Verizon Reduces Phone Upgrade Time to 30 Days

by Matt Klassen on January 20, 2014

The escalating rivalry in the ultra competitive wireless market is making carriers do some crazy things. With T-Mobile paying your early termination fees, AT&T bribing you to leave your carrier, and Sprint hitching its wagon to the “Framily” plan, its obvious the entire wireless sector has succumb to one big game of marketing one-upmanship, each company doing its best to entice subscribers to change providers for greener pastures of the carrier down the street. Verizon, however, has succumb to a craziness of a different sort.: ineptitude.

Although a little late to the churn rate game—churn describing the subscriber turnover rate among carriers, arguably the only relevant customer statistic in an American mobile market where over 95 percent of the customer base is locked into some sort of mobile agreement—Verizon is trying its hand at this carrier tit-for-tat, announcing that it has reduced the phone upgrade waiting time for its Edge plan from six months to 30 days.

While the promotion comes with enough addendums and provisos to make your head spin, its clear Verizon is hoping to match its competitors’ recent silliness, but the truth of the matter is in comparison with its rivals’ latest offers, this promotion is downright embarrassing.

As is so often the case, while it’s abundantly clear to me and everyone else that Verizon is simply trying to wade into this ever deepening rivalry between carriers, the carrier itself will never phrase it like that. As a spokesman for Verizon explains “this is currently a promotion but we have not set an end date. It is in response to our customer’s requests regarding this popular payment and upgrade plan…..While it is important to understand what our competitors are doing, Verizon makes decisions based on what’s best for both our customers and business.” (Italics mine)

Of course the reality is that Verizon made the announcement shortly after rival carrier T-Mobile announced at this year’s CES that it would pay customers’ early termination fees—up to $650—from AT&T, Sprint or Verizon is they switch to T-Mobile’s network (and trade-in their old phone).

But for a company who claims to make “decisions based on what’s best for both our customers and business,” one has to wonder if Verizon put any thought into this latest promotion, given that it affects almost none of its customers and offers little or no incentives to new customers—which is really what this whole fight is about.

As Verizon explains, for customers to be eligible for this new 30 day upgrade program the company will require them to pass credit checks and sign a multi-year postpaid contract—prepaid customers need not apply. Existing phones can be traded-in and, for a limited time, Verizon is sweetening the deal with a $100 gift card and free activation. Unfortunately customers can only benefit from this lacklustre upgrade promotion “provided that at least 50 percent of the phone’s price has been paid.” (italics mine)

Here’s what boggles my mind: Who qualifies for this plan? Heck, who would want to qualify for this plan? There’s no question that those who benefit from this 30-day upgrade plan are those who love the latest and greatest technology, those who shell out money for each successive smartphone upgrade and who always must have the best of the best…which I would guess account for a grand total of .001 percent of the American subscriber base.

Verizon has launched a promotional campaign that, in my honest opinion, it should be embarrassed about, as not only does fail to offer any benefit to the average customer, it demands that half the phone’s cost be paid before upgrading. This means that if I purchase a brand new Samsung Galaxy S4 today and want to trade it in 30 days from now, I will have had to pay $300 and lock myself back into another 24 month payment plan. As marketing strategies go, this one is laughable at best.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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