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A daily look at what we buy, how we spend, and the companies that do right - and wrong - by their customers.

Verizon - All posts tagged Verizon

  • Aug 24, 2011
    2:13 PM ET

    Is the Sprint iPhone a Better Bet?

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    If you sell it, will they come? Third-place carrier Sprint certainly hopes so.  The Wall Street Journal reports that the carrier will join AT&T and Verizon in offering the much-anticipated iPhone 5 when it launches this fall.

    The news is clearly a win for Sprint: analysts are already talking about the potential for bumper fourth-quarter sales. It’s a great opportunity for the carrier, which has lagged behind Verizon and AT&T, to grab back some of its former customers who left to get the iPhone elsewhere, says Todd Day, an industry analyst for Frost & Sullivan. “Ultimately, it gives them a level playing field,” he says. (Sprint declined to comment on reports that it is getting the iPhone.)

    But will iPhone owners – current and future — benefit? Sprint customers will, if they want an iPhone without the hassle of switching carriers. For everyone else, the benefits are a little less certain.

  • Jun 22, 2011
    12:55 PM ET

    Verizon Nixes Unlimited Data Plans

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    Verizon smartphone owners may need to be more cautious about how much they download and stream, as the carrier follows AT&T in phasing out its unlimited data plan.

    Starting July 7, consumers currently paying $30 for unlimited data must choose among three new options: a two gigabyte plan for $30, five gigabytes for $50, or 10 gigabytes for $80. Use more than your new plan allows, and you’ll pay an extra $10 per gigabyte.

    A Verizon spokeswoman declined to comment on the change, but analysts say it’s no surprise. Data usage increased 90% over the past year, according to a recent Nielsen report, and some of the heaviest users doubled their consumption. Tiered structures let carriers increase profit as consumers use more data, as well as fund network expansions to support that data use, says Mark Beccue, an analyst with ABI Research.

  • Jun 3, 2011
    3:39 PM ET

    When To Fight Store Restocking Fees

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    They are beloved by most electronic stores: you buy a wireless device or TV, you return it in the box within the warranty period and you still get hit with a restocking fee. The reason? The store must return the product to the manufacturer – which costs money – so a restocking fee acts to deter customers from returning a product for reasons other than it being defective.

    But it can be worth challenging these fees, even if the product isn’t broken. A case in point: I bought a Verizon VL600 4G USB modem. The sales assistant forgot to include the SIM card, so I returned the modem. I wanted to cancel my contract and get a refund, as I was within my 14-day warranty period. No problem. But the retailer wanted to charge a $35 restocking fee.

    The product wasn’t defective, but it wouldn’t work without the card. The sales assistant in the store – a New York-based Verizon Wireless franchisee – agreed to reduce the $35 to $20. That wasn’t good enough, so I called Verizon customer support from the store. The representative canceled the restocking fee because I had not received the service I should have expected.

    The lessons:

    1. Be aware of the store’s policy on these fees before you buy the product and don’t roll over if the retailer decides to charge you a restocking fee.

    2. Remember that a restocking fee is often a trade-off between the circumstances of your case and the company’s willingness to show you goodwill.

  • May 17, 2011
    5:55 PM ET

    Is Sprint Next To Offer the iPhone?

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    A job posting of interest to consumers: Apple is looking for a “carrier engineer” in Kansas City, Missouri, around 20 miles from Sprint’s headquarters in Overland Park, Kansas. Does this mean Sprint will be next to carry the iPhone? Apple clearly doesn’t want to give too much away, as it changed the location of same job from Kansas to Cupertino, California. (A carrier engineer “supports taking products through technical approval at the carriers,” according to the ad.)

    The blog Apple Insider notes that the job posting requires CDMA experience and Sprint operates the second-largest CDMA network in the country. For non-geeks: CDMA is a wireless technology that transmits audio; a fancier version of radio waves. Apple already operates a CDMA iPhone with New York-based Verizon in a non-exclusive deal and T-Mobile can’t carry the iPhone until its merger with AT&T goes through, according to the terms of that deal. (Apple did not respond to a request for comment.)

    Michelle Leff Mermelstein, a spokeswoman for Sprint, says the company doesn’t comment on rumor or speculation, or products or services that have yet to be announced. She tells Pay Dirt, “We are extremely proud of the robust portfolio of devices we have for our customers today without an iPhone. We continue to innovate in the Android space with our upcoming EVO 3D and the newly available Kyocera Echo with two touch screens.”

  • May 5, 2011
    7:00 AM ET

    The Worm in Verizon iPhones: Lower Resale Value

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    It’s looking more like consumers will have an extended wait for a fifth-generation iPhone, with the latest rumors (from an AT&T insider) pushing the unveiling to September instead of the usual June.

    That’s good news for Verizon iPhone owners who plan to trade up to a newer model. They’ll have more time to save up to make up for the handsets’ lower resale rate.

    Four months out from the Verizon release, the carrier’s iPhones are fetching substantially less than AT&T handsets on the secondary market, says Anthony Scarsella, the chief gadget officer for resale site Gazelle.com. The GSM technology in AT&T’s phones is used in more countries than Verizon’s CDMA and allows simultaneous voice and data use, both of which create more demand. “Once it can be unlocked, it can be used on any carrier,” Scarsella says. “The secondary market is huge.”

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.