Kyle Seth Gray

Kyle Seth Gray's blog. Usually writing about tech, personal experience, but now leaning more towards health and fitness.

So you want to activate your own phone on Verizon

I don't know what it is about carriers, but there seems to be a job description somewhere that says “must be able to make a website that is difficult, has 20 steps, coded with inline javascript and php, and must have a 94% failure rate”. Websites all over always have some dumb loading spinner overlaid on a site, along with weird button elements that just make things difficult. These sites never like to load right, and sometimes have the dumbest plugins, like still requiring flash in 2014.

One of the simplest things ever should be adding a phone to your cell phone plan, right? After all, you’re just giving more money to your carrier. It should just be a straightforward process.


Over the past weekend, my dad upgraded his iPhone 4 to an iPhone 6 (Finally). In doing so, he still has an old, fully functional iPhone 4 that really isn’t worth much in resale value. So he wanted to give it to my little brother to just use as a normal phone. Seems relatively simple. [Note, my family is in Arizona, I’m up in Utah at the moment.]

So I go to Verizon’s online store to go through the process of adding a new phone to my family’s plan for them. First you have to hunt down the button to actually add a device. Then, after you tell it repeatedly that you don’t want to buy a new device, it brings you to a page allowing you to use an old device that was previously on the plan. Thankfully I didn’t have to enter the IMEI for the iPhone again, so points to them on that. But then come the checkout process.

First Verizon brags a few times about their awesome shipping, how it’s free, and how, if you want, you can upgrade to expedited shipping. Sure! Great! I can’t wait to ship my iPhone that’s sitting right next to me to my house. Splendid.

After this mess, Verizon wants to make sure you accessorize your phone. Do you want more charges? What about another case?

Again. We already have the phone. and a few years worth of accessories. Yet Verizon sees the need to capitalize on the fact that you’re activating a new phone to selling you more accessories for this phone.

Finally, after not really getting a hint of whether or not you’re actually getting a new phone number for this phone, they bring you to a screen that allows you to select… the first three digits (after the area code) of your phone. Why not let us select the whole number?

Then, after all these wonderful steps, you finally get to check out. Again, me and my dad are both wondering and hoping that we are actually activating this as a new phone, rather than reactivating it under my dads phone number. They barely made it clear that we actually are getting a new phone number. Regardless, we finally get to the plan screen.

“Please select which money mongering option fits best with your needs”. How about just add it to the plan? There’s no need for more data, we don’t need a weird plan. And why am I paying $40 for access to the data plan? Seems like an arbitrary number.

Then the kicker: “Your total, for activating your phone that has been activated before, used our network before, and isn’t even being transferred from a different carrier or account: $35 for activation fee.”

How is this kind of crap still going on? Why is there an activation fee? Especially when the phone didn’t even activate for another 2ish hours? You’d think that a fee for activating would at least speed up the process.

I wish I had taken some screenshots throughout this whole process, but it’s just laughable how complicated this has gotten, and how much money the carrier is simply taking from you because they can. Sure, yes, they have huge infrastructure to maintain and a lot of that isn’t cheap at all. But there should simply be a three step process to activating a new phone:

  1. Choose the Phone you want to activate/Enter the IMEI
  2. Choose your data plan.
  3. Choose your new phone number.

Voila! You have a new phone. Here’s an explanation of what you ordered, in plain terms, and when you should expect your phone to be activated.

Is it that hard Verizon?

Extra bonus: my notes when I thought "I should write about how terrible this is."
Verizon Notes

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