Two-year phone contracts trap customers

ArashTadjiki1:30 Colby Patterson
Arash Tadjiki

Arash Tadjiki

I’ve had my smartphone for one week, and I don’t know how I lived without it before. Yes, you read right. Before last week, I was barely functioning with a LG Cosmos 2, a phone that cannot even be purchased anymore, while its upgrade, the LG Cosmos 3, begins at a whopping .99 cents with a new contract. A slide-out QWERTY keyboard and quite a bit of embarrassment haunted me throughout the entire two-year contract I was chained to this relic.

Technology is innovating at an alarming rate, and as a result, cellphone companies can no longer afford to lock customers into two year contracts.

Flashback to the last few months of senior year when I signed with my provider and upgraded to the LG Cosmos 2, thinking it was a sound decision. Not even three months later, after realizing my mistake, I found out that unless I wanted to pay a $175 cancellation fee ($350, if it had been a smartphone), I was stuck with my phone for a year and nine long, shameful months.

During that one year and nine months, companies exploded onto the scene, offering the world more than just one option for a smartphone. Now more than ever there are a multitude of options, allowing for some serious customization depending on what you want out of your device. It is, after all, more than just a phone. A GPS, e-book reader, social media hub, camera, planner, organizer, music player and translator. And those are just a few things I use my new smartphone for.

However, a few short years ago, zdnet.com, a business technology website, rated the following phones among the top 10 for the year: the Samsung Galaxy SII, the Motorola Droid Bionic, the HTC EVO 3D, the HTC ThunderBolt and the Apple iPhone 4. Personally, I haven’t ever heard of any of these except the iPhone 4, and now we’re blown through four newer models up to the iPhone 5s.

People cannot be expected to keep the same phone for a full two-year contract without the device becoming outdated before the contract is up. That being said, T-Mobile is one of the few carriers who has caught on and is trying to do something about it. They have offered to pay for the early termination fee, provided you sign on with them. Verizon has come up with ‘Verizon Edge,’ allowing you to split your payment for the phone into smaller increments with no contract. Should you want to switch at any time to another phone, you just have to have at least half of the phone paid off. The way the payments are broken up, it averages about a year with that phone, then you can switch, no hassle. While these are just two examples of companies attempting to change policies, some still haven’t come up with a solution. And the aforementioned companies are by no means perfect. There are still qualifications that need to be met and fine print that needs to be read before one can upgrade their device.

With the rate that technology is changing and the increasing dependency on being “connected” all the time, it is in a company’s best interest to change policies to a faster upgrade, which in turn affords customers like me the luxury of writing their opinion columns from their mobile phone.

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