Will makes an interesting point on the economics of buying a new cell phone, but there’s also the ever-popular question of joining up in the first place.

A few months back, I finally got a cell phone. It wasn’t the first cell phone I’d had (my first involved an incredibly bad foray into certain “all-in-one” devicedness by my former boss and Nextel’s perfect example of how service should NOT be conducted), but it was the first one I’d arranged for my own.

I’m okay with the idea of a contract term. I got my phone free, and it does what I want it to do. However, I did find my own brand of silliness.

Southern Tech University offers an employee discount on cell phones, to encourage worker connectedness. To do this initially, you need to sign up through a special “SoTech Employees” website rather than the standard one. First problem: the phone I wanted isn’t available through that web site.

So I call up… get all the info… get it processed, get the phone, pay a tidbit more for the “signup” which they promise will be refunded once the employee discount goes through. And it does go through, and I get my discount. Props to them there.

Second up… I test out how many minutes I need. The difference between “No Texting” and “500 texts/month” is $10. The difference between “500 texts/month” and “unlimited texts” is… $10. I opt for the “unlimited texts” setup. Too many friends like to text. I start out with the initial 600 minutes/month plan, to see how much I use. Through judicious measurement (and honest self-limiting) I come in 20 minutes under 600. Given that I’m using this thing at work, I opt to bump up to the 900 minute plan, to have plenty of overhead.

This is where all falls apart. I was specifically told by the monkey working their sales department that, as I requested, I was being upgraded to the 900-minute version of my calling plan. To wit: Free long distance, Free call ID, Free calls to all users in the same phone network, etc.

What they put on my account, meanwhile, was the “business” version of the plan. Costs precisely the same amount, but mysteriously omits the “Free calls to all users in the same network” portion.

So, the next month, I discovered that I had gone about 90 minutes over my new 900-minute plan. And the month after, I came in a mere 15 minutes under. The first month had involved a lot of emergency calls, so I figured the overage was legit. It was only after the second month that I went back into my bills, call by call, and realized that all the calls I had been making to a certain very beautiful woman were not being properly billed as “in-network.”.

Two very clear and informative discussions later, their customer service made a serious concession: twice as much recompense for what I was overbilled, 2000 “rollover” minutes for me to have to compensate for the lost minutes, and immediate fixing of their sales agent’s mistake to get me into the proper plan.

I haven’t had a problem since, either.

The company in question? AT&T.

Category: Market

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One Response to Celly Goodness

  1. trumwill says:

    I’m glad that they made good on it. I’ve generally had good luck with AT&T, though their Deseret affiliate screwed me over by locking me into a plan I didn’t want. I think that’s part of the reason I didn’t get my smartphone through them even though I don’t intend to switch carriers.

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