Can You Hear Me Now, You Greedy Feckers?

FU Verizon

Wireless carriers are blood-sucking leeches run by amoral pricks whose unfathomable greed and utter disregard for fair dealing would make Bernie Madoff ashamed enough to seek species reassignment surgery. My husband and I recently fell prey to a scam perpetrated by our long-term mobile, landline, TV and Internet provider, Verizon.

We innocently strolled into a local Verizon retail outlet a few months ago to see about upgrading my husband’s old clamshell-style crap-phone so he could stop writing notes on paper, photographing them and sending that in lieu of text messages. A more credulous pair of bumpkins has never been so effectively swindled by such a brazen pack of bald-faced liars.

The fecking feckers sold us a packet of magic beans: a bundle that would supposedly result in a lower overall monthly payment for all services while upgrading hubby’s crap-phone to a smartphone, expanding our channel line-up and improving the quality of our landline service. (That last part smarts especially in retrospect since we had intended to get rid of the landline, which we rarely use.)

But no, the lying Verizon motherfuckers told us: With THESE special beans, the landline is BETTER than free! It exudes a magickal “savings dust” that reduces your overall bill, each and every month! Plus, the new and improved landline service comes with a snazzy new transmitter base with periwinkle-colored ambient lighting and can even serve as a marital aid / can opener / wine decanter!

We idiotically signed on, and when the incomprehensibly Byzantine combined bills began to arrive, we found that — quelle surprise! — the deal was not as advertised! When I called to investigate, I was eventually made to understand that through a combination of “line access” charges, service fees, etc., our bill was going to be around $30 more a month than it had been.

Moreover, I was given to understand that not only had we extended my husband’s phone contract by two years (which we knew), we were now locked into two-year contracts for the landline, TV and Internet service too, all of which had previously been at-will. The bottom line is, if we want to dump Verizon right now, it’ll cost us nearly $800.

I’ve raised holy hell across the Verizon customer service spectrum, calling, chatting, emailing and even snail-mailing the bastards to request that they kindly remove their dicks from our ass. To no avail.

But you know what? I can get through this. I endured the two-term governorship of Jeb Bush and the presidency of George W. Bush, and dog willing, I will outlast the vile governorship of Rick Scott, so I know a little something about waiting out evil fucks. I’ll wait out Verizon too, and once I’m shut of them, I’m hoping to arrange it so that they never see another nickel from the Cracker household. Ever. That’s the only kind thing about time: Eventually, this too shall pass.

My question is, of all the hucksterish-prick wireless carriers out there, which one have y’all found to be the least rapacious? Also too, is there such a thing as satellite TV and Internet service? And lastly, please consider this an open thread / wireless carrier primal scream therapy center.

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263 replies
  1. 1
    BettyPageisaBlonde says:

    Great rant. Great, great, great rant. More please.

    :)

  2. 2
    Francis says:

    yeah, Verizon sucks. But my need for primal scream therapy comes from the fact that I’m:

    Fired at Fifty. (well, 49 to be honest.)

    So…

    a. Never work for friends.
    b. Anyone have a need for a land use (18 years) / patent (2 years) attorney? Preferably in-house?

  3. 3
    JBerardi says:

    How less rapacious could a wireless carrier be? The answer is none. None less rapacious.

  4. 4
    Elizabelle says:

    That sounds like a job for your state Attorney General. Don’t know who that is, but hope person’s better than Rick Scott.

    Would formally complaining to the FCC or FTC help?

    Verizon should not be able to get away with swindling you, and that is what they did.

  5. 5
    Elizabelle says:

    Maybe it’s a job for Carl Hiaasen. Email your rant to him.

    Crocodiles could not be more voracious than Verizon.

  6. 6
    Lee says:

    Awesome rant.

    Verizon is my wireless carrier, but I get a 20% discount because of the company I work for. In the DFW area their coverage is the best.

    I have never ever endorsed bundling. My internet is one company (Time Warner), my TV another (DirecTV) and my cell phone another and we still have a land line for $15 a month.

    Every time my contract is up I completely renegotiate my deal with each provider. Yeah it is a pain, but that is what is required.

  7. 7
    c u n d gulag says:

    Betty,
    Call the state Better Business office.
    Write a letter to your Congressperson, your idiotic and corrupt Governor, and “cc” to your Senators.
    And look for a “class action” lawsuit – maybe use Google-fu to see if any have started.

    As to asking which ones are better?

    That’s like asking, which would you rather die from, Ebola, The Plague, some fast-acting and painful cancer, or some other horrible disease?

    The all suck. And you’re still dead.
    They’re all feckin’ crooks!!!

  8. 8
    General Stuck says:

    This is why I only do pre paid wireless with no contracts, and no hidden bullshit. Tracfone works perfect, if you are not going to be on the phone for hours each day. I buy a 10 dollar phone, and get double minutes for life. And that is it. No muss no fuss.

  9. 9
    MattF says:

    Yeah… One of these days I’m going to have to visit my local Verizon store to upgrade my internet connection from DSL to FIOS, and I’m not looking forward to it. The basic thing, I think, is to know what I’m going to buy before going there. I’m also looking forward to explaining to the salesperson/liar that the reason I don’t want their TV service is that I don’t own a functioning TV set.

  10. 10
    sb says:

    @Lee: Every time I tell family and colleagues that Verizon has done all right by us, I hear something akin to, “You must be the only one.” That, combined with Betty’s magnificent rant leads me to think the other shoe will be dropping and that right soon.

    I, too, keep hearing that bundling is the wrong way to go.

  11. 11
    Amir Khalid says:

    Is lovely cartoon, Betty. Your own work?

  12. 12
    sb says:

    @General Stuck: Yeah, but do you get clear reception in the Black Range? Tell the truth now.

    :)

  13. 13
    MomSense says:

    Whenever I hear people complain about the government I always wonder if I am listening to the one lucky person who doesn’t have to deal with a wireless carrier, credit card company, cable company, or health insurer.

    There are no good wireless carriers! My fancy smart phone turns into a paperweight in half the state because I can’t get a darned signal. And in that half the state it turns out is my office and home. And I live in town–in one of the larger little towns.

  14. 14
    Neldob says:

    Write to the New York Times guy who seeks redress for wronged customers. He’s generally effective. There is also the Dept of Corporations and every other newspaper you can. Don’t give up. Think of all the crackers you are helping and saving.
    I’m fighting a similar battle with Wells Fargo (a Free! checking account). I am laying siege, or siegeing, or anyway something like that. It’s fraud. It’s been months. I Will Win (maybe). “Let the banners burn and blow out on the winds of time, shining and streaming”

  15. 15
    what says:

    If it makes you feel better. Yesterday, I had already set my goal for today to be to dump my verizon service.

  16. 16
    Kathy in St. Louis says:

    Verizon is my carrier and has been for years. I want to change to another but I am in the same position you are. They are all worthless, so where to go? Verizon, on top of being run by total and complete assholes, is big into union busting, and I have been told, but have not verified,they are big contributors to ALEC, that fine group that writes all the right wing legislation, then hands to state legislators who are too lazy to do the research needed to screw the public on their own. Does anyone know if this is true? Do they also fund ALEC?

  17. 17
    RubberCrutch says:

    Betty, maybe the “lesson learned” is that no corporation ever offers a deal that will save a customer money. That’s an article of faith for me. Same with “rewards” and “customer loyalty” plans. I think they all work on the principle that “you can’t cheat an honest man.” I’ve held AT&T at bay by keeping my ad hoc service plans (as opposed to bundling). Their customer service is ass, though, and altogether I feel they’re a nest of motherfuckers.

  18. 18
    cathyx says:

    I hate to break it to you Betty, but Verizon is one of the better wireless carriers. I know that doesn’t mean much considering the field of options.

  19. 19
    mistermix says:

    Communications in the US are a bunch of oligopolies and they are all fucking awful. Two years is a long time, but here’s what you can probably look forward to:

    For mobile phone, you can look at prepaid providers (no contract) also know as MVNOs (Mobile Virtual Network Operators). These guys buy airtime from the big providers and re-package it at a discount. Ting and Straight Talk are two examples. Which is better depends on where the towers are in your area. Ting runs on Sprint but roams on Verizon (voice and test), so it’s probably got better coverage. Straight Talk is either AT&T or T-Mobile. It is a Wal-Mart company so that might make you hate them. If you live in an area with a lot of T-Mobile towers, T-Mobile’s prepaid plans that you buy from their website are fairly good deals, but they don’t roam off of T-Mobile’s network so b.

    For Internet, satellite internet is a total fucking ripoff and you would only do it if you had no other option. It’s metered, to start with, and the monthly caps are crazy low. Realistically, this will be your main problem, since in most places in the US, the cable operator is the best ISP. Phone companies use slower DSL. Depending on your market, in two years you might be able to use a wireless provider like ClearWire, but they, too, limit bandwidth.

    For telephone, you could consider dumping it totally and using your cell phones, or using Skype, Google Voice, etc. over your Internet connection.

    For TV, Dish is a pretty good deal.

  20. 20
    S. cerevisiae says:

    I’m with the General here, got out from the heel of Verizon when my contract was up and bought a Tracphone. Works great for what I need it for and no monthly bill. Fuck them all.

  21. 21
    ruemara says:

    In a word, no. I’ve been focusing on getting my medication routine down so my blood pressure can stay down before I gear up for a righteous fight with AT&T over switching my monthly family plan to a pay as you go plan without a fee. I’ve had it for over a decade, unfortunately, the idiot ex lost his phone during our last move this summer and I used my “free phone upgrade” to replace his. Now that we’re ready to split the service, I’m trapped. You would think a little customer loyalty would count, but not so far. Asses.

  22. 22
    Chet says:

    Also too, is there such a thing as satellite TV and Internet service?

    There is, but expect 750ms+ latencies, from your cat videos and World of Warcraft packets having to be streamed down from 26,000 miles above the surface of the Earth. And it used to be the case that you couldn’t use it at all without a landline for the outgoing leg, because your satellite receiver isn’t powerful enough to transmit that far. Don’t know if that’s still the case, though.

    And the way to avoid rapacious cell phone carriers is to avoid the subsidy trap. Yes, yes, I know – looking at the price of an unsubsidized iPhone 5 ($650!) is enough to curl your hair. But you pay up-front so you can save thousands over the course of the contract, and switch carriers at the slightest hint of poor network coverage, goofy billing practices, or customer service bullshit. Only problem is number portability – but that’s easily solved by getting a Google Voice number and forwarding it to whatever mobile number you wind up with. It’s a lot easier and faster than phone number porting.

  23. 23
    sweaver says:

    I just had the identical experience going from cable to FIOS. When I called to inquire about pricing, after everything I wound up paying nearly double what the advertised monthly rate was. Having been massively burned before with packages like this in other areas, I opted to go month to month and not sign on with a contract, which was an extra fee a month, but I didn’t trust them at all.

    For JUST cellphone service, when your time is up I cannot recommend Straight Talk enough. After dealing with two separate carriers before, and having had ST for about 4 years now, I can say that I have a) never had a call drop, b) nearly always been able to get a signal (only during the Rally to Restore Sanity did I have any trouble).

    For a long time you could only use Straight Talk’s phones with their service (which were name brand.) But recently their advertisements have talked about using whatever smartphone you wanted, though my techie husband said that might reduce some of the functionality of the smartphone beyond texting/browser/phone call capability.

    So investigate it, but I can tell you I pay $40 a month for unlimited texting/calls/browsing. Their browser is a little crude, but I can read most major sites with it with no problem.

  24. 24
    Baud says:

    I’ve had a pretty decent experience with Verizon (albeit I’m grading on a curve here). I agree that bundling tends to be more of a marketing scam than a savings bonanza.

    When I called to investigate, I was eventually made to understand that through a combination of “line access” charges, service fees, etc., our bill was going to be around $30 more a month than it had been.

    These are typically federal and state charges that pay for universal service (mostly money to subsidize phone service in anti-government rural areas of the country, but also low-income folks everywhere) and 911 and other services. But these charges should have been similar to the charges you were paying before under your old plan.

  25. 25
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    of all the hucksterish-prick wireless carriers out there, which one have y’all found to be the least rapacious

    MVNOs, but for that, you have to give up roaming, so you need to be careful about having coverage that suits your needs.

    I pine for the mobile market in soshulist Yurp, where you can pretty much change your phone and carrier whenever you want, because the networks are totally compatible. There’s no incentive to bullshit and turn buying phone service into the equivalent of the car lot.

  26. 26
    RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    I just got an email from my dad that they’re canning their hated cable company in favor of Verizon’s bundled phone/cell/internet/TV/floor polish/dessert topping package. They better hope they do right by him or there will be an epidemic of blistered eardrums. Do not piss off retirees. They have time on their hands to make your people miserable.

  27. 27
    Ahasuerus says:

    My question is, of all the hucksterish-prick wireless carriers out there, which one have y’all found to be the least rapacious?

    I have had a T-Mobile account for the past 15 years (early adopter) and their service plan prices are much lower than either AT&T or Verizon. In addition, if you provide your own device, the prices are even cheaper; you’re basically paying an extra $20/month to subsidize your “free” phone. With a 2-year service plan commitment, you’re ahead even if you spend $400 to buy your own phone. As always, however, YMMV.

    Also too, is there such a thing as satellite TV and Internet service?

