Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Verizon Doubles Early Termination Fee and More

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the infuriating-design dept.

Cellphones 520

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.'"

cancel ×

520 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Wow (5, Insightful)

SirBigSpur (1677306) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079290)

I hate Verizon even more now, I didn't think it was possible.

Re:Wow (0)

slummy (887268) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079352)

You can hate them for their poor business practice, but their 3G coverage is undeniably superb!

Unfortunately I got stuck with T-mobile cause I wanted an Android so bad.

Re:Wow (1, Interesting)

InlawBiker (1124825) | more than 4 years ago | (#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 (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30079774)

You can hate them for their poor business practice, but their 3G coverage is undeniably superb!

There's a map for that.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30079814)

The exact reason I switched from AT&T to Verizon. Who wants to pay $45 a month (BB Enterprise) for Edge when you can get 3G for the same price?

Re:Wow (1)

nsayer (86181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079888)

There's a lawsuit for that. [engadget.com]

Their EVDO 3G is barely better than EDGE (2.5G). I'll take UMTS, even if it isn't available in East Bum-Fuck Kansas.

Re:Wow (4, Funny)

Zantac69 (1331461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079424)

Funny - I was thinking the same thing. I wish the DROID would be available, unlocked, with a SIM card. I have comtemplated going with Verizon.

The flaw of DROID is locked to Verizon.
The flaw of the iPhone is locked to AT&T (but at least you can jail break it).

I guess I am sticking with my SonyEricsson w810i until the phone providers adopt the buisness model in Europe...which might be right about the time they are tossing snowballs in hell...or DukeNukem Forever is released.

Re:Wow (3, Interesting)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Wow (1)

Zantac69 (1331461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079630)

Thanks for the suggestion - will be in Sweden for X-mas so I might have to check it out. I can get VAT returned when I am coming back...so with that it makes it not too bad for the price.

Re:Wow (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079680)

Typo correction--just to clarify, you might get stuck WITHOUT 3G and relegated to 2G only. I don't recall if AT&T uses the same frequencies as Europe and Canada, but I'm certain T-mobile(USA) doesn't.

Re:Wow (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079858)

AT&T uses different frequencies than Europe. Not sure about CA, I think they may use the same 3G bands as AT&T.

The Milestone says UMTS in 900 and 2100. At best it may cover one of the two bands AT&T uses. (I always get 850 vs 900 and 1800 vs 1900 confused.)

T-Mo uses the 1700 MHz band for UMTS, few phones support this.

Re:Wow (3, Informative)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079882)

I don't recall if AT&T uses the same frequencies as Europe

Nope. AT&T uses 850Mhz & 1900Mhz for 3G, Europe uses 2100Mhz. T-Mobile uses 1700Mhz (which nobody else uses) and 2100Mhz for 3G. Unfortunately, they use 1700Mhz for the uplink and 2100Mhz for downlink, making their network incompatible with Europe and Asia.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30079674)

The flaw of the iPhone is locked to AT&T (but at least you can jail break it).

Say what you want about AT&T, but the fact is, as an iPhone customer, you are at the top of their pecking order, and are treated well. Once their network capacity catches up there will be few remaining reasons for smartphone customers to avoid them.

On the other hand, all these stories about people being nickel and dimed to death by Verizon give me the impression that Verizon is far too comfortable, even after being ambushed by the iPhone. Evidently, if I buy a high-end phone that's tied to Verizon, I'll be treated no differently from someone who buys the cheapest model at the mall kiosk. Every time I launch the phone's web browser, I'll have to wonder if Verizon is taking me to the cleaners. Screw 'em, I'll put up with a few dropped calls on my iPhone now and then.

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30079574)

I got bit by accidental data service one month...
One phonecall to Verizon had data disabled.
No more issue.

You can also buy the phones without a contract- just plan on spending several hundred more.

Re:Wow (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30079620)

Way to go, Verizon. Get a cool phone like the Moto Droid, and then be as big a bastard as you can possibly be. I see bright things in your future.

new york times (0)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079298)

nobody's going read rupert murdoch style crap put behind a subscription barrier.

