Verizon Upgrades My Smartphone, Downgrades My Data Plan

At the end of last year, Christopher and his girlfriend upgraded their Verizon phones to a pair of lovely matching Samsung Galaxy Nexuses. They’ve both had Verizon data plans long enough that they’re grandfathered in to unlimited data, and Christopher has unlimited international data as well. Or…. he did. After the upgrade, his unlimited plan is gone, the employee who turned it off has (apparently) fled the country, and no one at corporate or the local Verizon store knows how to get it back.

In December, 2012, my girlfriend and I upgraded our identical HTC Incredibles to identical Samsung Galaxy Nexus phones. We were both existing VZW customers, and we both had unlimited plans. (data for her, and both data and global data for me)

The agent helping us made a big deal about how great it was we were grandfathered in on unlimited plans. He finished processing our order, and we were on our way.

Fast forward to early February, when we planned to go out of the country, and I log in to check if my global unlimited data plan covered our destination country, only to discover that it was completely gone, and even my regular unlimited plan is gone, replaced by some weak, throttled plan.

I was floored they would do this behind my back, while telling me to my face what a great plan I had. But when I called Verizon Customer Service, they assured me that plans cannot be changed without the customer’s knowledge, and that it would be no problem to re-instate my unlimited plan. It would just take 5 days to process. In the meantime, they would put a temporary global data plan on my account, so I wouldn’t be without data services during our trip.

When we returned, I checked and found out they didn’t fix it.

So I went back to the store to see what was up. After learning my story, they claimed that the employee who did it “went back to his country,” and they don’t plan to do anything about it.

E, C, and J at the store were all supremely unhelpful.

I’m afraid I lost my cool; I was so shocked. How could they not take responsibility for what their employee did? Was there really so much commission money at stake for them to think this under-handed behavior was okay?

I left, but my girlfriend stayed to learn more. Then they claimed the unlimited plan is “not available” on the Galaxy Nexus. We checked, and it turns out my girlfriend still has her unlimited plan! So apparently they decided to screw me out of my grandfathered plan, but left hers intact. ???

Then I wrote a review about my experience on Yelp, warning others about my experience at this store. I got a reply from another Verizon rep, apologizing for what happened, saying their “representatives [will] receive the necessary training to better assist our customers in the future,” but offering no help restoring my unlimited plans.

My question: is there anything I can do to get my grandfathered unlimited plans back?

The men and women in positions of power at Verizon Wireless have been very helpful in the past to readers who harness the power of the Executive E-mail Carpet Bomb. That time-honored method might get your plight in front of an actual human with actual power.

Other readers: Guard your precious unlimited data plans carefully during upgrades and new contract signings, lest this happen to you.


Edit Your Comment

  1. ingramje says:

    I have had Verizon for years without any problems, but it is shit like this that would make me tell them to screw themselves.

    • BobOki says:

      I currently have sprint and can tell you if he got people to talk to him them he got that much more over than Sprint does.
      I have been fighting issues in my area (signal, speeds or lack of, delays on txts for even up to days, delays on voicemails the list keeps going) for 4 months and in the last few weeks I have been hung up on 17 times.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        If their coverage map shows your area as solid coverage, file a complaint with the FCC. I did that with Sprint years ago, and it took months, but eventually someone from Sprint offered me two new feature phones for free, and they did actually get much better reception.

        Of course, nowadays it’s probably more expedient to use social media to complain and drop the FCC’s name when you do so.

        • BobOki says:

          Two new phones? This is Sprint we are talking about… their new lineup of phones is the fury… a 1ghz phone with 512 ram and 4gig internal….. oddly familiar specs two years later as the htc evo 4g.

          Then again, after having been hung up on 17 times now and having nearly no service (even when I do have 3-4 bars phone won’t ring, texts come in days after they were sent) is an FCC complaint going to do anything? It really is starting to look like Sprint is just trying to milk as much money out of what is currently there before they just up and close their doors with the millions they have stole from their customers.

          Go to their, then to community and forums… read what users are saying, 10-15 year loyal customers getting treated like so much garbage, hung up on, being lied to, zero loyalty or care shown back. Man, Verizon’s “customer service problems” I see posted here sound like heaven! Oh foo to Verizon, they didn’t upgrade my 3 month old phone I dropped in a toilet free to the latest model +$100 gift cert instantly and i had to call three times… LOL.

          • Twonkey says:

            Well to be fair, choosing not to file an FCC complaint absolutely will do nothing.