    Yes, but (and this is a LARGE but) the service may not quite be what you expect. It’s costly and somewhat bandwidth-limited; basically, you’re sharing a relatively thin data pipe with EVERYONE else who gets data from that satellite orbiting 22,000 miles over the equator. It’s a great option if you’re in the middle of the Mojave or in the middle of the Pacific (or in an RV) but it’s not the best when you have other options.

    And speaking of other options; can you get cable? We have Cablevision/Optimum, and it’s pretty good. I don’t know what you have down there in the Southern Wastelands, but Comcast service can be ok (even if their customer service reeks), and apparently Adelphia doesn’t molest barnyard animals any more, so you might want to look into them.

  28. 28
    Allen says:

    Personally, I haven’t had an issue with Verizon, and indeed I do actually save money with their triple-play versus separate services. It probably helps that I wasn’t going to get rid of the landline phone, which I think is a bad idea, and I have AT&T for wireless (and the wireless may well be the issue–I don’t think you’ll find any non-rapacious wireless service!).

    I switched to Verizon’s triple play a few years ago, as soon as their FIOS service–which I had been waiting for for years–became available in my area. Their download speeds consistently beat the advertised speeds, while the upload speeds, which aren’t nearly as important to me, come very close to the advertised speed. And I upgraded to Quantum FIOS as soon as it became available, to 75 down/35 up in my case, for only a little bit more money than the prior monthly bill, and they are again consistently beating the promised download speeds and coming close with the upload.

    Realistically, and probably thanks to not having them for wireless, I have nothing to complain about with Verizon.

  29. 29
    cdamon says:

    You and hubby sound like the democrats dealing with republicans, who con the Ds every time. Never, ever ,ever trust a republican or a wireless/cable/internet provider. Never. Even if you have it in writing before you sign.

  30. 30
    RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    I picked Verizon as my cell carrier for the single reason that they have the best coverage. I don’t talk on the phone much but I use TXT and internet on the job. And the job is all over North America. I can’t afford not to have a signal because I picked a cheaper carrier that has a more limited coverage area.
    But Verizon is about as expensive as you can get.

  31. 31
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Chet:

    the way to avoid rapacious cell phone carriers is to avoid the subsidy trap. Yes, yes, I know – looking at the price of an unsubsidized iPhone 5 ($650!) is enough to curl your hair. But you pay up-front so you can save thousands over the course of the contract

    Except, not really. The unsubsidised iPhone won’t work on Verizon, so you’re paying one of the other carriers no matter what, and they’re not going to lower their monthly rates from the ones they charge to people who are on a two-year contract.

    Buying an unsubsidised handset makes sense when there’s a competitive carrier market that has a sufficient volume of BYOD users, and prices to match.

  32. 32
    Suzanne says:

    Verizon sucks donkey ass. Mr. Suzanne and I had them a couple of years ago, and the service was great, and then, one day….POOF. Couldn’t hold a call anywhere in Phoenix. It took multiple phone calls (not counting all the times the call dropped) for someone to finally admit that somehow there was a major outage in the area that would not be repaired for at least six months. FUCK. THAT. And no discount on the bill, of course.

    We switched to AT&T for the phones, and I’ve been pleased. The reception is very good, not perfect, but very good. They helped us get a discount for being students and gave us an additional line for free. (We have the grandfathered unlimited data plan.) No bundling; we have DirecTV and then suck Cox for the net. Bundling = evil.

    Spawn the Younger is watching “The Lorax”. We need to invent criminal charges for turning such a good book into such a shit-tactic movie.

  33. 33
    cathyx says:

    I don’t know about the area that Betty lives in, but my house receives sketchy cell service. No service that uses Sprint towers will work here. So no tracfone and no cricket. I have Verizon and I’m lucky if I get one bar on a 5 bar scale, so I can’t rely on it as my only phone service. And I don’t live out in the country. I’m in a metropolitan suburb.

  34. 34
    amy c says:

    Somewhere around 2003, my husband and I signed up for Verizon cell phones. The rep in the store swore up, down and sideways that calls to Canada were included in our new plan with no extra cost. We, being total idiots, believed him.

    It was an important point to us, because my husband is Canadian, and his entire family is up there in the tundra. AND, these cell phones were intended to replace our landline phones, too, so the calling plan had to be the right one.

    Anyway, the truly obvious and predictable happened. The first bill arrived and every call to Canada was laden with extra fees. When I called to complain, thinking they had just accidentally signed us up for the wrong plan, they told me, sorry, there is NO plan that covers Canada. And since you’re past the two-week return period, you can’t give the phones back without paying hundreds of dollars in ETFs. (What they meant was, “go fuck yourself.”) And they completely do that on purpose, of course. You have two weeks to return your phone without any cost or obligation, but it takes a month to get your first bill and see what your plan actually costs. By that time you are locked in. This is, in my opinion, criminal.

    This one does have a happy ending, though. I called them back and made my case again. And again. It took something like 4 hours of negotiating (really) and me being kind of a dick about it, which I never never never do. (Usually I’m the person who apologizes and backs down first in just about any situation.) But the dude at the store lied to me, and I just could not stomach it. Nor could we afford to pay extra for each call to Canada, so I was kind of desperate. Eventually, I was able to send the phones back without paying an ETF. I do not exaggerate when I call this one of the finest and least likely accomplishments of my entire life. I hope you can get there, too.

  35. 35
    Pincher says:

    I don’t know crap about cell service – my wife and kids are way more into that than I am. And I don’t trust the cellular carrier or the cable company or anyone else to sell me a bundle that isn’t a scam.

    But as for landline service, I have to recommend Ooma, which is a great VOIP option. It costs me about $4/month, which is all local taxes (unavoidable). That is a savings of $50/month relative to the cost of ATT landline service in my area. So the Ooma setup (about $250) paid for itself after five months and now I am ahead every month.

  36. 36
    Steeplejack says:

    Sorry, Betty, I’ve been pretty well satisfied with Verizon. But I’ve only got a cell phone with them.

    I will stipulate that they are scum, but so are most, if not all, of the other providers. I went with Verizon because they had the most consistent coverage; at that time (circa 2000) coverage could vary wildly by provider and/or location. I haven’t had any reason to switch, although I do have to fend off their offers to “help” me on a regular basis.

    On a related note, when I went out to the Cox Cable store a few months ago to pick up a cable modem I almost had to rough up the clerk to get out of there without signing up for a land line, more channels, etc. They all do it.

  37. 37
    different-church-lady says:

    @MattF:

    One of these days I’m going to have to visit my local Verizon store to upgrade my internet connection from DSL to FIOS, and I’m not looking forward to it.

    The odd thing is that (if things are still the way they were six years ago) Verizon FIOS is like a company within a company — back when I had it they hand picked their customer service and technician teams to be the best of their lot. I’ve never had a better install experience, better customer service, or a cleaner sounding phone line.

    And then I moved to a town that didn’t have FIOS, but I figured, “Hey they did a good job with the FIOS, I guess I should give their DSL a chance. IDIOT.

    Hands down the WORST run tech company in the universe. The latest was downgrading to a cheaper plan which gave me voicemail… IMMEDIATELY… without fucking telling me how to access the voicemail. The next morning: two rings, call gets dumped into voicemail, and I have no clue how to get it out. No email instruction manual, no info, no nothing. And these are clients calling me for work. Took me half a day just to figure out what was going on. And you can’t change the number of rings yourself — you have to call the “local office”. What century is this again?

  38. 38
    Older_Wiser says:

    We gave up cable about 2 yrs ago, but kept the Charter internet connection and landline phone for $70/mo. (I hate cell phones and keep a freebie for use in case I break down on the road). Entertainment is a personal preference, and I find that using an Xbox to get re-runs and older movies from Netflix works just fine, since I prefer to use the Internet for a lot of things, including live streaming MSNBC and getting news more readily from the internet. Plus, I love books, and buy them second-hand, keeping some and recycling others.

    Any way you slice it, they have you by the balls. And I’m old enough to remember 3 TV channels with some pretty good stuff, including live theatrical productions. Now, you have to pay so much if you’re a fan of just one or shows and it’s just not worth the money, IMHO.

  39. 39
    ThresherK says:

    Hie thee to Consumerist and their intrepids may likely have more high-up direct contact information for Verizon than you’ll know what to do with.

    (Disclaimer: I don’t work for Consumerist or their owners. I don’t even contribute. They’re just a useful conglomeration of like-minded citizens to have on one’s side.)

  40. 40
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    This story illustrates, yet again, why this country is in decline. Rapacious greed is destroying it.

  41. 41
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Hey at least you have cable and internet service to complain about. Where I live, we have neither cable nor internet service. I only get Fox, ABC and 4 PBS channels via a digital antenna.

  42. 42
    Raven says:

    @Suzanne: I always have a shitty connection when I call the valley of the sun.

  43. 43
    Lizzy L says:

    Sympathies. AFAICT, everything having to do with communications/electronics is way more expensive than it should be, probably because the big companies are indeed rapacious bastards.

    I have two phone lines with A T & T, one for a landline phone and a separate one for my computer/fax. I use prepaid T-Mobile for my cell phone: it costs practically nothing, but then, I don’t use the phone much: it’s for emergencies, truly, and the occasional call when I’m late to an appointment with a friend. I don’t have a cable-attached T.V.: I gave my cable up years ago, when it only cost $50 a month (which was a $50 I didn’t have) and I’m so much happier, I can’t begin to tell you. I could theoretically buy an antenna and get all the channels I might want on my HDTV, but in fact I’m really happy without cable. I get Netflix DVDs. Yes, I am a dinosaur, so what. The cable companies can kiss my butt. I get news and weather on the net. T-Mobile has been okay to deal with.

    My recommendation for the future, after you get shut of Verizon, is, figure out the minimum usage you can live with, and then DO IT. Try it for six months. You can always upgrade if you discover you’re jonesing for 500 channels. And Do Not Bundle. The communication companies designed those services: do you really think they had the best interests of the mark, er, the customer, at heart when they did that? But you know that now…

    Good luck.

  44. 44
    mir13 says:

    @General Stuck: @S. cerevisiae: What they said about Tracphone. I don’t use the cell a great deal, but the service has always been there when and where needed. And no hassle is a major plus as well.

    And as a rule I have found that the more annoying and ubiquitous an ad campaign is, the more lousy the product. Something about over compensating, I believe.

  45. 45

    Credo Mobile. I’ve have nothing but great customer service from them. When my phone died before the contract expired, they cut me lots of slack. No hard sell. And they donate a lot of their proceeds to progressive causes.

    Their phone selection is smaller than the bigger carriers, and they only work on the Sprint PCS network, so if Sprint coverage is sucky in your area, consider a different bloodsucker.

    I don’t want TV so I defer to the smarty pants above me. And whoever said “Don’t Bundle” is right, though of course it’s more work. My Internet provider is AT&T and they’re salivating at the right to bundle us, so much so that they’ve wasted so much paper on mailers that they could have just given me a year of TV at this point and come out ahead.

  46. 46
    Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason says:

    It could be worse. You could be getting your wireless from Verizon and your cable and internet from Comcast.

    The amount we send to those two every month boggles my mind. Hell, the data plans for four smartphones would feed a small 3rd world village.

  47. 47
    tofubo says:

    nextel (and therefore now sprint) shall never set foot in our household again, a little thing about a $1,800.00 bill after the account was closed with a zero balance left a little hurt inside that may never be made whole (unless of course sprintnextel finally realizes their mistake and removes the charges, then maybe)

  48. 48
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @mistermix: @mistermix:

    Ting and Straight Talk are two examples. Which is better depends on where the towers are in your area.

    Forgive my ignorance — I don’t have a mobile phone of my own (employer-provided Blackberry), no cable or satellite as I watch very little TV, and I use 3G for the iPad as I have no computer at home. But as I near retirement I realize I’m going to need to get all these things (well, maybe not the cable). So how do I find out where the towers are in my area, and who owns them, or which carriers they serve?

  49. 49
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @different-church-lady:

    Hands down the WORST run tech company in the universe. The latest was downgrading to a cheaper plan which gave me voicemail… IMMEDIATELY… without fucking telling me how to access the voicemail.

    I guess you haven’t had the pleasure of dealing with Comcast.

  50. 50
    different-church-lady says:

    @mistermix:

    Communications in the US are a bunch of oligopolies and they are all fucking awful.

    Clearly we need federal action to break up the oligopolies… oh, wait a minute, this is all a result of the federal action that broke up the AT&T monopoly.

    Free-market assholes can suck it. The beast is always the same, only the clothes change.

  51. 51
    Robert says:

    Have no fear peoples…it is going to get worse…ATT is no better than Verizon and the others…They are all about squeezing the turnip for more blood…less for more is coming…

  52. 52
    different-church-lady says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: Does your internet go down every time there’s thunder? Mine does.

  53. 53
    PeakVT says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Rapacious greed enabled by deregulation.

  54. 54
    Gex says:

    Hi guys,

    Kate died at 2:14 AM this morning. I had been living in that hospital for 17 days, she had been unconscious for seven, and on comfort care only for three. Right now I can only feel numb, exhausted, and relief to the end of our suffering.

    Just going to let myself sit and stare until something else occurs to me.

    Love to the Juicers. Spreading love is important.

  55. 55
  56. 56
    Suzanne says:

    @Raven: On Verizon? With AT&T, my calls always sound great.

