Why I Switched to T-Mobile after 18 Years (1996-2014) as a Verizon Wireless Customer
June 27, 2014
My horrible experience with Verizon Wireless revealed a callous indifference to customer interests and concerns in a single-minded pursuit of revenue.
A timeline of my experience is as follows.
I visited a Verizon Wireless store to upgrade my phone, but I went totally unprepared to engage with a slick salesperson. It did not occur to me that I needed to guard against getting hoodwinked, because upgrading my phone had always been a routine process. Also, since I had been getting a single bill for my landline and mobile services, I was not aware that Verizon and Verizon Wireless were now separate entities. Therefore I was not aware that a change regarding my home phone would completely severe my relationship with Verizon and upend the quality of service I was getting from them.
I brought my latest bill with me to expedite the process of exchanging pertinent information. The salesperson looked at the bill and exclaimed that I could save money. I ended up being sold a 4-line More Everything plan that included (1) the phone, (2) a mobile hotspot (which I liked), (3) a cellular modem for my computer, and (4) a device called the Home Phone Connect (HPC) for my landline.
I was dubious about replacing my unlimited data with this new plan’s 1 gigabyte of data. But I was assured that 1 gigabyte could fit my needs. Since I thought that Verizon and Verizon Wireless were the same company, I thought that the cellular modem and HPC were just replacement devices for my Verizon service. I did not know that I would be terminating my Verizon service and signing up for devices that involved Early Termination Fees (ETF).
When I was asked to sign my name on the salesperson’s iPad and was told that the paperwork would be emailed to me, I thought I was merely signing my credit card receipt. If I had known that I was signing a contract for the cellular modem and HPC that involved ETF’s, I would have backed out. It was not explained to me what I was signing, and I was not offered a chance to read it. (In contrast the T-Mobile salespersons made sure that I read everything before signing.)
After reading the morning paper with my iPad Wall Street Journal app, I was shocked to see an email alerting me that I had exceeded my data allowance. The email advised me to increase my data plan to avoid an overage charge. I increased the plan to 2 gigabytes. My promised savings had thereby shrunk!
I took the cellular modem and HPC to the Verizon store to return them and revert back to Verizon’s cooper line and unlimited data. After the salesperson spoke with the store manager, I was told that they concluded that the email alert must have been in error, because I could not have used all my data. I was told that 2 gigabytes was more than enough for normal computing, and besides I could bring in a bill and have glitches corrected. Not believing that I would be willfully misled, I fell for that explanation.
I received another shocking email alert about exceeding my data allowance and that I should increase my data plan to avoid overage charges. Examination of my data usage indicated that the iPad Wall Street Journal app was using a quarter gigabyte per day. Still relying on the veracity of the Verizon Wireless salespersons, I concluded that this could not be correct. I figured that perhaps a calculation involving prorated data usage was amiss. I decided to wait until the start of my full monthly cycle on 4/7 to examine the readings on my data usage.
Besides the data usage headache, it had become clear that the HPC had three significant shortcomings. They were (1) inferior sound quality, (2) inability to fax, and (3) the Caller ID displayed the number only – no name.
The third shortcoming was extremely maddening, because even though my number is on the Do Not Call list I still get numerous junk phone calls. I routinely ignore calls that show “Unavailable” or something similar. Screening calls became surprising difficult with the HPC. I was avoiding legitimate calls whose number I did not immediately recognize. And I was picking up (and immediately hanging up) on junk calls with a local area code.
On this new monthly cycle, I checked my data usage and saw that my iPad Wall Street Journal app was indeed using a quarter gigabyte per day for one and a half gigabytes per week. My other computer usage was a quarter gigabyte per week. It became clear that I had been misled, and that a limited data plan – though OK for a mobile phone – was totally inappropriate for combined phone and home computing usage.
I called Verizon to get back my superior landline service with unlimited data.
A Verizon technician got me back onto Verizon. I felt relieved! It was like welcoming back an old friend whom I had unwisely underappreciated. I no longer had to guess whether or not a call was a junk phone call. I no longer had to curtail my everyday computer and iPad activities out of concern over data limits.
I could tell from phone conversations that the technician had with his coworkers that they considered the Verizon Wireless HPC to be ***.
I called Verizon Wireless to get the cheapest plan possible. The plan included a quarter gigabyte of data, but the representative gave me a bonus allotment of an extra gigabyte. So at this point I felt that I was in a good situation. I had landline and mobile service appropriate for me at a cost much less than my cost before the start of this bad experience.
I noticed on my Verizon Wireless bill that the salesperson had added extended warranties for the phone and mobile hotspot to my plan without my knowledge. I called Verizon Wireless to get them dropped.
Also that day, I opted out of having Verizon Wireless retain my checking account and bank routing numbers.
