It looks like the days of a free upgrade (separate from the charge of the new phone) with Verizon are now gone. According to their own website, Verizon will now charge a $30 "upgrade fee" for existing customers each time they want to upgrade to a new phone. Here's the full press release from Verizon and the source link below. Incidentally, I know you probably want to throw a brick at your screen right now, but please don't "shoot the messengers."
Thanks for the tip, Trusstopher!04/11/2012
On April 22, Verizon Wireless is implementing a $30 upgrade fee for existing customers purchasing new mobile equipment at a discounted price with a two-year contract. 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.
While the upgrade fee is not unique to Verizon Wireless, most devices can be traded in with our green friendly trade-in program at www.verizonwireless.com/tradein as a way to save money or potentially offset the fee completely.