Broken cellular device on contract can't be replaced without new contract?

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Dan Robinson

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Jan 14, 2011
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During my third chase trip May, my Verizon jetpack stopped broadcasting a wifi signal, and no devices (laptop, etc) could connect to it. I stopped at an OKC Verizon store to have them look at it, and they confirmed it was toast. The contract on the device still had 9 months left on it and it was out of warranty, so I figured I'd just have to pay full price for a new Jetpack ($250-300 or so) and that would be it.

No, it turns out. Verizon has a policy where the contract is irrevocably tied to the device. If the device breaks, gets lost or stolen, you not only have to pay full price for a new one, but you have to start a *new contract* for the new device. You can't put the new device on the old contract's plan/line. This means you end up with two contracts at the same time, the old one which you can't even use because the device isn't working. Your old contract stays active unless you a.) keep paying the line access fee for it every month until the contract runs out, or b.) pay an early termination fee of $180.

It's just crazy. Contract 1 subsidizes the cost of Device 1. If Device 1 breaks/gets lost/stolen out of warranty, you'd then pay full price for Device 2. If Device 2 goes on Contract 1, the company makes all of its money on both devices. The way they do it now, if your device breaks, not only do you have to pay full price for a new device, you have to pay the big extra cost of terminating a contract. It doesn't make sense why you can't put Device 2 onto Contract 1. You're not breaking Contract 1, in fact you're paying full retail for a second device on top of fulfilling the first contract!

Are all carriers like this? I spent an hour on the phone with a rep as well as in the store, and they both said the same thing and there was no other option.
 
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Peter Potvin

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May 20, 2018
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Here in Canada it isn't, provided you have the extended warranty through the carrier. If not, you have to pay off the remaining device balance and start a new contract.
 
Jan 6, 2019
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Tyler
I wonder, buy a new mifi (even off of amazon) without contract and take the SIM card from the old one, put in the new one.

Log into your verizon account and see if there is any device serial number attached to that contract, not sim, but the device's serial number itself.

-----------------------------
Just talked to verizon here that i deal with, they confirmed what you were told, since no extended warranty.
 
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May 18, 2013
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Bummer. Seems like you have 4 options:

1) Take it to social media or local TV news "fix it" and see if you get a different response from their media specialists.

2) Buy a Jetpack elsewhere and move the sim and see if it works. Not risk free. There is a lot of info if you Google "verizon jetpack move sim card"

3) Switch carriers. I know Tmobile doesn't do this, but I can't recommend them for chasing data coverage. I have them, but have a month to month Verizon Jetpack for chasing. My chase partner has AT&T, and coverage is bery good, but can't comment on policies.

4) Keep Verizon on new plan. Stinks I know.

Good luck.
 

Dan Robinson

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Would the sim swap work? I tried to do that going from my old USB aircard to my oldest Jetpack (before the one that failed, my 2nd) and it wouldn't activate - I had to get a new sim. That would be even more outrageous if all I had to do was buy a new device and swap the sims, and they just didn't tell me about that option.
 
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Jan 6, 2019
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Tyler
Would the sim swap work? I tried to do that going from my old USB aircard to my oldest Jetpack (before the one that failed, my 2nd) and it wouldn't activate - I had to get a new sim. That would be even more outrageous if all I had to do was buy a new device and swap the sims, and they just didn't tell me about that option.
I dont really know, it was just a thought i had. if that what u did, did not work, then i don't think it would work in this case.
Might not have worked if different carriers.

All i can say is that with my USB cell data dongles i bought off of amazon and took them into verison and just bought a data plan that included the SIM card (month to month plan).

There are mifi's on amazon (used i think) for about 70.00 USD. Most of them appear to be 'renewed'.
I think those would have an owner already burned into the device, they asked me if i was that person, just told them i had bought the dongle off of amazon.

With your problem, wondering now if it is too late for me to get an extended warranty on my devices.
I don't remember them telling me about the replacement cost. But it is in the contract.
 

Mark Blue

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Feb 19, 2007
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What model do you have Dan? The SIM swap to a BYO, then update the ESN online ought to work. As a last ditch effort you could connect to it via a network cable, navigate to the user interface and make sure Wifi is indeed turned on. If it is do a factory reset and see if that cures the woes you're having.
 