I saw on my bill that Verizon Wireless had charged me an Early Termination Fee for reverting back to Verizon. This was truly an insult upon injury! After being hoodwinked into a frustratingly inadequate home phone service plan and then misled when I came to return it two days later, they were penalizing me for reverting back to a service that made sense for me. Essentially, Verizon Wireless sets up a Berlin Wall to discourage people from escaping, rather than offering something that would encourage people to stay.
I returned to the Verizon Wireless store to demand that they drop the ETF. But first I had to get pass someone who fed me the line that they could save me money on TV service, which was the same line with which I had already been duped. (Be prepared to be hustled at a Verizon Wireless store, especially if they feed you this line.)
I explained the following to the person who waited on me. (1) It was not made clear to me that I was signing a contract for the HPC; I thought I was signing a credit card receipt. (2) I was misled about the adequacy of a 2 gigabyte data plan, when I came to return the HPC and cellular modem. (3) The HPC has inferior sound quality. (4) The HPC lacks a fax capability. (5) The HPC lacks a genuine Caller ID capability.
After the person spoke with the manager, I was told that the manager was on a conference call and that I would receive a call around 4:00pm.
I rehashed my experiences to the manager later that day. The manager essentially told me that I should have known that I was signing a contract. I was told that the ETF would not be dropped, but the restocking fee would be waived if I returned the HPC device. I stated that I intended to terminate all services. The manager’s response was “No problem.”
I called Verizon Wireless to terminate my remaining three services. I rehashed my experiences to the service representative’s obligatory “why” question. The representative informed me that services will automatically get dropped when I transfer to another carrier.
Later that day I received an automated call from Verizon Wireless Customer Survey. I gave a zero to the likelihood that I would recommend Verizon Wireless, and then summarized my experiences for the obligatory “why” question. I received no further feedback. Apparently Verizon Wireless has no process for attending to an aggrieved customer who for 18 years paid each bill shortly after it arrived.
I visited a T-Mobile store – this time with my guard up – to inquire about their “We Pay Your ETF’s” promotion. I was pleasantly surprised to find a totally different corporate culture. The salespersons related to me as a human being rather than as a potential dupe.
I transferred my phone and mobile hotspot services to T-Mobile; so they will pay those two ETF’s. Perhaps having some awareness of the anti-customer culture at Verizon Wireless, the salesperson said that now I no longer had to deal with them. Unfortunately I still had to have one more interaction with Verizon Wireless, because I had to terminate the cellular modem service.
I called Verizon Wireless to terminate my remaining service. To my surprise, upon answering the obligatory “why” question, the service representative expressed some empathy. The representative (1) apologized for my bad experiences, (2) noted that I had been a good customer since 1996, and (3) asked if there was something that could be done to keep me with Verizon Wireless. However it was too late; I had already switched to T-Mobile.
Ironically if I had spoken with this representative earlier, I would probably still be with Verizon Wireless. I really liked the cellular modem. More than just a portable broadband wireless connection, it also provided a portable broadband Ethernet connection. So if needed, I could have had a broadband connection wherever I was whether or not a particular computer had a wireless antenna. Before switching I would have been willing to negotiate over the possibility of adding more bonus data to my monthly allotment.
In closing, here are some reasons why a Verizon Wireless customer should consider switching to T-Mobile.
1.T-Mobile will pay your ETF’s.
2.In contrast to corporate culture at Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile’s is customer friendly. (Admittedly, a high confidence conclusion cannot be drawn from my small dataset. I could have unluckily chosen an anomalously anti-customer Verizon Wireless store.)
3.T-Mobile will pay your ETF’s.
4.T-Mobile’s hotspot device is nice. It can be tethered to deliver wireless broadband to a computer that lacks a wireless antenna. Or while tethered it can act as an external storage device. Also it has a large capacity battery, so it can charge or power other devices.
5.Call forwarding with T-Mobile is extremely flexible. With Verizon Wireless, when I was home and wanted to receive calls to my mobile phone on my landline with my mobile phone turned off, I had to unconditionally forward my calls. Then I had to remember to turn off call forwarding, when I left the house. In contrast T-Mobile has four call forwarding modes: (a) unconditional, (b) busy, (c) don’t answer, and (d) unavailable (phone turned off). So in just one simple operation I was able to set modes 2 – 4 on my T-Mobile phone to forward calls to my landline. Now I no longer have to play the game of turning call forwarding on and off. Calls to my mobile phone automatically go to my mobile phone when it is on and to my landline when it is off.
6.You can make calls over Wi-Fi with T-Mobile. So if Wi-Fi is available, you have coverage.
7.And lastly, T-Mobile will pay your ETF’s.
William H Bailey
Review about: Verizon Wireless Service Transfer.
Monetary Loss: $600.