The Crazy Suburban Mom: Time for a new cell phone company? But who?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Time for a new cell phone company? But who?

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I've had AT&T cell phone service for years, since before it was AT&T... Since it was Cingular y'all, I mean long time, right? The whole roll-over thing suited us. Don't let my verbosity with a keyboard fool ya, I don't talk that much. And apparently neither does anyone else around here. Our plan's only 450 shared minutes yet every month minutes got dumped into roll-over.

We had thousands. I can't pinpoint when the roll-over dumping started reversing direction but I think it had something to do with my son's ever increasing adorablatude over the years...


But anyway....

This month's bill comes and its double. I call AT&T and not only are we out of roll-overs but we are over our 450 minutes by about 40 minutes; at the very reasonable price (I mean Guh-Ag me, just gag me right now) of 45¢ per excess minute.

In the past AT&T was customer friendly. And being that we have a family plan with three separate (one expired and two expiring in November) contracts I thought they might take off the charges since in the - Oh, gee maybe 10 years I've had the plan this has never happened. A gesture of good will as it were. If they had I would have gone on my merry way and renewed all the contracts in November despite having some other ongoing issues. And I get that they don't have to and I get that the 45 ¢ a minute is standard, too. I'm just talking good will here. For a customer that has been around for a very long time.


But nope, what they said to me was they would wash the bill if I would renew the contract. They are holding me hostage kinda? Are they really? Is that really what they are doing? And can they call me Friday morning for my answer?

Yeah, uh-huh sure, call me.

I had some time to think waiting for the call and since didn't call me Friday morning I had even more time to think. Although at 10:13 last night I got a text message saying: We are working to resolve your issue. We will follow up in 24-72 business hours.

Which puts it at what? The end of September?

Guess what? I'm actively not happy with them anymore. And not just because I'm miffed about the whole feeling like a hostage thing. And I'm so going to pay that overage fee even though I will Gah-agg on it, so I don't have to renew the contract with them, Oh wait. Make that contracts. Pleural. So I don't have to renew any of my three, count 'em THREE contracts with them.

What I want to know is there a better cell phone company out there?

Who do you use?

And are the prices reasonable for what you get?

And especially have you been happy with them over time?

Not just when you get your brand spanking new phone.

In my area the probable options are Verizon Sprint and T-Mobile (although I'm not sure about T-mobiles coverage in this area) but I'm open....

These are the issues I don't want to deal with ever, ever again:

* Obviously, I'm not happy with customer service so I want a company with good customer service.

* While AT&T has a large selection of free or low cost phones, when I did choose a free phone, I wasn't happy with it. It was a poorly designed, cheesy phone with lousy reception. I called to try to get a different phone (immediately) and was told, Sure. Hell yeah, you can get another phone.... But there are fees (contemptible) associated with the exchange because the phone isn't broken and see, You're exchanging you're new shiny piece of crap phone because of buyer's remorse. And no matter how I tried to tell them buyer's remorse is when you get the orange phone with glitter and moonbeams and wished you had gotten the pink one with fuzzy bunnies not when you got the hideous piece of cellular twaddle and wished you had gotten a functional well designed phone, they wouldn't budge. I talked and talked and they just said - In a nutshell - Talk all you want 'cause we have our fingers in our ears and we're singing La! La! La! So we can't hear you.

* The reception in my home area has always been...Eh, just fair. In my town it's generally okay but in the surrounding towns it's not nearly as fair as okay. Now, the reception in South Jersey is really not fair, in fact it's terrible. In so many words, well, I don't get so many words. I get about every third. Word. I need really good reception in all of the state I live in for Pete's sake is that too much to ask? I mean I don't think so since you are selling phones to me, here. Billing me there, and know exactly where I live. Here. And call me here. Or at least you're supposed to. At 10 yesterday morning.

* I would like to deal seamlessly with the phone stores, online, and telephone support. AT&T phone stores act like the telephone support people are a different company and visa versa. I bought a phone for my son at store and had to return it there, not having the box it was a cataclysmic issue and I had to go back multiple times to remedy the situation. Can I tell you how special I felt being greeted by the sales girl, whispering into her cell phone, Ugh, she's back. Charming, right?

* Some of those 40 or so minutes we were over? Were us calling our own cell phones for voice mail even though voice mail is part of our plan. Weird, huh? See for some odd reason our unlimited mobile to mobile within the family doesn't includes calling our own cell phones to retrieve voice mail messages - And that's even if the initial call was generated by a mobile to mobile not chargeable family member. I don't even get the logistics of how calling my own phone can possibly generate a billable charge and it's hurting my head to think about.

Okay, I'm done unless I think of something else that's annoys me and if so I'll add it on at the end.

