It is no secret that Verizon and AT&T are trying to eliminate the need to heavily subsidize devices for customers signing up on a two-year contract – whether for the first time, or for an upgrade. AT&T is promoting their Next program by quietly raising the activation fee from $36 to $40 on devices when customers choose the normal two-year contract – making it less attractive and the Next program, which requires no activation fee, more desirable. AT&T said in a statement:
"Customers looking for a great value can get it with AT&T Next and Mobile Share Value plans. With AT&T Next, customers can get a new device every year for $0 down, plus no activation, financing or upgrade fees. Customers choosing a 2-year contract plan will experience a four-dollar activation fee increase beginning June 8. Customers on 2-year plans choosing to upgrade to a new device will experience a four-dollar upgrade fee increase beginning June 8."
One of the AT&T spokespeople told our source that they had to raise the price due to the "administrative and other costs associated with activating or upgrading a device," but quickly added that it was only for the two-year agreements. I guess when you buy a device using their Next program, the costs associated to activate that device simply 'disappear.' Many carriers will waive the activation fee as part of a special promotion or for other reasons – it has always been sort of a 'bargaining chip,' making the customer feel like they got a better deal.
This raise to $40 make AT&T the most expensive carrier when it comes to activation fees – Verizon charges $35, but will waive it if you go into their Edge program, and Sprint charges a $36 fee and T-Mobile will activate your device with no fee if you sign up for their no-contract Simple Choice plan. It is hard to say how many customers will end up being affected by this change, since many are choosing their Next program and because of the number of times that the fee is waived. Please hook up with us on our Google+ Page and let us know if this will affect you or your decision 'Next' time you are ready for a new device…as always, we would love to hear from you.