Verizon To Stop Extending Contracts Due To Rate Plan Changes

Verizon announced today that they are ending the often complained about practice of extending contracts when customers request rate plan changes.

The change comes after Sprint was recently sued by the Minnesota Attorney General for violating Minnesota’s Consumer Fraud Act and Deceptive Trade Practices Act by unfairly extending the contracts of hapless consumers.

“..The company has tricked consumers into unknowingly extending their contract simply because they made a basic change to their plan,” said MN AG, Lori Swanson.

Verizon is proud of itself:

“Verizon Wireless once again demonstrates that our number one priority is delivering the most customer-friendly wireless experience in the U.S. marketplace. Our commitment to our customers is why we lead the industry in customer loyalty and why more customers use the Verizon Wireless brand than any other,” said Jack Plating, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Verizon Wireless.

Don’t run out and change your plan now, though. The new policy goes into effect on Oct 7.

New Contract Policy Gives Verizon Wireless Customers Added Flexibility in Choosing Calling Plans (Press Release) [PR Newswire]
(Photo:Jay Adan)

Comments

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  1. bravo369 says:

    that’s comical. If their #1 priority was the customers then they would never have instituted this policy in the first place. It’s more likely their #1 priority is to make nice before being sued and losing money like Sprint. Do they really think people are that stupid?

  2. Obtusegoose says:

    I was planning on adding another cell phone to my account, and was concerned they would extend my contract. So this is a good thing.

    Of course if they really wanted to deliver “the most customer-friendly wireless experience”, they could lower their text messaging rates back down to 10¢ or an even friendlier 5¢.

  3. dextrone says:

    This would have been useful several months ago, I’m in for a total of a 4-year contract.

    And I’ve been a long time customer as well.

    Guess long business relationships mean less these days.

  4. bsankr says:

    listen up, at&tingular….

  5. The-Simpsons-Rule!! says:

    @bravo369: *off topic* He is your last name bravo?

  6. Hyperial says:

    About Time! Contracts and early terminations were always really meant to protect the company when someone received subsidized equipment and covered their butt in case the person left before the contract was up.

    For plans, I wouldn’t mind still seeing it for plans that are reasonably priced and offer LOTS of minutes or other features that go “above and beyond” what everyone else is offering.

    Glad to see Verizon stepping up.

  7. doofusgumby says:

    Now if Verizon would un-brick the GPS in the 8830 without even supplying a vznavigator app…GRRRRR.

  8. Bay State Darren says:

    If priority #1 was customers [I hate when companies lie about this], then logically they should serve us at-cost. The executives give up making billions in order to keep our bills done, and stock value shmock value. Don’t think some sort of commie [no offense intended to real commies], I get the fact that businesses exist soley to make profits, just stop feeding us this self-righteous, we’re-your-best-buddy nonsense! It’s a lie. I get it, Verizon and other businesses out there, you’re greedy self-serving jerks. So am I! Just be honest about it, please.

    I totally needed to get this off my chest. End rant.

  9. urban_ninjya says:

    @bravo369: It’s baby steps. For now they’ll use some lube when screwing over your ass. A year from now, they’ll learn to use a condom, then learn to better foreplay by not disabling phone features.

  10. Havok154 says:

    “Due to legal reasons,we, Verizon Wireless, have decided to do what is best for our customers and stop extending contracts. We hope you will continue to ensure our year end bonu….We hope you will continue to enjoy our service. Thank You.”

  11. yg17 says:

    @dextrone: 4 years?

    I know T-Mobile will extend if you change your rate plan, but they’ll extend it one year or 2 (can’t remember which) from the date you make the change. Which means if my contract ended in, say March 2008, a change would extend it until Oct 1st, 2008 (or maybe 09, as I said, I can’t remember if its 1 year or 2). Or with T-Mobile, you can change to a non-promotional rate plan and not change your contract end date at all. Does Verizon actually add it on to the end of your existing contract?

