Friday, August 17, 2007

Of Cell Phones and Contracts

OK, I know, it's been too long. What can I say, I can be a lazy blogger at times. The unpacking at my new place continues, and I have so far kept up with my daily goal of one box per day. That being said, I still have to hook up my stereo and hang pictures, and I still have about a dozen boxes left. But it already looks better than my old place did when I left.

I just switched mobile carriers from T-Mobile to Verizon, since my contract was up. While I never had any trouble with dropped calls with them, their customer service is another story.

As some of you know, or may have guessed, while I was very happy to get the job offer with the Rather Large Airline last year, financially, it was kind of a strain, initially. For one thing, I had to pay for my own move down here (and my stuff did get here, but the movers sucked, and overcharged me above their estimate) and for another thing, I was on a reduced pay rate while in initial training for the first few months. Also, I had to pay for my own medical insurance until the company's coverage kicked in, which even for catastrophic only coverage is NOT cheap these days.

As you also might remember, my mother was moving to a retirement place last year. That ultimately didn't work out, but in the process of trying to get her moved, I was on the phone a LOT. I had signed up for a 1000 minutes a month plan with T-Mobile (no unlimited weekend or evening minutes) and I was blowing through those a lot faster than I realized. I did some conference calls with my sisters, and those are charged double minutes, etc.

I honestly didn't keep as close of track as I should have on the minutes, but I did switch to a 1500 minutes a month plan fairly soon after I got my phone. Unfortunately, I switched on the day after the billing cycle closed. Bottom line...I had run up just over 1500 minutes of calls in the first month, with over 500 minutes at the very high "exceeded plan minutes" rate. Thus, I got my first bill from T-Mobile and was shocked to see it was for over $500.

I was rather shocked to see this amount. I called them and they explained the charges. They were unwilling to help me at all on the bill. I talked to a supervisor who was equally unwilling to help. Finally, on my third try, I got a sympathetic representative, who issued a $100 credit, if I would try a higher minutes plan. I said sure, as long as I didn't have to stay on that plan, and then switched to their minimum minutes plan (300 per month, unlimited weekends but not nights) the next day, which I stayed on until my contract ended.

I didn't have the 500+ dollars to pay that first bill, but I did make a partial payment of a little over $100. This evidently wasn't good enough for them, and they disconnected my phone the morning I was supposed to make a conference call with my sisters. I was eventually able to call them using a backup telephone I use through my internet connection (Skype) but it was very embarrassing.

I called from the T-Mobile store to discuss my bill and encountered the RUDEST customer service person I have EVER dealt with in their billing department. They gave me 30 days to pay the bill, and wouldn't reconnect the service until it was fully paid off. I ended up getting the cash from another source and paying the bill off in full the following week. When they didn't have my phone turned on within an hour of me paying the bill, I called them up and was equally rude with them in asking why my service wasn't restored yet. They turned it on shortly afterwards.

The one good thing about the T-Mobile contract was that it was only for a year. I didn't want to pay an early cancellation fee (which I had done before with Sprint) so I just wrote the day my contract expired inside my battery cover with a Sharpie. Today was that day, so goodbye, T-Mobile...I can't say as I'll miss you very much. And if I ever get any questions from them as to why I'm no longer their customer, I think I may just refer them to this blog entry.

From everything I've heard, Verizon has much better customer service and a better calling network, and our corporate discount is larger with them than it was with T-Mobile. Therefore, I'll be getting about 50% more monthly minutes for the same price, and they also have a roadside assistance option that T-Mobile didn't have. I didn't need that when I first got T-Mobile since I was still without a car, but I did use it a couple times back when I was with Sprint, and it's very nice to have when you need it.

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