  57. 57
    different-church-lady says:

    OK, since we’re teching out, I’ll ask one of those stupid off topic “how do I do this with device X” questions that would be better suited to a computer forum:

    I currently have a dumb-phone with a pay as you go plan that works out to about $10 a month.

    I’m interested in getting an iPad. I need the bigger screen than a smart phone, and I definitely cannot afford the monthly charges for a smart phone right now. So I’m thinking about keeping the dumb phone as a phone and doing all the other things smart phones do with the iPad, and do the $15/month data plan for the iPad.

    Aside from the half dozen other things I need the pad for in my work, I’d like to be able to use the iPad for texting. Is there a way to do this, and can it be linked to my dumb-phone number in some way?

  58. 58
    Steeplejack says:

    @Gex:

    Peace to you and your loved ones.

  59. 59
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Gex: My condolences. Get some rest; I am sure you are exhausted.

  60. 60
    Trakker says:

    Whoa! Been there, been screwed like you.

    While I’m convinced Verizon’s services are better than the competition (at least where I live), I’ve learned to never trust a Verizon sales rep, EVER. A few years ago we tried to tweak our bundled services slightly to better fit our needs.

    First the rep said the bundle we had was no longer available so we had to either keep everything the same or move to their new bundle which was even better and cheaper than our current bundle, however the changes we were asking for would mean we would end up paying “a few bucks more” (exact words). How much more? (sounds of keyboard clicking) About $3-4 depending on local taxes, etc., BUT we would be getting yadyadayada improvements to our service. Okay, I said, let’s do it.

    First bill, $27 more than before, next month $30+ more. Called them back. Turns out part of the increase was because the sales rep added some add-ons we didn’t ask for (and didn’t want!), but even with these removed the bill still ended up about $17 more than before. When I asked why I was told $3-4 originally, the sales rep just said she had no idea why.

    Verizon lies (and they don’t need to because their services are pretty good IMO).

    However, we have our cell phones with AT&T and have had occasion to go to the local AT&T store for frequent help and advice, and even though I’ve only bought on thing there (a car charger) they have been enormously helpful, even to the point of having a new battery sent to an out of state address free of charge, no questions asked, on my word that the battery appeared to be defective despite the fact that I had bought the phone from Amazon.com.

  61. 61
    PaulW says:

    @Elizabelle:

    That sounds like a job for your state Attorney General. Don’t know who that is, but hope person’s better than Rick Scott.

    That would be Pam Bondi (R-FL). Scott’s ally in Tall Hassle. I think Betty is better off talking to the federal gov’t, get Sen. Nelson on the line.

  62. 62
    mk3872 says:

    If you want un-bundled services, you can do what I do, which we’ve been very happy with:

    Mobile phones: Virgin Mobile (No contract, pay month-to-month, very inexpensive, unlimited data, uses Sprint’s network)

    Home Wireless: Clear/Clearwire (Uses 4G wireless for Internet connectivity)

    Home phone: Vonage (Make sure your home Internet is at least 4G Clear, Cable or FIOS. Otherwise, Vonage quality will suffer)

    TV: DirectTV

  63. 63
    RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    @Gex:

    Sincerest condolences, Gex. So sad for you.

  64. 64
    Keith says:

    On the cell – two words, republic wireless.

    Once bundled then unbundling seems like a plot line to fractured fairy tales – nice goal, but the path to that goal is fraught with difficulties.

    Recently had the opportunity (end 2-year contract) to have one of the cells under our “bundle” with a Baby-bell reset (which also covers internet, landline and a tie-in with DirecTV).

    The phone was a combined VOIP/cell Blackberry. Which the user (my wife) hated. But she really needed the VOIP because we are living in an area not well covered by the various cell carriers. The baby bell was charging excessively for this phone, including a ludicrous fee that began at $5 and ended at $10 for the VOIP service.

    Went with Republic wireless – pay up front for a prior generation Android ($250) per month text, data, voice $20.

    True savings of about $50 per month.

    We’ll see how this works for her, and if it looks good then maybe I and our son will switch at end of our contracts with the baby bell.

    Also, we need the equivalent of a CFPB to get into it with these thieves in corporate clothing.

  65. 65
    Ruckus says:

    It helps to remember that utility/insurance companies are in business to make every last penny they can from each customer they can screw. They specifically are not in business to provide a product or service and believe that actually providing that product or service in a manner that benefits said customer is completely at odds with their ability to profit.

  66. 66
    Fair Economist says:

    The magic of the Free Market! All you need is a team of lawyers and accountants following you around to review every contract you sign, including those 11-page Wifi agreements to check your mail at the coffee shop. It’s so efficient!

  67. 67

    And AT&T isn’t any better.

    If only we had some REAL free market competition, instead of basically two corporate monopolies limiting our FREEDOMS. Sigh.

  68. 68
    PaulW says:

    My problem is that I’m getting to the point where I’ll need a new phone… and yet I dread signing up for any kind of contract knowing full well that somehow I will end up paying more than what I was offered. This is how screwed up the wireless/cell phone market is right now.

  69. 69
    Eric U. says:

    the bundles always seem to cost a lot more than they should. Dunno why the land line isn’t almost free given that it really is just internet phone. Or at least it is internet phone on a cable provider.

    Not happy with comcast right now because they forced us onto digital cable after saying that analog would continue to work. Some places around here don’t require converter boxes, but a converter box is required at our house. So we mostly watch roku. Three converter boxes wasn’t enough for us. They need to come up with a converter box that works like a roku. Seems like there used to be something like that, slingbox maybe?

  70. 70
    draftmama says:

    Bundling is a scam. We use Dish for cable, Optimum (which seems to change ownership/names like I change my underwear)for high speed internet and Verizon for phones since every alternative mobile service seems to get swallowed up the week after we sign up and we get fcked. And actually after doing lots of research and spending several lifetimes on the phone with CSR’s which I will never get back, we are saving $67 a month for the lot.

  71. 71
    mir13 says:

    @Gex: Love right back attcha, and my condolences also too.

  72. 72
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Gex:

    My deepest condolences. I wish her passing had been more peaceful and less stressful, by far, because it was obvious in your posts how great the strain was on you.

    For now, rest, reflect, and take some small comfort in knowing that Kate is at rest, too, now.

  73. 73
    Rich Webb says:

    WRT wireless only (not a bundle with TV/landline) I’ve been pretty happy with Consumer Cellular. Yeah, they’re aimed at Oldsters (y’all raise yer hands) but you can get pretty decent service at a pretty decent price if you don’t need gigabytes of data each month.

  74. 74
    Elizabelle says:

    @Gex:

    So sorry for your loss. Have been thinking about you all day. Wishing you solace. Enjoyed seeing a picture of Kate on your FB page.

  75. 75
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Amir Khalid: Guilty as charged.

  76. 76
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Southern Beale:

    YOUR freedoms are not important. THEIR freedoms are.

    This is the Libertarian creed. They don’t give a fuck about anyone but themselves.

  77. 77
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    Shorter Betty; GoTapYourselvesTelComFeckers.

  78. 78
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @different-church-lady: Since I only have MiFi at home it is unreliable, especially when the weather is bad.

  79. 79
    WaterGirl says:

    @Gex: Oh, Gex. I’m so sorry you and Kate won’t have the life that you planned.

    We’ll be here for whatever we can do to help. A small prayer:

    Peace to soothe you,
    Grace to hold you,
    Love to comfort you.

    WaterGirl

  80. 80
    mattH says:

    @mistermix: If you look close at a Straight Talk phone box, down on the lower left, there’s a designation of what carrier the phone runs on. Look for a CDMA-V and you’ll get Verizon service, CDMA-S will be Sprint, GSM-A is AT&T and of course GSM-T is T-Mobile. They don’t allow any roaming on smart phones, but some of the basics (ones eligible for the limited minute and texts plans) may roam across either GSM or CDMA providers. I’m not 100% sure, but people with the CDMA (no -V or -S) seem to get good signals in some of the worst areas. Very popular with long haul drivers. It’s also run by Tracphone, as is Net-10. Customer service is outsourced to either India or the Philippines so it can be tough to communicate, but it’s hard to beat the prices Tracphone offers within the three services.

    T-Mobile also has some decent pay-go options if you have limited calling needs.

    Lastly, if you do decide to go with a contract phone, check to see if your employer gives any kind of bill discount. Usually it’s 10-15%, so not huge, but it’s something.

  81. 81
    RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    Our advantage is we don’t watch TV. That doesn’t stop ATT from hounding us by mail and phone, and door-to-door to buy an expensive package of stuff we don’t want.

    TV used to be limited but free. Now it costs a fortune and is marginally better. I know of young families with 2 minimum wage jobs paying out $250/mo for TV, phone, internet and Cell/data. When I was in my 20s that would cover the rent and half the groceries. It’s criminal.

  82. 82
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Gex: {{{Gex}}}, take care of your self and my condolences to you.

  83. 83
    FlyingToaster says:

    I can’t recommend bundles in general; and Verizon Wireless is a ginormous pain in the tuchis. If I had wider coverage needs, I’d be up shit creek.

    Instead, we have a regional cable company (yes, they still exist, but not in FL) for tv/internet, Verizon for the remaining landline, and one Sprint Unlimited and one AT&T month-to-month iPhones (of different vintages). When we move we’ll likely end up with the regional cable bundle including the landline as well, because their reliability has gone up and Verizon’s has gone down (po’ maintenance of the POTS infrastructure, bitches). I’ve had no problems with Sprint (which I’ve had for almost 9 years now, 3 phones, absolutely straightforward plans though I wish they offered a 250 minute plan because I never make it to 450); and HerrDoktor still has AT&T (moved from Sprint for the iPhone 3GS) because when he has to travel to podunk he gets coverage. And he no longer has to travel to NYC.

    Florida seems to stack up poorly on cable offerings. I could only find one regional, and it only exists in 17 counties. I think you’re gonna be stuck with a la carte, and letting all of the consumer agencies know you were lied to by the Verizon storefront folk.

  84. 84
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Gex: I’m sorry, Gex. You did the best you could for her. Now take care of yourself with as much kindness.

  85. 85
    Ruckus says:

    Gex

    Sorry for your loss.

  86. 86
    nwerner says:

    Page Plus cellular is on the Verizon network but it’s a prepay plan. I bought a Droid 2 for $120 and got on their cheapest plan for $12 per month. My Verizon bills were about $65 per month prior to that. No complaints on the service and the extra money each month is nice. The only limitation is that they don’t publicly support that they can carry so many of the smartphones, probably so as not to upset Verizon, but many of them work just fine on the network. Check Howard forums for more info.

    Condolences to Gex from someone who is not really a part of the BJ commentariat.

  87. 87
    Jean says:

    I just use Tracphone and buy minutes in advance. I have one of their dumbphones (just makes phone calls, w/access to wwww, which I don’t use).

    For mobile Internet access, I use the Kindle Fire my kids gave me for Xmas. I’d love to divorce Comcast, too, but because the community I live in has very spotty cell phone coverage, I need a land line and I still need internet and cable. My land line is through Vonage, though. I’m done with getting gouged by Comcast for phone. And I’ve only got basic cable–I still pay an absolutely outrageous price for that.

  88. 88
    beergoggles says:

    I’ve had similar experiences with comcast and their ‘bundling’. As a result the only things I sign up for are bundles of services that I want and I insist on the presence of a 30 day cancellation option (I think this might be a state requirement). As a result once when I signed up with verizon for phone service and their bullshit didn’t match their service I was able to cancel without having to stick to their 2-year contract.

    So right now I have DISH Network for my cable service and I have CLEAR 4G wireless for my internet service and Spring for my cellphone service and have been extremely happy with all of them.

  89. 89
    Marcus says:

    I have cel service through Virgin Mobile. You pay for the phone up front, but get unlimited talk, text and web starting at $35/month. They’re on Sprints network, so coverage is good (at least where I live and work). Just switched my Internet and landline (had to bundle to get a good price on the Internet) from Cox to Century Link (used to be Quest). Cox had been upping my bill over the last few years without any better service, but their advertsising over the same period seemed to skyrocket. Haven’t received my first bill from Century Link, but it should be at least $20 less than what I was handing over to Cox. That money is half a tank of gas, possibly some groceries, or even a new hardbound book if I’m feeling really rich (and just can’t wait for the paperback version).

  90. 90
    Gindy51 says:

    @pacem appellant: Us too, we switched to Credo and once my husband retires we will go with Tracphones. We live in rural SE IN, no cable no gas. We use DirectTV for TV and Hughesnet for satellite internet. Their new Gen4 satellite is just as fast as ethernet (according to my daughter who is in college and uses it). We have a land line but that is because cell coverage is very spotty no matter who the carrier is. We live in a hollow, small creek carved valley, and we’d have to put up our own tower to get any decent coverage.

  91. 91
    Gex says:

    can’t read much right now
    but XKCD’s Randall Monroe is in order and if it hasn’t been posted, here it is:

    http://xkcd.com/verizon/

  92. 92
    RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    @Marcus:

    I have cel service through Virgin Mobile. You pay for the phone up front, but get unlimited talk, text and web starting at $35/month.

    My wife is very happy with her Virgin cell service. She bought a near-new phone of her choice off eBay at a steep discount and pays as she goes. Her coverage is a little more limited than my Verizon plan but that matters less for her. And hers is WAY cheaper.

