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Are You Always & Forever With Your Cell Phone Provider?

“Always and Forever” (LaFawnduh’s Song)
(by Kipland Ronald Dynamite)

Why do you love me?
Why do you need me?
Always and forever

We met in a chat room
Where love can fully bloom
Sure the World Wide Web is great
But you, you make me salivate

Yes I love technology
But not as much as you, you see
But I still love technology
Always and forever

Our love is like a flock of doves
Flying up to heav’n above
Always and forever
Always and forever

Yes, your love is truly great
Always and forever

Why do you need me?
Why do you love me?

I, like Cher once sang, am a half-breed, only of the nerd variety. I am a wannabe, I have some skills, but let’s face it, I can’t hack or code, so I’m just slightly elevated above a good Googler. And I love technology. Which, every time I even think that, makes me think of the wedding scene waaaay at the end, after the credits, of Napoleon Dynamite (lyrics above). Only right now, I hate it. So much so, I’m beginning to feel a little unabombery inside. Specifically, I hate my cell phone.

I was perfectly fine a month ago. I was getting sick with what would become bronchitis, but my attitude towards tech and gadgets was untouched. Shiny things! I love them! And then the wheel fell off my Motorola RIZR, and I tried to re-attach it, but instead rendered the wheel useless and immobilized. Awesome. Little did I know the cell phone wheel falling off would serve to be a huge metaphor for the following MONTH.

So, I look at my options, and basically, a cell phone company, say one that rhymes with G-Foible, as long as you are under their contract, they will let you tweeeest in the weeeeend. Even the option to upgrade my line while renewing my contract for another two years would result in paying a Shitton of Money for another phone. And of course, I’m looking at upgrades all the time. I’m not going to replace a nice phone with a bag phone. So I turn to …eBay. For an unlocked phone. Oh! It’s a Maurice Sendak novel of cell phone gadgetry! Yes! But you must read the fine print, and then continue to check what it would cost to buy a new one of the same model.

I buy a Motorola RAZR. I know. I should have asked someone first. Since I began screeching about my hatred, it’s like an entire underworld village of RAZR-HAYTRZ rose up through the dirt to answer my screams. First off, the language for text was defaulting to Italian, which took me a while to figure out how to fix that, but hey, I could handle it. I’m the Network Administrator for our home computer network, after all! Oh, and forget storing any sort of application on this thing, it has no memory. OH and did you want it to actually get reception outside of work and home? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Plus the bonus feature I didn’t even pay for: every time I plug it in to charge (which is often, since the fucker dies every 48 hours if I don’t), it changes the ring style. I plug it in, and on the tiny window appears something like this: “RING TONE CHANGED: LOUD.” And I spent every night trolling through forums, because I needed to set up all of the actual components so it would connect to G-Foible’s network. Like, inputting data addresses and setting features, things one normally has on a branded phone. Whatev, that’s small potatoes, and I even discovered later that the phone companies have it so you can message yourself with the data & apply it to the phone. OK. It still does not change the fact that I want to fling the phone against a wall or out the window, every. single. day. I hate it.

After going to the lake, and having no reception and no web access on my phone, I hit the wall myself. So I bought an unlocked Blackberry Pearl. Which I really liked. I even upgraded the web plan so I could make it into a work device – I had felt a little Short Bus Syndrome when we’d traveled on that wheel-fell-off-trip, because everyone else had iPhones and Blackberries and oh, Jennifer, you don’t check your work email on your phone? No. My phone has a wheel. It was like a caveman holding a torch while everyone skittered around with their GPS voice-activated gadgetry in sleek speed-skating suits. And I had thought the RAZR would be a step up, but instead was unwittingly rocketing back to 2004. Which, in techno-years, is like the Dark Ages.

So, the Pearl. Yes! I’m legit! Bona-fide. I switched to the data plan, and I call the Wo. “Hello?” he says. “Hello? Hello?” Hangs up. Mind you, I’m responding. He calls me back. “Hello? Hello?” Heeeeey. The microphone doesn’t work. I abuse several co-workers with testing different options. Back to the forums. Perhaps a software update is needed. Okey-dokey. I attach the phone to the computer with the cable. Nothing. I try another cable. Nothing. I try a third cable. Nothing. I plug the cable into the RAZR. (Microsoft has detected your dumb ass phone from a previous century! Where’s the software? On a 3.5″ floppy you say?) WTH.

I email the seller, they have no solution except to return it. Back it went today. I’m still using my Supah-Dupah Fly RAZR, but now I have to revert the data plan back to my G-Zones (cheaper) web plan. Ah, no, you naive stupid girl. “We don’t offer that any more.”

HUH? I had it on TUESDAY.

“Once you remove it, it’s gone, we have a new product now.” That costs $4 more a month for the same damned thing. (Oh and includes some text messaging, which I don’t really do, instead paying $0.20 per, anytime I simply must receive or send one.)

OMG. Head! Exploding! I disconnect from the online CSR, and call. They immediately put G-Zones back on my phone. But cannot offer me any sort of good deal on a phone to replace my ghetto-blaster techno-sploitation travesty I’m stuck with. My phone is beginning to resemble Ron Jeremy, only without any residual coolness. I have to wait 10 months. (And seriously, the price difference between upgrade with no contract extension and with one is negligible.) For the first time in 10 years (or however long it’s been, it’s been at least that), I’m seriously going to look at options once this contract shit is up.

