Verizon is altering its activation fee structure to incentivize customers to buy new phones online, according to CNET. Prior to this week, the standard activation fee, both for an in-store activation and when purchasing a new phone online, was $30. Now, Verizon says you can save $10 by buying a new phone online, paying only $20 to activate it, while doing so via a Verizon brick-and-mortar retail store will now cost you $40. The changes go into effect on Thursday, CNET reports.
Typically, these activation fees tend to increase or decrease depending on a number of conditions, like whether you’re on a prepaid plan or a monthly one, and whether you’re buying a new phone on a new line of service or just upgrading a device on an existing line of service. At the moment, it’s unclear what conditions these new Verizon terms apply toward, but it would seem likely they apply to both upgrades and new device activations, according to CNET.
It’s not clear why Verizon wants to charge more for in-store activations
These price changes put Verizon slightly under fellow carriers for online purchases, although every big telecom has adjusted the cost of the fees both up and down over the years. The exception is Sprint, which tells The Verge it now waives activation fees for online purchases for new customers and also waives both online and over-the-phone activations for upgrades on existing lines, so long as the phone itself was leased through Sprint and the lease is up. For in-store activations, Sprint charges $30.
AT&T still charges either $25 if you’re bringing our own phone to the network, or $45 if you’re on one of its virtually phased out two-year contracts, which are only available for select phones. T-Mobile, on the other hand, says it doesn’t have an activation fee, but does in fact charge you $25 for a SIM starter kit that is effectively the same as an activation fee.
In this case, it’s not clear why Verizon is charging more for in-store activations, although CNET reports that the company is saying the process involves the “full-service experience,” whatever that means.
Correction: A previous version of this article says Sprint charges $30 for both online and in-store activations. That is not true; Sprint now waives the $30 fee for online activations of new devices on new lines, and also waives the fee for upgrades to leased devices on existing lines, so long as the lease is up.