I am madder than ***! I am what could be called "one rip-roaring angry, and formerly loyal American consumer"! I had a cell phone when it came in a big old bag and weighed about 10 pounds. I have been with Sprint, ATT, and with Verizon, but since coming to Verizon, I have felt that Verizon is superior; Not because of the type of phones they offer, not because of their pricing, (as a matter of fact, they are probably among the most expensive carriers available) or the type of plans Verizon has available. Their reception is not any better than anyone else's, at least not for the areas where I travel.
I have been with friends that use Cricket, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile. We have compared reception all at the same time, in the same place, only to find little to no difference in carrier capabilities and reception. For the area that I frequent daily, one carrier is pretty much the same as the other. For a consumer like me, the only real difference between the cell phone companies out there is the customer service provided, and the recognition that the company gives to long time, loyal users. Verizon was the best. At least that was true at one time. Now, not so much!
Their customer service folks are still quite friendly, but their customer service folks no longer have the authority to eliminate problems. They can sympathize and tsk, tsk about issues completely out of their control, but they cannot eliminate the problems that loyal customers most often complain about, because Corporate has removed their authority to deal with the issues that most affect consumers.
It is clear that Verizon's sights are set on gaining new customers rather than keeping long time loyal customers. I used to be a Verizon VIP member. This now means absolutely nothing. I think they did away with the program or watered it down to the point that is it valueless. It simply went away. They used to have a program called New-Every-Two, so that every two years a cell phone customer could obtain a new phone for quite an attractive discount, and in some cases, absolutely free, if they signed up for an additional one, or two years. Everyone else on the family plan could also update their phones every couple of years for a small amount of money, but the primary account holder always got the sweeter deal. That was Verizon's way of recognizing loyalty.
They still have their version of New Every Two, but now, Verizon charges between $30.00 to $35.00 dollars to activate a phone any time an existing customer upgrades. That sort of off-sets any value in being able to upgrade every two years. And due to the fact that I am an existing customer, I do not qualify for the cool programs offered by Verizon. Those programs are only geared to new customers.
So, they charge an upgrade fee to every existing customer, regardless of the amount of years you have been a customer. It is an activation fee, or at least that is what they call it, but in reality, it is simply a fee tacked on to all the other fees paid by consumers. It is a fee charged, simply because they can charge it. Loyalty means nothing and the only thing that does matter is the constant grab for whatever fees they can dream up.
It reminds me of the airlines, where they charge you for everything from luggage, to pillows, to snacks, to aisle seats or window seats, versus center seats. Not because sitting in an aisle seat costs the airlines any more to get you from point A to point B while sitting in a center seat, but because they can. PERIOD!
The discounts offered by Verizon, if at all, are for new customers and do not apply to long time, loyal customers such as myself. There is absolutely no value to being a loyal customer, at least in Verizon's mind. The value discounts are now only offered to the new customers in order to get them through the door to sign their first contract. Then they too will become existing customers, with no intrinsic value to Verizon. To *** with their long-time, loyal customers; those of us who have paid our monthly bill for years and years, absorbing the relentless monthly increases and fees.
Verizon's excuse for the $30.00 to $35.00 activation fee is simple. "Every other major carrier charges the same activation fee!" My mom used to ask, "If everyone were jumping off of a bridge, would you?" It is a race to the bottom folks! And Verizon is winning that downhill race! Verizon is doing it because they can. Not because it costs them one red cent to activate a phone. Most customers activate their own phones by calling a pre-set number and following the prompts. They are doing this because they can, and because we let them! And then like the proverbial sheep to slaughter, we continue to sign up for another two years with Verizon every two years without even researching what other carriers may cost you. (AT&T, SPRINT, T-Mobile, and CRICKET customers do the same thing!)
My husband is ready to upgrade this month, and I plan to buy him a new phone for Christmas. I will upgrade myself in February, so, I have been doing some online research. It would cost me no more to sign up with any of the other carriers than it does for me to stay with Verizon. In virtually every case, it would cost me far less, because if I were to move to AT&T for instance, I would be a new customer, and at least initially, I would be valuable to them. That is, until I signed my first contract, then I would just be that valueless existing customer that I am at Verizon today. However, for the next two years I would be paying far lower monthly fees than I am now. The lower monthly fees would more than make up for the $30.00 to $35.00 activation fee I would be forced to pay them, and I would save hundreds of dollars annually by switching.
Then, two years later I could move to another carrier. Remember, I would again be that valuable NEW CUSTOMER. I could cut a deal every two years with a new and exciting company and save more money bi-yearly, and far more I have already saved by switching from Verizon. ***, I may even switch back to Verizon at that point if they made it worth my while. But, they will pay dearly to get me back! It would be nice to be a consumer with some pull and some value, and not just a little, unimportant valueless cog in Verizon's big wheel.
Now I know I studied marketing many years ago, but things have not changed that much. I know it costs approximately 10 times more for any company to get an old customer back, (one who has left that company for not feeling valued), than it does to entice someone to become a new customer. And once the loyal customer has left you, it is rare for them to come back, unless the deal is so sweet that it can't be resisted. That is marketing 101. Did the executives at Verizon miss school that day?
Consumers have to take control. If Verizon will not work with me, and will not value me, then I will become that valuable entity, THE NEW CUSTOMER, with a company other than Verizon. I will stay at that other company for two years and then I will move on. Loyalty will never again play a part in how I shop, or where I shop for wireless service. Now, just like the decision makers at Verizon, I will be watching one thing, and one thing only, my bottom line. That is the only thing that will matter to me. Loyalty from me to a cell phone carrier is officially dead! If every consumer in America did this same thing, the consumer would again have incredible power and the carriers would be forced to change how they do business.
So, I have made up my mind, If Verizon insists on charging me a $30.00 to $35.00 to activate a new phone, I am done with Verizon, at least for two years. I will begin my next new and exciting two years as a valued customer at AT&T. I will pay the AT&T activation fee, and far lower monthly access charge than I am paying at Verizon. In essence, I will save money over the next two years! After my two years are up, I will go to Sprint, or T-Mobile, or Cricket, or even back to Verizon. I will go to whoever saves me the most money, and then after two years, I will leave them too. And I will continue to do the same thing every two years, over and over until I can find a company that values me.
I will ask everyone I know to try the same experiment. Don't be lazy. That is what the executives at these carriers are counting on! Let's take this idea viral. I will report out on all of my money saving efforts, so that the research for my budget conscious friends is already done. We should share that information with each other. What fun! Wish me luck.
I intend on stopping at both Sprint and AT&T this week, and Cricket and T-Mobile next week. I will be back to let you all know how this little experiment in value has gone. In the meantime, feel free to shorten this, leave it as it is, video tape your own private version of this and post it absolutely everywhere you can. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter. Let's turn the tables on these mindless executives who have so little regard for us! I am an American consumer, *** it! I will not be toyed with!
Monetary Loss: $2500.