Thursday, December 6, 2012

Phone rage

My general cell phone rule is, when the battery needs replacing, just replace the whole phone. In the past, a new cell phone could be had for not much more than a new battery, but this time I decided to upgrade to a smart phone, a Samsung Galaxy Blaze from T-Mobile. After all, my 93-year-old father has an iPhone; I figured I should at least appear to keep up with him.

I am the cheapest cell phone user I know. My phone shopping strategy is to find the plan with the least amount of pocketbook pain, and get whatever phone will work with it. This has translated to prepaid plans and outdated phones, but my cell phone bill never exceeded $100 a year. I'm almost always home or at work, so I really just needed the cell for emergencies and the rare times I travel.

Somewhere along the way I became jealous of those who surf and check email and type with their thumbs. I held out until T-Mobile came up with MY plan: unlimited text and web with 100 minutes talk, for $30 a month. The best phone that was available for that plan was the Blaze, a huge step up from my clam shell Nokia.

An aside on cell phone prices: Because I was buying the phone but not a two-year contract, I paid T-Mobile around $300 for an online purchase. At Target, the very same phone could be had for $10 IF I signed that two-year contract, OR I could buy the phone without a plan for $500. Wow.

Anyway, the phone arrived and with much excitement I began preparations for joining the rest of the thumb-typers. BUT there was no activation card with the phone. I repeatedly searched through the manuals and warranty and papers that came with the phone, but no activation card. Thus began a short trip through insanity (doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results). The instructions actually stated that if the activation card were missing, I should call such-and-such number; that number went to an automated system that took me here and took me there, but never provided a solution to my particular problem. I tried all those tricks to try to connect to a live person; none of them worked. After about 20 minutes of menu hell, the system promised to connect me to a live person - but there was no one there and after a minute or so, I was disconnected. I actually tried this multiple times before giving up for the night.

The next day I called the local T-Mobile store, even though I had read online that they would be of no use. The chirpy salesperson assured me they could help if I would just stop by. When I showed up later that day, Ms. Chirpy was no longer there, and the two non-chirpy salespersons that remained were useless because apparently store personnel cannot do anything for a customer with a prepaid account besides offer to sell her one of their expensive plans. I was having a hormonal day and was near tears, so one of them took pity and gave me a new number to call, a number guaranteed to connect me to a live person. Thank you, thank you!

I rushed home, I dialed the number, I connected with the same automated system. Grrr. I hung in there until it promised to connect me to a live person. I got connected to a live person (!!!) who did not know what to do. She said I needed to talk to sales, but when she tried to connect me, she disconnected me.

I was on the verge of sending the phone back but sorted through the packaging for the umpteenth plus one time. That is when I noticed a phone number on the invoice, a different number from either of the ones I had tried before. I dialed it. Sales answered. They knew exactly what to do and within minutes, my cell phone was saved from a return trip to T-Mobile. Huzzah!

Since then the Blaze has been my constant companion, even though the honeymoon is over. I have a selection of apps, all of them free, because I am cheap (see above) and because I assume setting up a Google wallet account would involve giving them my credit card number, something I am loathe to do. For a while, T-Mobile kept sending me texts, asking if I needed help using my phone, presumably because I used no talk minutes for the first month. I am learning to type with my thumbs, though.

1 comment:

  1. I have no need for a smart phone, but eventually the world will arrange itself so that if you don't have one you can't interact with people or conduct personal business, at which point I will cave in. That's the only reason I got a cell phone a few years ago, which I still rarely use.

    T-Mobile is my carrier too; it's close to impossible to get through to anyone on their 800 number, but I've found the store salespeople to be really helpful. It probably just depends on who's working in the store that particular day.