Cell / Wireless


Verizon, as a wireless provider, gets mixed marks from me. In an earlier blog, I chastised all major wireless providers for limiting plans to an arbitrary 5 lines. This hurts big families and, as they all do it, offers no competition.

Now I have a new reason to be annoyed. Verizon recently announced a ‘Friends and Family’ plan where I can add 10 phone numbers on other networks or land lines that will not accrue minutes against my plan. Cool. Until you read the fine print. You need to be on at least a 1400-minute plan to qualify. I have a 1400 minute plan (yeah) and this new ‘Friends and Family’ thing would have dropped our need for minutes WAY down but, catch 22, if I drop to a lower minute, cheaper plan, I lose access to the ‘Friends and Family’ thing. There is no way for me to save money with this.

Then, just to add to the pain, I was recently contacted by Verizon to offer what I thought was a check on whether the plan I was using was adequate. At first, this seemed like a useful service, checking on whether any of the phones in my plan were exceeding their minutes or texts. I realize this is a potential sales opportunity for Verizon but this has actually saved me on a number of occasions. If one of the kids has recently found a friend on another network or discovered a new, exciting reason to send lots of texts, I get a chance to alter the plan to compensate for their excesses before the associated costs go through the roof. But this time, it was strictly a way to get me to extend my contract for another 2 years under cover of offering me a coupon for a free phone upgrade. I can get dozens of free phones online if I want them and I’m willing to extend my contract so this call was a chance for them to lock me in for no real reason.

Grumble. Grumble. I declined the offer and feel slightly abused by the attempt and time wasted. Shame on you Verizon for trying to lock me in without offering anything of real value. Skype is starting to look like a real competitor.

My current dilemma concerns my cell phone provider. They conveniently offer to group up to 5 members of my family in a single plan. Marvelous, except my current blended family has a husband, wife, 2 of her kids and 3 of mine. Advanced calculus yields an apparently unworkable 7 cell phone users. That’s 2 more than the plan maximum. That’s my dilemma. When I was making more money and had higher expectations of keeping my job and income level, this problem was way low down on my dilemma list but now that the economy sucks and we’re all counting our pennies, I’d like some consideration here. I’ve tried to reason with my monolithic cell phone corporation complaining that their plan maximum count is too low. This, unsurprisingly, got me nowhere. They were nice enough to split us up according to text usage. Mad texters on one plan and reasonable texters on the other. This helped some but that still left me with 2 plans and a sizeable extra chunk of change to pay every month.

Switch providers you say. Good idea but wait, they ALL have that magic 5 line maximum. Verizon, Sprint, AT&T and Nex-Tel all have family plans that max out at 5 lines. I smell a rat but that’s another story. Times are tough and if one of these large customer hungry cell providers wants a really big, obvious marketing tip, raise your family plan maximum line count. Please don’t raise the associated rates please because that would just piss me off. Just raise the number of lines to 8 or 10 to accommodate all the blended, cell-addicted families out there. This could be a big opportunity to suck a lot of large families into your customer list. Once there, you know the prospect of switching providers is daunting so we’ll probably stay. Act now while I can still afford one cell phone plan.