  12. The Doctor says:

    But as a side effect, the letter I got in the mail today said that the main change in the policy was that they could sell my info to affiliates. Opt out of the junk mail, and opt out of the other is what I understood. No?

  13. skamikeyp says:

    I hate to break it to people, especially the person who said “listen up at&tingular”…

    AT&T (cingular) has been doing this for a loooong time. I dont know where you went, but it sure wasn’t a corporate store. The rate plan freedom is a huge selling point for me, since I am an AT&T retail salesman.

    More than half of people’s complaints about cell providers probably originate at “authorized resellers”. Avoid dealers at all costs! DON’T be enticed by the “free phone”.

  14. FREAKHEAD says:

    This is one of the benefits Alltel advertises, you can change your plan at anytime without extending your contract. When I have to travel for work, I can change my plan to a national one just for that week without penalty, its great!

  15. andrewthemacfanboy says:

    so verizon is trying to suck just a little bit less..?

  16. Charles Duffy says:

    @skamikeyp: Cingular only allows plans to be changed in either direction for the first half of the contract. Switch to a less expensive plan during the second half of the contract, and it gets extended.

  17. @Hyperial: This combined with Verizon’s prorated early termination show that Verizon has come the closest to bringing back this idea of early termination fees being a way of protecting the company from people who just drop the contract without the company making back its money from the subsidized phones.

    @Obtusegoose: Verizon isn’t the only one that changed text rates, though.

  18. djxspike says:

    The question is… does it affect your “new every 2″ when you change plans? Cuz I’m countin on that $100 credit towards a new phone in about 8 mo.

  19. LABurns says:

    Charles Duffy I think you missed Skamikey’s point. Officially AT&T will extend your contract for one year after the first half of your contract is up, but I’ve never once known a rep in a store that does this.. If you call into customer service they will, because they have too because their boss is always watching and listening in, but in the retail store they have a bit more freedom, and 99.9 times out of a hundred they will not extend your contract in a retail store.

  20. mikecolione says:

    @bsankr:

    Actually AT&T hasn’t extended contracts for rate plan changes in almost 3 years. The only time your contract is extended is when you get a new phone at a discount, or if you transfer a number into your name. You really should know the facts before you run your mouth…

    @Charles Duffy:

    Actually no it doesn’t. No contract extension for a rate plan change. Ever, unless you go to an authorized reseller and not a corp store.

  21. Major-General says:

    @urban_ninjya: Ahh, but Verizon claims those features don’t exist, not that they’re disabled.

    @yg17: Yes, the small print was that it was a new two year contract. I went over my calling plan for the first time in three years back in April, and they keep sending me letters to change to a different calling plan.

  22. FLConsumer says:

    @doofusgumby: Can you load Alltel firmware on that 8830? We’ve just started deploying 8830’s at my company (Alltel is our cell provider) and their GPS works very well. I know it was common for Verizon owners Motorola V710, E815, and V3c/m phones to flash them with Alltel firmware to unlock them.

  23. shiwsup says:

    Too late, Verizon. After 4.5 years of good reception but festering nickel-dime charges and lame phones, I’m out. Got a BB, switched to T-Mo (with a beautiful voice/text/wi-fi/data combo), and can now get on with my life in peace.

    Verizon disabled the mp3 and shortcut key functionality on my slightly expensive LG 8000–back in spring 2005–in order to steer me toward ringtones and wallpapers. Every one-time service ever used became a “subscription”. Every possible function on a new phone that might one day be used for free–GPS, MP3, you name it–is disabled so that Verizon can take their time developing a service that they will then charge you for.
    On a crappy phone. That doesn’t work overseas.
    On an expensive plan.
    That until now could not be changed because they wanted to extend the contract.
    They blew it.

    Cellular happiness: BB 8320 on T-Mobile. With a Seidio case. You’ll never look back.

    /rant

  24. VaMPKiSS1 says:

    @djxspike: I’ve been with Verizon for a really long time (5 years) and I can say unequivocally that extending the contract does not affect your new every two. That’s a two year ticking clock from the day you first activate your phone and isn’t affected by contract extensions.

