If you are planning on getting a data phone such as a Blackberry or others, you can’t afford to miss this information.

Starting June 1, 2009 at least one service provider will require a data plan be placed on the account for the life of the contract agreement. This means that even if you loose the phone and purchase a non-data device as a replacement, the feature must remain. Removing the feature before the agreement is satisfied will cause a breach of contract, the number will be canceled and any early termination fees will be applied. Prior to June 1, 2009, you can remove or add the data feature at will with no changes to your agreement. Data features can range anywhere from $20 to $40 in addition to your rate plan’s monthly fees.

Let me explain a little more because this can be confusing.

Let’s say you get a Blackberry phone on or after June 1, 2009. As part of the agreement you have to have the data feature. Two weeks later you loose the phone and do not have insurance. Since you are not eligible to get a discounted upgrade you buy a non-data device from somewhere at full price which means you are still bound by the original contract agreement. Since it is not a data device, the feature on the account is useless so you call to have it removed. You will be informed that removing the data feature from the account will cause a breach of contract and cancellation of the line with early termination fees.

There are options though. If you get a data phone on or after June 1, 2009 and you elect to pay full price for the phone (For a Blackberry it can be as much as $500), you will not be bound to a contract and will be able to add and remove the feature at will.

Similarly, if you upgrade your phone and choose a non-data device as the new phone, you will then agree to a new contract but since the device is a non-data phone, the feature will not be required.

This has come about because service providers have discovered that people are buying data phones at a discount and agreeing to contracts, but they are not adding the data feature for the extra costs. This is causing a huge loss of revenue. The logic the providers use is “We are requiring the data feature be applied because we want to ensure our customers get the most out of the device as possible.”

One more thing before I complete this post. If you have Family Unlimited Messaging on your account for $19.95, DO NOT remove it. Any family messaging added after June 1, 2009 will be $24.99. Also, keep an eye out for a family (shared) data feature sometime in the near future.

If you have any questions please leave me a comment!