Can someone get a better link to this magic per-byte billing that people think is actually new to verizon, although it's not?

Meanwhile, Verizon's timing here is horrible. FCC is off reviewing mobile carrier tie in and they are reneging on their own promises to lower the termination fees from years ago. That's about as asinine as it gets. Safe to say, sounds like they are remotely hoping the droid succeeds and mostly hoping it won't.

Re:new york times (3, Insightful)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079370)

Actually, I think their timing couldn't be better! I've got my droid on the lower cancel penalty... For once the early adopters get benefits!

This would make me not get Verizon, if I didn't already have it without the hike tho...

Re:new york times (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079896)

Remember, if they change data rates (and you know they'll try to hike it as soon as the phone becomes popular), you can always break terminate your plan for no fee. I suspect verizon will do that quite fast.

Re:new york times (1)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079912)

nobody's going read rupert murdoch style crap put behind a subscription barrier.

Murdock owns the Daily News, not the Times; the Times has been subscription for at least 7+ years; subscribing is free.

What happens to the other .99 KB? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30079308)

Do they just throw that away? What a waste.

Re:What happens to the other .99 KB? (1)

Again (1351325) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079712)

Do they just throw that away? What a waste.

That gets piped to /dev/null. The same place I put all my files.

Seems reasonable... (0, Flamebait)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079316)

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.

As for early termination fees increasing, that's what gets you nice phones for cheap. I don't really see a problem with these fees since they are making phones more affordable given that you would have a phone plan anyway.

Re:Seems reasonable... (3, Informative)

Z34107 (925136) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079430)

Problem is, you hit the web button by mistake, kill it before the browser is even open on your phone, but still get charged $2. 0.02 KB (according to the article) goes across the wire, but you're charged for 1024.

And, they place the "Bill me $2" button on an arrow key. Or, on or near some other commonly-hit button.

I hate cellphone companies for reasons just like this, so I got a terrorist cellphone (OK, a Tracfone) for just that reason. But, they too have an all-too-large "Bill me .3 minutes" next to your arrow and "OK" keys.

Re:Seems reasonable... (3, Informative)

lgftsa (617184) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079738)

OK, this might be mean of me to say, but here in Oz I called my monopoly 3.5G telco (Telstra) and asked them to disable my phone's data service. I left SMS and MMS active, because they're not accident prone. It took 5 minutes which included hold time and a friendly chat with the operator.

The base model Chinese-made Telstra-branded rubbish phone has a custom firmware and the browser button cannot be re-programmed, but many of the other phones they offer like my Nokia E51 can be. The easy-to-accidently-press BigPond button now launches the camera app.

Re:Seems reasonable... (1)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079800)

Two bucks? That's not that bad... Telus (in Canada) charges an outrageous $8/MB.

Re:Seems reasonable... (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079910)

Simple. Tell Verizon to disable all data service on your phone if you don't want it at all. That way you don't get billed, you just get an error if you hit the wrong button. I did that on my Treo 650 and never once received an errant data charge.

Or get a 5GB data plan.

Also, AT&T is also basically the same.

BTW, you have to *seriously* fight with your provider if you want a data-capable phone without either fully disabling the data plan OR a "practically unlimited" plan for just the reasons the article submitter is complaining about.

Re:Seems reasonable... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30079966)

And, they place the "Bill me $2" button on an arrow key. Or, on or near some other commonly-hit button.

It's worth mentioning that Sprint does the exact same damn thing. Open the browser with an arrow key, round all data transfers up to the next MB.

If you missed it, according to the article, each data session is rounded up to the next MB. So if you accidentally press the button, cancel out, and then accidentally press the button again, that's two sessions, so 2MB of "transfer." (To be fair, the existing session has to close, so if you do that in rapid succession you'll probably only get one charge. But still, it's entirely possible to get charged for 3MB of transfer for pressing the button three times.)

