Verizon Wireless announced today that as of April 22 they will be charging a $30 upgrade fee for customers who renew their two-year agreements and upgrade to a new phone. In other words, if you get to the end of your Verizon contract and want to get a new phone, you'll have to pay an extra $30 to re-sign your contract and upgrade your hardware.
Now, if you don't want or need to keep your old phone, Verizon will be offering you the chance to trade it in as a way to offset - or even eliminate - the $30 fee. So there's that.
Here's Verizon's statement:
On April 22, Verizon Wireless is implementing a $30 upgrade fee for existing customers purchasing new mobile equipment at a discounted price with a two-year contract. This fee will help us continue to provide customers with the level of service and support they have come to expect which includes Wireless Workshops, online educational tools, and consultations with experts who provide advice and guidance on devices that are more sophisticated than ever.
While the upgrade fee is not unique to Verizon Wireless, most devices can be traded in with our green friendly trade-in program at www.verizonwireless.com/tradein as a way to save money or potentially offset the fee completely.
Though Verizon doesn't say so, it's almost certain that this fee is to meant to help offset the subsidies that they are required to pay for iPhone and Android smartphones. These subsidies make a dent in Verizon's (and other carriers') bottom line, and most of the other carriers charge a fee like this one for upgrading your phone at the end of a contract.
This isn't the first time Verizon has looked for... creative ways to increase their profits. Late last year they announced a $2 "convenience fee" would be charged to customers who paid their bill online or over the phone. The announcement sparked the kind of public outcry you might expect, as well as drawing the attention of the FCC. Within hours of the FCC's announcement, Verizon decided to scrap the fee.
This time, however, those who are upset about this $30 fee probably shouldn't count on the FCC swooping in to save the day. As noted above, this kind of fee is fairly common among wireless carriers.