Verizon increases wait time on upgrades, introduces stricter policies

Verizon today announced that upgrades will now take longer, extending the wait time from 20 to 24 months, and that they'll be harder to get, disallowing upgrades between device types. Here's the new deal, according to Verizon (opens in new tab):

  • In alignment with the terms of the contract, customers on a two-year agreement will be eligible for an upgrade at 24 months vs. today's early upgrade eligibility at 20 months. This change aligns the upgrade date with the contract end date and is consistent with how the majority of customers purchase new phones today. The first customers impacted by this change are customers whose contracts expire in January 2014. As always, customers may purchase a new phone at the full retail price at any time.
  • Customers also have the option of purchasing a phone at full price at any point before their contract expires and beginning April 21, some devices will be available for purchase through the Verizon Wireless Device Payment Plan.
  • The New Every Two program ended in January of 2011. Verizon Wireless has continued to allow customers to utilize these expired credits. However, as of April 15, these credits will no longer be available.
  • Customers may continue to share an upgrade with another person on an account if that customer is upgrading to a device within the same equipment category. Customers can utilize a phone upgrade to purchase a new phone; however, the option to transfer upgrades from non-phone devices (such as a Jetpack or tablet) will no longer be available.

The reason for the changes, apparently, is that competition is so strong in the US, networks so equally robust and performant, consumers enjoy so many and such varied choice, that Verizon feels confident they can be even less customer friendly and anyone who doesn't like it can just switch to any of the other dozens and dozens of options.

No, wait. That's an alternate universe. Verizon's doing it because they can, and unless you're lucky enough to work, live, and play in a place where one of the other carriers is cheaper and better, they know you're stuck with them.

Or maybe that's just me. How do you feel about Verizon's new upgrade policy?

Source: Verizon (opens in new tab)

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Amazing that they feel they can go in a completely different direction from TMo's recent strategy changes. If anything, these changes make me drastically less likely to ever consider Verizon again. Their corporate slogan should be 'Because We Can, Now Shut Up and Take It.'
  • I agree.......another reason to leave.
  • I'll let you know how I feel about it in two years, when my current contract expires.
  • Just wait for a few more mergers/takeovers and see what happens.
  • I have 4 iPhones and 2 iPads on the family plan. Next month one phone contract expires. I'll be terminating it and switching to T-Mobile. During the next year I'll be doing the same with all the phones as they expire. That, Verizon, is a direct consequence of how you treat your customers (me). I'll also be saving $100 a month!
  • Tmobile just isn't a viable option for many. Lack of coverage. It sucks.
  • That's what an employee of Verizon would say of course your gonna take offense to that and say no I don't then why take up for the mon$ey hungry greedy corporate basturds:-[
  • I rarely question the quality of services myself or my clients receive from Verizon wireless. They are very strategic and offer the most desirable carrier experience. I don't encourage tablets or laptops on consumer rate plans. Use smartphone Wi-Fi or Bluetooth tethering for data access. Personally I'm grandfathering unlimited data family plans and purchase the galaxy line on eBay, A Nice S3 is bringing approx $350, destined to drop about$75 when the S4 releases. Then our daughter has an iPhone 5. Three devices invoice at $205 a month. 90% of my clients found home with Verizon (not land-line) unless they conduct global business, then it'either AT&T or unlocked gsm phones, choice of SIM card (infinite carrier options)., you may also unify gsm into corporate 4 digit extension hand-off/transfer environment as well. I have used Sprint and other strategic MVNO's (mobile virtual network operators) to build private cellular networks on customer premises with corporate extension functionality and or unification. Back to Verizon, for those based in Verizon territory, maybe travelling the region a good bit? Verizon is home. I find them to be reasonable to work with on a professional (consulting) level "provided your documented and follow their policies". If your a business, it pays to have a strong performance based consultant that knows the industry from multiple facets. If you are a consumer, are you willing to pay for the best from Verizon wireless? Some of the newer policies are Verizon's way of saying what type of customers they want, they provide that customer (very effectively) what they really want, which is an ideal experience. The policies really do follow "ideal" customer trends. Best Regards Robert
  • You are grandfathered in with unlimited data, as am I. If I didn't have unlimited data, I don't think I would use Verizon. I do agree that they have the best coverage of any US carrier. That doesn't really mean much if you don't travel a lot and a cheaper carrier works in your area.