Re:Seems reasonable... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30079436)

See, if it were real data usage, that would be fine and I agree with you. One major problem: they explicitly refuse to disable data. I have no intention of ever using data on Verizon yet I have to have a plan that says they charge obscene amounts for accidental button presses on a phone I only want to use for calls and texting. (I have nothing against smart phones / data plans... I just have an n810 and am at university so there is free Wi-Fi everywhere.)

Re:Seems reasonable... (0, Troll)

jpmorgan (517966) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079446)

Yeah, this 'article' doesn't seem to have any coherent point beyond 'Verizon sucks!' which makes me question the motives of the author.

Re:Seems reasonable... (2, Informative)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079474)

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.

Except that it's far easier to do this even when you know the consequences. I have a Motorola Krave on Verizon for example (which BTW just might qualify as shittiest phone in existence) - the touch screen is INCREDIBLY fickle. When typing a text message even when I'm sitting there doing my best to hit 1 letter sometimes it'll register the one next to it - making me backspace 3-4 times to fix it (and it then occasionally not registering the backspace but instead a key next to THAT key - further frustrating me). So, the web browser (which I have no desire to use - AT ALL) is right next to the Tools and Media Center icons under the main menu. Despite your best efforts sometimes it'll hit that key when you're going for one next to it. Such things shouldn't incur extra charges.

Luckily I was able to go online and specifically disable all web data access from my phone, but it's sad to have to jump through hoops like that. Ideally just opening the web browser shouldn't use any data.

Re:Seems reasonable... (5, Insightful)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079500)

If you use data, it seems reasonable to me to charge a fee even if you just made "a mistake".

Agreed...but the issue is not about paying for the 0.2kb HTTP request you just made, but rather paying for an entire MB worth of data. It's not like billing per kilobyte or even per BYTE is technically infeasible, so why can't you pay for a fractional MB if that's what you use? In fact, there is absolutely no justifiable technical reason for this -- it's pure asshat accounting. This is like plugging in a desk lamp into your wall outlet for 5 minutes and ComEd charging you for an entire kWh.

You know it's asshat-ish when even AT&T has a better policy.

Re:Seems reasonable... (4, Interesting)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#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:Seems reasonable... (1)

Artraze (600366) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079556)

The point is that they don't disable the data, but rather let you use it and set a fairly huge and costly (without a plan) minimum, so when you accidentally hit the wrong button they make pretty good money (esp. when added across all their subscribers). According to a friend on Verizon, this is fairly standard fare.

As far as the termination penalty is concerned, I couldn't agree more. When a contract offers a concession upfront, early termination almost invariably involves a penalty on the order of that concession.

Re:Seems reasonable... (2, Insightful)

Zantac69 (1331461) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079578)

As for early termination fees increasing, that's what gets you nice phones for cheap. I don't really see a problem with these fees since they are making phones more affordable given that you would have a phone plan anyway.

The pisser is that I want to BUY the phone by itself...and then be able to go to whatever provider I wanted. "Cheap phones" be damned! They should be clear about how much the phone is subsidized...and for how long...and make that as an "adder" to the normal monthly charge. You can either BUY a Droid for $550 outright and have a $40/mo bill...or get it for "Free" and pay an addl $28/month for 24 months (threw in some interest to boot). If you cancel after 12 months, then you owe 12*28, or $336.

But that makes too much sense...carriers would never go for that.

Re:Seems reasonable... (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079754)

T-mobile just did.

Re:Seems reasonable... (2, Informative)

todrules (882424) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079808)

T-Mobile does exactly that. You can either buy a subsidized phone and get a contract and a higher monthly fee. Or you can buy retail price and pay a lower monthly fee. If you want, you can pay the retail price in installments as well.

Re:Seems reasonable... (1)

reginaldo (1412879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079586)

The problem is that they round up to a minimum of a $1.99, regardless of usage. That's a steep minimum. A comparison would be rounding up 1 second of calltime to 17 minutes (1 sec to 1024 sec).

Also, even if you disable data services on your phone, they charge you $1.99 because it took bandwidth to send you the "You do not have this service" message.

Re:Seems reasonable... (1)

Nikker (749551) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079588)

If you use data, it seems reasonable to me to charge a fee even if you just made "a mistake".

