I'm Taking a Break...

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After following the Windows Mobile scene for several years and contributing to it via my blog here and my old blog Pocket PC Gems, I've decided to take an extended break from blogging. There is more than one reason for this decision but one contributing factor is that I just had a really annoying experience with Verizon Wireless.

I've clung to the WM2003SE operating system for years but when I saw the Samsung SCH-i760 I thought that now might be the time to finally switch to a WM6 device. I joined a forum on the SCH-i760, read countless reviews, etc. and went into my local Verizon store to try to figure out how much it would cost to take an SCH-i760 home with me...

Several weeks and several conflicting answers later and I still don't have anything to show for it.

Read on if you want to hear more (but I don't blame you if you don't)...

The First Encounter. The first time I went into the Verizon store (sometime around November 1) I asked how much one of these phones would cost me, the gentleman looked at the computer for a minute and then told me that I would be eligible for an "early upgrade" on November 16th (today), which would have made the phone cost $299 (US), and to come back then. I thanked him and left.

The Second Encounter. While the phone is probably worth it, $299 is really too much for me right now and so a few days later I decided to call Verizon and see if I could get a better deal. I explained to the woman I spoke with that my fiance had suggested that I switch to Sprint once my Verizon contract expired so that she and I could call one another for free. I told the Verizon representative on the phone that I would be more inclined to stay with Verizon if they could make this phone cheaper. The response I got was nothing if not promising: she confirmed that I would be eligible for the discount on the 16th like the other man had told me and that I might be eligible for further discounts as well, and she went on to say that I had been a customer with them since 2002 and that they would "definitely" be able to work something out with me. She then said that if they couldn't give me a discount on the hardware that they could probably give me a discount on my monthly bill. Finally, she said that she would call me on the 16th to let me know what discounts were available.

The Third Encounter. By 4pm today I still hadn't received the expected call so I decided to give them a call. When I inquired about the call that never came I was told that she had tried to call me but that I hadn't answered. This was a straight up lie. I was at work all day, where I receive flawless reception. I had no missed calls and no messages. The only way this is true is if my reception went out for the exact one minute during which she was attempting to call and then spontaneously turned back on. Sure, that's what happened...uh huh.

After I told the person I was speaking with what the deal was, she did some checking and then told me that I could get the phone for $199 but that I would have to pay $349 for it up front and get the difference back through mail in rebates. Having read that some people weren't getting their promised rebates I was reluctant to accept this "deal" and told her as much. That was the end of that conversation.

The Fourth Encounter. Finally, I stopped in my local Verizon store on the way home from work today to see if I would have any better luck there. I didn't. In fact, things got worse. I was informed that not only were those other discounts not available but that I wasn't eligible for the early upgrade I had initially been promised! The early upgrade is available for customers who pay relatively large monthly bills because they have data plans and the like in addition to their core service. I was told that despite the fact that I fall within this category I was not eligible because my data plan was seen as a mere feature added onto my voice plan! In other words, Verizon denied me the benefit by simply ignoring the fact that I pay a lot every month by viewing half of my monthly payment as a feature of the other half!

Conclusion

All of this could have been avoided if they had simply given me a straight answer to begin with (even if it was one I didn't like). It should not be that difficult for a company that sells about a dozen products to quote me a price on one of them. This post suggests that they've always had a rate quoting problem.

During the few weeks I was waiting for the call from Verizon that never came, I got really excited about the SCH-i760 and about WM6. And Verizon's inability to perform basic customer service just killed it all. So that's the long and short of it.

I'll be back eventually but I don't know when...probably in a couple of months. I want to thank Hal and everyone else for letting me be part of such a wonderful team. Take care of yourselves.

--Ben

[Edit: I've made a few revisions to my original post now that I've had a little time to cool down. The truth is I don't hate Verizon because their service is the best available and their customer service is usually relatively good IMHO. All of the people I spoke with during each of the four encounters described above were courteous and nice. And while this incident really, really annoyed me (did I mention that it was also annoying?), I really don't know if I'd be happier with another carrier. I can't say at this point which carrier I'll go with once my Verizon contract expires...]

Are you as smart as you sound?

What's your problem? All I did was complain about a bad customer service experience on a blog devoted to the products at issue. What exactly is your point?

Ouch. I hate to see these sorts of problems. It is definitely one of the problems with a carrier driven market. I really hate seeing you go absent here on the site. I have to admit that your blog entries are some of my favorites.

All the best to you Ben.

So may companies are spending millions now on stealing customers away from their competition and very little on protecting long term existing customers. No customer loyalty plans anymore that really mean anything.

Staff at these large companies have little invested to really stand behind the company they work for.

Dale, Bruce, and Bob: Thank you so much for your kind words. They mean a lot to me, really.

In truth, I don't think I'll be gone that long probably just a few months (2 or 3). I just need a break. I've got a fair amount of stressful stuff going on right now and this latest Verizon incident just made me realize that even my favorite hobby was starting to become a source of stress. So I just need to step away for a little while.

Thanks again.

Paul, mein freund, good to hear from you. What's your email address these days? Alternatively, just email me at plinydogg [at] yahoo [dot] com....

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