Verizon Wireless explained to the FCC today why it doubled the fee it charges to consumers when they leave their contracts early.
The answer wasn’t any more glamorous than the reason the carrier had given originally. Simply stated, Verizon argues that it doubled the fees to $350 to $175 because devices cost much more as consumers upgrade from feature phones to smartphones. The AP reported that Verizon also justified the hike because customer service workers must spend more time with users who are signing up for phones with advanced features.
Verizon also responded to the FCC inquiry about data fees that were being passed on to the customer. Verizon said it stopped charging $1.99-a-megabyte when it is clear that a person accidentally initiates a data connection.
The matter about early-termination fees have gotten pretty heated. Although consumers almost always have the option of paying full price for a handset in lieu of signing a long-term contract, a group of senators are seeking to pass a bill that would put a cap on the fee carriers could charge. A survey conduced by the government found that users were less likely to switch carriers if they would be charged a departure fee.
When Verizon first announced in November that it was going to double the fee, most of the carriers reacted by saying they had no plans to follow suit. However, phones are getting more expensive, and consumers are benefiting from subsidies. Most other carriers have an ETF of $200, but it’s feasible they would have to rise, too.