That's gotta be a troll but what the hell. The problem is not that they are charging you for something you used even by mistake, the issue is they are charging you for much more then you are actually using and apparently they don't allow you to use what you've been charged for. So lets say you accidentally push a button that opens up a browser or what ever and you load a page that is about 50KB you get charged for a megabyte so I should be able to go back and load the page again with out getting charged again since another 50KB would only be 100KB out of my 1000KB right? That $1.99 should actually provide you with a megabyte of usage right? So I should be able to make about 1000 1KB mistakes and only be charged $1.99 because I've only used 1MB of data on their network. The idea is if I charge you for 1MB why shouldn't it be reasonable to be able to use it all? If you intentionally check out a web page and someone calls while it loads will you have to start again? So would it be reasonable to you if I charged you for a dozen doughnuts but only let you keep the ones you could stuff in your mouth at once?

Re:Seems reasonable... (1)

caladine (1290184) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079952)

The problem isn't so much the charge itself. It's just how easy it is to make that mistake.

It isn't like it's deeper menu item. On my phone, just fat fingering "up" will cause you to try to use Mobile Web. This is a really easy thing to do, given that the "ok" button is in the middle of the D-pad on my phone.

The granularity is also an issue. Charging for a full MB when you use less than 1k? That's orders of magnitude worse than futzing a call and being charged a minute.

Verizon is doubling the phone-subsidy to $350... (4, Insightful)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079330)

And yet people make fun of me for using a TracFone, for about only $9 per month.

Re:Verizon is doubling the phone-subsidy to $350.. (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079514)

People who make a lot of calls aren't going to come in at $9 per month - pre-paids are only good for people with very low usage.

Also, unlike most other services, with TracFone you don't own your number. You decide to switch carriers and your phone number goes with it. Personally keeping my number is worth quite a bit more than $350. To each his own though.

Re:Verizon is doubling the phone-subsidy to $350.. (2, Funny)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079656)

"People who make a lot of calls aren't going to come in at $9 per month - pre-paids are only good for people with very low usage."

And the award for the best stating of the obvious goes to MBGMorden. Take a bow.

Re:Verizon is doubling the phone-subsidy to $350.. (5, Informative)

alecto (42429) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079682)

Tracfone has a brand, Straight Talk [straighttalk.com] (I have no affiliation and that's not a referral link), with phones available at WalMart with unlimited voice and text plus 30 MB data for $45/30 days. Prepaid being only for low-usage folks is a bygone idea.

Re:Verizon is doubling the phone-subsidy to $350.. (5, Informative)

jpcarter (1098791) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079702)

Also, unlike most other services, with TracFone you don't own your number.

Google Voice to the rescue.

Re:Verizon is doubling the phone-subsidy to $350.. (2, Insightful)

bmajik (96670) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079788)

People who make a lot of calls aren't going to come in at $9 per month - pre-paids are only good for people with very low usage.

Also, unlike most other services, with TracFone you don't own your number. You decide to switch carriers and your phone number goes with it. Personally keeping my number is worth quite a bit more than $350. To each his own though.

I'm on T-mobile prepaid and i __love__ it. Yeah, i don't talk much. Verizon doesn't have any kind of cost effective service for customers like me. They lost my business a few years back and it's been wonderful.

I can use any GSM phone i want to, I didn't have to tell t-mobile anything about who i am or how i plan on paying, and i think i pay less in a year than i was paying for 2 months when i had a verizon "share plan" for my wife and I.

Finally -- with google voice [and other number re-direction schemes], the concept of even knowing your mobile number is officially uninteresting. I have been telling people the random southern california phone number i got issued when i bought my SIM card from ebay for a couple years now. Nobody cares what my number is, least of all me. If i want to truly own my number i will abstract my identity from my device, carrier, and location entirely -- like google voice (or skype in, or any other service) lets me do.

Re:Verizon is doubling the phone-subsidy to $350.. (5, Informative)

operagost (62405) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079906)

I was able to port the number from a Tracfone to an AT&T phone about a year and a half ago.

