It was cyber monday, 2013, and I saw a deal that was too good to resist. After touting around my HTC One S for over a year or so, it was time for a new phone. The awesome LG G2 for Verizon popped up on my radar, for only $0.01 with a new two-year contract on Verizon. No activation fee, nada. Within a few days, I was enjoying my shiny new G2 on Verizon’s amazing 4G network. I was set, and super excited to see my Instagram game shoot up thanks to the G2’s camera.
Before I switched to Verizon, I had been a loyal T-Mobile customer for years. Their service was not so great until recently, but their pre-paid plans were amazing. In San Francisco, T-Mobile’s 4G LTE was above par, but upon a move to Portland, OR I began to have issues with T-Mobile. I wasn’t able to receive calls in my apartment, and texts would sometimes arrive late or not at all. I put up with it for a while, but once I saw the LG G2 on Verizon for next to nothing, I jumped at it.
Life was good, until John Legere announced T-Mobile’s Uncarrier 4.0 moves and I considered switching to T-Mobile. T-Mo would pay off my ETF if I switched, and give me credit if I traded in my new phone. Yes! I was in. Even though I was happy with Verizon, the $100 plus phone bill was a bit much for me. I decided to look into it.
And what I found out shocked me. If I bailed out of my new contract, I would be charged $400 from Amazon as well as the $350 ETF from Verizon. Here’s the proof, directly from Amazon:
The following are some scenarios where we may determine that you have not maintained your service and have not met the requirements listed above:
- If your device with the carrier is not activated per Amazon’s activation instructions within 14 days
- If your service is canceled/disconnected before 181 days and you do not return the device(s) to Amazon
- If a new individual or new family account is merged with or replaces a pre-existing account
- If you transfer this equipment to another carrier’s service or to another line in your family account and deactivate the line that Amazon established for your device
By accepting this Instant Discount Policy, you agree to repay $400 per smart phone or tablet and $200 per other device if you do not maintain your carrier service for 181 consecutive days from the service activation date. You also authorize us to collect that amount using any credit card we have on record for you. Amazon can periodically check your account status with the carrier to confirm your line of service is active and in good standing and thereby confirm you are in compliance with this policy.
(Click here for Amazon’s full cell phone policies)
That’s when I discovered that upon purchase of the LG G2, I agreed to allow Amazon to charge me $400 if I cancelled my contract within 180 days of activation. WTF? That’s two ETF’s…one from Amazon and one from Verizon. Looks like I’m not switching, at least for another four months or so.
Needless to say, I should have read the fine print, I know. I had no idea that Amazon would have some sort of stipulation on the purchase of the G2. But they did, and a big one at that.
So, if I hadn’t found this out and went ahead and switched to T-Mobile, Amazon would have instantly charged me $400 on the card that I purchased the device with. That would have come out of nowhere, and a hit like that isn’t cheap. I know it’s the customers responsibility to check the fine print in any deal, but this one seems more than a little shady. I hope you can feel the intensity of my stink eye, Amazon.
I may still switch to T-Mobile after my 180 days in purgatory are up, especially if the network keeps expanding their 4G coverage as intensely as they have in the last year or so. But I will undoubtedly get less for my phone, and have to pay my ridiculous Verizon bill in the meantime.
Be careful when buying from Amazon, folks. And Amazon, shame on you.