Is Verizon Wireless Using Bait & Switch Tactics? A true-life exposé!

Print Friendly

My husband and I have been Verizon Wireless customers for over 5 years. We’re not the type of people who clamor to have the newest phones but we do use Smartphones to keep in contact with our family and to support the various online activities we pursue. We don’t need to have the newest phones but we do need reliable service and an internet-connected phone.

We currently have three smartphones (each is an iPhone 4s) and a standard phone on our plan. Jason and I have been eligible for an upgrade for about a year but hadn’t used it. When we found out Verizon was offering a free iPhone 6 in exchange for trading in a 4s we decided to go that route.

But it didn’t work out. Why? Because it turns out you have to order mailing materials to trade in the 4s (which you have to do by 10/15, by the way, and good luck finding the link to do so on their website! In the event you want the link it’s and then you have to order the 6 model you want. As of 10/14/2014 our local store told us delivery would be 10/31. You need to pay the upgrade price for the new phones ($220 each, $200 for the phone and $20 upgrade and set-up fee) and then you have until Dec. 31, 2014 to exchange the old phone. If the old phone is in pristine condition you’ll get a $200 Verizon gift card in the mail 4-6 weeks later. If the old phone has any damage you’ll get a gift card for $10-85 4-6 weeks later.

OK, but that isn’t what this story is about.


No, see, when we realized the “free” phones would cost us $440 up front with only a potential of $400 being refunded we decided to upgrade to something else. So, naturally we hopped over to the Verizon Wireless website.

After browsing for a bit we decided to use our upgrades on two iPhone 5 16 gb models (not 5s, not 5c, just plain old 5). They were listed as $.99 for factory recertified models. Great! That’s the price we wanted and a model that is acceptable for our needs.

So I logged into our account and looked for the phone to add it to my cart, it was nowhere to be found. I could see a 5c and a 5s, but no $.99 5. I opened a chat window with a customer service rep, I should have saved the conversation but I didn’t. Her name started with an N and was unique.

Anyhow, so the conversation went a little like this:

me: I saw an iphone 5 for $.99 on the website and I want to order two but I can’t find them

her: we no longer sell that model

me: It was on your website 10 minutes ago

her: we do sell the iPhone 5, it’s $29.99, but we’re sold out. Here is a link to the product.

me: 10 minutes ago it was available and only $.99

her: prices are subject to change at any time

me: seriously? in 10 minutes on a Monday evening? Forget it. I’ll explore other options.

her: I understand your frustration. Have a nice evening. Please fill out the customer service satisfaction survey.

In my frustration I logged out of my account, I imagined myself slamming down the telephone receiver as I did so.

And look what I saw…

(fyi, the screenshots below are from 10/15/14, a day after my initial conversation with Verizon. I didnt take screenshots at the time but I was able to recreate the entire experience a day later! Click to enlarge)


Hot darn, there is the phone I want. It’s available for me to put in my cart and it’s $.99

So I logged in again and look:
Viola, the phone is no longer available for me to purchase.


So did I manage to order the iPhone 5 for $.99? You bet I did.


I logged out of my account and refreshed the page. I found the phone and added two to my cart. I was then prompted to log in, which I did, and then I was able to assign each phone to an available upgrade.

The phones were shipped this morning and should be in my hands tomorrow.

You know, in all our years as a customer I’ve defended Verizon from the haters. We’ve never had a dropped call, we’ve always had service, they let us hang onto our unlimited data for years after they did away with it, and the price has always been comparable (better, actually) than other providers.

I was so disappointed when I realized that Verizon was using this awful bait & switch technique. I have stayed a Verizon Wireless customer for the reasons mentioned above, and because I was able to get the phone I wanted for the price I wanted…but I wanted to let the entire world know what I experienced so they don’t fall prey to the same tactic.

Verizon’s reply made no sense…

I was not asked to input a zip code. The phone was available unless I was logged in. I was able to order the phone by putting it into my cart before logging in.

Regardless, now that I have let the internet world know what to look for I can rest. And enjoy my new phone when it arrives!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

3 thoughts on “Is Verizon Wireless Using Bait & Switch Tactics? A true-life exposé!

  • Donita

    I am also a long time verizon wireless customer. I, like you, have stayed because I can almost always get service and don’t deal with dropped calls. I have been frustrated in. The past with their prices when trying to upgrade. I can never seem to find the “good deals” thru their website. Perhaps this is why? I have instead started upgraded at Target when they offer a sale on the iPhone. I will keep my eye out for this tactic in the future.

  • Nathan

    They are definitely using bait and switch tactics. This was my experience:
    Please hold for a Support Representative to assist you.

    Thank you for contacting Verizon Wireless.
    Your Chat Session ID is RT15585566113.

    My name is Brooke, how may I assist you?

    Nathan: Hello, the monthly amount on my bill is still wrong.

