This post is written by a professional, published writer – mariner’s wife. The post is a true tale. Enjoy the quality.
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Where to begin? I suppose I should begin with the letter I got from Verizon stating that due to new 5G technology that would be sweeping the nation, my old flip phone would not work after December 31st, 2022. It behooved me to get a new cell phone that would be able to keep up with the pace of technology or I would be left stranded in the 21st century. Or more accurately I would be stranded in the 20th century– that ancient time when phones were plugged into the wall and phone booths were on every other corner.
I don’t remember any problems with phones in the 20th century. You either had one or you didn’t. If it didn’t work Ma Bell would replace it. Long distance calls were expensive, but that didn’t matter because you didn’t make them except for emergencies. It was an easier time to live, but we didn’t know that then.
I was in no hurry to replace my phone, because I was on the fence about getting a smart phone since I had to upgrade anyway. My husband, on the other hand, knew that he did not want a smart phone, and his old flip phone had died. So together we went to the Verizon store to see what his options were. They were two: an $80 flip phone, or a rugged, heavy duty $260 flip phone. He chose the $80 model. I asked if this would affect our Verizon plan. “No.” The phone will be $80 and nothing else will change? “That is correct, nothing else will change.” Will we be charged a set up fee? “We do not charge a set up fee, but Verizon charges $35 which will be a one time fee on your next bill.” This seemed to be a straightforward transaction but it took some time to complete because my husband had 260 contacts on his old phone. He paid the $80 and I signed the receipt as the Verizon bill was in my name. I did not read the fine print. I don’t think there was any fine print.
We were pleased with the service and the new phone. However, the next day–the very next day–the phone did not work. The screen was white. I googled ‘white screen’ to see if we could troubleshoot the phone and what came up was “White Screen of Death.” That did not sound promising. Then we got an email from Verizon. “Thank you for your recent order. Here is your receipt.” On the receipt I saw that we had paid $70 for the phone and were financing the final $10 at .23 cents a month for 36 months. In addition there was a $14.99 a month charge for phone protection. Phone protection? At that price for a phone that was only $80 to replace? It sounded like mafia protection to me. Suddenly that pleasant straightforward transaction seemed kind of sleazy and we just wanted out of the deal. Especially since the phone did not work.
I took the phone back to the store. We wanted our money back. We wanted the $14.99 a month removed from our bill. All of that was fine with the store, but there would be a $35 restocking fee since it was our choice to return the phone. “But it doesn’t work..” Never mind about that, they would replace the phone for free, but if we wanted to return it, there was that restocking fee. I decided it made more sense to get the new phone and hope it worked longer than one day.
They removed the $14.99 a month but when I got home with the new phone, Verizon thanked me again and $14.99 a month was on the new receipt. What I don’t know is if Verizon will charge me for the set up fee twice–once for the phone that worked one day, and once for the new phone. I called the store and asked to remove the new $14.99 a month protection and a possible second set up fee and of course they agreed to do that. By the time I get the bill, no one will remember any of this and Verizon probably hopes that it will just slip through the very deep cracks in my senior brain.
This should be the end of the story. But there is a part two. I called my friend, who I will call Mary to protect her identity, to talk about my frustration with Verizon. She uses U.S. Cellular and had a similar experience of things being added to her bill, although in her case she knew what she was signing for. There just seemed to be no end to the add on charges.
Her husband, however, had a tracfone and he had just bought $100 worth of new minutes–only to find out through me that 3G technology would not work after the end of 2022. He called tracfone and they sent him a new 4G tracfone for FREE. However, the new phone would not accept the minutes he had just bought. So now he had two phones and 100 minutes that he could not use. He could not go to the tracfone store because there wasn’t one. The only customer service was online or by phone and he couldn’t get through for two days.
The next time I heard from Mary it was with this email:
“So now we have two phones, the old 3G and the new 4G, both with the SAME phone number and both with the SAME tracfone minutes! Verizon service can’t decide which one to make a call or receive calls from. Sometimes one rings or answers and sometimes the other. Or nothing rings and the call goes to voice mail but you can answer during the voice mail and talk. It is madness!! He’s going to call tracfone again tomorrow but I say just forget them both and go to U.S. Cellular and get a new flip 4G with a NEW number. I have a gun and I am ready to use it–twice! Ha!”
I replied wishing her good luck, and as I sent my email–I got a pop up ad that took up the whole of my computer screen. It was offering me a great deal on a new tracfone.
In the midst of all this, I haven’t even mentioned that we don’t get cell service in our house. We have to go out on the porch to get or send calls. Verizon’s nationwide service does not cover our living room, but due to supply chain issues in the cellphone industry and rising costs due to inflation, our bill will be going up $12.99 a month starting in October, even without a protection plan.
I have decided to wait as long as I can before replacing my old 3G flip phone. When the time comes that I have to hang up my old phone, I plan to get another plain black flip phone that will take me into the future as far as I can see. I have decided not to get a smart phone. They are too smart for me.
I am beginning to miss those phone booths on every other corner.
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Mariner here again. Did you notice that she received an ad for a tracfone – a term she had used only in her email? Mind your private affairs, readers; a bunch of folks are eavesdropping your email.