Thousands are asking Verizon to void wireless contracts | CNN Business
Highlights of the story
A petition urges Verizon to follow T-Mobile’s lead and get rid of service contracts
The petition has attracted more than 55,000 signatures on Change.org
Verizon’s CEO has said he would consider killing cell phone contracts if consumers demand it
Petitioner: “People should have the freedom of choice… to move freely between carriers”
A movement urging Verizon to ditch wireless contracts appears to be gaining traction.
A petition calling for the carrier to end smartphone contracts and “create an affordable way for consumers to buy their devices” had attracted more than 60,000 signatures by Wednesday morning on the online petition platform Change.org .
Mike Beauchamp, a Verizon customer and blogger from Wichita, Kansas, said he started the Change.org petition 11 days ago after hearing Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam say he would consider killing cell phone contracts if consumers ask for it.
“I think people should have the freedom of choice … to move freely between carriers,” Beauchamp told CNN in a phone interview. “I think that model where you tie customers in for two or three years is a tired model that doesn’t need to exist anymore.”
For years, most wireless carriers have subsidized the high cost of smartphones, often $600 or more, by requiring customers to sign long-term contracts. Customers who try to switch carriers before their contract ends often face steep penalties — up to $350 for Verizon customers, depending on the carrier’s early cancellation policy.
But T-Mobile shook up the wireless industry last month by announcing it would revamp its pricing models to eliminate contracts. Instead, T-Mobile’s new service plans require customers to pay for their smartphones either upfront or in monthly payments over two years.
Beauchamp’s petition urges Verizon to follow T-Mobile’s lead and get rid of wireless service contracts. Change.org posted the petition on its homepage on Monday after it received more than 7,000 signatures on Saturday alone.
A Verizon spokesman would not comment specifically on the request.
“Verizon Wireless has for years offered many different options for customers, including contract plans or monthly plans that do not require a contract,” spokeswoman Debra Lewis said in a prepared statement.
Verizon Wireless also offers its phones without a contract, but requires the consumer to pay the full price of the phone upfront. For example, a 16GB iPhone 5 costs $200 with a two-year contract, but $650 without a contract. AT&T and Sprint offer virtually identical pricing.
Beauchamp said he hopes Verizon will agree to reduce or eliminate early cancellation fees for existing customers and lower prices for phones sold without a contract. He said Monday that he had not heard from the carrier since he launched his petition.