Mark Blue

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Feb 19, 2007
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Would the sim swap work? I tried to do that going from my old USB aircard to my oldest Jetpack (before the one that failed, my 2nd) and it wouldn't activate - I had to get a new sim. That would be even more outrageous if all I had to do was buy a new device and swap the sims, and they just didn't tell me about that option.
My opinion of the c/s reps both in store and in their call center is that they are instructed to sell, sell, sell. They want to lock you into a contract for as long as they can and will never tell you of a more inexpensive option. If you can find the same model on eBay it should make it very easy to insert your existing SIM and be back in business. You may even be able to get a newer Mifi if it takes the same type of SIM, or if it doesn’t order a new SIM online that does fit. They generally send them out via 2 day delivery.
 

Dan Robinson

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Jan 14, 2011
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I had to get the new Jetpack in OKC at the time, since I was in the middle of a chase trip and loss of mobile internet was a critical issue that had to be fixed. All of the electronics stores in the city (Best Buy, etc) were completely sold out of the $50 ones, and only one of the Verizon stores had one in stock. I had to drive across town to get it.

I just made the case again to the customer service department, and they took half off of the early termination of the old contract. That coupled with the subsidization of the cost of the device from the new contract at least gets me to the break-even point on a straight full-cost purchase of a new device. The only issue is the contract end date reset.
 
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Other than a 2 year break where I needed a more inexpensive option because of my job situation, I've had Verizon since 2007, and never once had an issue switching devices. Even back in the pre-LTE CDMA days, I could go to my account on the website, punch in the ESN for the device I was going to, and I was good to go. It's been even easier now with being able to simply swap sim cards. In 12 years now, that's the first I've ever heard of that. I'm with Mark, I think the CS reps would rather sell you things than find a solution. Unfortunately, my experience with other carriers shows this to be true across the board, so it's not just a Verizon thing.
 
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Dan Robinson

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I might go back to customer service and ask them about the sim swap just to see what they say. Again, I'm at the break-even point on the new device cost side so it's a moot point, though I have a fresh contract that has 2 years left.
 

Dan Robinson

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I just got them to refund the line access fee on the old line for June and July, another $40. So I'm right at/just under break even on the price now, the only drawback being the new contract. It's doubtful I would have got that concession without confronting them about the sim swap option, so thanks to all in this thread who pointed that out!

This is definitely a case of the salespeople deliberately misleading the customer in order to score a new contract. Right when I got to the store in OKC, I told the sales guy I wanted to pay full price for a new device, since I knew my old one was out of warranty. He said no, it can't be done. Pretty sure that would happen anywhere since the phone and online reps said the same thing.

Under normal circumstances, I'd just order one online, but I was on the road. That was the day before the forecasted big event on the 20th. I didn't think I was going to be near another metro area with electronic stores for several days unless I drove an extra 2-3 hours out of my way to AMA just for the Jetpack. That coupled with everywhere else being sold out made it just the kind of situation a salesperson can take advantage of.
 
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B. Dean Berry

Moderator
May 25, 2014
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Yeah, that's complete garbage. Looks like sales was more important.

Usually, when I have to deal with anything wrong (being on Sprint), I just directly request to speak to Customer Retention. It gets the point across fast, and that's the department that is usually the last stop before dropping service, so they usually pull out all the stops, invalidate device agreements, refund decent chunks of change, or comp entire months worth of services, to retain the customer.

Now, this is with Sprint, which while I've found them to be generally incompetent at managing a functioning network, at least gives a damn if people are their clients. Verizon is a different ballgame, and this may or may not work with them.

The SIM swaps should work well. IINM, as Drew pointed out earlier, Verizon appears to no longer use their CDMA-based system (while Sprint still does), and has gone all-in on LTE. LTE runs off of WCDMA SIM cards, making it much like the old GSM/iDen providers in that the SIM is the brain, rather than the phone itself.
 

B. Dean Berry

Moderator
May 25, 2014
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Now, I know the coverage isn't great in spots (large swaths), but:

Sprint currently has no-lock contracts for service at the lowest rates in the industry for unlimited data. My current contract is for 2 Kyocera Duraforce PRO mil-grade Android phones and a Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1" tablet, all with unlimited data, hotspot/tethering, etc, including lease-to-own on the devices, for just a hair under $200 a month.

Sometimes, the coverage can be infuriating. Sometimes (every time), when you need a device added or a problem fixed, customer services is frustratingly incompetent, and you have to call 5 different times and talk with 10 different people, 7 of whom are likely in Bangalore India, before the problem is resolved ~but~ the problem usually does get resolved, and I think if I had the same device count and services with Verizon, I'd be paying a lot more.