I’ve recounted my recent escapades on trying to find a cellular phone service that’ll actually work at my in-law’s home only to discover that it’s a previously unknown Mystery Spot where the laws of physics and cellular communications are twisted and bent to the point of breaking. None of the major providers we’ve tried—T-Mobile, Verizon, NEXTEL, and Cingular—could hold a solid signal once within the four walls of doom that is our humble abode. Which would’ve sucked big time if we had been locked into the contracts we had to sign just to try out the phones. Fortunately we only had to sign up with two of the four services to try them out as we already knew from a borrowed phone that Verizon wasn’t going to work and the folks at the Cingular shop were smart enough to have a demo phone they kept on hand specifically for troublemakers such as myself. I was particularly pleased when I remarked to the Cingular guy my amazement that the T-Mobile and NEXTEL shops didn’t have similar demo phones and he replied with, “That’s because we’re not retards.” Granted, it’s not the most PC thing he could have said, but it endeared him to me nonetheless.
Anyway, when we signed up with both T-Mobile and NEXTEL to try out their services we were assured by the smiling and pleasant salespeople we dealt with that there was this magic 14 day grace period within which we could return the phones and cancel the service with no questions asked and without being charged if it turned out that the phones weren’t usable at the house. I was somewhat skeptical, but rather than trust my instincts and read the fine print I let my impulsive nature get the better of me and I signed up. If you’re a regular then you already know that neither phone was operable once we got home so we returned them and canceled the contracts thinking that was that.
You can imagine my surprise, then, when I received a bill from both companies the day before yesterday. Seems that, yes, we could return the phone and cancel the contract, but they don’t write off the few days of usage you received from them. In the case of NEXTEL they won’t waive the activation fees either whereas T-Mobile was at least good enough to drop those from our bill which took the T-Mobile bill from being the bigger to the smaller of the two bills. I wasn’t pleased by this turn of events and I made it clear to both companies that they should really check on what promises their sales people are making, but I was more angry with myself for actually listening to the salesman instead of doing the intelligent thing and looking at the fine print. So the folks at T-Mobile managed to squeeze $25 out of me for the 35 minutes total we used out of the 700 monthly we signed up for, most of which were calls of a minute or less made while trying to see if the phone would work at various locations in and around the house, and NEXTEL hit me up for $73 for all of 5 minutes used on their plan. So I’m reminded of the importance of actually reading the contract in full before signing it no matter what the salesman’s assurances are and I’ve moved both T-Mobile and NEXTEL to the bottom of my list of preferred cellular providers to consider in the future.
I’m still currently without a cell phone, but I’m giving serious consideration to signing up with Cingular for two reasons:
1) Out of all the services we tried theirs performed the best and they seem to have the best coverage in that general area of Michigan other than at where my in-law’s house sits, but even there if we stood near the window in our bedroom on one foot and leaned on the glass while burning incense we were able to get two bars and a solid enough signal to have a conversation of more than just two sentences. If we went outside the service actually worked pretty well without having to get in the car and drive a couple of miles up the road, which is the point pretty much everyone’s service comes in great.
2) Their sales people aren’t retards who’ll tell you anything you want to hear to try and sell you a phone.