Ouch! Verizon pulls free LTE for Chromebook Pixel one year early

About 14 months ago, Google(s goog) started selling the Chromebook Pixel. The flagship laptop cost $1,299 for a Wi-Fi model or you can get one with integrated Verizon(s vz) LTE for $150 more. I opted for the latter, partially because Verizon was also throwing in 100 MB of free LTE service each month for two years. But somehow, the carrier thinks one year really equals two years.

As JR Raphael reported on Monday at Computerworld, Verizon is only honoring the free LTE offer for the first 12 months of Pixel ownership. I didn’t even realize the free service had stopped but Verizon told Raphael the enforcement of this policy started in April, which is one year after the Pixel with LTE was first introduced. I don’t recall any notice being sent informing customers of the change. Then again, Verizon appears to think this isn’t a change at all based on Rafael’s chat with Verizon customer service:

“Verizon is telling customers that as far as it’s concerned, the plans were valid only for one year — and that’s why those initiated last spring are now expiring. I called the carrier’s customer service line and, after holding for 15 minutes and then talking in circles to an agent for another 10, was able to get through to a supervisor. That person politely told me he wasn’t aware of any two-year commitment and that — despite my pointing out official documentation to the contrary — there was nothing he could do to help me. “

I actually thought the LTE deal was good for three years, the same deal as the 1 TB of free Google Drive storage that comes with every Pixel purchase. I verified my storage expiration date — it’s April 2016. And Raphael has evidence showing the free LTE service was supposed to be valid for three years as well although some internet cache sites show it to be two years. Either way, none of the evidence says one year.


Frankly, 100 MB of LTE service isn’t much, but that’s not really the point. It’s enough to use in an emergency situation for a quick web search, email check or to handle some brief online issue; I’ve used the free service to edit or make corrections on blog posts, for example. The bigger issue here is Verizon reneging on a deal that may have had some influence on purchase decisions. It’s the same type of benefit, for example, that got me to buy an LTE version of Apple’s (s aapl) iPad Air: T-Mobile(s tmus) offers 200 MB of free data each month. And when I need more, I can purchase it. I took the same approach with the Pixel.

Unfortunately, I’m doubtful that Verizon will see the common sense behind reinstating the free offer for Pixel owners. Android Police scoured the Google Product Forums and found this entry from Joe Ellet:

“That was Verizon’s unilateral decision with no advance notice and no discussion with Google, HP or anyone else. You can contact Verizon but you’ll get the same answer they’ve given to thousands of people before you, which is basically “pay up”. Now that Verizon has reneged on their deal the only thing I can hope is that someone will be able to unlock the 3G and 4G radios so people can go elsewhere, but don’t hold your breath on that.”

Verizon should do the right thing here and honor the original agreement made to Chromebook Pixel owners. I still think it was supposed to be three years but at this point, I think people would be happy if they were met in the middle and given 100 MB of free LTE for two years.