Following the pink brick road: Verizon may drop contracts as wellAnna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… here we are, in the beginning of a new chapter in our mobile phone saga. We are adventurers, on a never ending quest to find the perfect smartphone that landed on the perfect carrier; pioneers of the future! Recently on our journey we've discovered that one of the four great wizards, T-Mobile the Pink, has turned from his evil ways and sought refuge within the light by breaking free of the dreaded "Contract" curse. The other three wizards watched carefully as the peasants of the town celebrated T-Mobile the Pink's renunciation, but remained unheard from in the tower on top of the hill as they refused to comment, although rumor has it from the gatekeeper that he could have sworn he heard the familiar voice of AT&T the Blue mumble, "Whatever."
Meanwhile, in the village, the townsfolk celebrated by ditching their shackles and happily joining in the ranks of freedom within T-Mobile the Pink's liberation, swearing allegiance to the new self-proclaimed "Uncarrier". The celebration could be heard for miles, and although Sprint the Yellow and AT&T the Blue continued to ignore the joyous proclaims from the town below, Verizon the Red, the mightiest great wizard of them all, sat in his window and pondered. As he carefully watched the village below celebrate this new and strange phenomenon for days, he began to wonder how it would feel for the townspeople to willingly give him a warm embrace instead of forcing them with the strong blessings of 4G LTE and fantastic coverage - but with all good comes the bad, and these blessings can only come to those who are willing to sign a contract that forcefully bind them to his expensive and evil ways for two years.
With one last glance down the hill, Verizon the Red saw a flicker from the gate that closed off the pathway to the Wizards’ Castle; a torch - lots of torches in fact. Torches, pitchforks, and other blunt objects followed in the hands of the angry townspeople who didn't have the gold to cancel their contracts early. At this point Verizon the Red knew what he must do, and swiftly he walked past the cowering Sprint the Yellow and AT&T the Blue who also saw the angry villagers, but decided to scuffle away out the back door until they decided to leave. Verizon the Red opened the large doors leading into the secret tower to meet the angry villagers, who yelled and cried at Verizon the Red to change his ways or else!
"I would be happy to change my ways if enough of my customers demand it," Verizon the Red replied.
The villagers put down their torches and pitchforks, feeling an emotional mix of confusion and underwhelming accomplishment. Everybody shrugged and Verizon the Red gave the angry villagers convenient customer service survey forms to fill out their request. Will Verizon the Red keep his promise, or does talk come as cheap as they say and the cries of the villagers locked into their contracts go unheard until the end of time?
Alright, so maybe it's Friday and maybe I'm a little bored, and I might have just gotten through watching a Lord of the Rings marathon.
For the real story, according to BGR and CNet, Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam told reporters "I'm happy when I see something different tried," referring to T-Mobile's new "Uncarrier" plans. "We can react quickly to consumers" shifting needs." He continued by saying that Verizon Wireless is open to the concept if enough consumers expressed interest in contract-free plans.
So basically, Verizon's decided to react to the whole T-Mobile ditching contracts thing and basically tells everybody else "Hey, we're one of you guys! We'll ditch our contracts if you guys actually ask us for it." Yeah, it looks kind of sleazy considering if you ask anyone whether they'd rather be bound by contract to something for two years OR get a better deal without being bound by contract any sane person would say they'd take the latter. But I guess they've decided to make the customers look like the bad guys and say hey, nobody has ever brought this up to me before; this is news to us.
I can't really complain because at least they are responding, and they are giving customers a chance to voice their opinions for something if they want the change. Also, it's nice coming from Verizon because they are the top wireless carrier in the U.S. and aren't really in a position where they have to do this if they don’t want to – while I joke that they lure us in with 4G LTE and great coverage, it’s also true. What’s a cell phone worth if it gets no coverage? People are willing to bind themselves by contract for a feature like that.
T-Mobile was in a bad place and they’ve figure out a way to turn it around. Whether Verizon sees that as a threat or not (there is still that whole coverage thing that T-Mobile needs to work on) this was a very quick reply and I’m interested to see if Sprint and AT&T will also follow. While AT&T has a lot of other things going for it besides just wireless services and classifies as one of the carriers that doesn’t need to respond as quickly, Sprint is almost in direct competition with T-Mobile and perhaps the whole “Unlimited Data” thing is starting to wear out its welcome in lieu of bigger and better things.
I suppose time will only tell if Verizon is serious about this change or not, or if other carriers will follow. Of course, it’s also up to the customers as well to provide the feedback.
Readers, do you think Verizon is better off without contracts, or do you think they’re doing just fine the way they are now? Do you think other carriers should follow T-Mobile’s lead?