First Google, now it’s Sprint? Cell phone and Data card woes

11 May

First it was Google, but now it’s Sprint.  I got a letter from Sprint, and for a change it wasn’t a reminder that I’d forgotten to pay the bill.  Of course, it also wasn’t a Gee-You-have been-with-us-so-long-here-is-a-free-anything letter either.  Instead it was a letter informing me that I had gone over the limits of 5 gb with 30o mb of roaming per month.  This was confusing, as I had a very old data card contract with no 5 gb limit, but rather unlimited data.  So, I log into my account online, and it still says I have unlimited, and it is quite obvious that I have exceeded a 5 gb limit.  There is nothing at all to tell me how much roaming data I’ve had, but I really don’t travel that much and shouldn’t be using roaming.

So, I put a call into the number listed on the letter.  Big mistake for a last-business-of-the-day decision.  First, I get some girl who must have had marbles in her mouth and been afraid of her microphone on her headset.  I’m only able to catch about half of what she’s saying, and that makes a combination of irritated-at-mumbling & I’m-afraid-I’m-going-deaf.  So, I ask her to speak up.  Barely can hear her then, but boy oh boy, could I hear the music on hold!  I about screamed in agony, as I was wearing a headset too, and the music was loud enough to wake the dead.  This girl tells me that Sprint can change my contract anytime, and that my notice it was being changed was this letter, and if I continued to use over 5 gb of data per month SPRINT WAS GOING TO CANCEL MY CONTRACT.  I don’t get this.  If Sprint doesn’t like upholding a contract they made with me nearly 4 years ago and which I was recently asked to renew for another 2 years for a $70 discount on my bill, that’s okay.  I have no recourse.  I’m supposed to just take it with a smile.  However, if I should decide that I don’t like the contract, and I break it, I have to pay an early termination fee?  Whoa!  That is NOT FAIR!!!! We have been putting up with consumer contracts for way too long that have all of the balls in the courts of corporations, and we have been allowing corporations to run our lives!  Who would sign a contract  like that in their regular business dealings?

So, apparently, I am stuck with a company that is imminently going to cancel my contract because I’m not bound by the same ridiculously low ceiling as new contracts.  They don’t offer an unlimited contract anymore, and they don’t even offer a 10 gb contract.  I’m sort of stuck, because I can’t switch companies because I’m bound by a contract to Sprint, who apparently, at some future point, probably without notice, is going to terminate my contract & services.  As far as abiding by a 5 gb limit, it’s pretty tough with Sprint.  They don’t offer hot spots, so its not like I can stop by Bookstore A or Coffeeshop X and kill some time while I’m transferring a few files.  They aren’t the fastest company in terms of data either, and they aren’t the one with the best coverage.  The ONLY reason I stayed with them was the fact that I had a very attractive contract with unlimited data, and a reasonably attractive telephone package with unlimited data/calls that is going to become a whole lot less attractive when I have to get another company for my data card, since it isn’t the cheapest plan with the best coverage available in the USA.  I don’t know how many times I’ve stood there with an unusable cell phone while my daughter stood smirking beside me, with a full signal on her Verizon telephone.  If I wanted a cheap cell phone plan with unlimited minutes and scant service areas, Boost offers all of that for a mere $50 prepaid, no contract required.

What a depressing day!  All I want is stuff that works, and a bill that makes sense without trickery and false promises.  For everyone out there, look out.  Apparently your cell phone company is able to change the rules after the contract is signed, something that we sure can’t do to the cell phone company.  It’s not like I can say, “Your service sucked this month, and it sucked last month, and do you know how many times my calls got dropped that weekend in Florida?  I’ve decided that you are not worth $180 a month, you are really only worth $50 a month, so from now on, that’s all I’m going to pay you.”

So now who?  Who is a really reliable cell phone company with reasonable rates and real data plans for data cards that can be increased to cover over 5 gb months without charging me through the nose?  Who has coverage in most of the country, not just along interstates and near urban areas?  Sprint has better coverage along the coasts than the mid-section of the country, but I have to admit, if you got off-the-beaten-path, it got downright spotty even here in Louisiana and Mississippi.  The Florida panhandle was a hopeless case unless you were right on I-10 or the beach strip too.  Come to think of it, it was pretty awful in NE Texas.  I didn’t have service at all anywhere in Missouri or Iowa or Minnesota when I traveled through there.  Service was in and out when I went through Tennessee.  It did work when I visited the Washington DC area though!

Dang it, and I just renewed the stupid contract out of some misguided loyalty to a company that obviously has decided that I have to play their game even when they are going to change the rules!   I didn’t want the complications of changing cell phone companies, even though Greg is a long term Verizon company user, as is the majority of my family.  I’d have all free-Verizon-to-Verizon calls (and so would they) if I switched to Verizon, but no, stubborn me stayed with Sprint because I had an unlimited data card plan with Sprint, which Verizon didn’t offer.

If I had needed a headache, I could have just banged my head on the wall!

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