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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Verizon Cellular Phone Upgrade, Cumbersome At Best

I have Verizon for my cellular carrier. I was going to upgrade my phone to the new LG enV Touch. I have the LG Dare which I really like but I liked the idea that I could load documents into the enV and read them. Thusly I would be able to stick a couple of books into my phone for those long Drs office waits, traffic jams etc. where you wish you had a book.

I went into the Verizon site to upgrade, added in the stuff I wanted and got to the review portion of the order. It showed a $9.99 per month data package. I didn’t want a data package. If I was going with a data package, I would go with the new Droid. So I hit edit and tried to take the data package off. After many frustrating minutes, I called customer service. It turns out that you can’t get that phone unless you get the data package. It is interesting that the only time you clearly see that requirement is when you are ready to finalize the upgrade. If you aren’t careful and don’t thoroughly read the upgrade sheet, you are going to automatically be billed an additional $9.99 per month for a 25MB data package you don’t want. I have to wonder how much money Verizon is raking in from unsuspecting souls who don’t have a clue they have a data package. As it turns out, the third customer service rep I spoke to pointed out where it mentioned the data package. It was there, it just wasn’t clear.

I encountered more interesting upgrade frustration when speaking to the 5th rep while activating my wife’s new phone. It turns out when you purchase ringtones through the phone you can’t move them to your new phone. If you purchase the ringtones through the online media center then you can load them into your new phone when you upgrade. This is the third time I purchased the same ringtones. In the course of conversation with #5, I mentioned my frustration with upgrading my phone and being forced to get a 25MB data package for $9.99. He said, “Order the phone, get the 25MB data package and then call customer service and upgrade my plan to unlimited data.” By upgrading my plan and paying $10.00 per month more I could get unlimited data instead of 25MB. A one cent upgrade that he was the only rep to mention. I still am not happy about the “required” data package but $10.00 per month for unlimited access vs. $9.99 for 25MB is a no brainer. I actually called a 6th customer service rep to verify the one cent upgrade because I couldn’t believe no one else had mentioned it. She verified #5’s statement.

Interestingly Verizon claims that the “Smart” phones manufacturers require the data package and thus they have to add it. I looked over my alternative phone choices and then called customer service again to ask if they needed data packages. I would have to drop back to a phone with less features than the one I am using to avoid paying $10 per month for a data package I don’t want. So I am not “upgrading” to a lesser phone. I will continue to use my LG Dare and hopefully a new “not so smart” phone will debut with a 5 megapixel camera. That feature with unlimited data access would push me over the upgrade edge.

As an aside, the customer service reps I spoke to were all astoundingly polite, in spite of my ever escalating grumpiness. Too bad they have no control of the upgrade policies.

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