Thursday, March 21, 2013

Fool me infinity (or how I learned to stop worrying and just pay) - Part 4 - Where I am now

Hi all,

The end of the series is here, and thank you so much for bearing with me while I get this off my chest.  I don't feel as strongly about it as I did on Monday, so this has achieved wonders, in my eyes.

My old wireless provider billed in advance for services, so when I got a bill stating that I owed for services in February, I thought, "HA! that didn't happen!" and vowed to wait for the next bill, knowing as I do that computers are hard to interrupt. Silly me.

The next bill came adding $11 to the original, and that was followed up by some phone calls advising that I would be sent to collections if I didn't pay.

What I didn't read, and should have acted on, was when you port away from this wireless carrier (I don't believe one is any different than the other in this way), there is a 30 day penalty. My wireless plan was $100 a month ($115 after taxes), so my penalty was high.  If I had read this, I would have reduced my services the day before the port, and paid less of a penalty.

I railed at my carrier about this discrepancy for a long time, getting mis-information, and frustration abound, and eventually came to the conclusion that it's not worth it, I'm just going to pay and be done with it.

Question time:

1 - Are there any positive experiences that you've had with a wireless carrier?  I don't count "it just works" as positive, just neutral.

2  -Do you have any tricks that come in handy to get what you'd like out of wireless carriers?  I can supplement my non-existant bag of tricks with your tricks.

Thank you again for bearing with me!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Fool me infinity (or how I learned to stop worrying and just pay) - Part 3

Hi all,

In June of 2012, when I decided to part ways with my loving company, I found myself in the market for a mobile phone line again. Luckily, I had this "emergency phone" stashed in my glove box, complete with a SIM card that would save me a whopping $10, and some credited air time.

At least, that's what I thought.

I'm totally guilty of not reading stuff, and when I got my last bill from the wireless company showing me what was cool about pay-as-you-go, I tossed it. I wasn't planning on using my emergency phone, so why should I care what it was about, right?

Turns out that the airtime you buy expires. No biggie, I started back into the world of wireless with a clean fresh slate - no contract, and high hopes to live in a world without data.

I got to work with my contract (read all about that here - it's been non-sarcastically great), I started to shake with the amount of no data access I had. No WiFi to power my fancy PlayBook, no computer to sit at outside the lunchroom (this would be rectified quickly), I felt cut off.

I hastily called my provider, and asked them how much it would be to add the lowest amount of data possible to my plan.  Like a junkie, I raised it twice more, and I was happy.

In early 2013, a firm date was announced for the new BlackBerry Z10 smartphone, and my lust went into overdrive. I wanted one, but to get one at a reasonable price meant signing a contract with a provider. My wife has an iPhone, and her indentured servitude with her alternative wireless provider (not the same as mine - importantly) was nearing a close. I asked her if I could do her the dis-service of giving her my contract if I were to get picked up full-time, and got a work phone again. She agreed because she's the best. I clarified that it could mean her contract not ending for a long time, but she was still cool with it. I signed the pre-order papers, and was a happy dude.

February 5th came, and I walked into buy my new Smartphone, and port my number away from wireless carrier 1. I honestly didn't think that much about the switch - I knew that it was possible to do the port, and that there may be repercussions, but I was invincible. I steamrolled ahead, and when the nice sales associate called my current wireless provider to do the port for me, and it went through, my happiness was maintained.

I admit, that I should have read the fine print, but I didn't.

Leading us to part 4, and the present...

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fool me infinity (or how I learned to stop worrying and just pay) - Part 2

Hi all,

In October of 2011, I was brought back into the warm and wonderful folds of my previous employer, and with that lavishness came a company phone again.

Not needing a personal line anymore, I was very glad that I hadn't signed up for a contract that I'd have to pay out. I thought I'd be able to walk away financially unscathed.

I called my carrier to cancel my service, did the whole "It's not you, it's me" thing (which was very true), and then I was presented with an excellent option, or so I thought.  Instead of cancelling the account outright, I could convert it into a Pay-as-you-go plan, and with the credit I was due, buy some airtime, and keep the phone for emergencies.  I loved the sound of it, and it looked like no one would be hurt.