  93. 93
    Anna Luc says:

    First, call a consumer advocate organization you trust, maybe the FCC or the new federal consumer office in DC. I think you can cancel the contract within 30 days. If you are still within the 30 days send a certified, signature required letter cancelling the service that fully describes the unethical behavior–name names. Be sure to send a copy to the CEO,CFO & head of Marketing.

    If not or if you are past 30-days, go public big time! Call your local equivalent of “7 On Your Side”. This is their kind of story, because it happens to people all the time and can serve as a warning to others. If they won’t advocate for you, start putting complaints on the Verizion Facebook Page.

    Don’t let the leeches get away with it.

  94. 94
    Starfish says:

    Satellite internet has lag. The ping time to get to the satellite and back is extensive.

    Are there any small local ISPs or phone providers in your area that might consider? If so, try them out.

    I have been using Virgin Mobile. Before that I had T-Mobile. I do not have coverage all the time everywhere like the people on Verizon, but I do pay-as-you-go, and my bill is a known amount. I still do not understand how they are allowed to advertise their prices before taxes and fees and not the true price.

  95. 95
    Starfish says:

    @Gex: Sorry for your loss.

  96. 96
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Gex:
    Please accept my condolences along with everyone else’s. I know that you’re aware there’s still some more to get through. It’s encouraging to see you’ve still got your sense of humour. Hugs.

  97. 97
    Joshua James says:

    What I’m going to do, next time I speak to a sales rep in person (which is much less these days) is video the whole thing, and then when I find out that they lied, I’ll send the video into the company, post it on the internet and make it the centerpiece of a fraud suit against the company.

    But it could be worse, few years back a friend of mine moved from NYC to California, and while he was there, he went around looking to buy cars, checking out prices, etc.

    He went on one lot and saw a car he liked a lot, the sale rep told him that not only could he take it for a test drive, he could take it for the whole weekend, and if he didn’t like it, return it on Monday.

    My buddy thought that was a great deal, left his information, took the car and drove it for the weekend, liked it but ultimately felt he had a better deal at another lot.

    Took the car back and found out that there’s a law in Cali (at least at that time) that anytime you drive a car off the lot, BY YOURSELF, even for a test drive… with no rep in the car, you drive it away yourself, you bought it.

    He was tricked into buying the car and freaked, hollered and screamed and the lot management ultimately gave him a discount, but still… he ended up buying a car from that lot becuz the salesman figured he had a rube who didn’t know Cali law… and he was right.

    So get them on the record with their lies, protect yourself.

  98. 98
    Elizabelle says:

    Our president just took the oath of office.

    Blink and you missed it.

    He told Sasha, as he was hugging her after, “I did it.”

  99. 99
    PsiFighter37 says:

    President Obama sworn in for a second term; Roberts didn’t screw up the words this time.

  100. 100
    a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q) says:

    @Gex: I’m so very sorry. Thinking thoughts of comfort for you.

  101. 101
    scav says:

    @Gex: so sorry and all the best with the next part .

  102. 102
    Quarks says:

    With cell phones, I’ve been pretty happy with Virgin Mobile. You pay for the phone up front, but you do have a choice of incredibly cheap phone (where you definitely get what you pay for), sorta ok phone, and decent phone, and their unlimited talk/text/internet plan is pretty cheap and you can cancel at any time. The only real problem I had is that the phone doesn’t work at all if you go to Canada or the Bahamas, although in theory you can buy a SD card for a Canada/Bahamas cell phone service and use that while you’re there. The internet on the phone is slow, but generally reliable. They use Sprint’s cell phone towers, which can be spotty in some Florida areas, but generally decent in the metropolitan/suburb areas.

  103. 103
    Lois says:

    I had a Verizon Motorola Q for my first smart phone. It worked very well, for about 2 weeks. Then, it died. There was no local support so I had to mail the phone back to Verizon. They kept it for about 4 weeks, said they repaired it, and returned it. About 2 weeks later, the same thing happened. I mailed it back to Verizon. They kept it 4 weeks. “Repaired” it and returned it. We repeated that whole process three times. I was without a phone for at least three months but, not one dime was taken off of my monthly bill of $65. I told them, since they obviously could not repair my current phone, I wanted a new phone. They said no. They also said it would cost me $200 to cancel my current contract. I told them, I worked at a local college and I was aware that education costs money. Therefore, I was going to pay them $200 for my lesson but, I would learn it well. I would never do business with Verizon again and I haven’t. I have been with T-Mobile ever since. They aren’t perfect but, they are better than Verizon or AT&T.

  104. 104
    Grincheuse says:

    Another Credo Mobile vote.

  105. 105
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @S. cerevisiae: Boy I am glad I am not the only one who does Tracfone, I am a bit of an hermit so I don’t too much calling, and I prefer my computer too all that nonsense(at least to me it is) on those phones.

  106. 106
    SnarkyShark says:

    The day I dropped Verizon was one of the better days of my life. Cost me 500.00 to do it, worth every penny.

    And don’t forget they probably have a backbone straight to the NSA/HSA/TSA/FBI/CIA/DOJ/AIPEC never-forget super-dooper unconstitutional HAL 20v.2.

  107. 107
    rikyrah says:

    I’m feeling you, but I gotta say, this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read, because anyone who has been on the other end of lousy fucking customer service and sucky products knows what you’re saying.

  108. 108
    Heliopause says:

    My question is, of all the hucksterish-prick wireless carriers out there, which one have y’all found to be the least rapacious?

    Why not just chuck the thing altogether? 99.8% of what you do with that device is horseshit that the corporatocracy has propagandized you into thinking you can’t live without but you actually can. Or just get a bottom-end device on a pay-as-you-go plan and the tens of thousands of dollars you save over the course of your adult life can go to something useful.

    Doesn’t it tell you something that nobody ever talks about their mobile device unless it is to express rage?

  109. 109
    Elizabelle says:

    Has anybody ever used Boost?

    Past my AT&T contract term for the iPhone; thinking on switching carriers.

    Anyone else done that?

    What’s best for unlocked iPhones?

  110. 110
    Steeplejack says:

    @Marcus:

    [. . .] even a new hardbound book if I’m feeling really rich (and just can’t wait for the paperback version).

    Side note: This is a good reason to get a Kindle or Nook (or their apps for a tablet). The e-book prices for new releases are down in the trade-paperback zone.

  111. 111
    Jay C says:

    I can’t really complain much about our Verizon service (though damnd if I would ever say anything good about it!); sad to say, Betty, “they all suck” is pretty much the truth when it comes to phone providers: their sole and primary goal is to screw their customers out of the maximum amount of money they can: and spend a not-insignificant percentage of it on PR convincing said customers that they’re getting a good deal…

    One piece of advice, though: try to avoid satellite (broadband) Internet service if at all possible: it’s usually slower, more expensive and less reliable (i.e. in heavy rain and or snow – though if you’re in Florida, the latter probably won’t be much of a problem) than a hard-wired system.

    Oh, and if you lived in a state with a decent Consumer Affairs Bureau (like New York has), getting on Verizon’s ass via them might help (or at least build up a negative case for the next rate-hike hearings): but it doesn’t sound like FL is quite there yet…

  112. 112
    Tim in SF says:

    @sweaver: That’s my solution as well:

    Tracfone (for outside-the-flat calling): ~$2 / month

    Skype (for in-the-flat calling): ~$5 / month

    Google Voice (to tie the two above together with one phone number) : Free

    Internet: Comcast (cable) ~ $60 / month

    TV: Netflix ($7.99/mo) and bitTorrent (free). No commercials and a universe of content.

  113. 113
    Elizabelle says:

    @sweaver:

    Great to know.

    Have been thinking about Straight Talk.

  114. 114
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Gex: so sorry for you — may you continue to handle everything with the strength and grace you’ve showed.

  115. 115
    J R in WV says:

    Betty,

    If you were lied to, then that’s fraud. Go to small claims court and file a suit for the maximum $$ and a release from the fraudulent contracts. Typically there are no lawyers needed to get your due. If they don’t show, you can get a judgement, and have the sheriff take possession of their sales office where you were cheated, AND make headlines that will hurt their business.

    We were Verizon land line a long time ago, and then they sold that business to Frontier to specialize in stealing money for cell service. When our phone line went out recently, the Frontier customer service person told us we were paying too much, and cut our bill for all calls in the 48 states by about 30%. Then we called again to tell them service was restored ahead of their appointment time, and the second person cut it again. And their employees like working for Frontier way better than Verizon.

    I’ve used Tracphone for quite a while. Last 12/26 I had 400 minutes turn into sand when the use-by date slid by. We only use cell service when we (rarely) travel, and every time we buy minutes, we wind up losing 75% of them, and service is spotty and poor, with none at home in W Va OR in Arizona.

    But if you were screwed by Verizon, don’t just wait 2 years for the contract to go away, do things to make it cost them more to cheat you than to either live up to their promises or let you go without the penalties. Lawyers are pretty expensive, if you know one who will help you through the process. Small claims court don’t typically have lawyers on either side.

    I think I would use a personal recorder in dealing with that kind of sales force. Go in with it turned on, tell them that it’s on, get their permission on video, after all, what do they have to hide?

    I’m going to buy a smart phone Android 4.2 probably, and then buy one month at a time of service, from a Verizon reseller if I can, since that’s who serves Cochise county best. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a Verizon phone connect when I didn’t even see any bars!

  116. 116
    mattH says:

    @Elizabelle: Boost is owned by Sprint, as is Virgin. Check the coverage and see if it’ll work for you.

  117. 117
    askew says:

    Ah, this rant is a thing of beauty. I spent an hour bitching at Verizon this week because my cell phone wasn’t working. Tech support said they had no solution but could send me a “refurbished” phone and extend my contract for 2 years to solve the problem. Yes, a used phone and a longer contract is just what I was looking for. It will only cost $180 for me to cancel the contract before 2014. I hate, hate Verizon so much.

  118. 118
    YellowJournalism says:

    @Gex: My condolences, gex. Make time for yourself to rest, even if you aren’t able to sleep. Remember you are loved.

  119. 119
    JustAnotherBob says:

    I lived with Hughes satellite ISP for several years. They suck as badly as anyone can suck.

    They have a 24 hour use limit. If you exceed the limit you get turned down to dial up speed for 24 hours. If Windows happens to upgrade and you’ve got a couple of computers then expect to exceed your limit.

    Skype doesn’t work for calls to phones, only other computers.

    The latency is there, but one learns to live with it. If dial-up or no service is your only option.

    The system, when I was using it, was down more frequently than reasonable. A big storm near their main up/download facility blocked them for hours and hours.

    Hughes has terrible, almost non-existent customer service.

    And they lie. They told me that since I had been a customer for a number of years there would be no disconnect fee. And then they found a couple hundred dollars of other fees that they could hit me with after I terminated.

    Luckily for those of us who live in the hinterlands the federal government has assisted the creation of long range wi-fi providers.

  120. 120
    Sister Rail Gun of Warm Humanitarianism says:

    @Gex: [[[[[[[hugs]]]]]]]

    Take care of yourself for a day or so before you’re thrown into all the work that’s coming.

  121. 121
    Ubu Imperator says:

    I’ve heard good things about U.S. Cellular’s customer service, but haven’t seen anyone comment about them upthread. Any experience on this?

  122. 122
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    DO NOT EVER go into a Verizon store for anything. Anything. They will fuck you, good and hard. Do call Customer Service. They aren’t on commission and they’ll treat you as well as anyone can under the circumstances.

    Avoid bundles. The price coming in may be okay, but note that what ever deal you get is usually good for twelve months. After that you can grab your ankles.

  123. 123
    Bruuuuce says:

    Our contract with Verizon expires January 30. In December, we looked at hos much it would cost to terminate early (two smartphones for me and my better half, and a dumbphone for her mom) because prices at Christmastime were spectacular. The total for a 45-day-out early termination would have been $320.

    Combine that with not being able to get unlimited data under ANY contract with Verizon, and Big Red is Right Out. So, too, is AT&T; their data plans are just as restrictive.

    It begins to look like Sprint is our best alternative, based on prices and availability; now all we have to do is hope they light up NYC’s LTE soon (they keep promising “any day now”). I wish CREDO would lower the prices on their top smartphones; I’d sign up with them in a heartbeat.

  124. 124
    NotMax says:

    Rule 1: Always read the contract in full. If you don’t understand it, ask or take it to an attorney before signing anything. If there are clauses or stipulations with which you disagree, ask to speak with someone higher up than the salesperson about removing or nullifying those. My cable/ISP provider tried to get me to sign a ‘mandatory’ agreement waiving the right to jury trial. I don’t sign away my rights; they are mine, not theirs, to assert or not. It took some time, but eventually someone in the organization with more than a handful of brain cells gave a quick “Sure. Done.”

    Rule 2: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket by buying bundled service.

  125. 125
    zoej says:

    CREDO mobile, a progessive phone company. Great service, low price, not a great selection of phones.

  126. 126
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Gex:

    Hugs.

  127. 127
    Violet says:

    @Gex: So sorry for your loss, Gex. Thanks for letting us know. Love to you as you navigate the next few days and after that.

  128. 128
    Another North Carolinian says:

    When you do terminate the contract, early or not, keep every receipt, every scrap. Document. Document. Document. And make sure if you’re paying for previous month or next month services. When we terminated my late mother’s package deal, the provider kept demanding this and that for months. She refused. They threatened her credit; she said go ahead, I’m 86, I’ve bought my last Ferrari. Now, three years after her death, they call me, the once and never again executor, to demand payment for services supposedly delivered months after termination. I blocked the calls. The phone rings once, and then caller ID kicks in. Ah, there’s Mom telling the phone company where to stick it, we think, and go about our meals. It’s a little like Clarence and ringing bells at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life.

