Cell phone contracts are as complicated as differential equations. I found this out the hard way by losing a bet with Jenna about our family plan. For two years I have prevented Susan or Jenna from using the upgrade (which extends the contract by 2 years) for their new Verizon phone acquisitions. My idea was to investigate the networks and pricing with the intent of moving to the iphone (and also hoping the iphone would be announced for the Verizon network) and avoid any contract penalty.
Jenna's phone LG Chocolate fried apparently from a short in the plug while visiting relatives. She is on the war path for a new LG phone and hounding me about using her Verizon upgrade. That forced me into the analysis (since I have procrastinated two years).
Now I discover the details behind the scam price listed on the phone in a Verizon store. Here is the nomenclature:
(1) Retail Price (the price you should never pay) (2) Upgrade Price (this is the price to suck you into another two years) And you get an upgrade every 24 months which varies for each phone based on the anniversary date of using the last upgrade). Penalty for leaving early is $175 to $350. (3) Mail in Rebate - Usually $50 - $100 depending on the phone. If purchased over the internet or Sams Club it is instantly applied (4) Free phone or up to $100 Credit for Primary Account User - This credit regenerates every 12-24 months. (as you can tell I still don't understand this one). Using the credit also extends the contract for 2 years but only on the primary phone. The rep might get talked into"transferring" this credit over to another phone but both phones would reset the anniversary date.
Add to this different plans - Voice, Text, Data, Roaming, and you have a multivariate equation with a complete guessing game on drop calls, 4G roll out etc.
One blog site comparing the HTC EVO with the Droid and the iPhone calculated the cost of two year ownership that ranged from $3,200 to $3,500. This almost exceeded the cost of my first car (which lasted me 10 years).
What's the solution? Find a person (geek) who has graduated with a PHD in Cell phone technology and follow them.