last week on T-Mobile's upgrade fee, I check with the other major carriers to see if they subjected their long-time customers to the same thing. Though T-Mobile isn't alone in charging $18, other carriers may apply it under different circumstances.
AT&T: AT&T also charges an upgrade fee for long-time customers. This is true even if the customer is out of contract and is singing a new one with a higher monthly cost.
Sprint: As some readers pointed out on my previous blog, Sprint also charges customers off contract to upgrade from a regular phone to a smartphone. According to a carrier spokesperson, however, Sprint waives the fee if the customer orders their new handset online. If the customer buys it in a retail store or over the phone, then they will have to fork over the $18. Though it's nice to hear that Sprint waives the fee for some customers, I'd much prefer that it waive according to how long you've been with the carrier rather than from where you buy your phone. Why does Sprint even operate retail stores?
Verizon Wireless: According to a Verizon spokesperson, if a customer is off a contract and is eligible for an upgrade that person won't be subject to an upgrade fee for buying a new phone and signing a new contract.
U.S. Cellular: Ditto with U.S. Cellular. A spokesperson says that it won't charge an upgrade fee either.
If you agree with me that upgrade fees are outrageously unfair to loyal customers, then I encourage you to contact your carrier. Below you can find links to the customer service pages of the carrier Web sites. I threw in Verizon and U.S. Cellular for good measure.