  129. 129
    Luna Sea says:

    @Gex: So sorry for your loss. May the memories of your time together and the love you shared bring you peace.

  130. 130
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Steeplejack: Wow, that’s great, thank you!!

  131. 131
    smintheus says:

    Are you using the word “fraud” in your discussions with Verizon? If not, you might be pleasantly surprised at how effective it can be.

  132. 132
    Tim in SF says:

    BTW, did you all know that in the rest of the world, cell phone carriers only charge their customers for the calls they make and never for the calls they receive?

    FREE MARKET!

  133. 133
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    @Gex: My condolences for the loss of your soul mate, our thoughts are with you at this moment of grief.

  134. 134
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Gex:

    Gex, I saw that earlier on the Facebook page. I am just so sorry for you loss, grateful that you’ve been surrounded by friends and laughter, and thankful that Kate is out of pain. Love to you, and please stay in touch with this community in the coming days. And get some rest, if you can.

  135. 135
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Tim in SF:
    You Americans actually have to pay for incoming calls and texts? Dear God.

  136. 136
    Tim in SF says:

    @different-church-lady: Aside from the half dozen other things I need the pad for in my work, I’d like to be able to use the iPad for texting. Is there a way to do this, and can it be linked to my dumb-phone number in some way?

    You want to get a google voice number. With that, you can text for free, have voice mail for free, do call forwarding and all that other stuff for free. One number.

    Google voice : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOZU7BOeQ58

  137. 137
    max says:

    @different-church-lady: I’m interested in getting an iPad. I need the bigger screen than a smart phone, and I definitely cannot afford the monthly charges for a smart phone right now. So I’m thinking about keeping the dumb phone as a phone and doing all the other things smart phones do with the iPad, and do the $15/month data plan for the iPad.

    The trick for any tablet is understanding that any data usage plan is the same thing (electronically) as a voice plan. You got a chip, you got a number, you connect via wireless towers. And that stuff costs money.

    However, if you are careful and get the right tablet (or phone!) you can use WiFi for most all your needs. In particular if there is WiFi at work, and you have WiFi setup at home, you don’t need the data plan at all, as long as you’re willing to accept not being able to connect when you’re in the car or far away from any WiFi service. (Most hotels and whatnot have WiFi now, so…) You can then use the phone/tablet for most things (twitter, email, whathaveyou). You won’t be able to do voice the usual cell way, but you can use Google voice or Skype, or whatever.

    I generally have not had problems with Comcast. I use CableTV and I use cable internet, and you just have to call them up once a year and ask for a deal and you’re all set more or less. I did have connection problems and whatnot, but that was all due to the fucked-up wiring they did in this house that I had to rewire.

    (In particular, the cable modem started rebooting all the time, so I finally realized that I wasn’t getting decent signal strength though the cable, so I went over to amazon and bought a four-port signal booster, and just replaced the splitter on the side of the house. At which point I discovered that most of the outlets worked, but some didn’t. In particular I had to run one wire down past the AC in the basement, up into the ceiling next to the closet, and then I discovered that there had to be a splitter in the ceiling of the closet. So I broke out the grinder with the cutting disk, hacked some holes in the sheetrock and lo and behold there was the splitter, and they had hooked it up *backwards* when they finished out the basement. We have got some real brainiacs for contractors around here. So I removed the splitter, which turned out to be the only thing I needed to do to fix the signal at one outlet, and then laid in a new run out to the box on the side of the house and voila, all good. Of course, I had to cut four large holes in the sheetrock in various walls, but hey, it’s in the basement and I can fix it. Next up, re-laying the voice line wiring, which they also fucked up. Then I can finish laying in ethernet cabling and look mom! the house is ready for our 1990’s cabling needs.)

    Blah. Generally, avoid the large package deals, never depend on one company for your data/TV/voice services even if it is a pain to pay multiple bills, don’t go into a store to buy things – deal with the fuckers over the phone, which makes it harder for them to muscle you into signing bum contracts, and never go for the sucker bait. (Any deal they offer is suckerbait because there are only tolerable deals and awful ones, never good ones.)

    If I were in your shoes Betty, I think I’d pay the 800$ and cut loose of Verizon, and not reacquire landline service to cover the cost of the fee.

    max
    [‘Ditch your losers and let your winners run.’]

  138. 138
    Cain says:

    I have had great experiences with Frontier. One time they increased the speed of my internet without charge and also lowered the cost on their FIOS. They also used to give me a 25 dollar off customer loyalty card which knocked my bill down to $75.

    Most of these people used to be ex Verizon FIOS folks. They have given me execellent service. There are some really nice people in the area here who give their direct office line to make sure my move from one house to another went fine. Cut some rules. It was great. AT&T as well, the service rep at our AT&T store is just really good and I can always come by and ask her questions and she’ll try to do the best for me.

    Good karma I guess. Approach works really well when talking to customer service. I don’t get mad, but I explain the situation calmly and that seems to help. But you’re right I’ve had some situations before. In the end, I have realized.. once you’re in a plan you like, don’t change it.

  139. 139
    Alison says:

    @Gex: Gex, I am so sorry for your loss and for all of the pain and difficulty you and Kate and your loved ones went through. Kate is at peace now, and I do hope you have all the love and support and kindness you need to get through this. Love and prayers out to you.

  140. 140
    Gex says:

    @Amir Khalid: Isn’t that insane?

    Basically someone can just hammer you with calls and texts and drain your bank account if they so choose. That, or you can just cancel service. My mom ended up dropping texting because of the “premium” ad texts that came uninvited at $10 a pop. She didn’t really talk to me about it then, so when I found out I told her you can tell the carrier to disallow those from coming in. Of course, the carrier didn’t tell her that.

  141. 141
    Cain says:

    My condolences, Gex. Get some rest. I know the next couple of months are going to be challenge. You’ll get there though. Kate would want you to be happy. Best wishes and karma.

  142. 142
    Tehanu says:

    @Gex:
    So sorry. Deepest sympathy.

  143. 143
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Gex:

    I’m so sorry, Gex. Get some rest and let your friends and family comfort you. People will offer to help. Let them.

  144. 144

    I’ve stopped calling Verizon because anytime I do I seem to end up paying more on my Verizon bill. I imagine it’s much the same with any other large provider though, so I’m still with them after 10 years.

  145. 145
    MomSense says:

    @Gex:

    So sorry, Gex. Please be very gentle with yourself.

  146. 146
    befuggled says:

    @Amir Khalid: In Canada it’s worse.

  147. 147
    Jay C says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate:

    Hear you about the Verizon Store, though my last visit was a mixed experience. On the positive side, I got a new iPhone5 for my wife, and the trade-in on the old one (iP4) was a lot higher than I would have thought. plus, they transferred the data (though, of course, not her apps) pretty efficiently.

    OTOH, when I inquired about replacing my several-years-old phone (the battery is wearing out, and of, course, one can’t get a replacement battery: about four-five years old, and it might as well have been handbuilt by Alexander Graham Bell), I found that the “free” upgrade no longer exists, and the “cheap” smartphones come with a mandatory data plan: and since i only use my cellphone for the shockingly retrograde purpose of making telephone calls: I’ll have to pop either for $80 for a “dumb” phone, or way more (over time) for a “smart” one.

    FUV!

  148. 148
    Scout211 says:

    Betty

    Late to the thread and haven’t checked if this was answered yet because I am lazy . . . .

    We have to have satellite Internet service because we are rural and no DSL or cable companies think it is cost effective to install their precious wires out here.

    All satellite services meter their broadband and will charge you per month based on a set amount of broadband usage. And the threshold is really awful. We pay for the highest amount per month and will still cannot stream videos of any kind, let alone an actual movie. They slow down your speed to dial-up if you go over your usage. It takes 30 days to recover you speeds in that case.

    There is no such thing as high speed or unlimited usage Internet via satellite. At least in our area.

    It sucks.

    The only thing that I can say positive is we bundle it with Dish network so we save about five bucks a month.

  149. 149
    Karen in SoCal says:

    I’m another satisfied CREDO Mobile customer. They frequently run a promotion where they will pay up to $350/line cancellation fees for you when you sign up. They don’t have as good a selection of smartphones, but I got the Samsung Galaxy SIII at the same price everyone else is advertising and it’s great.

  150. 150
    quannlace says:

    Is lovely cartoon, Betty. Your own work?

    I’m waiting for another wine foil sculpture. Especially after this rant.

  151. 151
    👽 Martin says:

    @max: One feature that AT&T does offer for iPad users is that they have a decent sized network of WiFi hotspots that you can tap into if you’re an AT&T customer. The McDonalds and Starbucks networks are AT&T and a lot of the other setups that AT&T has done like those remain open to AT&T customers. Around my neighborhood, it’s often easier to hit an AT&T wifi hotspot than it is to pick up an AT&T 3G tower.

    That’s not an endorsement of AT&T who I largely despise, but if you have to pick a carrier, its worth considering.

  152. 152
    WereBear says:

    @Gex: Spreading love is important.

    Amen, sister. Sleep well.

  153. 153
    Lizzy L says:

    @Joshua James: That’s an amazing story. I wonder what would have happened if your friend had just said: “Nope. FU,” and walked out. What are they gonna do, sue? Call the cops and have him arrested because he refused to buy the car? I live in CA, and I am sure the local police would roll around laughing if called by a car salesman for this.

  154. 154
    Tim in SF says:

    @Eric U.: Some places around here don’t require converter boxes, but a converter box is required at our house.

    I hate to sound like an elitist jerk, but when someone says “converter box,” it is a little difficult for me not to dismiss anything they’ve contributed to the conversation.

    There are many, many super-cheap HD TVs for sale at COSTCO. Or used on ebay or Craigslist. Sometimes, even free (on Craigslist).

  155. 155
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Another North Carolinian:

    When we terminated my late mother’s package deal, the provider kept demanding this and that for months. She refused. They threatened her credit; she said go ahead, I’m 86, I’ve bought my last Ferrari.

    Ha! I like her style!

  156. 156
    Mnemosyne says:

    On the cell phone topic, another happy Virgin Mobile customer here. I had to pay full freight for an iPhone 4S (though prices have gone down since) but I pay $30 a month for 300 minutes, unlimited text, and unlimited internet. I’ve never had a problem connecting on the Sprint network and I have roaming all over the US. (I never go overseas or even to Canada/Mexico, so I don’t have to worry about international service.) Before that, I had a flip phone with them that worked fine.

    They were even able to convince AT&T to release my cell phone number from hostage — AT&T kept insisting that I had put some kind of super-secret special password on it when I started pre-paid service with them 10 years before and I had no frickin’ idea what that password could be, but the Virgin Mobile customer service guy was able to convince them that I really was myself and got the number from them.

  157. 157
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Jay C:

    You can find new batteries for older phones at Amazon. I have a years old clamshell phone and I found new, name brand batteries for it there.

    You can find your phone’s actual model number on a label under the battery.

    Edit: You can also find chargers for older phones at Amazon. If you order, please don’t forget to click through to Amazon from the link here.

  158. 158
    The Pale Scot says:

    “Interestingly enough, an edition of the Encyclopedia Galactica that fell through a time-warp from 200 years in the future defines the Marketing Division of the Cirius Cybernetics Corporation (formerly Verizon) as: “A bunch of mindless jerks who were the first against the wall when the revolution came.”

  159. 159
    John says:

    Do not get satellite internet service. Do not get satellite internet service. Clear?

    I live in the Catskills in NY, and satellite internet service is my only option. It is complete, utter garbage. Aside from the long latencies, half the time the damn thing doesn’t work at all. Although weather can disrupt the service, the problems seem to primarily be with their servers. For example, I tore my hair out for close to a month because my internet would work only intermittently. I made repeated calls to Exede and they claimed nothing was wrong.

    I finally figured it out–there was an issue with their name servers. I changed the name server, and everything worked fine. A few weeks later, they finally admitted the problem. Worst part: I’m paying $120 a month for garbage.

    Oh, and did I mention that we don’t get cell service out here either? People wonder why Ulster County is relatively impoverished…it’s because nobody who relies on reliable communications with the outside world can live here. Maybe the government could invest in infrastructure to improve the economy, rather than allowing fracking.

    And that, my friends, is the longest comment I’ve ever written anywhere!

  160. 160
    Steeplejack says:

    @👽 Martin:

    Both the McDonald’s and Starbucks networks are open to anyone, not just AT&T customers.

  161. 161
    RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    @Tim in SF:

    I hate to sound like an elitist jerk, but when someone says “converter box,” it is a little difficult for me not to dismiss anything they’ve contributed to the conversation.

    My business card says ‘Engineer’ and I still have a LoDef TV. Why should people upgrade and discard gear that works just because an industry came up with a new standard?

    That’s fucking stupid.

  162. 162
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @The Pale Scot:

    Well done, sir!

  163. 163
    The Pale Scot says:

    A. Be careful buying batteries online, generic batteries may be rejected by the phone “must use an LG approved battery”

    B. Don’t go to a store to find phone and comm. services. There’s different set of laws concerning online and phone transactions (and the corporate phone bank people are not usually the unsuccessful car salesmen you find in the retail store. They using the same tactics. Or get the salesmen to sign a letter stating he has disclosed all charges from soup to nuts. You can even try to be sneaky and call up with a trivial problem too engage the support tech to get info on bundling contracts, they’re not on commission and are conditioned to be helpful.

