Verizon: Just as Bad as AT&T
I should have known better. I was starting to think that if Apple drops its exclusive iPhone deal with AT&T, I'd switch to Verizon in a New York minute.
But Verizon's decision to double (that's right, double) early termination fees for smartphones to $350 has me seriously ticked off. I was already disgusted with Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, who has been running around the country slamming Net neutrality , but now that I've read his company's astonishingly arrogant reply to an FCC query, he's the hands-down winner of the Bozo of the Month award. (High-five to David Pogue of the New York Times who brought this and another Verizon-related matter to the attention of the FCC.)
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Paying to quit
Anyone who owns a cell phone is probably aware of the dreaded early termination fee, or ETF, as the carriers like to call it. Ask why a customer has to pay to quit, the telcos will say that the charge is a way to make up for the subsidized cost of a phone.
In a sense, that's fair. If it costs a carrier $500 to buy a phone it sells for $200, the carrier doesn't want a customer bailing out before it has recouped its subsidy via monthly charges. But it's only fair in theory.
To begin with, a cell phone without its designated carrier is useless. Sure, some customers are savvy enough to unlock, or jailbreak, a phone , but that's a tiny percentage of the user base. So how big a problem is that?
What's more, Verizon tacks on an extra charge every month to make up the potential loss. The ETF drops $10 every month a customer stays with the service, but at the end of the two-year contract, it's still $120. Why not zero?
And here's the really big disconnect: If the monthly charge contains an extra fee to repay the subsidy to Verizon -- which it apparently does -- why doesn't the monthly service charge drop after it makes up the difference? In response to a query by the FCC apparently prompted by Pogue's column, Verizon replied that customers have the option to avoid the ETF by paying the full price for the phone.
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