            When I had to do it a couple years back it took like maybe ten minutes at most, and most of that time was spent making sure I had my ducks in a row. The actual process is simple, and in my case they got back to me pretty quickly and helped foster a resolution that I was very pleased with.

      • Not Given says:

        DH’s work phone and my phone are on the same carrier. Why do I get my messages and texts immediately and sometimes he get phone messages that are several hours or days old?

  2. chippy says:

    I’d like to know where the time machine is that he used to go to December 2012.

  3. sqeelar says:

    The original employee did in fact disappear, just like many of Verizon customers. At some point it will become evident that even if the offer is a levitating car that runs on tap water with wifi, HD, and surround sound, the company is still Verizon.

  4. oldwiz65 says:

    Verizon support is a joke. You might try complaining to your state’s public utilities commission or department; they seem to be the only ones that Verizon does listen to.

  5. ClemsonEE says:

    I’m not sure which is worse, my AT&T “unlimited” plan being throttled, or this guy losing his Verizon unlimited plan.

    It’s obvious all media companies don’t give a rat’s arse about it’s consumers anymore. They’re only here to line their pockets with our money. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, Time Warner Cable, Comcast, DirecTV, etc., all they care about is getting more and more money without providing any sort of increased return for us.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      It’s worse to lose your data plan altogether. I don’t like being throttled and i’m fighting AT&T tooth and nail on it, BUT I can still use more data (albeit at slower speeds). Losing the data plan just means that I have to pay more money.

  6. MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

    Is it Nexuses or Nexi?

  7. BurtReynolds says:

    I’m convinced they are just starting to chip away at the unlimited plan holders.

    My wife is eligible for her upgrade, and is grandfathered in with a Droid Incredible. She went looking at phones on the website over the weekend and every time she selected one the system told her that her data plan was “incompatible” with a new iPhone, Razr or any other new phone and offered her a capped data plan.

    I’ve seen on Android forums that this is nothing new from VZW’s site, and everyone has been able to call or go into a store to get around it, but I can’t help but think some VZW exec leaves the glitch in there on purpose to snag a few people who don’t read very carefully.

    • ToddMU03 says:

      I called and made sure to ask the sales rep before I went from an Incredible to a Razr. They said at the time you could upgrade with no problem, but the policy would likely change. I upgraded in November.

    • Kaleey says:

      I fail to understand how a plan can be “incompatible” with a particular phone. Isn’t it using the same network, and the same towers? Does it only pick up green data packets, but that plan only supplies pink ones? (/s)

      I have the same plan I had from 2005 – minutes only. Even when I temporarily added a data plan in 2011, my plan stayed the same. And when the data plan was removed, my plan stayed the same.

      Some day I’ll drop by my local VZW store and ask them how a data plan (using the same network, towers, and bytes) is incompatible with certain phones.

      • Rocket says:

        Pretty sure a phone being “incompatible” with a plan is just BS marketing speak for “we want you to pay more for a crappier plan. why? FU, what’s why”.

  8. Extended-Warranty says:

    I am so sick of hearing how everyone is “grandfathered” in. I will make it easy on everyone, going forward, you will not be.

    • Rocket says:

      I have Virgin Mobile’s cheapest plan $25/mo. Right now, it’s $35. I’m still paying $25, and plan to forever.

    • baineschile says:

      i ust upgraded to a nexus last month. i got to keep my unlimited data plan.

    • rambo76098 says:

      Was completely out of contract (month-to-month) and upgraded in February 2012 – kept my unlimited data with Verizon. It can be done…

  9. SerenityDan says:

    Well since you don’t go in to get your new phone until December of 2012 just warn your present self not to do it and risk the paradox it will create.

  10. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Sue in small claims court for the maximum possible. You can argue that future data overages cannot be calculated but could continune through your lifetime.

  11. axhandler1 says:

    Grandfathering in ended in September of 2011 if I recall correctly. After that, existing Verizon customers who had the unlimited data plan (cost: $30) would have to change to one of the new data plans that Verizon offered (where unlimited data cost $70, 2GB for $30) when they upgraded their phone. I remember becuase I upgraded my phone in August of 2011 and got unlimited data grandfathered in for $30. However, when I upgrade again, I know I will have to switch to a new plan. Sounds like the employee just messed up when he told them they would be grandfathered in, and when he realized they weren’t, he just put them on the 2GB plan for $30.

