“The sweet’s not as sweet without the sour.” – Vanilla Sky
So, yeah. I may not have mentioned this, but a little over a month ago, right after I went way overboard on my minutes, I agreed to an additional year of service with AT&T to get a plan with more minutes. Which meant that I actually agreed to an actual contract with AT&T, as opposed to the one they were trying to hold me to. I hadn’t had any real problems with them or with my service or any of the rest of it (except for the using almost double my minutes in April, which cost WAY too much) since the first week after I moved up here and got my phone set up, so I figured that as long as I wasn’t trying to move even further out of their network in the next year, it shouldn’t be a problem. At most, I might move to Mesa, which would actually be moving into AT&T’s actual networked area.
As you may or may not know, the original problem had to do with the fact that AT&T has no antenna within almost 100 miles of me in any direction. Once we got past that, convinced them to give me a plan and a phone that would roam in a ‘home calling area’ (AZ, Nevada, CA, maybe more… ) for no extra charge, AT&T and I seemed to get along fine. I live in an area that is ONLY serviced by Verizon Wireless. They have the ONLY towers in Pine, and I believe the only ones in Payson, as well.
So … today I was trying to make a call or two and I kept getting a Verizon message telling me to get my credit card ready if I wanted to complete my call. I have heard this message in the past, during prime time hours on holiday weekends, and I assummed it was because too many Verizon (or non-Verizon) callers were using the network. It hasn’t been too big a problem. Except today is not a holiday, and I was trying to call at lunchtime. I tried again an hour later, a couple hours later. I tried calling other numbers, my voicemail, local numbers, long distance numbers, 800-numbers, I tried dialing 611 to get customer service, and got Verizon customer service. I tried talking to them about it and they insisted it couldn’t possibly be their fault and I should call AT&T. I told them the truth; I had tried calling AT&T’s 800 number and got the Verizon ‘get your credit card out’ message. They were sure it was something wrong with my AT&T account, there couldn’t be anything wrong with their network or with the fact that I’m an AT&T customer roaming on their network. Fine. While I was talking to him, my modem hung up anyway.
So I called AT&T on the landline. And the guy went throgh the basic stuff, is my phone on, does it say ‘ROAM’, then he looked up my phone model and walked me through telling it it was a phone, it was with AT&T, and please play nice when roaming… well, you know… I punched in a code or two. And my phone ‘rebooted’ and I tried making a call and still got the Verizon message. And he was sure I needed to get to Flagstaff or Phoenix to get my phone reset, and I explained that first, I’m 100 miles from there, second, I couldn’t possibly get my phone to Phoenix before Monday (my dad is coming up Monday, and I could go with him and/or send it down with him when he goes home), and third, when I first set it up here, there was something they did to get it temporarily recognized up here before I could get to an official AT&T area. The AT&T rep offered to call technical assistance (level 2, really, since I’d punched the technical assistance button on the incoming phone tree to get to this guy) if I didn’t mind waiting. Waiting? No problem.
After a while he came back on the line. He explained that the reason I couldn’t make a call today was that the agreement between AT&T and Verizon was no longer in effect, and that he had no information indicating that it would go back into effect. He couldn’t say for sure it wouldn’t, but he couldn’t say for sure it would, either. This is the sour. I just agreed to a year-long contract with an early termination fee and everything with AT&T, which it did not occur to me at the time was really contingent on AT&T and Verizon playing nice with each other for the remainder of my time in Pine. Sour.
And the sweet, which wouldn’t have been sweet without the sour? Which actually would have been frankly irrelevent without the sour? The AT&T rep offered to let me cancel my AT&T contract and he would waive the early termination fee. The contract I just agreed to no longer held me, and I didn’t have to worry about paying a big fee just because AT&T and Verizon can’t share like good children. Sweet. And he said I didn’t have to decide tonight, he would notate my account that if I decided to terminate my contract for this reason, my early termination fee would be waived. This is sweet.
That is, sweet except that if these two big boys can’t get along I’ll really have to switch to Verizon. And buy a new phone. And agree to a new contract. And get a new phone number. Damnit. Fuck! Okay, I just made a couple of calls to Verizon (no problem, since no matter what number I dail, it goes to Verizon) and found that I can get an equivalent plan to what I have now except with 100 less minutes. Same price, just about the same roaming area, Unlimited nights and weekends, unlimited long distance, but 700 minutes instead of 800 minutes. Which should be plenty, but in light of having to buy a new phone and deal with distributing a new phone number, it seems like a bad value to me. Did I mention that unless I agree to a two-year contract, I have to pay a sign-up fee? Damnit, more sour.
And all their phones suck. Kyocera, LG, Samsung, Motorola? I think it was probably these ugly phones that kept me away from Verizon in the first place. Not one phone without that dumb antenna nub sticking up, waiting to get broken off. More than half of them are ‘flip-phones’ which is an idea I believe should have been nipped in the bud, years ago. Who wants to have to unfold their phone?
And I definitely can’t move my phone number over. And 2/3 of the Verizon people I spoke with today were unhelpful and one of them was downright rude. If this is how they treat someone thinking of signing up for service, how do they act once they win you over?
Sigh. I’m going to take closer looks at the phones they have available, see what I can find out. Maybe take a look and see if Nokia or SonyEricsson is producing a CDMA-compatible phone; one of the Verizon reps I spoke to assured me that as long as the phone wasn’t pre-branded to a particular company and was capable of CDMA, they could work with it. I’ll see. I’m also going to talk to my father about his plan, though I believe I use far too many minutes to join their shared minutes plan.
So … yeah, if you try to call me and just get my voicemail, it’s because AT&T and Verizon are spoiled brats who can’t play nice together. Oh, and depending on how things go, I may never get back to you. Email me instead. I should be able to get email … well, until copper and data stop cooperating, after which point I guess I’ll have to look into getting sattelite internet access.