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.