Smartphone Madness

Last weekend I went with my wife to the local AT&T store to upgrade our phones. Our anniversary is today, but last Sunday was Mother’s Day and there was a special on phones across the board. We went in with no expectations except to exchange the phone that AT&T sent her as a replacement when we had problems with them late last year.

We got lucky as we walked into the store because there was only one person working there and no one else was in the store at the time. The guy spent a lot of time talking to us, and eventually we decided on getting a HTC Inspire 4G, which would be the first “new” phone we’ve ever bought. Every other phone we’ve bought had already been discontinued but had a great price. In this case because of the holiday they were offering the phones at $49.99 each. Sure, we had to go through that long process of setting it all up, but at the end of the day we went home with our first ever smartphones.

The problem? No bars in the house, and very few elsewhere most of the time. For all that AT&T touts themselves to be, over the course of the 11 years we’ve been in this house we’ve rarely had much access to service. With the previous phone I had, the Motorola Razr, at least I rarely had any of my text messages bouncing back. With the new phone, which I thought was supposed to be a major improvement, I couldn’t get a text message to leave the house half the time I tried; same with my wife. But we’ve had people come to the house using Verizon and being able to have total access and use their phones in any way possible.

Over the course of the first week I called AT&T customer service twice. The first time they supposedly sent out a signal booster to both of our phones; nothing happened. The second time the guy said I had to do a full system wipe of my phone, which would cause me to lose everything on it, but that it should work; it didn’t.

If you know nothing else about me know this; I’m kind of a loyal guy. I got my first cell phone in 1995 when the company was called Cellular One. They went through a couple of takeovers until AT&T got them a few years ago, and overall I never thought much about leaving them; it’s just not my style. However, this was the final straw, and it followed my wife not having any bars anywhere she went last Saturday when I was out of town, which left us unable to contact each other.

Last night we went back to the mall knowing we were going to switch from AT&T to Verizon. The picture you see above is the phone I have now. Actually, it’s almost the same phone I had before. This is an odd thing but both phones are from the same company, HTC, and when you look them up on Google they’ll appear as the same thing. But AT&T calls it the Inspire; Verizon calls it the Thunderbolt. And there are a few other changes as well. There was a $200 price difference for each phone, which was kind of irksome, but that’s because the Thunderbolt comes with a 32G SD card; sweet! It also comes with unlimited internet access, whereas the Inspire came with only 2GB; how does one measure how many GBs they’re using online anyway?

The Thunderbolt is slightly smaller, so all the accessories except for the carrying case are too big, and thus we have to get new stuff. The off/on buttons are on opposite sides of each other, as are the volume control buttons. But almost everything else is the exact same. I’m not sure why they do that but so be it. Oh yeah, the Thunderbolt also allows you to take pictures on both sides of the phone; yeah, I won’t be taking many pictures of myself, and y’all probably need to be happy about that.

As far as canceling the deal with AT&T? You get 30 days once you sign a new contract to cancel, and that’s a great thing. And for once, even though it was in the contract, this guy didn’t charge us for the restocking fee, which I think he just forgot about because he didn’t even ask why we wanted to cancel out. If we’d had the same guy we bought the phones from I think it would have been different.

As to the new people? Well, because of all the traffic, strange for a Monday night at this particular mall, we were actually there past closing time, but the two people there showed us a few things we could do with our phone that we hadn’t figured out over the week we’d had them. And some strange anomalies that had occurred previously with the other phones seemed to solve themselves as well.

But the most important thing… we have bars in the house! I don’t have all 4 bars, but I have 2 bars, more than I had most of the time with my other phones over the course of years. I should have done this years ago, but it’s that loyalty thing again. Loyalty needs to be earned from all corners; I need to start holding companies as accountable as I do people.

