Can you Slimy Now?

by Colin Berkshire

Colin here.

Let me start by saying that Verizon has in my opinion become the epitome of the schoolyard bully that we all hated. I recently left Verizon simply because I was tired of feeling abused by them. Even if the schoolyard bully occasionally treats you fairly, you just don’t want to be around them.

I switched to T-Mobile. Their network is not as good as Verizon’s. But, their customer service is a breath of fresh air. They are friendly and helpful and their agents are empowered to solve problems. Their pricing is outstanding.

But what I like best is absence of the tricks and complexities of dealing with Verizon. Verizon has gotten slimy in how they deal with customers. There is always a catch, a hidden fee, a gotcha, or a lock-in. No matter how good you feel, in the end they sour it in a way that makes me feel cheated.

Let’s take Verizon’s Allset prepaid plan. Initially this plan looks great. On paper. For a $45 fee you get a prepaid phone with 500 megabytes of data, or for $20 a month you get a tablet with 1GB of data. So far, so good.

Verizon doesn’t make it very clear that you cannot use their 4G LTE network with these plans. You can’t. You are limited to a maximum of 1.5 megabits and speeds of a few hundred kilobits is more the norm (Verizon calls their 1xRTT technology 3G although that’s a loose interpretation). Why on earth would they cripple their own offering? What really bugs me is that they are very coy about this crippling.

Verizon Allset offers a really nifty option called “Bridge Data.” It’s a block of overage data that you can use over a 90 day period of time when you go over the basic allowance. Pay $20 and get 3GB of overage data that you have 90 days to eat. It’s like a 90-day rollover insurance policy. So far so good. Now, Verizon pulls out the tricks and games: You can’t use Bridge data on tablet devices. Or for Mi-Fi devices. Why not?

Then they get truly slimy. One of their reps stated “the 3G speed is just as fast as the 4G LTE Speed”. This is just false. When I inquired further, the rep affirmed “you don’t have to worry about slow speed connections. You have great speed.” The truth is that verizon 3G is 1xRTT which has speeds usually measured in kilobits per second, not megabits per second.

So here Verizon has this truly wonderful 4G LTE network and they prohibit you from using it. Why would they do that? That is just pure evil, I think. Or, is it they need to feel they have won every battle with you by having thse gotchas? You know those people: you do business with them but there is always one pre-planned twist when you get into the deal. It leaves you feeling like you were had. It’s a bad feeling.

For more than a decade I was a happy Verizon customer. Then the billing problems started happening…they could never fix them and for many months I would be billed for things I hadn’t purchased or had actually canceled. They would issue credits, but the ongoing charges would keep coming back. Long disconnected lines would reappear and then reactivate on my bill and start billing again.

Verizon has failed to offer pricing that is in-line with the industry. Their pricing is now crazy-expensive even compared with their oligopoly sister AT&T.

One of the things which I have always done is to give my business to companies that are ethical and straightforward. For decades that was Verizon. But sadly, I no longer feel this way. The ethical winner in cellular seems to be T-Mobile at the moment.

Yes, T-Mobile’s domestic network is marginal. It’s just not as good as Verizon’s. But they are the sort of company that I want to do business with.

Oh, and I do love the fact that you can travel to over 100 different countries and get free unlimited data and 20-cent per minute phone calls from almost any country when abroad.

Sorry Verizon.