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July 12, 2006 1:39 PM   Subscribe

My Verizon cell phone broke. What's my best course of action?

Soon after I got the phone, I found I couldn't use it without the headset; removing the headset didn't switch the built-in speaker and microphone on. I should have complained then, but I stoically just put up with it, always using the headset. Turns out there was a crack in the headset jack; over time it got worse and worse. Now it's completely broken, and the lcd shows only a uniform purple glow; apparently something else broke when I futility twisted the headphone plug in the broken jack, trying to get it to work.

Since I've had the phone (and plan) more than one year but less than two, the phone's out of warranty but I can't get a reduced-price phone from Verizon (and to get it, I'd have to sign up for another two year contract).

Unlike AOL, it doesn't look like I have any leverage by threatening to cancel when the contract is up.

I haven't been too impressed with Verizon's service, and my few calls to customer service have always involved long on-hold times followed by a bored and unconcerned person explaining to me the many ways Verizon can't do anything to help me, and the voicemail is an unmitigated pain in the ass, so I'm in no hurry to extend my contract.

I'm locked in to the contract at $60/month until November, so the remaining cost of the contract is about equal to Verizon's early termination fee.

What's my best course of action? Should I buy a new Verizon phone (~$120 for the cheapest) or is there another cell provider with a more attractive plan? (I currently use only about 100 "peak" airtime minutes a month, even though I pay for 800.) Should I just sign up now for a new plan with another provider, get their "free" phone and suck up the early termination fee/remaining contract cost on the Verizon contract? Thanks.
posted by orthogonality to Shopping (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you used any other carrier but Verizon, I would suggest you head to your nearest city's Chinatown and hit up their cell phone stores, as they can sell you a replacement phone cheaply.

I feel for you. Apparently a replacement battery for my 1.5 yr old phone is unavailable from any Verizon store in the tri-state area around Philadelphia.

Their first suggestion was to "upgrade" my phone, thereby signing me up for another two years of servitude, and the same risk of being the same situation a year and half from now. I said no thanks and looked online for replacement parts.

Add to that violating my privacy rights, I've had just about enough of Verizon's garbage service.

If the termination fee is the same as your contract cost, I'd just terminate, eat the cost and jump ship to another carrier. Buying another phone locks you in to more bad service.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:54 PM on July 12, 2006

Buy a Verizon phone on ebay. You can transfer your phone book off the old one to the new one for $10 at any Verizon store.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:02 PM on July 12, 2006

I think your best course of action is to go to a verizon store or keep calling different verizon reps until you get someone that is willing to work with you on the price of a new phone. Explain your situation and you'll know pretty quick who is willing to work with you and who just tows the company line like the dumb tier 1 rep they are. Call back and get someone else or demand (polite but firm!) to be escalated to someone higher up. I once got up the chain as far as a regional customer service vp or some lame title like that (it was the reps' boss' boss I guess), he took care of my problem in like a nanosecond.

If you really hate verizon (sounds like you sorta might) you could cancel as you pointed out that paying them over the next year is gonna be equal to canceling now. *shrugs*

You may also be able to get out of the early termination fee if you wait awhile. See, when verizon changes their rates at all (like last fall when decided to bend everyone over and rape them for SMS fees...oh...or when they eliminated free holiday calling) they have changed their end of the contract and essentially broken it. This makes you are free to cancel your service without a cancellation fee. I did this personally last fall, and they were none too happy about it ("how do you know about that?!?" they said), but contractually they had to let me go. Of course, then you're playing a waiting game and paying for it too.
posted by crypticgeek at 2:04 PM on July 12, 2006

I second eBay.

You can find a verizon phone for very cheap and just transfer numbers.
posted by jimmy0x52 at 2:08 PM on July 12, 2006

Try and take it to a true Verizon store, not a kiosk. Drop it off and just ask for an estimate. When my phone broke, I did this and they fixed it gratis.
posted by daviss at 2:11 PM on July 12, 2006

Buy a Nokia 6015i on eBay. It's a very basic, ugly phone but it has great reception, is indestructible and costs about ~$50. Then tough it out for the remaining 4 months, and sell it on eBay when you're contract is up. Then switch to getting screwed by another provider ;)
posted by boaz at 2:22 PM on July 12, 2006

i believe that verizon is planning on lowering its termination fees sometime soon, for whatever that's worth.
posted by ofthestrait at 2:27 PM on July 12, 2006

I'm fuzzy on the specifics, but I THINK they provide an option, if your phone is broken, to get a 'new' one of the same model for $50. They mail the old one back to the manufacturer. I don't think this is part of any insurance plan, just a service they offer. I wouldn't swear to the specifics, though. (A friend who works in another Verizon store told me that they don't always advertise this option.) I could be wrong, but it's at least worth asking.
posted by fogster at 2:49 PM on July 12, 2006

Whenever you do get out of your contract, switch to prepay. T-mobile prepay is 10 cents / minute when you buy $100 at a time. There's a charge ($20 ?) for the SIM card, but that's the only catch. Obtain an unlocked GSM phone and you're a free agent.

Since I switched last summer I've saved... 12 x $50 - $100. So, a thousand bucks. Daaayymn!
posted by Doctor Barnett at 2:58 PM on July 12, 2006

If you don't want to buy a phone off of eBay you can always buy a phone that Verizon uses for the pre-pay plans they offer.

My brother's cell was stolen recently, and he was in a similar situation. He tried purchasing from an eBay seller only to find out that the new phone had been reported stolen.

It was actually the one of the staff at the Verizon store that suggested going to a nearby Target and buying one of the pre-paid phones, and then taking it back to Verizon to activate.

Hope this helps.
posted by Tennison Tarb at 3:03 PM on July 12, 2006

Had a similar problem with a Cingular phone, 13 months after I got it, blah blah blah. I bought a $45 prepaid replacement at Wal-Mart (just make sure the phone is Verizon compatible, in your case.) It's not a great phone but it was better for me than canceling my service a year early or having to get locked in to a new contract.
posted by Happydaz at 3:12 PM on July 12, 2006

You should be able to pick up a used phone somewhere for cheap and transfer your number for free. I did this about 6 months ago with a friend's old phone, took about 10 minutes on the phone with a verizon rep to get it all worked out.
posted by Orrorin at 4:12 PM on July 12, 2006

I bought a used phone off Craigslist for $20. Tip -- you have to set up your online profile using text messages, so (everyone should) do that while their phone's display screen still works. If you don't have an online profile set up, they hit you with a customer service fee.
posted by salvia at 7:10 PM on July 12, 2006

Two things

-- the reduced termination fees referred to earlier are only for new customers.

-- In the same situation (except I'm under warranty) I went to a Verizon store. I waited *almost two hours* in a cramped and hostile environment, missed my dinner date, only to find out that they "don't replace Treos in-store".

I spend about $2500 a year on my cell phone bills. That's ok, but it's unbelievable that they can be as user-hostile as they are.

I've worked with the mktg departments of some of these carriers, and know how much they spend to try to acquire a customer. I can't believe how easily they're willing to let them go.
posted by cloudscratcher at 8:25 PM on July 12, 2006

I'll second going into a store. They will very often supply you with a refurb for $50. There is also going to be a lot of good advice for this situation over on HoFo. I also have a few spare phones that are in OK shape that I might be able to locate (a recent move has me a bit disorganized) and would be willing to part with cheaply if you are interested. My email is hankbear at gmail dot com, if so.
posted by hankbear at 7:28 AM on July 13, 2006

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