But I’m happy today, and my wife is happy, and at 14 years together it’s a nice thing. 🙂

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2 Followups On Negative Customer Service Issues; eBay And AT&T

I’m big on customer service. When it’s good I’ll point it out; when it’s bad, I’m also going to talk about it. I’ve had a couple of negative things occur lately, so to speak, and I’m going to talk about the aftermath of both of them; neither has ended well.


by Piez

Let’s start with the tale that I told on this blog about buying something used on eBay. The overview is that I bought something, a Palm T/X, it didn’t work right, sent it back, guy fixed that issue, something else immediately broke, I sent it back again, and then I hadn’t received anything, ever. Guy wouldn’t return either phone calls or email; very irritated. And the thing is I knew he wasn’t going to fix it, and he wouldn’t even think about just sending me a different one.

Here’s the aftermath, since I wrote that post on 10/5. I wrote the guy 2 more times and left a phone message once more; nothing. I kind of outed the guy on Facebook by mentioning his name, but I never pursued it, as I knew it wasn’t going anywhere, and my heart really wasn’t in it to go that route. Finally last week I talked to a lawyer about my options; it was a quick down and dirty thing. He said I really didn’t have any. Sure, I’d paid m money and I had a registered note saying he got it, but if I wanted to file a small claims suit against him I’d have to go to his state, which was Michigan, and for the $151 it cost me I’d lose more money than I’d get back.

Knowing that, I figured I’d write him one more time. In that letter, I threw in that I had spoken to a lawyer, which I had, and that it was recommended that I try to work it out with him, which was kind of true. That letter got a response, and the guy said he thought he’d sent it back months ago; yeah, right! He mentioned in the letter that it bothered him that I went to a lawyer. I wrote back that all I wanted was my Palm back and asked what he’d have done if he’d been in my shoes and hadn’t received his product in almost 4 months.

That didn’t get a response, but today, finally, I did get my Palm back in the mail. The alarm still doesn’t work, but everything else does, and man, I really have found that I need my database and my calendar with me, even without the alarm. That plus it can connect to the internet if need be, plus I can use it as a reader and for a host of other things; I’ll deal with it. So I have it back, but I really still can’t say it all ended well.

The next story is new to some of you, especially if you don’t read my business blog. It involves the negative process of trying to get a replacement phone from AT&T, then finding out that we had insurance where my wife could have gotten that replacement instead, and how the processes for everything were very long and convoluted. I complained that in this day and age it shouldn’t take an hour just to set up on a new plan, or, after I learned about the insurance, to put in a claim. If you want to see more of the setup, go to that link.

Here’s the follow up. My wife and I started thinking about all of this and we got irked. It cost us $50 to replace her phone after I’d been paying insurance on both her phone and my phone for more than 2 1/2 years. At $5 a pop, that’s around $300. The replacement phone they sent her looked nice, a Samsung Propel, but when I looked it up it was a 2-year old phone that they don’t make anymore; and it was refurbished! Come on, they couldn’t send her a new phone after all these years for what I’d been paying for insurance, even after spending another $50 for it? All for the privilege of not having to sign a new 2-year plan?

And that’s not all. My wife loved the look of the phone and loves the keyboard, but it’s a power hog. We thought that the phone was brand new, and it still might be, but the battery wasn’t holding a charge. So I spent another $20 to buy a new battery from a local battery company, only to see that the new battery also won’t hold the charge. That means it’s the phone; sheesh!

At this point there’s no recourse for that, so we’re stuck with it for at least a little while. I did call and cancel the insurance, and I told the guy why. I mean, if we’d just stuck with the new phone after the rebate it would have only cost $20 and it would be working great. Turns out phone insurance is a joke, and that’s irksome. Turns out you can just keep buying new phones, even if your plan isn’t completed, as long as you’re ready to sign a new one, but you can still keep whatever you had on your old plan; that’s what I have now. So, I feel like an idiot of sorts, but what can you do, right?

So, nothing else on eBay that I can see, and I’m going to have to think about my association with AT&T after 15 years when I’m ready for a new phone and a new plan, since I figure the next time around I’m probably going to have to get a new plan anyway. Kicking and dragging into the new technology; thy name is Mitch!


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