Re:Verizon is doubling the phone-subsidy to $350.. (4, Informative)

langedb (518453) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079920)

Also, unlike most other services, with TracFone you don't own your number. You decide to switch carriers and your phone number goes with it. Personally keeping my number is worth quite a bit more than $350. To each his own though.

According to TracFone's FAQ. They will allow you to transfer your number out of TracFone, but your personal information on the TracFone account must match the information on the new carrier's account. Source [tracfone.com]

It's not just a "phone subsidy." (2, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079332)

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.

You sign a contract with Verizon. Verizon is providing the services. You are contracting with them and saying you will use their services for X years. It's a contract. Breaking a contract is something where both parties agree what the response should be. In this case, Verizon is saying that you are charged $350 if you break your contract and stop paying them what you said you would pay them.

Honestly, I don't see what the deal is. Chances are you are paying what... average of $100 a month for a Verizon plan? So $350 is 3.5 months? Paying 3.5 months for breaking a 24 month contract doesn't seem so unreasonable.

The fact that they ARE using that money to subsidize their "free phone" stuff is irrelevant. If they are able to apply money they get from termination fees to offer cheaper phones and get more customers that way, I see no problem with that.

But... oh well. It's much more interesting to complain about early termination fees as if they are hidden or sneaky or something. As if contracts should be able to be broken by either party without any consequences...

Re:It's not just a "phone subsidy." (5, Insightful)

tcc3 (958644) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079534)

You would be right if the contract actually worked both ways. If you have problem with your service, or a billing dispute, or any of a number of other problems, their answer is likely to be "Too bad."

The customer is left with two choices - a very costly and unlikely to succeed lawsuit, or to walk. Taking your business elsewhere is sometimes the only effective protest against a corporate bully.

Re:It's not just a "phone subsidy." (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079624)

You would be right if the contract actually worked both ways. If you have problem with your service, or a billing dispute, or any of a number of other problems, their answer is likely to be "Too bad."

Not really. We've have billing disputes and problems with both Verizon and AT&T. We got a discount from AT&T and refunds from Verizon. Is it difficult to actually talk to someone who knows what they are talking about and works with you? Yes. It's not impossible though, and we were not told "too bad."

The customer is left with two choices - a very costly and unlikely to succeed lawsuit, or to walk.

I suppose this depends on the nature of the issue. In the case of an early termination, I can't see how you have a leg to stand on in the first place. If you mean overcharges or something like that, I have personal experience with having resolved those over the phone or by going into a store and talking to someone. I have heard of "accidents" that people do and they want Verizon to refund them (because they didn't know it charged more or because they didn't "know" they were signing up for something when they said "Yes, sign me up" ... or whatever) and they are refused... which, again, makes sense to me...

Re:It's not just a "phone subsidy." (1)

Artraze (600366) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079930)

How doesn't it work both ways? They give you $X as a sort of signing bonus, knowing that across two years they will make that back. Do you think it's unfair that you can't just walk away with that money the next month? Isn't it only reasonable they get back the money they gave you (prorated even, IIRC) if you don't fulfill the expectations of the contract?

Contrary to the GP's post, the penalty is, in principle, because of the phone subsidy. Ongoing general service or support contracts rarely have severance penalties (for the customer, at least). Yes, there is a small benefit in so far as the (purely psychological) lock in, but it's completely necessary from a financial standpoint. If you don't like it, you can go drop $400 cash on a new phone and join on a prepaid service. They can be quite reasonable depending on your usage, and you can walk away if you don't like the service.

Re:It's not just a "phone subsidy." (4, Funny)

mayko (1630637) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079592)

My problem would be with

Guy/Girl: "Hey Verizon, can you block my data service so I don't accidentally use it?"

Verizon: "Sure we can. (click)"

Guy/Girl: "Uh, Why is my bill showing charges for data, that I have disabled?"

Verizon: "Because silly.... we have to send you data to tell you that you can't use the data plan!"

