Monday prediction: VoIP will adopt cell's long-term contract, high termination fee model

Over the weekend, I went to the local computer store and happened by the cell phone section.I saw a new phone I wanted badly, but then I thought of that dang two-year service plan I am on with my current provider.

Over the weekend, I went to the local computer store and happened by the cell phone section.

I saw a new phone I wanted badly, but then I thought of that dang two-year service plan I am on with my current provider. In my fevered brain, I started "ka-chinging" the relative cost of leaving my plan early vs. paying on two cell plans just so I could have this cool new phone with so many more camera capabilities than my existing model.

That got me to thinking: how long before VoIP providers start making you sign choke-hold two year service contracts, and penalize you severely for wanting to pull out early?

Technology marketing is rife with incidents of consumer-friendly campaigns and plans that are extremely flexible at first. Then, as the subscriber base builds up, the hubris-driven fine print gets inserted into the monthly bill or mailer. Friendly-to-fine-print seldom works in the other direction.

Once some of these VoIP services attain a critical mass of subscribers, it will become standard practice to lock these subscribers down with long-term contracts and hefty termination fees. It's worked for the cell industry, and that effectiveness will surely be noticed by VoIP providers. If it hasn't been already.

That's not the way you build loyalty, though. Yea, I know pricey termination fees can be defended as churn-control strategies, but creeping fine print does not ensure loyalty. Compliance and loyalty are two different things.

What do you think? Would you sign up for a VoIP service plan if they charged you out the wazoo for a divorce? Post a TalkBack and let us know what you think.

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