1. Get a decent phone and pay the service charge.
2. Get a “Simple Feature Phone” (see more below) to avoid the charge.
3. When your contract is up, leave for another provider.
4. Leave now and pay the early termination fee for ending the contract ahead of schedule.
If you have only recently upgraded your plan and you were not already affected by this change, then you should be good until your contract is up, or your phone breaks. As it turns out, VZW will also be forcing this charge if you
However, if you choose to downgrade to a “Simple Feature Phone” to avoid the charge, you are soon to be discouraged. There are only 3 (of 16) phones listed at the time this was written that have a QWERTY keyboard. There are only 5 phones listed that have a 2.0 megapixel camera; none have anything higher, while many have none. Only 1 has a user rating higher than 4/5. Of course, none have a touch screen. Some of these little additions are not for everyone, and the SFP categorization is actually fairly accurate. But that’s what you get if you don’t want to pay the charge.
If you do want something a little more snazzy, pony up. You want a decently rated QWERTY phone or anything else listed above? You’re going to have to pay for it, but you will do so indirectly. You will not be paying for the extra features that you are looking for with the $9.99 charge (you will be paying for it with an increased phone price, but that is what is expected). Instead, you will be paying a fee for a data plan, that has nothing to do with a touch screen, QWERTY keyboard and the like. It is for browsing the web and retrieving and sending email. Verizon has taken the stance that if you want to do that, then pay for it, if you don’t want to do that, they pay for it.
There have been a few disgruntled customers out on the web who have wonderfully analogized this situation as follows: This situation is the same as if your cable company charged you for HBO, because it was a feature available through the cable system, even if you never watched it, and told them you never wanted to watch it. Just because the availability is there does not mean every customer wants or is going to use it.
From Verizon’s community message boards, many unhappy customers are reporting that they are sending letters to VZW Execs, and getting responses. In most cases, it seems the response is empty, but it is something. I have actually considered this myself, and if that happens, I will be posting the letter and any responses that come. If not, I’ll still be updating the blog with any new news about it. Why? Because when I search for anything related to this issue, I have trouble finding much of anything in the way of public exposure. Most of the search results are either simple press-release-type descriptions of Verizon’s new business plan, or else message boards with angry customers.
Update from feedback:
A smart phone is designed to use the data package and paying for the data package makes perfect sense. When the Droid was released, it came with a required data package. That's fine, because that is a phone that people will buy for that reason; part of the draw to the Droid is that it is a super fancy phone that has advanced capabilities that most phones don’t have.
But I am not talking about those phones. I am talking about the phones that have a built-in capability to access the 3G network Verizon offers, but the functionality to do so is not the main drive behind the phone's particular design. Take the LG enV3, for example. It is NOT a smart phone, but it has a lot of nice features. Verizon will force the data plan for this phone. The problem with this is that on December 1st, anyone could have purchased this phone without the service charge. Assuming someone did just that, but today the phone broke and they have to go and buy a replacement. Now suddenly, even though the phone would be replaced with the same exact model, they have to pay the $9.99 service fee. Why, if they didn't have to before?