Verizon Jacks Upgrade Fees for In-Store Buyers

Updated

Verizon is making a big change to the way it charges customers for upgrade fees.

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When customers go to a Verizon store to upgrade their smartphones, they'll now be charged $40 per month, up from $30 per month, CNET is reporting after discussing the changes with a Verizon spokesperson. Verizon's spokesperson called the in-store upgrade a "full-service experience."

While that might be bad news for folks who don't like paying extra for what amounts to the same service, Verizon did say that it's dropping its upgrade fee on online and in-app upgrades from $30 to $20.

Verizon told CNET that the changes will take effect on Thursday, Apr. 18.

The changes seem designed to incentivize people to turn to their phones and browsers to upgrade their smartphones rather than Verizon's stores. The move could allow for significant cost-savings in time and labor for Verizon and might cut down on busy stores cluttered with upgrades instead of new customers.

Verizon didn't say in its comment to CNET how many people usually turn to the company's stores for upgrades. In those circumstances, customers go to a Verizon store, pick out a new phone, and work with in-store salespeople to buy the handset and have their information ported to the new device. They walk out of the store with the phone that day.

Upgrading via the app or online is a decidedly different experience. It requires users to log in to their accounts, choose the line to upgrade, and buy the handset. Unlike in-store purchases, when buying online or in the app, customers need to wait to have their new phone delivered.

Looking ahead, it's difficult to say what the impact might be on customers with the pricing change. And at least so far, other carriers haven't followed suit on the new pricing.