    Personally, I prefer the way that T-Mobile is going, but their coverage sucks where I live.
    I have never understood how US carriers can say their prices are to cover the phone subsidies, yet not offer a discount for paying full price for your phone.
    At some point Verizon will get rid of our grandfathered data plans, I just hope T-Mo has improved their network by then.
  • You are grandfathered in to unlimited data now but when you upgrade to a new phone bye bye unlimited data unless you buy a phone online through craigslist or some other seller. Buying from Verizon as an upgrade now as of July 2012 voids all unlimited data good luck!!
  • You can purchase a phone for full price & still keep unlimited.
  • Or you can complain on the phone with Verizon and get the unlimited back. I recently bought a 5 and they told me at the store that I couldn't keep my unlimited data. I was ok with it bc we decided to switch to the 4 GB shared data plan bc my father doesn't use terribly too much data. Long story short, they were going to charge me to use data over 2 GB until our plan cycle ended, which I then talked to the Verizon customer service on the phone and told them that I shouldn't have to pay extra data bc of the switch. She said, ok I'll switch you back to unlimited until you want to switch to the shared plan. I ended up back with unlimited data and I don't have to switch back anytime soon.
  • You do know the grandfather clause is gone so the next time you need a new phone you will have to go to a data plan
  • Not as long as you buy at full retail.
  • What are you talking about man? Are giving a sales pitch?
  • Glad you were grandfathered unto the unlimited data family plan, but many users weren't. Honestly, now that T-Mo (finally) has the iPhone in its arsenal, why would anyone want to be a giant Verizon's customer; a giant that can do (almost) anything it wants?... Blah.
  • I stay with Verizon because many of my friends have T-Mo since its cheap & half of their calls go straight to voicemail due to lack of service. Same with Sprint. ATT is getting a little better. I don't have the time or patience to deal with shotty get what you pay for!!
  • I have an iPhone 5 and got a Galaxy Note 2 a few months ago. I plan to add a Galaxy s4 in a month or so. I'm tired of waiting for Apple to provide the device/form factor that I want. I waited for 2 years for a smaller iPad and bought the iPad mini. I love it. But I want a larger screen phone and I'm not going to wait 2 years for Apple to decide to make one. The iPhone 5 has a ridiculously small screen if you do much reading or video viewing on it. I used to value the simplicity of the iPhone - only 1 way to do things (Steve's way) - but I'm now getting into the variety and freedom that Android brings.
    Seems like Samsung is starting to run away from Apple. As Apple fans wait for things (iTV, etc) Samsung is providing them. Sure they "throw a lot of things at the wall to see what sticks" but some of the things they throw out are really good. It seems you need to wait till hell freezes over for Apple to decide to do something!
  • Unfortunately I'm stuck with Verizon for the immediate & foreseeable future. But if I choose to walk this iPhone 5 is unlocked & can be used elsewhere. That's a small consolation for those of us locked into the clutches of the galactic empire of Verizon.
  • The sad thing is the 3 year contracts we are forced into in Canada. I would love to be able to change phones on a 2 year cycle. I hear now that Target is in Canada they are working on introducing two year plans on phones purchased through there electronics division. Maybe now we can enjoy the contract you all feel is ripping you off.
  • That sucks man. Before I would sign a three year contract, I would just go contract free and buy last year's model.
    How are pricing plans in Canada? Do you have to pay a premium because of subsidies?
  • They are comparable price plans and phone discounts are equivalent to US 2-year plans. There is limited competition so as long as they agree to keep these terms and not compete in that respect we are stuck.
  • The phones carrier are not consider the consumer and what we want. I'm not sure extended the contract is the way to go, but it gives the 4 months of additional revenue.