  164. 164
    Yutsano says:

    @Gex: Pacem a tei sweet spirit. Take your healing time as you need. We aren’t going anywhere.

  165. 165
    I'mNotSureWhoIWantToBeYet says:

    @Gex: Condolences to you and yours. It was good of you to be with her – people shouldn’t be alone.

    Take care and try to rest now.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  166. 166
    sweaver says:

    @Elizabelle:

    I had read somewhere that some people are discouraged by the “image” of a pre-paid service, as if having one puts you into a lower socio-economic class. This has always puzzled me. I am on their auto-pay plan, they take my payment out of my account (I had the option to set this up this way) and I don’t have to deal with any bizarre statements or being billed for stuff I didn’t order.

    There is a slight downside which I didn’t mention, but it is very slight. The couple of times at the beginning when setting up my account I had to call customer service and while I don’t know what country I was dialing into for service help (the English was good enough with just a hint of an accent I literally couldn’t identify) that my feeling was if I had a really complex problem I might run into that kind of subtle language disconnect that can happen with overseas customer service.

    But my switch-over was so basic and so easy I have never had anything but prompt and courteous service with them.

    Again, though, I never feel with my service like I am being taken advantage of. Never. I pay my bill, I don’t have to track any minutes or texts, and my phone always, always works.

  167. 167
    maya says:

    @Ubu Imperator: I live in Sticksville, just north of Nowhere Junction in NorCal and have had US Cellular for several years now. No line service available. I have used their customer service to eliminate text message service. I don’t text and have no interest in getting someone else’s. They were fine in getting my choices down. I pay about $34 per month for a 300 minute plan which I rarely go over and if I’m on the road that 300 minutes includes roaming time, so not a problem. All in all US Cellular is about the best for my usage and very few dropped calls. They are putting up towers everywhere it seems which are shared by several services with the exception of AT&T which is blacked out in this area.

  168. 168
    jo6pac says:

    T mobile for phone No Contracts, I’ll be buying my way out of att/iphone from hell to something from hell I’m sure but no more att.

  169. 169
    Mnemosyne says:

    @John:

    Maybe the government could invest in infrastructure to improve the economy, rather than allowing fracking.

    What are you, some kind of commie pinko Communist who loves Communism?

  170. 170
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Tim in SF:

    I hate to sound like an elitist jerk, but when someone says “converter box,” it is a little difficult for me not to dismiss anything they’ve contributed to the conversation.

    It’s the “ammo clip” of geekdom, amirite?

  171. 171
    The Pale Scot says:

    @sweaver: Good point. Was going to suggest that. And really, between Hulu, netflix and torrents, I ditched my TV service years ago. Use Epctv.com to get cable news and network TV if I want to get stupid. And no cable gets me out of the house if I want to catch the occasional game. Just buy a Mall visa card to use a VPN service for the torrents.

    As for landlines, if you have a cell phone just get local service and use a prepaid card to make out of area calls. I only use the line for faxes and the card # is programed in the fax machine.

  172. 172
    maya says:

    @John: I see you fell for that Exede sweet talk. I use Wildblue, which has a connection to Exede, but my plan is still separate @ $49.95 per month originally but has gone up to $56 after two years. Before that I had Hughes @$60 which was fine for two years then they started getting peculiar with the FAP usage and I was getting red-balled more and more frequently for the same usage. They were ripping their customers off because of the tactic of over-selling their broadband capabilities (satellite space renting). While Wildblue isn’t perfect I find I can use it even during bad weather – anything except lightening storms when I shut all power off voluntarily. Their FAP is a bit different but I’ve never had my service downgraded. If you use the internet a lot then you’re going to pay for it.

  173. 173
    Jay C says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: @The Pale Scot:

    Thanks, I’ll check it out. Presumably a new battery or two (assuming they fit) will see me thru several more years of retrograde telephone-calling – chargers I have.

  174. 174
    Tim in SF says:

    @RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist: My business card says ‘Engineer’ and I still have a LoDef TV. Why should people upgrade and discard gear that works just because an industry came up with a new standard?
    That’s fucking stupid.

    Because it’s fucking better. Way better.

  175. 175
    jprfrog says:

    I struggled with Verizon in New Jersey. After moving, it took me a week to get my new phone number running, and one delightful episode had me on the (cell) phone, getting switched 9 times in one hour and ending up where I started knowing no more than at the beginning.

    But the kicker was when one day I couldn’t long distance out of state. (This is routine when you live in the greater NYC area, since it encompasses parts of 3 states). Making some calls i discovered that I was delinquent for 2 months on my bill. This doesn’t happen often, not even rarely, because when I depend on receiving statements I pay them. It turned out that I had received them, but unlike all my credit card and other utility bills, the envelopes did not say “statement enclosed” or some such, but looked like the usual junk nail and got the regular treatment. I doubt this was coincidence.

    I called immediately, paid the bill on the phone, and cancelled on the spot. Then I used Comcast triple (TV, Phone, computer) and now in NYC, Time-Warner. If Verizon went belly-up I would dance on their grave while raising hallelujah to FSM.

  176. 176
    Tim in SF says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: It’s the “ammo clip” of geekdom, amirite?

    My parents are the most luddite humans on the planet. They had a VCR blinking 88:88 until 2006. And even they upgraded.

    Converter boxes are enabling devices for luddite thinking.

    Converter boxes often cost more than a flatscreen on Craigslist.

  177. 177
    Gretchen says:

    I find Verizon a lot better than Sprint. You had to stand on our front portch to get reception at our house with Sprint. And every time you needed to talk to them, you had to go to the store and wait an hour.

  178. 178
    RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    @Tim in SF:

    Better for everyone in every case, or is there a requirement to march in lockstep toward the technological future determined for us by our betters?
    How about if we all make our own choices about what tech is appropriate for us?

  179. 179
    shortstop says:

    Sending you warmest wishes for peace, strength and courage, Gex.

  180. 180
    evodevo says:

    Don’t fret – AT&T did us the same way. Welcome to the late 19th century world of monopolies!!

  181. 181
    RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist says:

    @Gretchen:

    I find Verizon a lot better than Sprint. You had to stand on our front portch to get reception at our house with Sprint. And every time you needed to talk to them, you had to go to the store and wait an hour.

    An early adopter apple fanboy friend was the first person I knew to get an iPhone when Gen 1 came out. He loved it, but the only place he could get reception in his suburban house was in the guest bathroom. So he put a comfy chair in there so he could check his voicemail periodically.
    That’s commitment.

  182. 182
    Tim in SF says:

    @RossInDetroit, Rational Subjectivist:

    Better for everyone in every case, or is there a requirement to march in lockstep toward the technological future determined for us by our betters?

    Not saying I am better than you, dude. I’m just saying my tech is better than yours.

    How about if we all make our own choices about what tech is appropriate for us?

    That’s fine, but I’ll recall you to my earlier comment: “…when someone says ‘converter box,’ it is a little difficult for me not to dismiss anything they’ve contributed to the conversation.”

  183. 183
    Xenos says:

    , but Comcast service can be ok (even if their customer service reeks)

    When I moved out of the states I went to the Comcast office to shut my account down, and they made a big fuss about my owing them an additional $150. Normally I would be really pissy about this and would make them take me to small claims court, and then fight them over the credit report, and so on, but this one time I said ‘screw it – I don’t need this’ and paid the money.

    Three months later, sure enough, they mailed me a check for the $150 back, of course, going to my old address as opposed to the forwarding address I gave them when I closed the account.

    One year later they send the account to collections, out of the blue. My wife gets the mail, assumes that I screwed up the bills, and sends them the $150.

    Two years later I do an internet ‘lost money’ search, and, sure enough, there is $150 from Comcast placed in escrow with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I think I have a few more years to claim it, so I am going to wait until the statute of limitations runs out on this one before I do. It probably won’t stop one part or another of Comcast realizing that it wants the $150 back, but it is all I can think of to put this matter behind me.

  184. 184
    Ruckus says:

    @The Pale Scot:
    I had to take a virizon land line to get dsl. Went with no long distance and use google voice(free!) to make ld calls.
    But now I’m moving and have to acquire a cell phone(looks like I can’t use my old unlocked crackberry) and service. Want something simple and cheap(to go with my personality). Sounds like virgin mobile is the way to go here in socal.

  185. 185
    JustAnotherBob says:

    @Scout211: Start checking for rural wi-fi services.

    I live in a very remote area. We now have two long distance wi-fi providers servicing our general area. Mine transmits from about 30 miles away and I use an outside antenna to grab the feed. I get a 10 gig allowance for $55 per month and can purchase additional 10 gig blocks for $10.

    Very fast connection. Wi-fi speeds to the transmitter and fiber optic from there to SF.

  186. 186
    Gex says:

    It’s hard..
    because I got so little from her these past three years
    now I get to hear from all the people she gave to
    instead isn’t the right word
    I didn’t need her to not give to them
    I just needed her to have something for me

    we were going to get through this and fix it
    couples counseling was ahead
    it was postponed for cancer

    and now

  187. 187
    TriassicSands says:

    One of the sad side effects of so many people switching to cell phones and dropping their land lines is that for people who don’t want cell phones soon land lines may not be available at all.

    That may mean being forced to deal with scumbag predators that we’ve been able to avoid in the past.

    Land lines give better quality, more reliable service and I consider the fact that I can’t take it with me to be a plus.

    The US has lagged behind much of the world in delivery of high speed, affordable Internet service because in this country instead of providing the service and reaping the benefits of creativity that spring from everyone having great Internet service, this country decided that what mattered most was to let a bunch of predatory service providers try to wring ever possible penny out of customers, even if that meant a nation with highly uneven, often outrageously expensive service. Once again the US finds a way to use predatory capitalism to punish the entire country for the benefit of a wealthy few.

  188. 188
    JGabriel says:

    Betty Cracker @ Top:

    I will outlast the vile governorship of Rick Scott, so I know a little something about waiting out evil fucks. I’ll wait out Verizon too …

    A bit late to the thread, but I want to add these links to previous comments I’ve written regarding Verizon, just so you know you’re not alone, Betty:

    I’ve always liked T-Mobile. In my experience, they have excellent customer service, as opposed to the stick a hot poker up your ass, rip out your innards, search it for coinage, and dance a Satanic ritual on your corpse approach to customer service favored by Verizon.

    Verizon ALWAYS has bad intentions. Only someone who has never dealt with them could think otherwise.

    Verizon is evil corporatized. Anyone who becomes CEO of Verizon is bound by a pact with Satan to serve as his bodily host on earth, fuck two horses a day with Satan’s greasy cock, and sacrifice daily two pre-adolescent virgins of each sex in a Dionysian ritualistic bloodbath that would make Dario Argento blanch. Verizon deliberately drives its customers to serial murder with a calculated escalation of frustration to rage to insanity via its customer service department. There is a VIP circle of Hell reserved specifically for Verizon employees that makes the Nazis jealous.

    Give me a few hundred thousand more words, and I’ll tell you what I really think of Verizon.

  189. 189
  190. 190
    John says:

    @maya:

    Exede, for all its faults, is much, much faster than the old Wildblue service.

    It doesn’t matter anyway, we moved here in September 2012, and we’re moving out at the end of this year. Although I absolutely love the area (see my blog) I had no idea that there were going to be such terrible issues with communications. In order for me to remain employed, I need a reliable link to the outside world. It’s amazing that we’re less than 100 miles north of NYC and conditions are so primitive.

    Anyway, there goes two 6-figure incomes from the Ulster tax base!

  191. 191
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Gex:

    The hospital will offer grief counseling groups. Go to them. I guarantee you that you are not the only person who had unfinished business with their loved one.

    My mother-in-law was a little uncomfortable going to the “spouses” group at first because she and my father-in-law had been divorced for almost 20 years — when he was diagnosed with his brain tumor, they reconciled and she ended up moving back in to care for him, but they never remarried. The group said, “Don’t worry, it counts.”

    (She said they also have the surviving half of a lesbian couple in her surviving spouses group, so don’t worry about that, either.)

  192. 192
    Yutsano says:

    @Gex: It was probably just you being honest and emotional, but that was very moving.

  193. 193
    WereBear says:

    Like so many living on the Fringes of Civilization, I have limited choices. And, wouldn’t ya know, the best one is Verizon.

    I had a terrible experience with Tracphone, back in 2001; I dutifully bought my monthly minutes card, 2 months in… it took the card and didn’t give me the minutes. And I could never get a human on the phone. Gifted the phone to the local domestic violence center and moved on.

    So many of these providers are basically an “area monopoly.” Like we have Verizon, and AT&T… barely. Much less coverage.

    And I have to have a cell phone. I drive remote wilderness areas during the winter when it gets -40. I really don’t want to be lying there, feeling the first giddy waves of hypothermia and imminent death, and thinking, “By gum, I saved a lot on that cut-rate cellular plan.”

  194. 194

    After trying it, one discovers that bundling is only a deal for the provider.

    We unbundled, dropped the land line, and actually ARE spending less. Our cable internet (separate from TV) is loads faster than the TV bundle would have been, for less.

  195. 195
    WereBear says:

    @Gex: Dear Gex, you know she wanted to.

