orange Crush (934731) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @05:42PM (#30079526)
    ^Or you can buy the Motorola Milestone from Europe or Canada. However, you may be stuck on 3G data(AT&T might be the right frequency, but I know T-mobile isn't). Maybe Google will sell some new Dev phones soon. The G1's getting long in the tooth for a developer's platform.
  • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @05:43PM (#30079548)

    Is this some kind of hit piece to try and convince people not to use Verizon instead of AT&T? If you use data, it seems reasonable to me to charge a fee even if you just made "a mistake". It's not like international roaming is any more lenient.

    I don't have a problem actually paying for data use. If I fire up a web browser and surf around a bit, go ahead and bill me.

    The problem I have is that on my phone the web browser is bound to the up direction on the circular directional wheel... With the OK button in the middle. I have frequently hit the up direction accidentally when I meant to press OK. And that launches the web browser. It doesn't ask for confirmation... Just pops up the web browser and immediately starts loading a page.

    Obviously I hit another button to cancel the web browser and go back to what I'm doing... But Verizon rounds pretty much any data transfer up to the nearest MB. So I'm billed for at least 1 MB even though I only actually transferred a couple K of data.

    This was enough of a nuisance, not just for me but also my wife and son, that I had to block data entirely on our account. It would be nice to have it available if I needed it, but that just isn't possible. It's entirely too easy to wind up with a pile of little charges.

  • Re:Free market (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jpcarter (1098791) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @05:54PM (#30079768)
    Until the competing services raise their fees to match Verizon.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 12, 2009 @05:57PM (#30079830)

    If you disable data services, and accidentally click on a data service button, you will be charged $1.99 for the bandwith it took to send you the 'You do not have this service' message.

    Actually no. Like I said if you tell them that you want to block access to all data services then they will in fact disable it. You will no longer have any TCP/IP capability to even return the message 'You do not have this service'. I went from 'unlimited data' to having the service blocked, even when I tried to access websites and initiate email syncronization. I no longer was billed for data services.

    I am not saying this because I loved VzW, after my phone died I switched to AT&T and got an iPhone. There was even the pleasant surprise that the ETF was pro-rated so it only cost me $80 to cancel the contract early. So VzW isn't as bad as the article is making them out to be.

  • by will381796 (1219674) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @06:03PM (#30079928)
    At least with Sprint, if they change your terms of service, you have a set period of time to cancel your contract with them without an early termination fee. As already stated, you and the company have a contract. The company has changed their contract with you while the contract was still in effect. So, you have the ability to cancel w/o any type of fee if you do not agree with the unilateral changes that they made to your TOS. If you agree with the new TOS (or simply don't know that they changed), then they interpret your continuing to use their service as an acknowledgment of the changes they made to the contract and agreement to abide by the new requirements. Many a Sprint customer has gotten out of a contract for free because of minor changes to the TOS. Not sure if anything similar happens w/ Verizon or AT&T.
  • ORLY? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by edmicman (830206) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @06:04PM (#30079968) Homepage Journal

    If I buy a smartphone from Verizon and sign a 2-year contract, I'm prepared to keep the phone and service for two years. That's the game and they're setting the rules - if I want to phone and service jump, sure I could prefer not to pay but I can't really find a fault in them wanting me to. Who is this hurting? If you move to a location where you don't get service, they already let you cancel without penalty. How many people actually end up paying the ETF?

    Also, I don't know about the data bit either. My old k1m/krzr went to the "mobile web" or get it now if I hit the down arrow. That brought up a launch screen where I could check account settings (for free), purchase a day's worth of mobile browsing, or sign up for mobile web and have it as a recurring payment. I've never been charged for any sort of access for pulling anything down.

  • Sprint (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Akaihiryuu (786040) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @06:20PM (#30080240)
    I'm extremely glad I finally ditched Verizon for Sprint 3 months ago. Sprint has better coverage and better service for cheaper. Even though my workplace provides a Verizon discount, Sprint was still cheaper. Not to mention with my Verizon phones I was lucky to even get a signal in the building I'm in. With my Sprint phone I get 3-4 bars consistently (all my coworkers with Verizon have noted this too). The 3 Sprint users here are the only ones that can get a signal without going outside. Anyway, I digress...I'm paying $15/month less with Sprint, unlimited data, unlimited text/pix, 1500 minutes/month, free nights/weekends, nights/weekends starting at 7pm instead of 9pm, than I was with Verizon, with unlimited text, but no pix, no data, and my company discount. Verizon has terrible phones, terrible service, and they are a ripoff in general. I switched on the advice of my roommate, who has had service with Sprint for 6 years and has never had any issues. Neither of us understand why they have a bad reputation.
  • by stewbacca (1033764) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @06:31PM (#30080396)

    Paying $230 to break a 2-year contract after one year is far cheaper than keeping the phone for another year at $120+ per month...just sayin'.

