Verizon Wireless adopts harsher early termination fees, draws criticism

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Date: Monday, November 17th, 2014, 11:07
Category: News, wireless


Well, this should give you another reason to dislike Verizon.

Per Macworld and Droid Life, wireless carrier Verizon recently changed the terms of its customer agreement to state that the carrier will not discount its early termination fee (ETF) until the eighth month of service.

In other words, if you signed up for a new iPhone with Verizon in December, you wouldn’t see a reduction in your ETF until at least July. Verizon previously discounted its ETF by $10 every month beginning with the first month of service.

The new terms only apply to new customers that sign up for service on or after Friday, November 14th. Under the new terms, your ETF would reduce by “US$10 per month in months 8–18, US$20 per month in months 19–23, and US$60 in the final month of your contract term.”

The company’s hefty US$350 fee applies to what Verizon calls advanced devices, which includes smartphones and tablets. You can find a list of Verizon’s advanced devices here.

Verizon’s $350 early termination fee has always been one of the most scrutinized among U.S. carriers. Verizon first upped its ETF to US$350 in 2009, doubling the previous charge. That prompted the Federal Communications Commission to demand an answer about why the charge had skyrocketed. Little came from that inquiry and today Verizon is not the only carrier with a high-priced ETF.

Sprint also carries a hefty US$350 ETF for customers with a two-year commitment on a smartphone. Similar to Verizon, Sprint only starts discounting its ETF in month seven. AT&T’s ETF is slightly lower at US$325 for smartphones, and the company says it immediately starts discounting that ETF by $10 each month. With Verizon and Sprint moving away from immediate discounts, it wouldn’t be surprising to see AT&T quietly follow suit in the coming months.

The exception to the ETF trend is the infamous “uncarrier” T-Mobile, which no longer offers two-year service contracts. Instead, the company offers monthly device payment schemes.

T-Mobile has a standing offer to pay off ETFs from its rivals if you switch to the carrier, and until January 15 Sprint will pay off your ETF if you come over from another carrier.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

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