I went to a Verizon store to pick up a new iPad today. As I was checking out he asks which data plan I want. I said none, I'll get data later. He says you can't buy it without signing up for a data plan for at least one month. I said OK, I'll get the cheapest plan and cancel if I don't want to keep using it after a month. Then his says there is a $35 activation fee that applies each time I activate it, so I would be better off keeping it activated all the time. I said I don't want it then and walked out.
I went to Best Buy and the salesmen there were confused about the data plans when I told them the Verizon store wanted a $35 activation fee and mandatory data plan for purchase. They said maybe you have to get a data plan if you buy from Verizon, but you can buy without a plan here and they would check if there was an activation fee for the plan later. After a couple minutes the guy said he checked on it there is a $35 activation fee on Verizon iPads, but not AT&T. I wanted the faster 4G LTE and included hotspot from Verizon, but decided that paying $35 every time I activated wouldn't be worth it so I bought an AT&t iPad. When I went home, I read the Verizon web site and it clearly says there are no activation fees on iPad plans (prepaid plans most people use). Only the post-paid plans that make sense for few people have activation fees.
So, I drove back to Best Buy again and exchanged the AT&T iPad for a Verizon. Luckily these stores still had stock left for the model I wanted this late in the day.
The Best Buy employee should have done a better job checking the plans before saying they "verified" the $35 activation fee, but the Verizon company store was outrageous since they are employees that sell nothing but Verizon hardware and plans and was giving out misinformation even after I told him that doesn't sound correct to me at all in order to collect a commission for signing me up on the post paid data plan. I would have wasted a credit inquiry on my credit report and may have even been committed to a contract if I had signed up like the other customers in that Verizon store must have been doing.