  196. 196
    Lee says:

    You want a good righteous anger? Do a Google search for the story of widower and bank of America (?). about getting all of their accounts resolved

  197. 197
    liberal says:

    @TriassicSands:

    One of the sad side effects of so many people switching to cell phones and dropping their land lines is that for people who don’t want cell phones soon land lines may not be available at all.

    I’m not sure that would follow, since what’s the additional infrastructure for VOIP?

    But anyways, I’m not crazy about the cell phone craze myself. The sound quality, even when the signal is great, is always piss poor compared to a landline.

    While not super old myself (mid century, almost), it seems like most of us who care about such things aren’t young.

  198. 198
    liberal says:

    @Gex:
    Really, really sorry.

  199. 199
    seaboogie says:

    @ruemara: I’m with AT&T now for cell phone only because they are the only provider with decent reception where I live in my cottage in the sticks. I have found, however, that if you speak sweetly to a customer service agent that they will go out of their way to help you in your situation if you just explain what it is you are trying to do.

    In the course of contesting a charge I decided to ask about changing my billing date to coincide with a time of the month that I would have cash flow to pay on time, and the customer service rep said “That’s tricky, but it can be done – I’m at the end of my shift right now, but call me back on Tuesday and I’ll handle it for you.” She also waived the contested charge and unprompted offered a credit on my paltry minutes of texting charges. Kindness and gratitude can go a long way in enlisting the assistance of a rep who knows the ins and outs of what is possible within their company.

  200. 200
    liberal says:

    @Xenos:
    Jesus, I hate Comcast. One time when we had them for internet/cable, everything went down, even though the weather was great. Turned out one of their workers flipped a “disconnect” flag on the pole or wire mistakenly, or something. Thanks, moran.

    While I can see that Verizon is a greedy, filthy oligopolist, my impression is taht they’re not as screwed up operationally as Comcast, but that’s just my experience.

  201. 201
    beergoggles says:

    I have a coworker who swears by Republic Wireless. You get a cell phone from them that hops onto your home wireless network when you’re at home/work where a wireless network is available. Unlimited voice/text/data for 20 bucks a month with no contract provided you have a wireless network at home that you hook it upto when ur @home. I’m very tempted to give them a try once they get some better smart phones.

  202. 202
    scav says:

    @Gex: shouty bits. she needed and valued you enough to commit to the future counseling and trusted you enough to be her Houston while she jetted about with other matters and the flashy end of space travel. you deserved and earned her trust, and she was willing to work through the shouty bits later, so shout away, She’d understand.

  203. 203
    Paul Day-Lucore says:

    Read “The Fine Print” by David Cay Johnston. Great descriptions of how various tech industries have gone down this road in the supposed names of “deregulation” and “competition” toward worse service, higher rates, and lower technology than those “socialist” countries in Europe and Asia. In other words, until we start changing this, we’re screwed. But I would agree with the Credo Mobile recommendations. I’ve been quite pleased with them for nearly five years now.

  204. 204
    Scout211 says:

    @John:

    I have Wild Blue bundled with Dish Network. At the time we moved out here, the options were Hughes or Wild Blue. Wild Blue had better usage threshold, faster (relatively speaking) and the prices were better.

    Since I bundled with Dish Network, the installation was free and the customer service is through Dish, not directly through Wild Blue. I rate the customer service very good and I have read some horror stories if people trying to deal with Wild Blue or Hughes directly.

    We had to raise our usage threshold twice. Add 40 bucks right there.

    Recently, the company that owns Excede now owns Wild Blue. They raised our speeds to equal the Excede speeds at no extra cost and no new equipment.

  205. 205
    Nylund says:

    A good rule of thumb is to just assume that everything will end up costing about 30-40% more than the salesperson says it will. It seems to work out that way more often than not, whether you’re talking a cell phone bill, a laptop, or a wedding.

  206. 206
    Ruckus says:

    @TriassicSands:
    …the US has lagged behind…

    What consumer product/service can’t this be used to describe in the US? Christian nation, hell, religiously we are a Capitalist nation, worshiping at the foot of the almighty dollar profit. Golden calf and all that bullshit.

  207. 207
    Newnumbertwo says:

    The only issue I’ve found with Republic Wireless is that SMS text messaging doesn’t currently work over wifi. Otherwise, pretty cool.

  208. 208
    Bubba Dave says:

    @Gex:
    Deepest sympathies.

    Also, what Betty said about taking care of yourself now with the same diligence and compassion you showed Kate.

  209. 209
    Scout211 says:

    @JustAnotherBob:

    We had a company offer that in our area but they pulled out because they were too far away to reach the customers here. We were really gad that we decided not to sign up.

    It could happen again here in the future and I will keep checking but we are farther than 30 miles from a larger city.

    There is a development within a mile of our area that has Comcast cable and Xfinity high speed Internet but they refuse to bring it down a country road for a few customers.

    I really wish we could watch shows on Hulu or stream movies on Netflix. Sigh.

  210. 210
    Just Visiting says:

    De-lurking to plug CREDO, my mobile phone provider and, ahem, employer.

    Our website:
    http://www.credomobile.com/

    Company history here (from the launch of Working Assets in 1985; the name changed in 2007):
    http://www.credomobile.com/mission/history.aspx

    Our political activism branch:
    http://www.credoaction.com/

    I’m happy to answer questions.

  211. 211
    Betty Cracker says:

    @JGabriel: Made me laff so hard I scared the dogs away. Thanks!

  212. 212
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Just Visiting: Thank you! I am a fool for my iPhone, but maybe it’s time to make the break. I will check it out. The CREDO users in this thread certainly have good things to say about it.

  213. 213
    Doc Stankus says:

    Over the years have tried Verizon, AT&T and Sprint. None of them have been great.

    Dealing with Verizon was by far the worst. We’d call to say that the bill wasn’t what was expected, they’d make a change to our plan that should supposedly fix this for the next month. To be repeated the next month when either the next month when either the change “didn’t go through” or it didn’t turn out to have the effect they claimed it did.

    It’s clear this is a business model for them.

    AT&T was at least just a consistent ripoff. Poor reception, lousy customer service. But they never held out any change that could fix it for you, while screwing you.

    Sprint has been the best. Low bar, but they’ve only made me irate about once per year, on average.

  214. 214
    Ruckus says:

    @Just Visiting:
    They may be a great company but the prices are not all that good. Base 450/month no text $40?
    Sorry not sold, I need cheap and don’t want a contract, I can get screwed any number of places.

  215. 215
    Suzanne says:

    @Gex: Just…..sending you as much love and comfort as I possibly can through this series of tubes.

  216. 216
    Gex says:

    @Mnemosyne: I’ve got my therapist for that. I just need to put it out there today, and I have no interest in airing dirty laundry to the people around us right now. It’s a gift to be able to vent here and get support from you guys.

    These things, for better or worse, were little bumps in the road for us. I know we would have worked through them. I know how she felt about me.

    If it had to end so soon, I’d much rather it ended like this. Throughout this week, I’ve been able to latch on to a few things that I know will bring me peace.

    The abuse was unknown to her until recently, it was so deeply buried by a psyche that had to learn how to protect a five year old child. It was starting to bubble up to the surface in 2008, when she could no longer stand working at her Wells Fargo job. Leaving it was a big change, and I am so very grateful that I found a way to be the partner I aspire to be.

    I am grateful my response to her questioning whether she needed to change by saying, “If you need to make a change, doing it sooner is better than later.”

    I am grateful that, with the shitty hand she had been dealt, that I supported her while she pursued her passion with no worries. She was getting really good.

    I am grateful for the early part, the easier part, of the cancer months. Things turned so fast in the hospital, we didn’t get to have the conversation you would have if you knew you had a short time left. And that’s okay. I know she had no doubt about my love. I know there are no words I could have said to her that wouldn’t be just mere shadows of the feelings behind them. And that they would not have been necessary because she knew.

    I am grateful that I was able to be with her nearly every minute in that hospital when she needed me most. To have saved her from any amount of fear and pain at the end will give me peace as I move forward.

  217. 217
    JGabriel says:

    @Betty Cracker: Danke!

    .

  218. 218
    stinger says:

    @Gex: So very sorry. Try to get some sleep.

  219. 219
    JGabriel says:

    @Gex: My sympathies and deepest condolences on your loss.

    .

  220. 220
    Amir Khalid says:

    @JustAnotherBob:
    Interesting. The 4G ISP I switched to last month, P1 Wireless, gives me 25G/month for 129 ringgit (US$43). Download speeds are only up to 4Mbps, by far not the fastest to be had here, but adequate for me.) And because I turned in the 3G dongle from my previous ISP, Celcom Broadband, I’m getting another 5GB/month for the first year of my subscription. My first month’s usage was well under the monthly quota (I had about 33% remaining) so I figure I needn’t worry too often about paying to top up my quota.

    Granted, I live in the national capital so access is not a problem. But Malaysia (at least the Peninsula and the urban parts of Sabah and Sarawak) is small enough for fairly quick infrastructure roll-outs.

  221. 221
    Lavocat says:

    I’ve dealt with these evil motherfuckers myself, under similar circumstances, with appallingly similar results.

    You know what will bring these bastards to their knees?

    Two words: antitrust investigation.

    THAT and ONLY that is the only thing that will get their attention. And it couldn’t come soon enough!

  222. 222
    MTiffany71 says:

    Beware ‘automatic contract renewal’ or an ‘evergreen clause’ in your service contract.

  223. 223
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Gex:

    Oh, I didn’t mean you should stop posting here! If nothing else, we would all freak out if we didn’t know you were okay and if there was something we could do for you.

    I’m more speaking from experience that, as good as one-to-one therapy is, sometimes it’s helpful to also talk to people who have experienced the same thing.

    But I’m going to shut up with the advice for now and just give {{{{{{hugs}}}}}}.

  224. 224
    LanceThruster says:

    As a somewhat related aside, I find the claims of organized religion as maddening and impenetrable to decipher as most wireless calling plans.

  225. 225
    Jebediah says:

    @Gex:
    So sorry. It sounds like you did everything right. She knew she was loved. I hope you find peace and tranquility soon.

  226. 226
    Machine-Gun Preacher (formerly Ben Franklin) says:

    @Lavocat:

    You know what will bring these bastards to their knees?
    Two words: antitrust investigation.

    2017 is a ways off.

  227. 227
    MazeDancer says:

    @Gex:

    Your writing is such a beautiful testament to your love. Thank you for letting us hear about it. Many, many condolences and much light to you.

  228. 228
    Another Halocene Human says:

    My coworker had Sprint. She only makes calls and texts. Her simple phone broke and she went to the store to replace it. The clerk lied and said they only had smartphones but it was okay because her bill would stay the same. Of course, the smartphone is sold data plan only and her bill shot up.

    Fortunately, she is pretty tenacious. She marched back to the store and raised hell until they made it right.

    Carriers: I haven’t heard too many horror stories about ATT but they are under a consent agreement for cheating customers in small amounts on their bills. They’re the union cell phone company and offer union discounts.

    Boost. I have them. They’ve never charged me anything but what they said they would. Actually, I lost $10 when I started but it was RADIOSHACK that did that, not Boost. So RS are cheats. Boost has gone down just like they said, even though I didn’t pay early–sometimes I was a day late. They stop service exactly when your prepaid month runs out, not early, and they send reminder texts so you don’t get behind. Their website looks totally 2002 but it’s never eaten my payments. Their customer service is bawls but I’ve almost never needed it. They have never dicked me around, period.

    Now, I have had occasional bad service days. It’s no Verizon. But I’m paying a lot less with peace of mind. So there’s that.

  229. 229
    Another Halocene Human says:

    Deutsche Telecom America before they sold the business (t-mobile) were cheats and liars too. I’m talking aol-level “billing errors” and cust-o-mark disservice.

    A friend had ’em. I had VZ, bc my gf did. She got an $800 bill. VZ lies to you at the store but their bills are usually faultlessly correct, cust svc answers phone promptly & is helpful, and they did reverse junk text charges for me once. Meh.

  230. 230
    Another Halocene Human says:

    I’ve raised holy hell across the Verizon customer service spectrum, calling, chatting, emailing and even snail-mailing the bastards to request that they kindly remove their dicks from our ass. To no avail.

    Aw, hell, Betty, I was going to say that the State’s Attorney General and your state reps/senators are your best bet, but then I remembered you live in Florida and Tallahassee exists to service the telecoms, not to protect consumers (consumer and consumer, what is consumer?) from their rapine and greed.

    Er, do you know VSPs in Florida? Otherwise, Verizon will never back off.

    Your wonderful Florida legislature and governor deregulated landlines in 2011 (Rick Scott’s first year!) so you cannot contact the agency that regulates the telecoms for help as a consumer and I don’t think there are any rules about the kind of contracts.

    Have you talked to a lawyer at all? The Florida courts are a little more liberal and I wonder if you properly knew you were entering that sort of contract on the landline. Unfortunately the burden is usually on the consumer to show the salesdroids deliberately lied or omitted stuff from the contract.

  231. 231
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Kathy in St. Louis: Have you heard of CREDO Mobile?

  232. 232
    Riley's Enabler says:

    @Gex: White light and peace to you and the circle of loving, funny friends.

    I’m so very sorry for your loss, Gex.

  233. 233
    LanceThruster says:

    @Gex:

    No words, just hugs.

  234. 234
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @askew: eBay,or find a friend with VZ who upgraded.