  • Of course these carriers are in it to make money. They know most folk can't and perhaps won't purchase a phone outright. Indeed who can when you are adding your family. It would be nice if they could find a solution where they still make money and we don't bleed money so much.
  • Well, I find it odd they are saying January 2014 on. Would think they would say April 2014, allowing those that just got a new contract in the past 14 days to cancel, and everyone else who renewed, with this understanding when they renewed, to get one last 20 month window. Which is what they did with the new every two. I don't understand going right to 24 months. 22 months from 20? Ok. But this is daring people to walk. I have been with them since they were BellAtlantic in 1996. But the way the industry has changed in the past few years (data focused, so no benefit if your entire family is on the, as it was before to save minutes) - I will be comparing prices when I buy the 2014 model iPhone. They are daring me to look elsewhere in 2014, so I will happily oblige. That is if it even lasts that long. Will be interesting to see how it plays out with their subscriber numbers. I mean, what better time to pull this as growth is beginning to plateau. I'd sprint ans AT&T are smart? They will not introduce such a plan and allow verizon to hang itself.
  • Confused.. "Customers also have the option of purchasing a phone at full price at any point before their contract expires and beginning April 21, some devices will be available for purchase through the Verizon Wireless Device Payment Plan." Couldn't we already do this? Also, what if I buy my phone full price from Verizon after my contract expires? What happens then?
  • and on top of this great consumer friendly option, you'll still get to pay Verizon's always high plan fees! What a deal!
  • Then you can grandfather your old plans, otherwise you don't qualify for upgrade. I have zero intention of every doing another formal Verizon wireless subsidized upgrade.
  • I'm not sure they have thought this fully through. Now instead of having an incentive to stay with Verizon for another 20 months (at 20 months into my contract) by being able to upgrade my phone, I will just have to make a decision at 24 months on whether I want to stay with Verizon at all... :-/
  • Yep, at the point people are eligible to upgrade, they will also be off contract and able to go anywhere.
  • yup. first time in years I will be comparing as opposed to a no brainer.
  • Verizon used to let users (out of courtesy) upgrade early at promotional device pricing at 20 months into their 24 month agreement. I think many people are misinterpreting this.
  • Honestly I don't know what everyone is pissed about as a former Cingular/AT
  • MacIntense I totally agree with you. American thieves and thugs has to be the worst.
  • Guess i'll be switching to T-Mobile as soon as my contract is up. Verizon's service may be good, but it's not that damn good.
  • Yes it is lol
  • What is the Verizon Wireless Device Payment Plan? Is this a line of credit or, are they going to allow you to purchase your phone at an unsubsidized price, like T-Mobile? If so, then the plan you are on should be cheaper too, like T-Mobile. Is that the route VZW is going? Cheaper, probably not. Saving the customer some money, probably not.
  • My guess was that this would be credit based.
  • Exactly! There's no point to what they're doing. We better hope they don't go the route T-Mobile went. Because if they do, they'll eliminate contracts, keep their astronomical plan fees that are supposed to cover the cost of the unsubsidized device, AND make you pay for your device on top of that. It's like buying two phones every time you get a new one. They think they are doing what T-Mobile did... they need to start doing their research.
  • Wonder if my upgrade in September 2014 is still good lol.
    By that time I will have to see what the options are. Until then I'm comfortable. Even if t mobile is cheaper my service at work would not be as good.
  • I may actually have to go to AT&T. I hate them too but they're the only other game in town where I live. Not much better, but this is bullshit from Verizon, especially following TMobile's new policies. Of course, I think the big two have been colluding to drive up prices for a long time, so AT&T will probably follow up with something equally shitty in the near future.
  • I'm afraid you might be right. That has been the trend.
  • At&t already has this policy. Verizon will eventually improve policies and have no contracts. The grass is not greener on the other side. If your that fussy use Staighttalk wireless. The point is more and more people are buying their devices out right without promotions whether they buy them full price from Verizon, on the internet or otherwise.
  • Have some #s or sources to back up that (false) last statement????
