I'm a AT&T customer, have been for years, since I got my first cell phone (huge honker -- remember them?). I'm currently not under contract. Recently I got a phone call making me a very nice offer if I'd re-up for two years. So, I went on line to investigate. New free phone, good; no shipping, good; and, as I started to check out and order my new new new phone, an $18.00 "Upgrade Fee." Whoa. "Why," I asked myself, "should I pay them $18.00 when I'm obligating myself to be a customer for two more years?" I decided that there was no reason, so I simply ended the transaction. Sorry AT&T, that last little grasp for my money did y'all in.
More out of curiosity than anything else, I beetled over to my local Verizon store to see what they had. Boy is that a regimented place. They have an electronic name board and they give you an incomprehensible booklet, and you get to try and understand the phone array until your sales associate notices you. First thing the guy said was, "There is a $30 sign-up fee." I told him to go no further and exited stage left, since that's where the door was. On my way out, I asked myself, you guessed it, "Why should I pay them $30 so that I can obligate myself to them for two years?"
Now, if either of those companies had said, "Welcome [your name here]. We intend to make quite a lot of money off you in the next two years, so there's no entrance fee," I'd have hopped aboard. I wonder if the phone companies have any idea at all how much business they lose because they can't resist that last gratuitous little charge?