I have been struggling with getting electronic services since returning to the Valley of Hell last July. Initially I bought an iMac and an iPhone (to go with my iPod) and secured telephone services through Verizon. My Internet connection was through the "personal hotspot" on the iPhone. It was very expensive, and I didn't even have cable figured into the mess.
In December I secured satellite television through Direct TV. All told, I was paying over $200 a month to be connected to the outside world.
Two weeks ago I stopped by the Verizon store and talked to a very pleasant young man to see if I could scrape some money off of my monthly charges. He assured me there was no way to save much until I told him matter-of-factly that I was just going to pay the fee to bail on my contract and do something different. At that point he pulled out a much more sensible alternative and I was able to save some money.
Today I went back to Verizon to get some questions answered over things that I was unclear on. Today's saleslady was less-than-pleasant as she explained that I was actually paying more than I realized. Turned out I hadn't saved that much and had many more limitations.
I talked to my sister later in the morning and she told me about her no-contract plan with Wal-Mart that gave her unlimited phone time and texts. I don't do Wal-Mart, but headed out to Costco to see what they could do. Two young men there gave me a glorious run-around until I told them that I would bail on Verizon and take my business to what the less-than-pleasant young lady at the Verizon stored called a "mom-and-pop" provider - and she sneered when she said it. At about that point, they whipped out a great T-Mobile plan for $30 a month.
I have upgraded to a Verizon "jet pack" for my Internet (what they used to call their "air card"), and I am comfortable with that an Internet source. I don't do Internet with my iPhone and am therefore paying "media" charges that I don't benefit from. Tomorrow I will sign up for the T-Mobile cheap plan and hope to be happy with that as well. One of my kids will receive my iPhone, and I suspect that will be appreciated.
A few weeks ago I heard part of a Diane Rehm broadcast on NPR dealing with cell phone service providers. Diane's guest said that the major companies all collude in fixing their prices (anyone surprised at that?), and that they contribute to (bribe) state and national legislators to safeguard their price-fixing. (We had a mini-scandal here in the Scorpion State a few years ago when it was alleged that one of these major service providers had rushed out and put up a cell tower next to John McCain's Sedona ranch because...well, because he was John McCain.) Diane's Rehm's guest said that the same cell services in other parts of the world, particularly Europe, are significantly cheaper.
The thing that truly angers me about the whole situation is this: Why won't the cellular service providers show customers all options up front? Why do we have to do the dance for weeks and months and threaten to quit before they finally relent and roll out the stuff that ordinary people can afford.
Well, actually two other things anger me as well: Why are we forced to have passwords for our phone service? Some of us just are not good with passwords! And why does it take so long to reach a human being when you call the phone company? Press "one" if you think that is a bunch of crap!
There is lots that stinks about cellular phone service in America, and very little that smells like a rose.