  • If that was the case why not do it now instead of making their policies worse before they make them better? I'm sorry your comment flies in the face of logic.
  • I only have until June 11 and then I'm no longer obligated to stay with Verizon if I don't want to.
  • I switched to Verizon last year because of LTE, better coverage. But both came at a small price. I have to roam through my rural carrier who's a partner with Verizon. Local verizon stores are 30+ miles away. And no local number. Of course, I knew this going in and still feel it's a major upgrade over what AT&T had going. But AT&T by 2014 (end of summer 2013 really) will have LTE in this area so I may switch back later. GSM offered some other benefits too such as voice + data, better phone functions, etc. Will have to wait and see as a lot can change by then.
  • No one is 'stuck" with Verizon. I find it hard to believe that there is any area of this country where Verizon is the ONLY carrier. What Verizon has done with these changes, is give their customers reason to consider other carrier options and if losing customers due to bad decisions doesn't bother them, then screw them. People who want the HTC One, can't get it on Verizon anyway, right? So there's one market segment who will either be leaving or not going to Verizon. There will surely be others.
  • In my area Verizon is the only option. So yes I am "stuck"...
  • Verizon's slogan should be "Bend Over" cause that's all they do is screw you over because they can...maybe they should actually think about their customers for once instead of their pockets...not many people can leave Verizon because all of the other carriers (at least where I live) suck. Verizon does it again upsets nearly every single one of their customers.
  • can always pay the early termination fee ($350 FOR SMARTPHONES) then Pro rated down after 6 months into your contract. Then sell your devices on eBay to recoup the fee. I think a lot of the reactions to the simple policy change is ridiculous. All of the other carriers are still playing catch up, and the customers suffer. You may think you're getting a better deal with T-Mobile or another provider but you're not you're paying full price for rate plan and you really gonna have service maybe 60 to 70% of the time.
  • Dude, you're a moron.....see you all over this thread defending this just bc you like that big red stick up your ass
  • Well im going to assume that we dont have to discuss who the intelligent person here is, DO WE? My career has been within the industry for over 20 years and I have used very device on every carrier imaginable. Please dont act like a child, it really makes you out to be the moron.
  • I have ever used Verizon planning on never using them. I'm already grandfathered into AT&T unlimited data and voice.
  • They say 'In alignment with the terms of the contract, customers on a two-year agreement will be eligible for an upgrade at 24 months vs. today's early upgrade eligibility at 20 months. This change aligns the upgrade date with the contract end date and is consistent with how the majority of customers purchase new phones today...' My questions are since the majority of customers purchase phones that way already why mess with it? Is it not working for them? Are they losing money due to those customers who opt to upgrade early? What's the problem here?
  • Personally being with VZW and knowing my upgrade WAS in Aug. and now will most likely be Dec. Makes me think what I want to do. I will buy a new iPhone whatever is there at that time but I do not like the idea of the extra wait.
  • Sigh. If I didn't have unlimited with Verizon, I would totally rebel against them and switch to a different carrier. Seriously they are ridiculous. Sometimes I rather have issues with my phone from reading all this. I don't have any issue with them, but I am moving to Florida next month. So I guess I can wait to see how service will be.....although I have gone down and still had no issue with them down there (Live in NY). But if you buy a new phone full price, you can get to keep your unlimited data plan right? Like I know my contract expires in October 2013 I believe, and if I end up buying a new phone at full price, I can keep unlimited, that correct? And say if I were to get the iPhone '5S' would the LTE data be unlimited?
  • Enzo, yes if you buy it at full price from Verizon, on eBay etc you can keep your unlimited data infinitely. This is what I do, I may pay $400-$600 for a device but want to maintain unlimited data on the network that actually works IS WORTH IT TO ME
  • LoL....Their next move, will be if people end up buying phones at full price to keep their unlimited, they will remove grandfather for sure. And once that happens, I remove myself from their network. They want to rip away everything, well then I will rip away from them. Greeeeeeedy. I wish Sprint and T-Mobile got their butts in gear and had better service, that way V and A can be shunned for good.
