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Verizon glitch let unlimited data customers upgrade phones

Carrier says it has fixed software issue that allowed some customers to upgrade to a subsidized device and retain their grandfathered data plans.

Roger Cheng/CNET

Verizon Wireless on Monday blamed a software glitch for allowing customers to upgrade to a subsidized handset while keeping their grandfathered unlimited data plans, despite a year-old policy change prohibiting that arrangement.

Verizon last year killed off its unlimited data offering, instead opting for a tiered pricing model and family data plans that offer customers a bucket of data. Customers already on the plan could keep it unless they upgraded to a new phone and chose the subsidized price, at which time they would be forced to give up their unlimited data for a capped plan.

However, a "software issue" at Verizon's Web site this past weekend allowed customers to upgrade to a carrier-subsidized phone while retaining their unlimited data plans. The carrier said in a statement to Droid-Life that "a number of customers" took advantage of the glitch, which it said was fixed as of today.

But customers who managed to get this deal will be allowed to keep it, Verizon said.

"Verizon Wireless will honor those orders that were approved this past weekend, allowing those customers to retain their unlimited plans for the duration of their contract and receive their new device," Verizon said in its statement. "The company no longer offers unlimited data plans and customers who want to retain existing unlimited data plans, must pay full retail price for a replacement phone."

Verizon eliminated its unlimited data plan for smartphone users in July 2012, about a year after AT&T had done the same thing. However, smaller rivals Sprint and T-Mobile still offer unlimited data options, and Sprint has even offered to guarantee its unlimited data plan for life.