Verizon offers customers 'Take Me Home' device and service testing in Midwest

For around a year now Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) has quietly been offering prospective customers in the Midwest the opportunity to take home a Verizon device and test it for a week to see if they like the carrier's coverage and services. The offering is very similar to T-Mobile US' (NYSE:TMUS) recently launched Test Drive offering, which allows customers across the country to take home an iPhone 5s with T-Mobile service for seven days.

Verizon confirmed the existence of the program to FierceWireless. The carrier said the offering has been available for around one year in locations in the Midwest including Kansas and Missouri, and until recently the carrier allowed customers to take home a phone or a data device like a mobile hotspot. However, Verizon spokeswoman Laura Merritt said the carrier recently stopped offering phones as part of the trial service and now only offers data devices like the Verizon Jetpack mobile hotspot.

"This was not a promotion of sorts (wasn't advertised) but more of an opportunity offered to customers in certain areas," she wrote in response to questions from FierceWireless. "Want to reiterate this is very specific to the Kansas/Missouri region and is not a national initiative."

Like T-Mobile's Test Drive offering, users unsatisfied with Verizon's service could return the device and not incur any charges for the service or device.

Although Verizon's offering is only available in select markets, it nonetheless indicates a continued push by the nation's wireless carriers to drive interest in their services by any means necessary, including offering customers the opportunity to test their respective networks for free.

Although Verizon's Merritt didn't offer many details about the service, a source familiar with Verizon's offering said the program is called "Take Me Home" and previously supported phones including the Samsung Galaxy S3 and BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) phones. The source said the program is an attempt by Verizon to prove that its coverage is better in rural areas than its competitors.

T-Mobile in June announced its iPhone Test Drive program, which the carrier said allows customers to "cheat on their carrier." Users can obtain an iPhone 5s with T-Mobile service for seven days, and return the gadget to a T-Mobile store without incurring any charges.

Shortly after T-Mobile's Test Drive announcement, Sprint (NYSE: S) reinstated a 30-day satisfaction guarantee that it discontinued in 2011. Under Sprint's new 30-day program, the carrier is promising a "risk-free experience of Sprint's improved network, exclusive Framily plan, and unique services." The carrier said that if customers aren't satisfied, Sprint will refund the cost of their device and waive all service and activation charges. The program is largely the same as the "Free Guarantee" program that Sprint launched in 2010, which refunded the cost of a user's device and service if they weren't satisfied with the carrier's offerings.

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