So. All the drama, and swearing, and pain aside. What really gets me is that the business model for cell phones has absolutely nothing to do with rewarding loyalty. Marketing departments sit around all the time, trying to figure out how to keep and retain consumers, how do we get someone to be a brand advocate, so dedicated to our product or service that they’ll never switch. And I get it, you have a contract, which represents $X and the penalties for breaking the contract somehow translates to permission to just leave that customer alone until it’s time to revisit the contract. Sure, every time I’ve called T-Mobile (because really, did G-Foible fool you?), I’ve been thanked profusely for being such a loyal and long-time customer. But when I ask a CSR to fix a problem and they say no, no and no again, even in the face of me saying “I will leave over this the minute I can,” why do I have to make the next round of effort (and escalate it) to repair that business relationship? Honestly, had T-Mobile offered me a solution, like a Blackberry for $100-$150, I would have kept the upgraded data plan, signed up for another two years, and been happy as a clam. (I even asked! “NO.”) Now I’m just bitter.

I guess the answer is that there’s so much churn, they don’t bother to care about loyalty. Because in the end, I’m just a number, nothing more. I guess it’s a good thing I can now take that number with me, wherever I go. Until then, I’ll be wearing my RAZR around my neck, like the albatross it is….


  1. Jennifer, I feel your pain. The price of any phone direct from the service provider is negligible compared with the cost of the plan over 1 or 2 years.

    I suggest you switch to Verizon, which has the best service in most of the country and which has switched to actually prorating early termination fees, and which will sell most phones for more (if you desire) for a 1-year vs. 2-year contract. Verizon is the only carrier that actually invests enough in its infrastructure; AT&T is a distant 2nd-place in that area.

  2. Wow. We’ve stuck with Verizon for many years more for the fact that we get great coverage at our house than anything, but I’ve been pretty happy with them in other ways as well.

  3. I feel your pain. The ex left Sprint bc he had such terrible reception out there and went over to AT&T – however I stayed with Sprint – I have never had any reception issues and I travel a LOT – I have service everywhere. That said – Sprint is now doing this premier customer thing where every month I get free ring tones and stuff and instead of the previous 2 year wait time for an upgrade credit, I get it every year. WEEEE! And I have the Samsung Instinct and we all have heard my love of the Instinct (the issues I had have all been corrected through software upgrades).

    There are options. Don’t stay where you aren’t given what you want. I even get great service via email – every time I have emailed an issue to sprint, they fix it right away and make me happy. And that is what customer service is. If I drop my phone in the toilet 2 weeks after I get it and I didn’t buy the protection plan – that is my fault – but hey, I have the protection plan and they will replace it if I drop it in the toilet. Yeah, I pay for it, but in the end, replacing the phone at full price would make me cry.

  4. Long-time Cingular/AT&T customer chiming in. It was the only service I got at my first house in St. Joe. NO other provider had a signal there. And with all the traveling I’ve done (and places I’ve flat-out LIVED), never had an issue.

    But yes, go somewhere. T-Mobile sucks ass for so more reasons than I could list, starting with the issues you’ve chronicled here. Tell them, if they don’t want your money for another x years, you’ll find someone who does!!!

  5. Yeah so I’ve decided that ALL cell companies pretend like they love you until you need something from them and then they bend you over and ass rape you. They’re all, “Oh I’m sorry you need to hold,” and “Oh I’m sorry that costs two hundred dollars,” or “Oh I’m sorry I don’t give one flying fuck about your problem.”

    I moved from AT&[SUCKASS]T to Verizon two months ago and at Verizon I said, “I hate AT&T and I could easily hate you, too. Please don’t give me a reason to hate you.” I don’t really like them, because of the issues I’ve had with my Curve, but I don’t hate them with the fiery passions of hell like I hate AT&[SUCKASS]T.

  6. so why blackberry over iphone ? i love my iphone and cannot imagine why everyone doesn’t want one ?
    have yet to have a problem with at and t
    got anna a prepaid t-mobile plan because that works for a 13 year old
    i hated sprint and i hated t-mobile when it was the first phone plan i had for 5 years
    so frustrating – i am so sorry – hope some good wine or spirits is helping you relax

  7. Wow, I am so so sorry that you had to deal with that. I think cell phone companies treat us like shit because they have us by the short and curlies and they know it. Everyone needs a cell phone now a days and so they realize that no matter what, you’re going to get a plan from somewhere. I probably would have punched someone in the throat if I dealt with that.

  8. I think you hit the nail on the head at the end with the fact that cell phone companies don’t reward loyalty — and then they wonder why they’re struggling. When I first moved to Seattle, I had Sprint but was out of contract at that point so I shopped around and found a much better deal with your current company. I asked Sprint if they would match the rate to keep me and they said no, so I left and then I saw them advertising the exact same plan/price just a few months later. When I get re-employed, I’m thinking of getting an iPhone and converting.

  9. I work for a company which rhymes with Hey!Tea and Tea and had their service long before I started working there. Never had a problem, but for me money and quality always talks. There is no such thing as loyalty. That’s why I am not renewing my subscription to cooks illustrated,they could have had me for a new subscriber’s price AND they spent more than the difference on stamps and stupid letters, but no discount means no business. good luck

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