    Brooke: Hello Nathan! I am sorry to here you are having billing issues. May I ask what’s wrong?

    Nathan: When I upgraded, it promised the same monthly billing of $94.83. I contacted a rep when it was 126.41 and they promised to correct it. It is still listing 101.41 so they did not properly fix it. I have had this problem before that I had to keep chasing the promised amount each month. I hope it is not just common for Verizon to practice bait and switch and hope people get tired of fighting and pay it.

    Brooke: I apologize for the run around and unpromised fixes to your bill. Allow me a moment to look into your account and see and how we can’t get this resolved for you today.

    Nathan: Thank you.

    Brooke: You’re welcome
    smile emoticon

    Brooke: I see the bill is looking higher than expected because you know have a edge agreement which adds the monthly equipment to your bill every month. Allow me a moment to manually calculate everything for your bill.

    Nathan: When I agreed to this upgrade it was made a big deal by Verizon that this is my existing monthly and amount and the new monthly amount will be exactly the same.

    Brooke: The correct total should be $104.16 before taxes.

    Nathan: If that is not the case then this is called “bait and switch” and is illegal.

    Brooke: Your line access fee is $40.00 + your plan $50.00+ the 29.16 for the equipment= $119.16 – the $15.00 discount = $104.16

    Nathan: Through the whole process it listed that the monthly amount will stay the same… stay the same… stay the same. Only now is it suddenly more.

    Brooke: The monthly amount is the same its the equipment agreement you have that made the bill higher.

    Nathan: The discount is listed as $25.00, though that really does not matter since how it gets there is moot.

    Nathan: And the promise was that the bill will be the same AFTER the upgrade. So the idea that new equipment is causing an increase is also moot.

    Brooke: Your plan is under 6GB so its $15.00 plans that are 6GB and higher get the $25 discount.

    Nathan: Sounds like a different discount, but again: the promise throughout the upgrade process and the hook to get me to do it was “your bill now will be the same as your bill then”.

    Brooke: I can understand the frustration of being told the wrong information. Allow me a moment to see if I can save you any additonal money on your plan. I would be frustrated if I was promised the same price and not expecting a bill increase.

    Nathan: It is not just frustration at wrong information. It is refusal to allow unethical and illegal business practices when a company enters an agreement then attempts to renegotiate terms after that agreement is finalized and depend on the inconvenience as leverage. This is what bait and switch means. It is illegal and punishable in the United States where the contract exists and all 50 states have agencies to protect against it. Agencies I will be in contact with depending upon the results of our chat.

    Brooke: I see a single line plan for $60.00 with unlimited talk and text with 2gb of data and I also see a free offer of 2gb of promotional data for a year. If you go with the single line plan it will $60.00 plus the $29.16 for the equipment which will be $89.16- the $15 discount which will bring your bill down to 74.16 before taxes.

    Brooke: You will the same 4GB that you have now and pay less

    Nathan: That would be counter to the agreement made, which is for 2yrs. I prefer to stick to the original agreement rather than agree to something now out of duress caused by this bait and switch practice.

    Brooke: The agreement is for the equipment only not the plan.

    Nathan: The agreement was complete and involved all components. I will use the time it takes for you to contact someone able to fix this to contact the FCC and state agencies to file my reports. I prefer this not end in court so please contact someone able to rectify it and return it to the exact terms promised in the agreement. They may now also offer a credit for my time spent dealing with this unethical practice.

    Brooke: One moment please.

    Brooke: So to be clear you are saying your agreement was to have a bill of $94.83 with the equipment charge added?

    Brooke: I saw where you were give a $25.00 credit for the Edge discount that was not applied even though your plan has the$15.00 discount.

    Nathan: The agreement was for the upgrade and the monthly billing to remain exactly the same amount including all components. This was the hook and was stressed repeatedly that the billing will remain exactly the same. There was also an option not to upgrade and reduce my bill, which I did not select.

    Brooke: I understand. What I don’t understand is why and how the promised you the same pricing plan that you were paying before the monthly equipment charge was added. I apologize for the delay I am looking into what can be don’t because the charges for what you have are correct. $90 for the plan plus the equipment. Allow me a moment to have my supervisor to take a look.

    Nathan: Please do. I completed my FCC filing. I am working on the state and local agencies.

    Brooke: ok

    Brooke: Working on it now.

    Nathan: FCC Ticket No. 243810 for future reference.

    Nathan: The offer was explicitly clear.

    Brooke: There was a misunderstanding as to what the agreement was. When adding a monthly equipment charge that is almost 30 dollars a month there is no way the amount of your plan would stay the same. The data plan of $50.00 is what remains the same. It also looks like your were misquoted on the discount for having the edge because it is $15.00 not $25.00 which is why the bill is 10.00 more that what you were quoated would be the same.

