Sticking it to The Man
Yesterday, my mission to stick it to The Man (The Man = Verizon) was successful. Back in November, I had bought a Motorola Q off of Ebay to replace my XV6700. I didn't like a number of things about the 6700, but was still under contract til March 2008, so could only buy one for retail in the store. So? I bought a Q off of Ebay. However, a while later, I started realizing the phone was possessed. I thought it was the battery, though eventually realized it was more the phone itself.
Example of odd behavior just a few days ago... I used the phone to call into a team conference call. Part way through the call, my part was done, so I was going to mute the phone and put it on speakerphone so I could set it down while doing other things. I go to hit the mute key and both the keypad and the screen are dead. No response, not matter which key I press (even the end call key), but I am still on the call, and stay on the phone for another 15 mins. At the end, since I can't hang up, my only option is to pop out the battery, replace it, and power it on. The battery was fully charged, as it charged overnight and was only unplugged from it for maybe 15 mins before this happened. After the call and I power cycled the phone, the battery still showed as fully charged, and the phone stayed on the rest of the day and still had an almost full charge by night. It is almost like the phone is still on, just keypresses are not registering so the keypad/screen never wake back up. Odd.
So, back to The Man.
I felt it was time to make the switch to a Blackberry and leave Smartphones behind. As I said, I was under contract still, and after this, I didn't want to get another phone off Ebay and risk more problems. But then, I had seen this nice little article on The Consumerist. Verizon was changing per text message fees from 10 cents to 15 cents. As a result, their own Customer Agreement provides a way to cancel your service without an early termination fee.
Our Rights To Make Changes
Your service is subject to our business policies, practices, and procedures, which we can change without notice. UNLESS OTHERWISE PROHIBITED BY LAW, WE CAN ALSO CHANGE PRICES AND ANY OTHER CONDITIONS IN THIS AGREEMENT AT ANY TIME BY SENDING YOU WRITTEN NOTICE PRIOR TO THE BILLING PERIOD IN WHICH THE CHANGES WOULD GO INTO EFFECT. IF YOU CHOOSE TO USE YOUR SERVICE AFTER THAT POINT, YOU'RE ACCEPTING THE CHANGES. IF THE CHANGES HAVE A MATERIAL ADVERSE EFFECT ON YOU, HOWEVER, YOU CAN END THE AFFECTED SERVICE, WITHOUT ANY EARLY TERMINATION FEE, JUST BY CALLING US WITHIN 60 DAYS AFTER WE SEND NOTICE OF THE CHANGE.
Though there is a catch... I didn't really want to end service, I wanted to stay with Verizon, I just wanted out of my contract. However, one lucky thing is that Trish and I just moved to an area with a different area code, so we were going to be changing out numbers. So, just cancel service without a termination fee and open a new account in the new service area and get a new contract.
The tricky part is to get Verizon to break your contract. For me, it took two attempts. On my first call, the CSR told me that text messaging is an optional package and not a part of the core package. The contract pertains only to the main plan and not any optional packages. I realized I wasn't getting anywhere with her, so I said good day and hung up. After thinking about it for a few minutes, I realized that the customer agreement makes no distinction between core and optional packages. Additionally, it says if the changes have "a material adverse effect", but gives no definition of what that is. For lack of a better definition, I figured a material effect would be my pocket book (ie, my bill will be higher as a result). And since it doesn't quantify it, it doesn't matter whether it is 5 cents of 50 dollars. So I called back, got another CSR, spoke to them, got up to a supervisor, explained what it states and how it doesn't define or quantify it. Got put on hold for about 5 minutes, and she came back and was able to cancel my service for me without a fee.
So after Trish got home from work, we went down to the Verizon store and got a new plan and new phones. I am now the proud owner of a new Blackberry RIM 8703e (8700 series, same one Scott recently got). Trish got a new Razr (free too).
If you are looking to break a Verizon contract, my suggestions are:
- Right off the bat, say you wish to cancel your service without an early termination fee due to the changes in the per text message rates. Don't mickey mouse around with asking if you qualify (they'll want to look into your records for how many messages you use and sell you a text messaging plan).
- Read them the clause from the customer agreement.
- Explain the lack of a definition around the "material adverse effect" and how you take it to mean an impact on your wallet, and it doesn't quantify it into an actual amount.
- Get to a supervisor, they can do more.
- If at first you fail, call, call again.
Also, an FYI, you can do the same with Cingular, as they have similar fee changes.