Yeah, the future is here, and everyone above the age of eight seems to be wandering around with smartphones in their pockets. Maybe you’ve put off joining the mobile-computing revolution because you didn’t want to spend $100 per month for a voice and data plan. How about $19 per month for a smartphone with unlimited voice, texting, and data? That’s what Republic Wireless offers, and many consumers find this intriguing. The problem is that you pretty much get what you pay for. Or is that an advantage? [More]
JD and his family moved to a different town in the same state, but T-Mobile didn’t have great reception in their new home. They had only one bar of service, but T-Mobile customer service staff assured the family that the service would get better. It didn’t. When his wife’s phone broke, they upgraded her phone and his son’s phone after assurances from the salesperson that having new, advanced smartphones would improve their reception. They did not. What the family would really like now, a year later, is to quit their T-Mobile contract and get on with their lives. That’s not an option without an early termination fee. [More]
Nick likes Boost Mobile, but he needed some help from the company. He tried to call them, but was cast into phone-prompt purgatory. He sought solace and support from other frustrated Boost customers on their Facebook page, and the admin scolded him for “spamming” the page. When a simple Google search turned up a number where he could find a live rep, he shared this information with the masses. And got banned from the company’s Facebook page.
William assumed that the mobile phone kiosk salesman was acting as an agent of Sprint, trying to get him to switch. The offer was too good to refuse: 25% off, without having to work for a specific employer or any other qualification. They paid an ETF to Verizon and jumped ship. That’s when they learned that the discount wasn’t for just anyone: it was an employee discount, and William didn’t work for the company the salesman had claimed that he did.
We don’t have a “Consumerist Hero Citation,” but if we did, it would go to the person at this Vermont deli who had the idea to impose a $3 fine for yapping on one’s cell phone while trying to order at the counter. “$3 will be added to your total if you fail to GET OFF YOUR PHONE while at the counter. IT’S RUDE,” the sign reads. [More]
Garland and her husband have the same Android smartphone from Virgin Mobile, the Motorola Triumph. It’s supposed to be a pretty nice phone, and wasn’t cheap, but both of their phones had some issues. So get a warranty replacement and be on your way, right? Only it wasn’t just one replacement. Garland is now about to receive her fourth replacement phone, and her husband his third. That’s a total of seven defective phones so far. The phones suffer from a variety of problems, ranging from random reboots to poor reception to–worst of all–not recharging at all for no clear reason. They’d like Virgin to perhaps consider sending them a different, less crappy phone next time. They won’t.
If I’ve learned anything from reading readers’ letters, it’s that I should never get divorced. Or married. Or die. All of these seemingly routine life changes confuse companies so badly that you’d think they had never happened before. But Jake, a longtime T-Mobile customer, has been cast into a special consumer hell after his divorce. His ex canceled the credit card he had used to set up automatic payments, and reversed his payments to the phone company. So they charge him the balance on his next bill, he pays it, and all is well, right? I mean, he’s a 7-year customer with no late payments. It’s not like he’s a credit risk or anything. Except….he is now. And he has to pay his T-Mobile bills in cash, in person, for the remainder of his contract.
Ron is a longtime, loyal Verizon Wireless customer. Things were going quite well until he returned a new phone recently. This phone was somehow never logged in at the warehouse, and Verizon keeps piling equipment fees on Ron’s account. Now his service has been shut off, which is bad news for him and for his patients: he’s a doctor and on call. He has FedEx tracking info indicating that he sent the phone back, but Verizon didn’t record it on their end.
Robert has his eye on a shiny new smartphone, and he’s eligible for an upgrade. He’s on a family plan, and has devised a scheme to take advantage of some promotions. These promotions are intended for new Verizon customers, so his plan is to discontinue one of the lines on his account, and start a new one in order to get the discounts and perks that come with a “new” line. He wonders: has anyone else out there tried this and succeeded?
Every year since 2007, Jim and his wife have celebrated the arrival of their federal income tax refund by going to the T-Mobile store, renewing their contract, and picking out shiny new phones at the new-contract discount. Year after year, they’ve done this, even though they’re renewing the 2-year contract every year. This was just part of what made being T-Mobile customers so awesome. Until, suddenly, the carrier stopped being as awesome, and insisted that the last five years and all of those discounted phones were all a dream.
In a move that will likely have a huge ripple effect in the mobile device accessory market nationwide, the California Energy Commission approved the nation’s first ever energy standards for the chargers you use to power up everything from your phone and tablet to your power drill.
William has tried everything to get a working HTC smartphone: he’s e-mailed executives and he’s visited his local Sprint store for help. The company replaced his broken Evo Shift with a Design. Yay! …except that on the new phone, no one can hear him. HTC won’t send a replacement phone. Not because he’s not entitled to one, but because William tried had swapped in a battery from his old phone when the replacement had shipped with a bad one.
Michael’s daughter has a phone on the family plan, and he’d like to do something to it that seems simple enough. He wants to block her phone from all use during school hours, except for the numbers she would need in an emergency. Except the system doesn’t work that way. For some reason that no one understands, phones can only be disabled in certain blocks, and during certain times the main account holder can’t limit the phone’s use at all. Some of these times happen to conveniently fall during the hours when Michael’s daughter is at school. He’s not the only one with this problem.
Peter is a longtime, but not particularly happy Sprint customer. Still, his nephew could get more from Big Yellow than with his previous provider, so the two went to the Sprint store to move his service over. It wasn’t unexpected that a young man without much of a credit history would have a limits on his account, but Peter was surprised when Sprint disconnected his nephew’s phones and demanded a $500 deposit that they had been assured at the Sprint store wasn’t required.
In 2009, loyal Sprint customer Matt jumped ship to AT&T, enticed by the glorious glossy screen of the then-exclusive Jesus Phone. I mean, iPhone. He sends $300 per month to AT&T for the four iPhones on his account. One would think that this would entitle him to an actual working mobile phone. Don’t be silly. Matt’s tale of woe includes months of frustration, including huge business deals lost due to crappy phone service.
Since the first Gordon Gekkos of the world picked up their 10-pound brick mobile phones more than two decades ago, there have been numerous studies into the relationship, if any, between mobile phone use and cancer. And it’s a debate that won’t disappear anytime soon thanks to the World Health Organization’s announcement that it has categorized wireless phone use as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
If you upgrade your mobile phone, then return the new phone because software problems render it unusable, does this mean that you’ve used up your upgrade and cannot receive a new subsidized phone again for the term of your current contract? Based on reader Jason’s experience…yeah, that’s pretty much it.
Yesterday, we brought you the story of a reader who thought she’d successfully activated the remote lock on her new HTC phone after it was stolen only to find out the system didn’t work because it’s too popular. And within minutes of the story going up on Consumerist, she received not one but two separate calls from HTC seeking to atone for the error.