Verizon Wireless, the nation’s biggest carrier, announced today that it will begin charging a $30 device upgrade fee beginning April 22. It will be applicable to existing customers purchasing new mobile equipment at a discounted price with a two-year contract.

With AT&T and Sprint having both been charging an upgrade fee for awhile now, today’s news means that now all major wireless operators in the United States are imposing a fee on customers upgrading to new devices.

Call me stupid, but shouldn’t it be the other way around? Shouldn’t my carrier incentivize me to sign on the dotted line rather than take my cash just because I agreed to buy a new iPhone and pledge myself to a lengthy (and often) pricey service contract?

If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck, looks like a duck and acts like a duck – there’s no reason not to call it by its real name.

If you ask Verizon, they’re doing it for your benefit:

This fee will help us continue to provide customers with the level of service and support they have come to expect which includes Wireless Workshops, online educational tools, and consultations with experts who provide advice and guidance on devices that are more sophisticated than ever.

If this is any consolation, the carrier says folks can take advantage of their green friendly trade-in program as a way to save money or potentially offset the fee completely.

Interesting enough, Basking Ridge, New Jersey-headquartered Verizon was quick to point out that “the upgrade fee is not unique to Verizon Wireless”.

True that!

While it’s understandable there are some costs related to paperwork associated with creating a new account and service contract, it’s hard not to suspect such a flawed reasoning.

Put simply, it stinks – and badly, too.

Why else on Earth would both Sprint and AT&T double the upgrade fee from $18 to $36 last September and February, respectively?

Yeah, it was such a rip off!

What’s an upgrade fee to you? Do you think it’s justifiable?

Vent your frustration down in the comments.