  • That "grandfathering" is gonna magically disappear in the next 3 months, guaranteed.....just surprised they didn't figure out how to do it yet, but it's def coming. Plus if you go from a 3G device to a 4G device you are changing your contract, therefore you lose the unlimited & move to a tiered/allowance plan.
  • Wrong, dead wrong. Your definitely a T-Mobile candidate. lol
  • I am so glad I change carriers. Verizon isnt about the
    Consumers. They're about themselves no one else.
    No more new every two, no more upgrades after 20 months,
    No more unlimited data. On top of that when I did upgrade
    When I was with verizon, they neglected to tell me there
    Was a fee for this and a fee for that. Also they didnt tell
    Me that I was going to loose my unlimited data. Switched
    To T-MOBILE and I have not looked back. In a way im glad
    Verizon is doing this. It'll only be they're demise!
  • Maybe this will help some understand the upside to the policy changes.
  • This is another way to line their pockets by pushing people who don't like the new policy to pay full price for phones, not an upside to the policy.
  • A perfect comment from that thread (I'm still looking for that "upside" you spoke about.........)
    "Basically, Verizon is double dipping with this. You get to not only pay full price for a new phone over time, but you also pay a $24 fee over time, and you are STILL paying a monthly bill that includes subsidies for your previous phone built into the price. This is beyond ridiculous. Verizon once again showing themselves as the money grubbing scoundrels that they are. At least with T-Mobile, your bill is reduced after paying off the phone. Screw you, Verizon."
  • just giving me another reason to switch
  • Verizon can go to HELL!! They are taking it too far, next iPhone release I'm switching to T-mobile.
  • I think that it's just fine. With smartphones being more advanced than ever, there is no real need to upgrade earlier. Plus the smartphones are more expensive so in the long run waiting to upgrade can save you a little money. I personally have Verizon because of their service quality. I never drop calls, have service in very remote areas and have excellent sounds quality. I pay a little more but I don't have service issues and to me that's worth it. New phones are a gimmick used to coax people into contract extensions anyway.
  • I agree I love the fact that they actually have a network and I get service nearly 100% of the time. I would go to bargain-basement provider and pay a little less but why? you get less for your money you don't have coverage everywhere or service all the time. You get what you pay for. Some people just don't realize things as intelligently as others do? The 20 month upgrade was a COURTESY. PERIOD END OF STORY.
  • Agreed!!
  • >>The 20 month upgrade was a COURTESY. PERIOD END OF STORY.<< That kind of truth and good sense is just totally unnecessary. :)
  • lol
  • True but why did they offer it??? The same reason sports teams try to sign new contracts with their upcoming free agents, at 20-24 months only Verizon can sign a new contact without the customer paying ETF. It was to their advantage since once the contract is up we are free to leave. Since Verizon now has the iPhone I believe they don't fear that as much anymore and will jusy take away a benefit most of their customers have grown accustom to. Can they do this, yes. Is it right, maybe. It this another instance in a long line of examples of taking instead of giving, you bet!!! Verizon is no longer a good company in my eyes
  • Wireless networks like Verizon are becoming what big oil is to the car industry. Wireless carriers have become too big and now we are going to see the effects of that. We all know that companies are built to make money and make profits but the problem here is that they have created an illusion that the customer needs them and not the other way around. That they can tell us what's good for us and not care wether or not we like what they're saying. Cause at the end of the day they will continue to make money. They know people will leave but a good majority will not cause they are going to look the other way and continue to use their services no matter the cost. See companies like the wireless networks are like politicians once the get elected they don't care about you anymore. Cause at the end of the day it isn't what they can provide for you anymore but what can they get out in the time you're with them.
  • I really doubt these changes will hurt the majority. Verizon knows they've got definite advantages with their network and so they'll get away with small changes like these. They won't have an issue until the other providers offer equal or greater overall coverage.
  • So happy I didn't switch to them.
