Unlimited data users on Verizon, at this stage in the game, know most of the tricks when it comes to upgrading phones at a reasonable price. In other words, since Verizon took away unlimited data plans years ago, users of those plans have had to find loopholes in the system to allow them to keep their plans without having to fork out full retail prices for phones. Unfortunately, one of the most commonly used loopholes is about to be closed up. Come August 24, Big Red will force upgrades used on smartphones to keep data packages for the remainder of a contract, according to sources of ours.
Let me explain what this means.
As I just mentioned, Verizon has tried throughout the last couple of years to kill off unlimited data plans by forcing customers off of those plans should they use an upgrade. In order to keep an unlimited data plan, customers of Verizon have had to pay full retail prices for phones, buy phones through the device payment plan (which is no longer an option because Verizon killed it on July 13), or use an upgrade on a separate line and then transfer that new phone over to the unlimited line. It’s this last option that is changing.
In that last scenario, a number of customers had figured out that they could use upgrades on lines that had feature phones (non-smartphones) to buy new discounted smartphones, but by doing a couple of tricks, could move the smartphone over to their unlimited line, while keeping their $9.99 per month feature phone line intact. It’s an involved process that works as follows. Customer uses an upgrade on the feature phone line to buy a new smartphone at a discounted rate, even though they are locking that line in for another two years. Verizon makes them add a $30 2GB per month data plan to that line initially with the purchase of the smartphone. However, once that smartphone is moved over and activated on the unlimited data line, the $30 2GB data plan on the old feature phone line can be cancelled, taking that line’s monthly price back to $9.99. You could, in theory, also do this by adding a new line to buy a smartphone before transferring the phone over to your unlimited line and then canceling the data package on the new line.
Make sense? It is by all means a loophole that many of us have used for a couple of years now.
So here is what’s changing.
- Starting August 24, Verizon will require customers who upgrade or activate a new smartphone to have a data package for the length of their contract.
- This applies to any customer with a “legacy plan” and who has purchased a smartphone with a 2-year agreement.
See what’s happening there? Instead of being able to upgrade a feature phone line to a smartphone, and performing the data package cancellation to drop the line back to $9.99 per month, customers will be forced into keeping a minimum $30 2GB plan attached to the line that is using the upgrade.
In order to avoid this new requirement, Verizon will offer two options:
- Customers can switch to MORE Everything plans or;
- Purchase or provide a non-contracted smartphone (Verizon Edge, full retail, etc.)
Why is Verizon doing this?
According to information we have received, Verizon believes that when it “gives customers a discount on the retail price of a smartphone, we expect them to pay for data services and keep the smartphone activated for 2 years. This change closes the loopholes which allowed customers to activate/upgrade a smartphone and immediately revert back to a basic phone, resulting in a discontinued smartphone with no associated data plan.”
There you have it. This new policy goes into effect on August 24.