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July 30th, 2000

Cellular Roulette

I bought my first cell phone in January of 1999 – it’s a Qualcomm QCP-1920 (very much obsolete), with service from PrimeCo. I figured the 100 minute plan would suit me fine and it did until I recently decided to go 100% cellular with my voice calls (no more landline!)

But did I like PrimeCo? No way. Here’s a list of problems I have with the phone and the service:

  • My first phone had volume problems – even on maximum, I could barely hear the other person. Happened in transit or even in my house. Got it replaced.
  • My second phone just stopped working one morning for the heck of it. Got it replaced, too.
  • Was automatically signed up for Roadside Assistance without giving any permission, as a three-month trial. I was then charged for it on the fourth month. Called customer service but gave up after being on hold for 20 minutes. Called again, held for 25 minutes. Called again at midnight, no hold. Was told that PrimeCo "never" signs people up for anything without permission, but they’d remove the charges and offer a refund. Wow.
  • Nice feature: you can set a monthly limit for yourself – and once you hit it, the service is canned till next month. It’s arbitrarily set at $350 when you sign up. On the aforementioned customer service call, I asked to change it to $50. "Sorry, sir, the lowest amount you can set that limit to is $350." Gee, thanks, that’s only 17 times my base rate!
  • Phone works only intermittently in my room.

After intense studying and research I opted to go with AT&T – the phone is better, the service looks stronger, they actually have customer service that – get this – answers the phone, and I get more minutes (along with text messaging – people can email my phone!) I originally chose Sprint, but due to some quality issues I went elsewhere. Verizon’s commercials annoyed me too much to even consider ’em.

Moral: shop around. -pm

Posted in Technology

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