Verizon’s $30 “Upgrade” Fee

The following is a post from a friend that I thought was interesting enough to add to the blog. As I don’t have a category for bad business practices (despite such posts as:  Don’t Upgrade Quickbooks, Overdue Casualties of the Recession, Free, Online, Too,  Free, Online, Adventures in Small Business Banking, A Representative will be with You Shortly, Network Solutions is Utter Garbage, Guaranteed Value vs. Value Assessments (or MyPanera vs. My Starbucks Rewards), Sears v. NJCEP v. PSE&G v. Sears (again), Goodbye Windows Mobile, etc.), I’ll settle will categorizing this post under Rants. However, consider Verizon added to my Bad Businesses List.


I just wanted to share my recent discussion with a Verizon representative over the chat feature. I felt like I was in the land of Orwell’s double speak. My mother-in-law’s phone isn’t working and I needed to replace it. Our free phone every two years option was not used since we don’t use all of the bells and whistles and we like saving the new phone for when we actually needed a phone. So I went to check out my “free” phone and saw an “upgrade fee” of $30 dollars.

Confused with the charge on my free phone I opened a chat window and chatted with the nice Verizon representative. Here is a copy and paste of the conversation:

Please hold for a Verizon Wireless sales representative to assist you with your order. Thank you for your patience.

You are now chatting with ‘Tiana’

Tiana: Hello. Thank you for visiting our chat service.  May I help you with your order today?

Tiana: I haven’t heard from you in a while.  Would you like to continue chatting?

You: Why am I getting a $30 upgrade charge when trying to order a free phone?

Tiana: I’d be happy to assist you.

Tiana: The upgrade fee is $30.00, this is a new fee that went in effect on 4-22-12, it applies to all upgrades and can not be waived.

You: if i downgrade my phone can i get 30 back?

Tiana: The upgrade will still apply because you are switching devices.

You: so you have an upgrade fee that has nothing to do with an upgrade?

Tiana: It is there because you are upgrading(renewing your contract).

You: that is 2 different terms that you used to describe an upgrade fee. Is it an upgrade fee, a switch phone fee or renew contract fee?

Tiana: It is a upgrade fee that is applied when you renew your contract.

You: what if I don’t upgrade my phone. What if I downgrade my phone when i renew my contract?

Tiana: If you downgrade to a new device you will be renewing your contract so you will have to pay the upgrade fee of $30.00.

You: So are you stating that this is a fee to renew the contract and not a fee to upgrade the phone. In other words Verizon now charges 30 dollars to renew the contract. Correct?

Tiana: Yes but is it called a upgrade fee.

You: So for the record. Verizon has a contract renewel fee of 30 dollars that it calls an upgrade fee, which has nothing to do with upgrading the device. Correct?

Tiana: The upgrade fee is a new fee effective 04/22/2012. The upgrade fee will help us continue to provide customers with a positive overall experience from the moment they walk in the store to long after they leave. Devices are more sophisticated than ever before, requiring resources such as customer educational tools, personal consultations with our experts, reference materials, and support applications such as Backup Assistant to assist in the transition from one device to another.

You: I just need you to confirm my statement. I repeat, So for the record. Verizon has a contract renewel fee of 30 dollars that it calls an upgrade fee, which has nothing to do with upgrading the device. Correct?

Tiana: Yes.

I hope you enjoyed my chat with Verizon. When you have to order a new phone from Verizon make sure you CALL customer service and advise them of your displeasure with the fee. It might be worth $30 bucks.


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