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!

1 comment:

  1. So for $5 you got to have the value of saying you had Wifi calling without the actual benefit of not paying for it. Very nice (for them). They get $5 for nothing. Can't wait to hear about their other plan(s).