    I just miss the old days where you could get that $100 credit on any line, even secondary ones on a share plan. They cancelled that sometime in about 2004 or so. Now secondary lines can buy a phone at the promotional price, no credit given, but that extends your contract for two years from that day.

    That’s my question. If they’re not extending contracts for rate changes, what about new equipment purchases with the New Every Two policy?

  25. franklyfunny says:

    I regret the day I signed with Verizon after relocating and lost T-Mobile. Verizon is and has been ripping me off since I stupidly entered into a 2 year contract. We recently had a “life changing” event wherein we no longer need a third phone. The only way out is to pay the “extortion fee” for the remainder of the contract. Obviously, this just translates to 18 months of payments for no service whatsoever. There should be a law !!!

  26. gadjitfreek says:

    I have been with VerizonWireless since 2003, and I am very disappointed with the service. They deliberately cripple phones, they charge more than other carriers for data plans, they are slow to market with new, innovative phones…but they are also the only carrier with any coverage in my area. I wanted to switch to Cingular two years ago, but they wouldn’t even sell me a phone because I lived in an area with no reception. Alltel isn’t even anywhere near me, despite the commercials on TV. Sprint has decent service, but their coverage is terrible…unless you want to pay hefty roaming charges. So I am stuck with Verizon until my area gets coverage from AT&T. Then I think I will make the jump.

  27. dirk1965 says:

    Gadjitfreek…. trust me… you DO NOT want Alltel. They will rip you off more than any other company on the market. They have a little nich market where I live and they are blatantly violating a state bill which denies them the right to block other carriers from coming into the market. I contacted SWB to see if they would come into this market since they surrounded it in all directions anyway. They told me point blank that Alltel was blocking them from entering. I reported this to my state PUC, but guess what the PUC did? They had the culprit call me. The president of the local company called me to claim they weren’t doing anything wrong and wanted to know why I turned them in to the PUC. Just goes to show you that big companies can break the law and get away with it! Fortunately, VOIP technology has enabled me to tell Alltel to go screw themselves.

  28. jamar0303 says:

    @Obtusegoose: Oh yes- on the topic of those text messaging charges. Seems like at current prices it’d be cheaper to roam in from a foreign carrier and text (China Unicom CDMA charges about 12-13cents US per text message while roaming on Verizon). That’s really sad.

  29. djxspike says:

    @VaMPKiSS1: That’s what I’m asking. If I walk in on Oct. 7 and change my plan to the Unlimited Data/txt package, will it affect my new-every-2? Will I have to wait longer to get a $100 credit towards a phone.

    I’d also like to know what kinda limits they have on switching, like what if I wanted one plan one month… then another one another month. What if I have a plan and change my mind?

  30. dextrone says:

    @yg17: I’m pretty sure that’s the case for me…so many more years to go with my (already broken) cellphone.

    They gave me a bad phone that broke in 1 7/8 years and cost me ~200$ after a few drops from a small distance, in fact I was told that the battery contacts were loose…(they were right, such small pieces of metal(also there was a problem with the software?, are the phones made to last 2 years only?), such a bad phone).

    It’s so frustrating that the last few sentences I wrote may be confusing.

  31. VaMPKiSS1 says:

    @djxspike: That’s what I said, if you change your plan it does NOT affect your new every 2. You won’t have to wait any longer to get your $100 credit. It just extends your contract. Or it used to, until now.

    Also, it’s been my experience that Verizon doesn’t care how many times you change your plan. I’ve changed my rate plan a bunch of times. In fact I do it whenever I notice the plan I have go down in price or get more minutes for the same charge.

  32. gemio says:

    RE: Verizon pro-rating early termination fees, checked on this today because of an impending iPhone purchase- only applies if you signed your contract (and it explicitly states in that contract) after 11.16.2006….otherwise you are stuck with the $175 fee…..