Re:It's not just a "phone subsidy." (4, Insightful)

EvilNTUser (573674) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079594)

Haven't you noticed? Nowadays we don't vote with our wallets any more, we just dash to the lowest up front cost and then start bitching when we realize we can't act like children. Then we do it again with the next company, because we now "hate" the first.

Re:It's not just a "phone subsidy." (1)

ZombieWomble (893157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079670)

From the article, I think the issue with the fee is that it is not an early termination fee on your contract, any more. According to the article, on a 2 year contract it starts at $350 and goes down $10 every month. A quick bit of subtraction shows that at the end of your contract you still owe $110. You've held up your end of the contract, and still Verizon want to take more money from you. That doesn't seem right.

(Also, the numbers Americans throw around for their cell phone contracts scare me - $100 a month or more? Do they deliver your data to you in gold-plated USB sticks or something?)

Re:It's not just a "phone subsidy." (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079894)

(Also, the numbers Americans throw around for their cell phone contracts scare me - $100 a month or more? Do they deliver your data to you in gold-plated USB sticks or something?)

Meh. Family plan. Data plans are expensive, too, though...

Re:It's not just a "phone subsidy." (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079914)

^They can't charge you $110 if you've fulfilled your contract. They're just making it expensive to terminate with even a single month left to go.

Re:It's not just a "phone subsidy." (4, Insightful)

Jthon (595383) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079718)

The problem for me isn't that they have ETF fees, in fact given most phones have a subsidy I under stand that. My problem is that you cannot sign a contract without an ETF even if you provide your own phone. On top of that if you buy a phone without a subsidy it's not like you can negotiate a service discount with Verizon. You pay the same amount in either case and that's not really fair.

If Verizon actually cared about the customer they would offer a choice of the following two plan options.

1. Subsidized phone, contract, and ETF. You pay for you phone over the life of your contract, basically you're leasing the phone.

2. Unsubsidized phone, no contract, no ETF, discounted plan rate. You buy the phone outright since you paid full price for it you should save the difference between the price you paid and the subsidized price over the same length of time as the contract from option 1.

In fact at one point I was going to sign up for a plan with Verizon and bring my own phone, but even if I didn't get a new phone from them to setup new service I had to agree to a 1 year contract which included an ETF. There was NO way to avoid the contract.

This entire subsidy and ETF thing on your phone reminds me of old MA Bell. Before the original AT&T got broken up due to being a monopoly it wasn't actually possible for you to buy a telephone. You HAD to lease the phone from the phone company, and the phone company owned your phone. You basically got whatever phone Ma Bell wanted you to have. Cellphone companies are in that position now. While they say you "buy" your phone, you're really leasing it with no option to truly own it. If these companies were forced to offer a choice of phones, and didn't have these crazy contracts to hide behind I'm sure the cost of cellphone handsets would drop along through real competition.

Re:It's not just a "phone subsidy." (0)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079878)

I got my Droid the other day and I didn't sign any contracts. They just gave it to me. I assume there is some agreement when I pay the bill, but I've signed no such contract. Also T-mobile and the like have had a class action lawsuit over early termination fees and lost. Early termination fees don't have a very good record in court. I stiffed T-mobile my early termination when they tried to hit me with a "automatic-rollover" contract which once my two years time was done, I decided to opt out of service. I didn't opt out during the proper window so they charged me $400. They never got it, it has been 8 years now and they never collected or took me to court.

Make money now ... pay FCC later (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30079360)

They'll make more now than the class-action will cost later.

Setting a new standard for absurdity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30079376)

that one key leading to charge of 1MB download thingy should be illegal. BY default the keys should come configured to NOT allow data fetch if the subscriber doesn't have a data plan. They charge so much for monthly phone plans and then they nickle & dime their customers like this. What a shame!

Termination Fees (4, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079384)

I understand, on principle why they charge early termination fees. $350 for a smartphone seems extreme, but taking the new Droid for example, the phone costs $550 without a plan and the customer gets it for $200 which is right in line. What doesn't make sense is the fact that if I cancel my contract 1 year and 11 months in, I'm expected to pay the whole termination fee, despite the fact that Verizon has already made back $335 of it. That's just abussive. Termination fees should be proportional to the amount of the contract you are terminating and capped at the amount of subsidization on the phone.

