Should I Keep A Free Cell Phone Line That I Can't Actually Use?

John has a mobile phone service dilemma. He writes that he’s not able to get any reception in the dorm room where he lives. Even his carrier, AT&T, seems to have admitted defeat and has offered to waive the bill for his line for the next six months. John wonders whether he should give up on AT&T and change to a carrier that actually works.

Ever since I moved onto my Philadelphia campus, I’ve been plagued with laughable service from AT&T. Even as I sit next to this wonderful six-foot window, my poor phone’s desperately searching for service, I pat it on the pack if it sniffs out more than one bar of service. I get better service in the subway that in my own dorm room. My father (the account holder) and I have pestered AT&T about this problem, and initially they shrugged their shoulders saying that it’s due to some old towers that they’ll replace. In a few years.

Now, it seems we MAY be getting somewhere. As a sort of… sympathy hug (only after we pestered them some more) they offered to pay my bill for the next six months. We have since taken them up on that offer, can’t complain about that. Pretty groovy, but my service issue still isn’t resolved. It’s not a question of where I am, my roommate’s Droid gets by just fine in here.

Today AT&T called me asking me to remove my SIM card and battery as they did magic to my phone. No dice, still have the same piss-poor reception I’ve had for the past seven months.

Consumerist, should I terminate my line with AT&T and switch to a carrier that holds up better in a city, or should I continue battling with AT&T until they fix their own mistake? Your opinion would help.

This all hinges on a very important question: how much longer is John going to live in this dorm room? The academic year is most likely almost over. If he plans to stay there this summer and for the foreseeable future, then the answer is obvious: switch carriers. Don’t wait for AT&T upgrades that may or may not (but probably won’t) come. If his time in this dorm is nearly up, then he should alk to other students: if poor reception is limited to just a few buildings or certain areas of campus, then perhaps he should be patient and wait out the school year. Get an inexpensive prepaid phone (Straight Talk runs on Verizon’s network, and may work in your dorm room) and ditch AT&T if it doesn’t work where you find yourself six months from now.

Or assume that AT&T will continue to suck, and make the switch.