The next month, I was surprised to get a mobile phone bill, and even more surprised that it had an amount owing on it, similar to what I had seen in previous months. Hmmmm.

I called the nice folks back to see what happened - turned out they hadn't made the change at all, but there were luckily notes saying that this was what I wanted to do.  I was told they would make the switch, but there would be another bad bill coming in the meantime.  I was cool with that, although confused, so I let it slide.  Computers are hard to interrupt.

2 months passed, and I got not only a bad bill (as promised), but another bill with the charge now doubled. Hmmmm.  Another call found that the change hadn't gone through again, but this time, they were able to take care of the whole thing, and backdate my account for 3 months, give me my credit, apply it to pay-as-you-go, and away I went. Awesome.  I was free.

Just like Michael Corleone (at least in my mind), just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in.

Read part 3 to find out how!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fool me infinity (or how I learned to stop worrying and just pay) - Part 1

Hi all!

I did a bad thing when I chose my wireless service provider.  That has changed, but I can't quite get the monkey off my back.  The choices I made were bad, but the main thing I want to emphasize is that I knew what I was doing, and still had trouble.  I feel terrible for those who don't know, and are being fleeced constantly.

My story is one of millions, and we're all very excited to tell it.  From my experience, there are no good service providers, just lucky people who get a neutral experience.

Here's the beginning of my story:

When I was downsized in July of 2011, my first concern was "Where do I get phone service?"

The answer to this really REALLY important question was the quick and easy path. I should have known that this would lead to the dark side, but I wasn't ready for star wars imagery.

I technically could have gone with any carrier. I had leftover phones that would work with any of them, but I made a quick reaction, and went into the store to get my SIM card.

That process was easy, and the sales staff were awesome.  It was also the last good experience I had with them.

My first obstacle was getting daytime minutes.  I needed to make calls, do interviews, and not worry about minutes.  I remembered WiFi calling, and even though people hadn't talked about it in a while, that it fit my situation quite nicely. The general gist is that while you're connected to WiFi, you can make calls over WiFi, and those calls don't affect your cellular minutes. Helps for people who live in the boonies, and want to make and receive calls, but don't have cell service everywhere.

I called the good folks at wireless carrier R to get hooked up with some WiFi action, and although it still existed, they hadn't been talking about it in a while either.  Thankfully, calls to them were not included in my minutes, otherwise I wouldn't have a dime left to my name. I patiently waited on hold while they scrambled to find information on it, and when they got that information, it was incomplete.  Here's a short re-creation of these events:

Me - I'd like to sign up for WiFi calling, how does that work?

R - Hold please.

R - Yes, we have WiFi calling.

Me - Great!  How does it work?

R - Hold please.

R - We have three plans, one costs $5 a month, the other costs $10, and the other costs $15.  Which would you like?

Me - What's the difference?

R - Hold please.

R - We don't know.

Me - I'll take the $5 plan.

I didn't hold it against them for not knowing about this arcane thingy that can really help people out - it wasn't on everyone's mind at the time. I understood.

However, after a while, I got a bill, charging me for calls I'd made while at home, on WiFi.

I called them advising that this happened. I told them that I understood that it was hard to tell that I was on WiFi at the time, but for one of the examples (a 65 minute interview), I was sure I had been home the whole time, and that it shouldn't have affected my cell minutes.

I got chucked back and forth from billing, to tech support, and back again, until VOILA, it was revealed that they could see that the call was made using WiFi, and not through the cellular network. Booya, right? Wrong.

Although at the time I was asking about WiFi calling, the rep didn't know the difference between the $5, $10 and $15 plan, this rep did, and explained that while the $5 plan gave me access to use WiFi calling, the minutes still counted against me.  To get the full benefit of not having the minutes count, I could pay $10 a month.

I did that, and took the hit on the calls I made, chalking it up to me doing a bad thing, and that I should have done more of my homework, or sat lazily by while someone else did their homework.

More questionable decision making by me in Part 2!