Re:Termination Fees (4, Informative)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079438)

This one is proportional... $10 per month IIRC... So if you canceled 23 months in, you'd only owe $105.

Re:Termination Fees (1)

darjen (879890) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079600)

even then they haven't made back all of it yet... minus all the overhead with running the company, etc. they probably really do need the full two years to break even.

Re:Termination Fees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30079954)

Are you forgetting we pay a monthly service fee as well? They don't just make all their money on hardware sales and those leaving their contract.

Re:Termination Fees (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30079958)

Hi, welcome to cell service in the US. You must be new here.

Cancel your data service (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30079386)

Just call them and say, "Hey, I would like to have all data services blocked on my account." When I was trying to save a buck that is what I did. The only collateral damage was that I could not receive MMS pictures on my Windows Mobile Smart Phone.

Re:Cancel your data service (1)

reginaldo (1412879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079664)

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.

Re:Cancel your data service (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Re:Cancel your data service (1)

Andy Dodd (701) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079976)

Nope. That did not happen to me once in the entire time I had a Treo 650 (notorious for accidentally racking up major data service charges) and had data service completely disabled/blocked on my account.

Manage these features online. (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079388)

As much as I can bash Verizon for their gestapo-like moves in other areas, at least they've given us the tools to completely disable features like these through account management online. I know this doesn't offer much of a solution for the casual user of these features, but at least it helps with certain users who intend to NEVER use the features.

As far as purposely designing these features on phones that make it VERY easy to accidentally activate and thus get charged for it no matter how quickly you try and shut it off, somehow the words "worthless greedy bloodsucking bastards" doesn't quite cover it.

Re:Manage these features online. (5, Funny)

Man On Pink Corner (1089867) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079782)

As much as I can bash Verizon for their gestapo-like moves in other areas, at least they've given us the tools to completely disable features like these through account management online.

Cool. I never really understood what "Stockholm Syndrome" meant until now.

Verizon: "there's a scam for that". (5, Funny)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079426)

Don't want to use the data service? There's a scam for that. Want to upgrade your phone? There's a scam for that. No matter what you want to do, we'll get your money. Because there's a scam for that.

Re:Verizon: "there's a scam for that". (1)

Virtucon (127420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079582)

It's not a scam if you agree to it. Now if if they're using double talk like the New Orleans' "I can tell you where you got those shoes" rag then it would be a different matter.

Re:Verizon: "there's a scam for that". (2, Insightful)

argent (18001) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079970)

Where does it say "we'll charge you $1.99 every time you hit the wrong key when you flip the phone open" on the contract?

Re:Verizon: "there's a scam for that". (5, Funny)

Moof123 (1292134) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079714)

Charging for incoming text messages: Scam
Charging for data service without a verification nag: Scam
Seeing an iphone/droid user wander into oncoming traffic: Priceless!

They doubled it because... (5, Interesting)

DomNF15 (1529309) | more than 4 years ago | (#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 :-)

I sense butt hurt (0)

Kodack (795456) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079488)

Get a cushion?

New Marketing Slogan (1)

Virtucon (127420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079512)

I can see the new marketing slogan:

From -
"Can you hear me now?"

and -
"We have a map for that."

Now we'll have -

"Where's my money bitches?"

Happy here... (1)

ekool (25857) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079536)

Happy Verizon customer here. Just picked up a Motorola Droid... very happy with it!

Motorola Droid Forum [droidforums.net]

You sure about that??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30079558)

"'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.'"

I accidentally hit it periodically, and I've never been charged for data. You sure you're not making this up??

Mine was a $175 termination fee (1)

coolmoose25 (1057210) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079580)

I bought a Droid on Friday morning when it came out online. I received it at lunch on Monday, and activated. Upon activation, they made me agree to the 2 year contract re-up, and a $175 early termination fee...

Re: Your .sig (1)

Dareth (47614) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079760)

Shaka, when the walls fell.