  • My wife & I have been with VZW since 2000 (except for when 3GS was released until the VZW iPhone 4 was released thats when I alone was with AT&T to have the iPhone). Even with the slower data speeds Verizon's coverage blew away AT&T. Twice within 6 months VZW even paid me to come back after I switched. But I am beginning to feel like they don't care about their customers. My wife and I are both grandfathered in for unlimited data. I was able to work some magic and get my iphone 5 at the discounted price but had to pay full retail for my wife's. I was thinking about switching back to AT&T just out of principle but this new policy may have sealed the deal. My contract is up and my two other iPhone's are up next January. Looks like I'll be with AT&T in February. Having to pay full retail isn't worth keeping unlimited plus I get a better discount with AT&T.
  • Verizon doesn't have to compete with phones anymore, they can compete with quality of service and coverage. I travel quite a bit for my work, and when given the option of an AT&T or Verizon phone, I chose Verizon. I travel to some pretty rural areas and Verizon nearly always has good to excellent signal. What this says to me is, Verizon feels that they don't really have any competition when it comes to coverage, so they know the customers that need them will come to them, regardless of price. Also, doesn't anyone else remember how much we used to pay for a plain old cell phone, even on contract. My old Moto Razr was something like $350-$400 on contract. Now, we complain when we have to pay $200 on contract for an awesome flagship smartphone. I keep this in mind, when I realize that I will be purchasing my next phone at full retail, just to keep my grandfathered unlimited data plan.
  • That glinch's it for me, not going to be Verizon
  • Well here we go again. Big coporate america shoving it down the throats of their customers. You can bet there will be never be a decision made that in any way impacts the consumer in a postive way. It always ends up lining their pockets even more and they do it cause we are stupid enough to continue to give them our money. Use to be we didn't even have email , and fce book and all this crap now for some reason we think we have to sleep with in under our pillow. I am as gulity as everyone else but I tell you its getting to the point that I'm starting to think otherwise. Maybe a dumb flip phone wasn't so bad in the first place. Heck of a lot cheaper thats for sure.
  • Ugh, Verizon always doing stuff like this
  • Disappointing...
  • LOL. I am 100% fine with it. What a dumb move. Instead of Verizon giving itself the opportunity to satisfy customers whose phones are horrible (sold to you by a Verizon salesman no doubt) while the customer is still under contract, they have decided to make it all or nothing. So, if you hate your phone too bad. You are stuck with it for two years, and all the complaining in the world won't get you anywhere with Verizon. But, don't fret, cause they don't want to solve the problem either. Thus Verizon has made it so that if you don't like the phone too bad, you can change it when it is time to renew the contract. So, pretty much after two years of horrible service, horrible phone function, and frustration they want to see if they can fool you twice. Well, take advantage of the all or nothing situation. If you like your phone and like Verizon, then upgrade and re-new. If you don't like your phone ? Cancel your service cause they are going to sell you another piece of junk and you already know they won't support it. If you don't like their service ? Well, obviously just cancel the service. It is not like you JUST got a new phone and are seeing if it will work better now are you ? What a stupid decision by Verizon. Guess we know why they are so bad and quickly going down the pooper! What is that ? What other company will give me better coverage ? Does that matter if the phones can't make calls, receive messages, and do basic functions ? What good is coverage if your phone doesn't know how to work with it ? So, yeah, I am good with watching Verizon shoot its own foot off. Hope it is painful, and the company suffers since that karma has built up for a while and I want to see them eat it.
  • There is only one carrier that offers service in my area, which is Verizon. My sister and boyfriend had Sprint, and they would have to go and stand in the middle of the road and hope the wind wasn't blowing hard. I tried AT&T and fought with them for the 3 months because of lack of service. It honestly doesn't bother me, I figure you pay for what you get, and I want good service that works almost everywhere. Not to mention they now have the payment plans so you can buy a phone and pay for it over time, which is giving you another option instead.
  • I've been a Verizon customer for many years and was looking forward to upgrading my phone after 20 months as was advised when I purchased it February 2012. Now find it's 24 months. It doesn't seem right that Verizon can change the terms of service mid-term. For all I know it'll be 30 months when February 2014 rolls around. Perhaps I'll try AT&T.