    • steveliv says:

      This is not true. Currently anyone with a grandfathered unlimited plan on their number can upgrade to a new phone (subsidized or not) and keep the unlimited data plan on that number. If you add a new line or start a new account, unlimited plans are not available to you.

      i will say for what it’s worth, at least Verizon is actually keeping their promise on grandfathered plans unlike AT&T who pretty much turned all grandfathered unlimited plans into tiered ones by setting concrete limits when throttling begins.

      • axhandler1 says:

        Oh wow, you’re right. I thought upgrading kicked in the requirement for a new plan, but it’s only if you add a line or a new account. That’s fantastic, it means I get to keep my unlimited data for $30 when I get my new phone, I was really worried they were gonna force me to switch to a new plan. Whoo-hoo!

        • tjthayer says:

          Still not true. I have 5 lines on my account, two of them added this year. All have unlimited data because my original 3 lines have had it for years.

          Granted, I did need to ask (via Verizon’s online chat support). 60 seconds later, the plans were updated.

          Been a customer of Verizon for 10 years. I’ve found their customer service to be exceptional every time I’ve had to contact them (maybe once a year). I think some people just like bitchin’.

          • axhandler1 says:

            I think your situation may be the exception rather than the rule. I was looking on Verizon’s site but I can’t find any info. Do you have any support for your claim that adding a new line doesn’t force you to switch plans, other than your experience? Not trying to stick it to you or anything, just asking.

    • Tegan says:

      I got to keep my unlimited data with Verizon when I upgraded my phone in October of ’11, and my boyfriend was given unlimited data by a Verizon rep after having problems trying to change his plan in November even though he is a new enough customer that he never had one to begin with. I’m pretty sure Verizon will have a way to fix this, it sounds like they’re just dragging their feet.

    • baquwards says:

      I upgraded to a 4g samsung phone on my second line at christmas and retained my unlimited data on that phone. When I ordered the phone, there was an option to pick a 2gb “4g” plan, or stick with my current plan, which still gives 4g data.

    • steveliv says:

      I would add that my wife upgraded to a Bionic in October, and I upgraded to a Galaxy Nexus in December of 2011 and both of us kept our unlimited plans.

  12. falnfenix says:

    Verizon employees lie? NO! UNPOSSIBLE!

    next you’ll tell me the sky is blue and the Earth is round!

  13. castlecraver says:

    What did your paperwork say when you left the store? Did you check it before signing it? I recently upgraded with AT&T, and they tried to pull some “well, the grandfathered plan has to be added manually so we’ll just put this through on the default 2GB tier temporarily until a supervisor can authorize blah blah…” BS. Refusing to sign anything that didn’t have the correct plan details on it somehow sped that process along.

  14. Lilscoy22 says:

    Gah! That story makes me nervous. My wife and I both are just about due for an upgrade. I keep mentioning to her that I’m afraid that when we upgrade, Verizon will just “lose” our unlimited data plans. She calls me crazy, but this story makes me more afraid……. I was actually on the phone with a very nice rep the other day for something else. When he mentioned that I was almost due for an upgrade, I happened to ask him if I would keep my unlimited data. He said it wouldn’t be a problem, but to be on the safe side, I should upgrade my phone over the phone with a rep or in the store. In other words, not online with the automated website..

  15. Hi_Hello says:

    I hate it when CSR screws up and company can’t fix it.
    Happen with my gym membership. Cancel and walked away. Rather gave my money to other gym, even though they probably wanted me gone anyway since I was paying soo low.

  16. StarKillerX says:

    Personally I’m surprised that the wireless carriers even allow upgrading to 4G while staying on the unlimited plans.

  17. yurei avalon says:

    Yeah my boyfriend was paranoid for this very reason when he upgraded his phone last month as he has the old unlimited data plan. I think I will have him actually check his account to make sure this did not happen to him too.

  18. Lyn Torden says:

    I guess he needs to write YET ANOTHER scathing review on Yelp about the stupid rep that called after the first review.

    From a legal perspective, Verizon has violated the contract, so it can be considered null and void. Have an attorney send Verizon a letter saying that, and that Verizon has 10 days to re-instate the contract.

  19. MaryK says:

    I thought upgrading meant you got a new contract and therefore lost any grandfathering. That was my impression when my aunt had an old old AT&T phone and didn’t upgrade for years and years because she was only paying $20 a month or so and upgrading meant she lost that.

