I’m Sorry Sir, That’s Only For New Customers

For the last month or so, Verizon Wireless has been advertising the Treo 600 for $199 after instant and mail-in rebates (I’ve only seen the ad in print or else I’d link to it).  That’s a great deal considering the regular price is $350 (excuse me, $349.99).  So, last week I visited my local VZW store and the catch is, the deal is for new customers only.  Since I have been a Verizon Wireless customer for just over a year, I am not eligible for the deal.  Once I hit two years, I will be eligible for a trade-up credit toward a new phone, but that’s it.

So, my options are:

  1. Pay full price for the Treo
  2. Wait until my two-year anniversary with VZW to apply whatever credit I have “earned” toward a new device at whatever price they are charging at that time
  3. Find a great “new customer” deal with another wireless provider and switch

Option #3 sounds pretty good to me right now except that I’m locked into my two-year contract with VZW.  So, they got me for two years (to which I happily committed) and, for being such a great customer, won’t let me have the screamin’ deal they’re offering to new customers.

I realize the economics of the wireless industry is such that they offer low prices on hardware to lock you into service and it’s all based on a maximum of one great deal on hardware per customer every two years.  Trading out customers’ phones more often than that would throw things out of whack.  The problem is, now we can take our numbers with us and I’m pissed.  So, when my two years are up, am I going to get a new phone with Verizon Wireless or switch to another provider that has not yet pissed me off?  Not sure, but I’m thinking about it and that’s not something I was doing last week.

Any business model that dangles great deals in front of existing customers, but only offers them to new customers, is deeply flawed, especially considering how much more it costs to earn a new customer than keep an existing one.  In this case, rework the model to allow anyone to take advantage of these deals, require I extend my contract with them for another two-years from this point (thus locking me in as a longer-term customer every time I trade-up) and make me happy!