    ETA: Note, this doesn’t work if the phone was ever reported as stolen to Verizon. So make sure you can trust that it’s not.

  235. 235
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Amir Khalid: It can make for some really awkward conversations when you have a really shitty plan and somebody sends you a photo on SMS.

    Boost is flat fee. I love Boost.

  236. 236
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Mnemosyne: They were even able to convince AT&T to release my cell phone number from hostage — AT&T kept insisting that I had put some kind of super-secret special password on it when I started pre-paid service with them 10 years before and I had no frickin’ idea what that password could be

    Yeah, they totally fucked with me when I was trying to close ATT accounts opened by former union officers. (Of course, the people involved were being uncooperative.) They’re such little shits about that.

    It’s okay, I stopped paying the bill on one account and I guess they’re trying to collect… but they ain’t getting shit.

  237. 237
    Lavocat says:

    @Another Halocene Human: I just can’t deal with the lying scumbags that are Verizon.

  238. 238
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @TriassicSands: The US has lagged behind much of the world in delivery of high speed, affordable Internet service because in this country instead of providing the service and reaping the benefits of creativity that spring from everyone having great Internet service, this country decided that what mattered most was to let a bunch of predatory service providers try to wring ever possible penny out of customers, even if that meant a nation with highly uneven, often outrageously expensive service. Once again the US finds a way to use predatory capitalism to punish the entire country for the benefit of a wealthy few.

    I blame Newt Gingrich and Al Gore.

    Or maybe the stupid US electorate, for putting those jokers in power.

    The 1990s are a legacy of hideously bad legislation. About the only positive thing I can point to are CMAQ grants.

  239. 239
    gogol's wife says:

    @Gex:

    Much love to you. I just found out by reading last night’s thread. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  240. 240
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @Lavocat: My service with Boost is good enough for me. In Florida, Verizon bought Alltel, which had excellent rural coverage. If you need to make long phone calls on the road, VZ is the only game in town.

    Me? Fuck talking on the phone while driving.

    /commercial driver

  241. 241
    Darkrose says:

    @Gex: I’m so sorry. Wishing for peace for you and those you love.

  242. 242
    Comrade Mary says:

    @Gex: Oh Gex, I’m so sorry about Kate. My condolences.

  243. 243
    Schlemizel says:

    @Gex:

    Other people suffering always leaves me feeling like shit. I feel like there is nothing I can say (or do, given the unreality that is online friendships) that could possibly be of any help with the pain you must feel at this time.

    I hope you can find peace and remember the good times fondly. I hope you will heal and enjoy life again soon. That sounds trite I know but A lot of people here wish you well.

  244. 244

    Late to the thread, but your rant strikes a note. Years gone by, AT&T wanted to do the same thing with my cell service. “You can get home phone service, cell service, the moon, the stars and a bigger schlong if you just sign.. right.. here!” I told them no, and the insistence was insulting. Finally, it was, give me this (just plain cell service for one phone) or I walk out the door now.

    I dumped AT&T in favor of Verizon because I was tired of AT&T shit service everywhere I went. We’ve slowly added lines over time to a total of four now, but each time we upgrade a phone, it’s the same Gaia-damned thing. We have this, want this? No, I just want to upgrade this phone. We have that, can I interest you in that? Nope, just the one upgrade. We have moon, stars and schlong-extender, how about …?

    No, how about you sell me what I am asking for, or I go down the street to TMobile? Finally, get rung out and exit without getting fucked on something.

    You gotta hold your ground, and it really doesn’t matter who the scoundrels are: the game is the same everywhere, all that changes are the names. And they can take my POTS and my ancient twisted-pair when they burn the Gaia-damned village down.

    Doesn’t help you now, sorry.

  245. 245
    Joe-man says:

    Another rec for CREDO. I switched to them from Verizon a year ago and have been very, very happy.

  246. 246
    dcdl says:

    I’ve been with Verizon for years and have been overall okay with them until recently. Upgraded my mom’s, my husband, and my phone. Was told everything was the same and no fees. Also, went through the total costs with the rep. First month we got $90 of fees for upgrading 3 phones and an extra $20 a month added to the service. My husband called and talked to multiple people and was able to get the fees waived and only got one month waived on the $20. Would like to go somewhere else, but coverage isn’t as good and they are within a few dollars of each other. I have my parents on the cell phone plan and we share the costs, so that helps.

    We use Comcast for land-line, cable, and internet. Every time the contract ends my husband renegotiates. We keep trying to get rid of the land-line, but Comcast says the plan will cost more for two than three bundled services. Would love to get rid of cable, but I don’t see ESPN or Fox News on Roku and such. So no dice.

    I can’t stand the monopolies.

  247. 247
    Ronzoni Rigatoni says:

    @Betty Cracker: Ha! When I moved Ol’ Mom down here to sunny Florida, she was 90 (5 years ago). Tried to cancel Time Warner, but they insisted we give them a billing number which ol’ Mom threw out. So, we kept getting accelerating bills until she decided not to open them, but to return them to the PO with “Deceased” written on the envelope. It worked.

    Land line here is Magic Jack for $24/year. Bright House basic cable is paid by the Homeowner ass’n. I pay way too much for Verizon FIOS internet service and will switch back to Bright House when I get around toot. No long-term contracts for us. Very basic cell-phone with Verizon (no apps, nothing except telephone and answering machine). Keeping it simple. I want entertainment, I’ll call an escort service hahahaha Never did see the need for all the crap attached to phones these days. And stay off’n my lawn…

  248. 248
    Birthmarker says:

    In Alabama I have had great help by calling the state’s Public Service Commission. I don’t know if Florida has an equivalent. I am afraid your situation is complicated by too much time having passed.

    I have gone back and forth in hatred between Verizon and AT&T. They both suck. Verizon has better coverage in my area, so I tolerate them.

    The strangest thing was being bumped to the retention dept., then being told that it had nothing to do with retaining me as a customer. Surreal.

  249. 249
    Nellie in NZ says:

    A Verizon employee once told us that if we don’t get the answer we want from someone, don’t waste time arguing. Hang up and call again and get someone else. There is more latitude than one would think.

    I now use this strategy with many customer service people. One told me it would take seven days to mail a doc I needed right away and that he couldn’t fax it because I didn’t have a personal fax (wouldn’t send it to my apt complex fax). I hung up, called again, reframed the question, and had the fax in 24 hours.

    Mileage may vary but it also worked with Verizon – never could get a consistent response from anyone there. Now, I don’t even bother with a mobile and just live a quiet life in New Zealand, walking along lakes and in forests.

  250. 250
    TriassicSands says:

    @liberal:

    I agree — many young people may have never heard good audio quality on a telephone.

    I heard a piece on public radio a few weeks ago about the cost of maintaining the land line infrastructure as the number of users continues to shrink. It did not inspire optimism.

    I also get my Internet service via my land line — if the two were to disappear, my costs would undoubtedly go up considerably, but somehow I expect the quality of both would suffer noticeably. Ah, progress.

  251. 251
    TriassicSands says:

    @Ruckus:

    Amen (says the atheist).

  252. 252
    NCSteve says:

    All cell/cable/landline carriers are equally evil and rapacious. America’s telecom industry provides us with all the downside of a monopoly with none of the benefits.

  253. 253
    Original Lee says:

    @Allen: Me, too. We have Verizon FiOS triple-play (landline, Internet, cable) but are ditching the cable next month in favor of Netflix and Hulu-Plus streaming. We had ComCast before this, so by comparison, Verizon is dreamy.

    Our wireless carrier is AT&T, which, while evil, has done well by us compared to our previous carriers. We have some specialized needs in this household, and even though AT&T is expensive, it is also the only wireless service that offers everything we need without undue hassle.

  254. 254
    Original Lee says:

    @Gex: My deepest condolences, Gex.

  255. 255
    Original Lee says:

    @Eric U.: Be very careful when you get rid of Comcast. When we cancelled our Comcast, they sent our account directly to Collections, and we began getting dunning calls about a week later. Completely screwed up our credit report, too.

  256. 256
    billiecat says:

    Sorry I’m late, but before you throw up your hands and plead for Vaseline, you owe it to yourself to do two things.

    First, contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Your contract is a consumer credit contract and thus falls in their bailiwick. File a complaint, they will investigate. Even if they can’t get it fixed it puts Verizon’s shenanigans on the radar for them, as they consider what rules to promulgate next.

    Second, contact a Consumer attorney. If you go to the website of the National Association of Consumer Attorneys you will find listings of attorneys who like to sue cell phone companies for big bucks. Again, you may not get your issue resolved, but then again, I see class actions filed against these guys (and ATT, Sprint, etc.) Every week, so somebody is making a living off them, and consumers get helped.

    Better to light a lawsuit up under their ass than curse their dark hearts, I always say.

  257. 257
    billiecat says:

    Sorry I’m late, but before you throw up your hands and plead for Vaseline, you owe it to yourself to do two things.

    First, contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Your contract is a consumer credit contract and thus falls in their bailiwick. File a complaint, they will investigate. Even if they can’t get it fixed it puts Verizon’s shenanigans on the radar for them, as they consider what rules to promulgate next.

    Second, contact a Consumer attorney. If you go to the website of the National Association of Consumer Attorneys you will find listings of attorneys who like to sue cell phone companies for big bucks. Again, you may not get your issue resolved, but then again, I see class actions filed against these guys (and ATT, Sprint, etc.) Every week, so somebody is making a living off them, and consumers get helped.

    Better to light a lawsuit up under their ass than curse their dark hearts, I always say.

  258. 258
    Ruckus says:

    @TriassicSands:
    I speak from the same podium. Anyone tells me religion is good for anything gets me to laughing my ass off. The only way I would possibly believe in any of the bullshit is to think that the devil is the actual leader and has set up the whole concept as a joke on humanity.

  259. 259
    johnny's mom says:

    May I add, FU McAfee? Every year, they charge me for three computers. I have one. I tried to change my credit card info, so they wouldn’t be able to charge me again – can’t be done. You can’t change it. AND, they took out MORE money for a service I NEVER bought!!! It’s theft. Send them to jail like all the other common criminals. (this is the short version of my rant).

  260. 260
    david richey says:

    Little late to this discussion, but curious if anyone here has any practical experience with Credo in southeast Alaska, especially in Sitka, Ketchikan and Cape Cross areas?

  261. 261
    accidentalfision says:

    @BruceFromOhio: POTS FTW!

    That’s “Plain Old Telephone System” (copper wire) “For The Win” for you old folks.

    Actually, I’m old folks and I’m not sure Verizon is doing such a good job of maintaining the POTS in New England. The communications workers union fought the sale of our old copper lines and associated infrastructure bitterly when Verizon proposed the purchase of it.

    But if it is maintained, copper wire often carry a signal to your house even when the power is out. I imagine it’s a helluva lot cheaper to maintain and consumes fewer resources overall than cellular networks. No one dies falling off of towers during maintenance either.

    Hi speed internet over copper wires (DSL) is plenty fast for me too. I think letting the POTS degrade completely would be a mistake but it may happen anyway because smart phones are where the money is.

  262. 262
    Dream On says:

    @Another Halocene Human:

    The 1990s are a legacy of hideously bad legislation. About the only positive thing I can point to are CMAQ grants.

    And all of this garbage was signed into law by Bill Clinton. Which is why I can’t understand Democrats who keep kissing his sell-out butt.

  263. 263
    Jamie says:

    Late to this one, but have to chime in. I have, because of my job, 4 cell phones. AT&T is my personal one, another one from Verizon for work, and two more specialized devices, both of which use random pay-as-you-go carriers, but are running on Verizon’s network. (That probably sounds curious – they are Motorola/Symbol EDAs). In the Bay Area, Verizon sucks less. If you want a premium phone, you have to put up with ~$80/mo. or so, or else jailbreak your phone, which isn’t perfect. (I did this for my partner who currently lives in Tmobile territory with an older iPhone, and data service doesn’t work on it. On the other hand, she pays about $30 for voice service, whereas for my personal phone I pay $45 for voice, and another $30 for data, and that only because I’m grandfathered into the old “unlimited” AT&T plan. Which isn’t unlimited anymore.)

    AT&T simply doesn’t work in large parts of the Bay. At home, I have to stand either at one particular place in my bedroom, or in my kitchen for non-glitchy calls. Around work, it is better, but still doesn’t work at my desk. In parts of the East Bay, AT&T works, but if you live in San Francisco, do not use them.

    The discount data plans via Verizon work surprisingly well, but generally don’t carry voice for our use – we mostly do data, so I can’t comment on that. The direct Verizon iPhone for work is OK, but not great. Cost-wise, that’s hard to compare because that is a corporate account, bundling the cost of a bunch of people’s phones and other devices. I don’t think they are cheaper, except in aggregate – I know I use my phone much less than some other people, so in effect, my part of the bill subsidizes theirs.

    And yes, if you think it is insane to have 4 cell phones, I agree with you. Welcome to my life. I also have someone spamming me with laptops. Seriously – six and counting. I have no idea what to do with them. Two spares makes a sort of sense as backup for the one I bought a couple of years ago, if you’re crazy, and two for my partner (Even though these are Windows, or, with some difficulty, Linux machines, and we are Mac/Unix people, and a pool of three makes more paranoid sense). But the homeless shelter doesn’t want the other ones, and the local hacker space, I know, would say something like, uh, sure? Maybe. What will we do with some ThinkPads? We have an electron microscope going underused.

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