Cell carrier opinions

So, my “New [phone] every two [years]” anniversary with Verizon just recently passed, and I have six months in which to use my $100 credit to get a shiny new phone. Wee!

That said, I am considering leaving VZW, where I have been since I got a cell phone in spring of 2000. I have been very happy with the call quality and have only ever had two billing problems (both early on, both stemming from autopay confusion). Why leave, then? — because the rates have gone up. Again. (Yes, I know everyone’s rates go up all the time.)

I currently pay $40 for the basic plan plus a text messaging add on. I don’t use all the messages or minutes in a given month. I use maybe half. When I get my new phone and extend my contract, my rate will go up to $50 (and this doesn’t include insurance on the phone itself) and I will have even more minutes & messages that I won’t use. They don’t roll over (not that I’d ever be able to catch up). I’ve found a few plans with other carriers that come in at $35/month (for voice & text messaging add-on). That’s more my speed.

First question: any stories about calling VZW and threatening to leave, and then getting a price you’re willing to pay? I’m not much of a haggler, I’ll leave the service before I sit on the phone for 45 minutes arguing my way up the food chain at the call center. I’m kind of surprised that their entry-level plan is up to $40 (plus $10 if you don’t want to pay per text message) when everyone else is hovering around $30.

Second question, if you have a carrier other than Verizon, sing out in the comments and let me know what you think of the call quality (particularly in the Boston Metro area) and customer service, and if you think it’s worth it for the price (for voice and text messaging, which is all I do, and all I care to do, on my phone). I’m also open to pay-as-you-go phones.

[EDIT 7/15] Just to clarify, I am NOT thinking of leaving Verizon because of problems with call quality. The network is excellent, and I never have problems in the Boston Metro area. That is a gigantic plus in the ‘reasons to stay with VZW’ column. [/EDIT]

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6 thoughts on “Cell carrier opinions

  1. Hello –
    I recently changed from US cellular (‘rural’ New Hampshire) to AT&T (cingular). I think these phone companies are all crooks. And nope, I didn’t get an iphone. Here are some of my opinions:
    Call quality…depends on where you’re at. In Boston..I’m surprised you’d have a problem. I work in Tewksbury / Andover and I practically always have a signal in Mass, (maybe a few spots north of chelmlsFAAAd when I don’t).

    I asked for a cheaper rate from the prices listed on the brochure because because I simply don’t use my phone very much…mayb 150 minutes a month TOPS. So I got a cheaper rate…(33 bucks for me) and the minutes roll over. I did opt for a free nokia phone because I wanted specific things like long battery life and a pc cable hookup so I could enter all my contact info from my phone (no they couldn’t transfer my contacts from my old phone).
    I ended up with a phone that I had to pay for but I like it and it has a loooong battery life between charges.

    Also – I took my phone back and changed it before my 30 day trial.
    So try out a different phone and a different carrier. You have 30 days to change your mind if you’re not happy.

    ta ta.

    P

  2. I just switched to Verizon from Cingular. I’m much happier with Verizon’s reception, which seems to be good almost everywhere around Boston. I had the impression that Verizon and Cingular had pretty much the same plan options, with the main difference being that Cingular has rollover, which doesn’t matter to me because I never used all my minutes even on the smallest $40 plan. I’d be curious where you are finding these $30 plans, because I thought when I looked around that pretty much everyone started at $40.

    I would look at Consumer Reports, too — they had an article on cell phone carriers earlier this year which found Verizon to be definitively the best in the Boston area, though I don’t remember the details. It might be worth calling them to get a lower rate — I’ve had my cable company offer me a lower rate when I told them I was switching because of a better deal, and it didn’t take any kind of argument or hassling. I think at a lot of places the call center staff is just authorized to offer you a better deal immediately if you say you are going to switch.

  3. I do know that if you don’t get a new phone, you can stay on the old plan.

    I didn’t have a 6 month limit on my “$100 towards a new phone” deal. Maybe that’s changed, but I got a new phone (for free) 3 1/2 years after my first one, which is when I renewed my plan at the higher rate.

  4. What I’ve seen online in my account indicates that the offer expires in 6 months. From the fine print, it sounds like they have revamped how the New Every Two thing works in the last two years. I wonder if your experience was tied to your renewal on a new plan? Not that it matters, your phone was free, right? 🙂

    My two-year contract ends on 8/19, and I’m not sure what will happen if I haven’t taken any action by then. (I’m assuming that anytime now I will start getting reminders from them about this.) I plan to figure this out, one way or another, before I go to London next month (I return on the 19th). So, we’ll see.

  5. I was sure this was going to turn into an iPhone post. Anyway.. FWIW I have been using T-Mobile for 5 years, and haven’t any trouble with coverage, billing or support. Get too far away from mid-to-large sized cities or major highways and the service drops off pretty quickly, though. On the plus side, last I checked they were quite a bit cheaper than the big competitors.

  6. Can’t vouch for quality in the Boston area, but T-Mobile’s quality and customer service here in the L.A. area just can’t be beat. I’ve pretty much used it all over Calfornia between San Francisco and San Diego and never had a problem.

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