Loosen the reins and put your whip down, Verizon

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| April 12, 2013

Right now, we’re all kind of in a frenzy. T-Mobile unveils its “Uncarrier” approach, and people are interested. The lack of contract is good, the phone payment plan is decent, the prices are competitive and make sense, and the only missing piece is that T-Mobile coverage outside of major cities is not that great. This gives a person a lot to consider when deciding if they want to switch carriers or not. Here we have a company that’s willing to break all the rules in order to survive, and it’s a darn good idea in my opinion. In fact, the idea seemed to catch on so well with consumers that Verizon made a statement that they also would be willing to drop contracts as well if customers demand it.

Unfortunately, a decision like that wouldn’t be instantaneous and would require some work even if there was an influx of customer demand to remove contracts. In the meantime, Verizon has apparently seen it fit to extend upgrade dates by four months, making the current 20-month wait change to a 24-month wait.

What? I mean, are you trying to lose customers? If that’s the end goal you’re off to a pretty good start.

Four months doesn’t seem like a long time for a lot of things. Four months means nothing when it comes to age. Four months comes too quickly in regards to that dentist appointment you made to get a root canal. But four months waiting for your next phone upgrade? It takes forever. Mobile years feel like dog years – it’s been four months, but it might as well have been 3 years.

One of my first articles ever published on PhoneDog was my opinion that 22 months is too long for upgrades. At the time, had I not purchased my iPhone from a co-worker, I would have been carrying my EVO 3D. The HTC EVO 3D is something that had a terribly short shelf life, and it would be a phone that I would still be carrying with me today as I’m still waiting for my 22 months to be up. Fortunately Sprint changed its policy so that you can upgrade every 20 months, so if I stick with Sprint my next upgrade time frame will be two months shorter at least. However, that’s beside the point. The point here is that if 22 months is too long for upgrades, 24 months is also too long.

I feel like, for the most part, Verizon just picked a really bad time to do this. As mentioned before, T-Mobile’s new “uncarrier” plans have people wondering if sticking with their current carrier is worth it. People weigh the pros and cons, and tightening the reins on certain perks isn’t going to impress anybody. I don’t know if Verizon is trying to see how much they can get away with, but their “great coverage” argument will only last so long with other networks on a constant growth.

Verizon states that they’re doing this so people have more time to plan for their yearly upgrade. What, 20 months isn’t enough? I understand that it would be easier to remember that once your contract is up it’s also time to upgrade, but that’s the only convenience I see in this move. When a customer upgrades their device before their two-year contract is up they just start over with a new two-year agreement starting from the date they bought their new phone. If a customer is ready to leave the company they don’t take the upgrade and they cancel the lines 4 months later. If Verizon wanted to solve a time problem and make the customers happy they could have shortened the contract to coincide with the upgrade date instead of extending it. In a perfect world…

If you’re going to lock customers in a contract, the least you can do is offer them a little freedom. Like a parent dealing with an angsty teenager, adding more restrictions will only push them away even more. Think about what you’re doing to your teenagers, Verizon. Red is a cool color; but pink, blue, and yellow aren’t looking so bad either. They have other options if they want. Give them reasons to keep using red, not reasons to hate it.

Readers, how do you feel about this upgrade date extension? Does it affect your decision to stay with Verizon or does it not really bother you? Share your opinions with me in the comments!

Image via DigitalTrends