Free market (2, Insightful)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079622)

If you don't like the termination fee then you should simply use a competing service. Your choice to use Verizon is voluntary. Eventually the market will dictate what Verizon can charge.

Re:Free market (2, Interesting)

jpcarter (1098791) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079768)

Until the competing services raise their fees to match Verizon.

Re:Free market (3, Insightful)

Evro (18923) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079974)

Hopefully this is a joke. A free market is a nice idea, as is using a competing service, but what do you do when there are only 4 or 5 players in the market, and they all charge an early termination fee? It's collusion.

Cellphones are for the mentally challenged (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30079720)

You have to be mentally deficient to keep renewing contracts with those fucking cellphone carriers. Landline or nothing for me. No fucking hidden costs, no surprises at the end of the month, no need to call them to fix your damn bills every month.

I don't get the phone obsession (0, Troll)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079730)

Truly I don't. I have a single cell phone provided by my company. What posses people to waste their cash, signing up for obviously MORONIC contracts? If your company won't pay for your phone, get something without this kind of CRAP from Verizon. I mean really, do you truly need this junk?

Re:I don't get the phone obsession (1)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079904)

Have you tried to find a pay phone lately? A couple of decades ago, there used to be phone booths practically every other block. There are virtually none in the city where I live any more. I think the mall has a few pay phones, but I honestly don't know of any others. So if you ever have an emergency, or simply want to call home to tell your wife, husband, parents, etc., that you'll be a bit late as you're stopping to get groceries, you pretty much need a cell phone these days.

Personally, I would much prefer not to have a cell phone. But that's pretty much impossible nowadays.

The new termination fee is high, but justifiable (5, Insightful)

tommy (12973) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079734)

Using the DROID as an example:

The DROID with no contract is $560.

Math with the current termination fee:
$200 for the phone +
$175 to immediately break your contract =
$375 (You save $185 over the no-contract price)

Math with the new termination fee:
$200 for the phone +
$350 to immediately break your contract =
$550 (You save $10 over the no-contract price)

Either way you save more than simply buying the phone without a contract. The new fee is high, but I can understand their reasoning.

Be Careful When You Leave (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079744)

I got sent a termination fee bill from Verizon when I left for AT&T/iPhone even though I was past the two-year mark for my contract.

Plus side, Verizon was very good about tossing it out immediately.

Verizon Smartphones required to get data plan (1)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079748)

if you have a smartphone on verizon you are REQUIRED to have a smartphone data plan which is "unlimited" (5GB/month), so no 1MB billings.

i know. I have an Omnia on Verizon /employer discounts ftw

Re:Verizon Smartphones required to get data plan (1)

mcalchera (1518515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079918)

AT&T has also been requiring a data plan for their smartphones since September, presumably to prevent usage charges.

Suspension (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30079784)

To avoid steep termination fees, just put your plan on suspension - costs about $7 a month until the end of the contract.

Damnit... (1)

tengeta (1594989) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079798)

Why, oh why, are the only other two options actually WORSE? Cell phones in The U.S. are a freakin money mining joke.

More red on the map (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30079822)

Someone has to pay for all that red on the 3G map

maybe nowyou can cancel w/o a fee (2, Interesting)

will381796 (1219674) | more than 4 years ago | (#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.

Sounds like FUD from the Deathstar (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30079948)

AT&T and Apple are scared stupid about the Google power behind the Droid. So they are circulating these rumors about overage charges and early termination fees to scare people away from the Driod. As in these are not the Droids you are looking for. FUD plain and simple. I grilled Verizon the other day and I found out that the mandatory data plan that comes with the Droid has NO LIMIT, thats right NO LIMIT, the 5GB limit is on other devices the Drroid has NO LIMIT and NO OVERAGE CHARGES. So stop being whiner.

Dear Verizon: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30079950)

Fuck you !

P.S.: If you need further assistance with your random bogus phone billing software, please e-mail me:

ktrout@russianflyphishers.ru

Yours In Novorossiysk,
Kilgore Trout

ORLY? (2, Interesting)

edmicman (830206) | more than 4 years ago | (#30079968)

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.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>