Deciding when to upgrade your mobile phone is not automatic when you become discount eligible. Far from it. If you commit to the wrong phone, you’re stuck with it for 12 months unless you replace it at pay full price.
As Verizon customer support just told me, you have to “ride out the phone.”
That’s the case with Veriz0n, my provider. The phone I am eying is the HTC Droid Incredible which is $199.99 discounted for re-upping with Verizon for another two years. With no discount, it’s $529.99 which I doubt many are going to pay. Customers are conditioned to paying the discounted price.
But I don’t like getting locked into further two year commitments, which has prompted to me look at no-contract providers like metroPCS with its “all-in pricing, additional taxes and regulatory fees included, no contracts, and no hidden surprises.”
Sounds great, but is it purely value I want? I returned a Palm Pre Plus to Verizon a month ago because while it was a great value at $50 with free mobile broadband, it wasn’t the phone I wanted (I became eligible for my 12-month upgrade in March). MetroPCS has very basic phones compared to Verizon. It has only two SmartPhones. Verizon has 26.
Some day, I’ll do the math about whether switching carriers is worth it. Verizon maximally charges between $175 to $350 per line, but pro-rates it depending on when you bail. For the four lines, my early termination fees today would be $460.
Another subtle gotcha is that my family members have all upgraded on different dates, which individually resets the contract for each line. That means, I am not free and clear of early termination fees when my line’s contract runs out next March 12th. I have to wait for all four to expire.
At least, Verizon has not abandoned its unlimited data program like AT&T, but that’s story for another day.
As much as I like the Droid Incredible, I may delay gratification 18 months until November when Verizon gives me $50 off a discounted phone for re-upping. And I can see what alternatives come along (4G?) to the Incredible and most likely, it’s discounted price could go down.
Bottom line? Mobile phone decisions should not be this difficult, convoluted, trap-ridden and remorseful. Verizon Wireless bombards us with new phones and then says we can’t them at a reasonable price unless we indenture ourselves. Contracts are full of gotchas and companies like Verizon have excessively inserted themselves into their customers’ lives.
In the end, companies with an approach like metroPCS’s could win this war.
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