A leaked document obtained by MacRumors detail new information that Verizon Wireless plans to start implementing a new upgrade fee for device payment plans, annual upgrades, full retail upgrades, and the iPhone Upgrade Plan at Apple Stores. According to the document, Verizon will be charging $20 for each upgrade starting on April 4th as a way for them to get help with the rising support costs involved when customers switch devices.
Before the $20 upgrade fee was announced, Verizon only required their customers to pay fees when they would get a new phone upon initial sign-up or when getting a new 2-year contract. For customers who decided to purchase a phone and pay full retail or go with a payment plan, the upgrade fee was nonexistent. This is why it seems to crazy to think that with the upgrade fee, Verizon will be charging their customers an additional $20.
Based on their reason, they need to impose the upgrade fee for those who regularly switch devices since it is costly for them. In their defense, Verizon says that customers are free to choose how to pay the charge-- upon upgrade or as a bill to their account. Customers also have an option to trade in an old device so that the cost can be balanced out. With the upgrade fee soon to be implemented by Verizon, it looks like the best way of avoiding this is to buy a phone anywhere but Verizon's store or website so you won't have to pay for the extra $20.
The leaked document also details how other carriers impose an upgrade fee. Sprint charges $30 for upgrades while AT&T charges $15. Compared to these major carriers, T-Mobile doesn't charge any upgrade fees.