  • MOD PARENT UP! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ElSupreme (1217088) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @07:16PM (#30081028)
    MOD PARENT UP!

    I am so glad to have T-Moblie service (and Android for over a year). Not because they have great coverage (it is really good in Atlanta but bad other places), because Verizon does. I am so glad because they give the best customer service, in both the stores and on the phone.

    I had huge problems with Verizon refurbished phones not working properly (went through 5 phones in 8 weeks). Three of the five didn't work properly out of the store. The other two had either the speaker or LCD mess up within a week. Every time I went to get a replacement I had to call the 800 number, hand the phone to the desk person so they would give me the replacement. PITA. I ended up forwarding my number to a Pre-Paid T-Mobile phone for 5 months before my contract ended (it was cheaper to pay the $10 a month for the family line, than the $175 break fee). I moved my number the day my contract ended. The other 3 family lines got moved within 5 days.

    Sorry for the rant. VerizonWireless, and Comcast will never get a dime from me, they both offer nice products (well just Verizon), but their service is not worth the hassle. I also know a Verizon Wireless employee (accounting) that forgoes the discounted rates also 100% due to the fact their customer service sucks.
  • by tftp (111690) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @07:26PM (#30081156) Homepage
    Just for comparison: I have an AT&T phone at the moment, and I blocked the data connection when I got the phone, right at the store. Now and then I press the "connect" button accidentally, but all I get is a "Connection failed" screen, and no data charges.
  • Re:Wow (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tool462 (677306) on Thursday November 12, 2009 @07:31PM (#30081212)

    My 11 month old daughter is able to figure out how to unlock my phone. It's random chance that they figure it out, but once they do, they're pretty good and remembering it and duplicating the results.

  • Re:new york times (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 12, 2009 @08:57PM (#30082074)

    I agree highly that VZW sucks. I agree that most of their equipment sucks.

    However in my experience AT&T nee Cingular sucks even worse. The old AT&T Wireless from around 2002/2003, those guys I miss.

    VZW is still marginally better than AT&T. At least VZW only nickel and dimes one of me. AT&T invented a whole another me to do so, billed me full price on two versions of me for like 6 months and then tried to collect. I told em that I'm only gonna pay once. Fortunately, the 3 major CRAs saw things my way, but it still was a major pain in the rear.

    So I'd rather burn in hell than switch back to AT&T. I might consider MetroPCS or T-Mobile.

  • Re:Droid vs. Android (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 4phun (822581) on Friday November 13, 2009 @12:02AM (#30083364)
    Motorola already sells a better version of the Droid in Europe.

    The one Verizon has is a first generation model developed exclusively for Verizon. I think it is funny that Verizon is so worried about future churn from those who sign up for Droid that they had to double the early termination fee to hold onto these customers.
  • by manyxcxi (1037382) on Friday November 13, 2009 @02:25AM (#30084034) Journal
    I had T-Mobile for years and switched to Verizon for a few years as well. Now currently on AT&T with the jesus phone, and for while (when I was w/ VZW) was lugging around an AT&T BlackBerry for work. I can tell you that in my experience Verizon has beaten AT&T with call quality, 3G speed, dropped calls, and coverage. If cell coverage could be had in Oregon, I was able to get it with Verizon- definitely not so with AT&T.
    However, if you ever have a problem and need to get a hold of customer service for any reason, don't count on it being quick. Once you get someone on the line, service isn't so awful. Also, the ability to just go into the store, hand them my busted BlackBerry and walk out with a new one (4 different times) after getting through a queue (which can take a while) is a plus my Fiance has never been able to get with T-Mobile.
    All in all: as soon as a phone compelling enough to get me to switch back comes along I will. I have nothing good to say about AT&T, other than they were smart enough to get my business by being the only ones in the US to offer me a phone that provides me the most utility and has forever brought entertainment/infinite reading material to the pooping stall.

"I got everybody to pay up front...then I blew up their planet." "Now why didn't I think of that?" -- Post Bros. Comics

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