  20. douggw says:

    Similar thing happened to me. January of 2011 I was offered a special “Talk & Text Plus Data” discount that applied to the $30 unlimited data plan. I had three phones on my account at that time (all feature – non smartphones) and I saw the discount being applied to each line, each month. The discount does not expire and remains in place as long as I remain a customer. I planned on upgrading my phones to smartphones soon after that, so I grabbed the discount when i could. It was no longer being offered after Jan 31, 2011. In June of 2011, I upgraded two of the three phones to smartphones. The discount remained on all three lines-no problems. Forward to Feb 2012 (last month), when the one non-smartphone broke, so I went online and replaced it with another non-smartphone that I had laying around not in use. The change went just fine and then I looked at my bill when it came and noticed that my discount for the newly added feature phone was gone, as was the unlimited data plan. Mind you, that unlimited data plan was just sitting there all these months hardly being used by the non-smartphone. I called customer service and was told that unlimited data plans can only be used with smartphones, so when I changed phones it was removed. I explained that I’ve always had a non-smartphone on that number and the unlimited data plan along with the discount have always been associated with that line. Then I was told that I removed the data plan when I made the change. I did NOT remove the data plan when I made the change, and in fact, their website has been changed in the past few months where you have to go to a completely different webpage to change your data plan – a webpage I did NOT go to. I asked to speak to a supervisor and was told that they would just tell me the same thing — that the data plan is gone, and there is no way to get it back and I can’t get back my discount because that special discount is no longer offered either.

    I wrote an email to customer service to see if I would get the same result. I got a phone call back and explained my problem and I was transferred to the “Loyalty Department” and was told that normally I only have 15 days once I change something online to get it back. I explained that I didn’t change anything other than the IMEI number. I was also told again that unlimited data plans are for smartphones only. I explained again that the data plan was sitting there for a year on a non-smartphone and I never had an issue with it. I was told that once the unlimited data plan is dropped, there is no way to get it back because the “code” for that plan cannot be inuputted into the computer anymore – same as the special discount I had. Finally, I was told that my issue would be escalated to some “offline” team who would have the final word on if the plan can be reinstated and then if it can, if the special discount can be reinstated. And that would take 5-7 business days to find out.

    I don’t need the 5-7 days to find out. I am 99.9% sure that I will be told the the unlimited data plan cannot be added back on because the computer won’t accept the code for the plan and that unlimited data plans can’t be used for non smartphones (which of course they can).

    Today is day 4 of the 5-7. So I will update back when I get more information.

    Seems to be it’s a breach of contract somewhere and I should be able to terminate my contract and go to Ting or somewhere else.

  21. greeneggsnham says:

    All of those phones are compatible with unlimited data plans, the rep that did the sale most likely mistakenly removed it and doesn’t want to own the problem.

  22. tenor135 says:

    I had the exact same experience. I ordered my phone in December. There was absolutely no mention of my plan. Late January, I received an email confirming the change in plan *I* had requested! I had lost both my unlimited data plan and my text message plan.

    I immediately called their support line and was told that neither plan was available anymore, but they’d put in a request to reinstate them. So Verizon’s protocol is to ask Verizon if Verizon will give you back what Verizon took from you without your permission…

    Needless to say, that didn’t work. So I followed Consumerist’s previous suggestion and mailed a letter to the CEO’s office. Within a week, I received a call apologizing, reinstating my old plan, and applying a credit to my account for the difficulty.

    Verizon may have poor customer service (oh, who are we kidding? Verizon DOES have poor customer service), but it seems if you can get to the upper tiers of the company, you’ve got a much better chance of finding someone who cares at least a little.

    Now, if I could just get my Galaxy Nexus to stay connected to the friggin’ internet…

  23. CrazyEyed says:

    Remember that story months back about the guy who wanted to buy the phone for the full price to avoid contracts. If you can swing full price for a phone, don’t bother renewing your contract, just keep your existing unlimited data contract if a sales rep fails to give you a grandfathered unlimited plan when you try to renew.

  24. CrazyEyed says:

    Remember that story months back about the guy who wanted to buy the phone for the full price to avoid contracts. If you can swing full price for a phone, don’t bother renewing your contract, just keep your existing unlimited data contract if a sales rep fails to give you a grandfathered unlimited plan when you try to renew.

  25. wrbwrx says:

    this scares me, because i want to sign up for the same phone.

  26. scottd34 says:

    If you have it you can keep it, the rep messed up in this case. Have an inactive pricing request put in by the manager, however if its been more then 30 days it most likely will be denied but its worth trying.

  27. scottd34 says:

    It is unlikely if you can get it put back if its been more then 30 days, but have the manager go through their channels to get it put back, especially since it was his reps mistake in the first place. There is a process to fix mistakes, but after 30 days its unlikely that it will be approved.

    If you have unlimited data you can keep it.