    Nathan: Then we have a serious problem since the promise is clear, the agreement already active and the product in my possession. I guess I can find another carrier and drop the phone at a local verizon kiosk or shop, but since the contract is not being fullfilled I expect all billing associated with it to also be voided.

    Brooke: The signed agreement states you agree to pay $29.16 over the next 24 months which is added to your monthly phone bill.

    Nathan: An agreement to which Verizon is in violation of the terms.

    Nathan: I really ought to sue in small claims and reserve the right to do so, but this is so frustrating I would rather just walk away and post all my correspondence online as a warning to others.

    Brooke: Some one gave you the wrong information about the correct discount you were suppose to get. With the $25.00 discount your plan would have been the same price.

    Nathan: Someone gave that information in writing.

    Brooke: But because you have a plan lower than 6GB the discount for those plans are 415.00 and not $25.00 and that is why the bill is showing $10.00 more.

    Nathan: And they also provided that information a second time on the agreement screen when I accepted this deal.

    Nathan: I have no idea why Verizon would want to stick to their guns on changing that agreement which is in writing and so easily provided other than unethical practices being so ingrained they actually teach that this is how business is conducted?

    Nathan: Either way, I have absolute confidence Verizon has no leg to stand on when this complaint or any additional action comes to fruition down the road.

    Brooke: I am trying to review the documents for you to see if they can have the dicount change to the $25 they told you it be due to the mistake on the agents behalf of giving you the incorrect discount

    Nathan: It was done online from a link in an offer, not a physical agent. That of course does nothing to lessen the binding agreement. Each step is documented either way and very clear.

    Brooke: We certainly understand all of the confusion on the discount offered. In all the documents I show the $15.00 dollars off. I have been reviewing plans to get you close to the amount you need to pay to get you to that 94 a month would be lowering you to the 2Gb plan and adding 2 free gb of data so you still get your full 4Gb of data.

    Nathan: The offer clearly states that this is for the same 4GB plan previously in effect as well. So it is not that a 6GB plan was required. Not in the agreements I accepted and for which Verizon innitiated the offer.

    Nathan: I have effectively the exact same offer from another carrier now, so I prefer to void all the contracts and walk away rather than agree to some sort of bait and switch.

    Brooke: All the contracts shown on your account clearly state the 4gb plan and a $15.00 discount for the plan. for the equipment upgrade on in March.

    Brooke: I apologize that the all was dropped on the understanding of your aggreement.

    Nathan: If Verizon does not want to honor their written agreements I prefer not to deal with them. Like I said; however, if the contract is voided so are any associated charges. I will agree to drop off the phone, but I will not pay to let Verizon out of their contract just because they want to bait and switch.

    Brooke: The written agreements shown on the account say $15 and not $25.00. May I ask where in your documents do you see that you would be recieving a $25.00 discount?

    Nathan: I have the agreement. I was just looking at it. You have no leg to stand on here. This is clear cut bait and switch.

    Nathan: After my last experience which was supposedly a “fluke” I took screenshots of all the agreements online throughout the process and their is the original offer to upgrade at the same monthly bill or get a discount with my existing phone.

    Nathan: *there

    Nathan: Like I said, Verizon has no leg to stand on and while they may be able to hold me to the original agreement and not let me walk away as I would now prefer, they have zero chance of overbilling me or using this bait and switch tactic to fruition. Either way I am sticking by my compaints now. Verizon has wasted hours of my time at this point and I hope the FCC lands an enormous fine on them wether I am stuck or not.

    Brooke: I completely understand your concern, although when upgrading with Edge your are given an estimate of what your new monthly will look like as well as a letter sent to you in the mail of what your payments would be monthly. When upgrading is down online, you are aware of the changes that will be made to your monthly.

    Nathan: Yes, I am aware, because it is all here in writing. That is what made me aware. That is the “bait” part of this bait and switch.

    Nathan: The offers you are making that are not in line with the original… those are the “switch” part.

    Nathan: I hope that resolves any confusion on your part and I understand Verizon’s frustration at having been called out on unethical and illegal business practices. I am sorry if someone provided them incorrect information that led them to believe this type of action was legal or acceptable and that they lack the moral compass to determine that for themselves, but it changes nothing.

    There may be a problem communicating with Brooke. Please wait while your chat is transferred to another Chat Representative.

    Thank you for contacting Verizon Wireless.
    Your Chat Session ID is RT15585566113.

    My name is Rizzy, how may I assist you?

    Nathan: I suspect I was just hung up on.

  • steve rea

    I had an experience with Verizon that I would also consider bat and switch. After living out my 2 year contract I went online to get a new phone with a new 2 year contract. Then after picking out and phone and getting all the way through the check out process I see they’ve tacked on an “upgrade fee” of $40. This is like picking something off the shelf at a store that is marked $50 and then getting to the cash register and the clerk tells you oh it’s $50 plus a $40 fee for actually making the purchase. Classic bait an switch. This is an illegal practice at any brick and mortar store.