Oh yeah, and Day 7, no car... Sheesh.


Christa 9/26/09, 9:00 AM  

We have alltel... well now it's verizon. But We used to have Sprint... I hate those people, trying to get someone who speaks English as their first language on the phone so they can understand and you understand what is going on can cause a person to have a heart attack.

But our bill is about $90 a month, we share 900 minutes, free nights and weekends, free mobile to mobile within verizon, and we have 11 friends and family numbers that we get unlimited calls to. We also have the friends and family text messaging plan, so I can text message those people, and mobile to mobile for free, plus 400 extra text a month.
We used the most minutes combined this month outside of our F&F... 73. I'm on my phone all the time, and I only used 73 minutes that weren't "free."

The Crazy Suburban Mom 9/26/09, 9:58 AM  

Christa - my son's friends all have Verizon. It seems everyone I asked so far has said Verizon. And I'm adding one more from you...

icedteaforme 9/26/09, 12:08 PM  

my contract with at&t is up in october, I have been with them since they were at&t, before they were cingular, we are talking 15 years and honestly for the first time ever BOUGHT a phone 2 years ago since the free ones were horrid, and that bought phone has been just as horrid, keeps dying, losing it's ability to use itself and they are meaner when you have a bought phone! because they cannot hold you hostage then so they just seem to not care, that said we have very little choice here, sprint and t-mobile have NO service here, and verizon is less reliable than at&t...i think they know my only choice is no cell phone, and that may be the option I choose!

Lidian 9/26/09, 12:09 PM  

I'm in Canada so have nothing good to contribute. And we hardly use the cell phone, either. Just saying hi, basically.


@eloh 9/26/09, 12:55 PM  

I also am on Verizon...but only because I hate AT&T and KNOW them to be crooks...didn't know how bad until I got a computer and went on line and see all the law suits.

I can't recomend Verizon, I don't know anything about the other cell companys...but when they have screwed up, they did fix it...unlike AT&T who stole an estimated $5,000.00 from me over the years that I could do nothing about short of not having a phone at all.

The Crazy Suburban Mom 9/27/09, 5:28 AM  

Icedtea - Oh man, thats not good news....

Lidian - Hiya honey!

Eloh, Reminds me of something that happened with sprint, that I had forgotten so I will have to drop sprint from my list of potentials.

Days of Whine & Noses 9/27/09, 8:35 PM  

We have been with Verizon for almost 4 years now and I was just at T-Mobile over the weekend looking into their plans for when our contract ends with Verizon.

We have 4 people on our plan (one of them is a 14 year old girl)...we've had no problems with our teen however, I really am thinking about the MyTouch phone with T-Mobile and their MyFaves Family Plan. Each of us would have 5 people (any network or even a landline) that we could call and recieve calls from for FREE. Then we'd have 400 minutes to share for $69.99 a month & we can get UNLIMITED text/picture/video messaging for ALL 4 OF US for $24.99 a month (that's NOT per line). ANd we'd have free T-Mobile to T-Mobile as well as nights and weekends.

Let me know if you find any better deals out there. THis is one I am seriously considering.

Luna81 9/27/09, 9:52 PM  

I'm addicted to my iphone, so for now I'm stuck with AT&T. Although I have no problems. I'd call again, see if you can get someone to retroactive your account to a higher plan. I had to do that one month when I texted way too much (a friend had surgery, was texting whilst at work), and they were happy to do it.

If not, go with whoever the people you talk to have. All of our family has AT&T, so I don't see us leaving them anytime soon.

ladyjanewriter 9/28/09, 8:04 AM  

I have T-Mobile, but my neighborhood is fairly well covered as far as a signal. I've also liked the people at the T-Mobile store because they answer any stupid questions politely and don't laugh at you.

All of my pictures past a certain date are from my cellphone cam, and I upload them to "mytmobile" via texting them to 222 - BAM there they are.

I would ask people in your area what they use? Only because the whole reception thing seems more to do with geography, etc., rather than how good the company is.

Keith 9/30/09, 7:12 PM  

Crazy Suburban Mom, you certainly aren’t crazy when it comes to your cell phone. You seem to know what you want. I’d like to introduce you to a cellular provider I work with, The company offers free or inexpensive phones without contracts at reasonable prices. Since there are no contracts you can change your plan as often as you need to, whenever, without penalty. For example, if your son is using his phone too often a particular month, you can increase the minutes on your plan without punishment. Therefore, you won’t have to pay those absurd overage fees. Plus, if you don’t like your phone, you can cancel within the first 30 minutes of use or 30 days, whichever comes first, and receive a full refund. Consumer Cellular will even pay for you to send the phone back. Plans start at $10/month with a free phone.

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