My Thoughts

Can You Live Without Your Cell Phone?

Apple Cell phone

Since June 24, 2021, I have been pondering this question because I have had to live without mine off and on. I felt totally isolated and helpless. So, what happened to my precious cell phone?

Lin and I were happy Verizon customers for several years when we first got married, but every time we went to Branson, Colorado, no reception. In fact, Lin used to call Branson “The Black Hole” for cell phone reception. If he went to the front bedroom at Mom’s house on the right side of the bed and held the phone up at a certain angle, he could get minimal reception. Or if he went to the dump down over the hill or drove a couple miles to the New Mexico state line.

To solve that dilemma, we changed to AT&T and spent five or six years with reliable reception in Branson or anywhere we went. In fact, we enjoyed their promotional for traveling abroad — $10 a day with unlimited data and phone service.

But Verizon kept sending us advertisement to come back, and they lured us back. So, a couple weeks before that fateful day, I checked the map online on their website. It appeared that they had improved their reception in southeastern Colorado.

On June 24, after my doctor’s appointment with the current advertisement in hand, we dropped in to a Verizon store.

My first question to the sales agent was, “Is there coverage in southeastern Colorado?”

He pulled up the map and southeastern Colorado was red, depicting it had coverage. He solemnly affirmed we had coverage there, so we took the gigantic leap and changed cell phone carriers.

Map Showing Coverage in Branson, Colorado

Hindsight is always 20-20. I should have called a local friend and asked if the coverage had changed, but I didn’t. Caught up in the moment with all the promotionals, I upgraded my iPhone11 to a 12. I also bought a new iPad—that was one of the major reasons we went there was to do that! I had dropped my old iPad on a tile floor in Costa Rica last year and had a definitive crack on the corner.

Lin upgraded his iPhone7 to an XR10 because they offered a great deal. He didn’t see a need to go to a newer phone. Excited, we left with our new equipment.

As we were leaving, the sales agent specifically said if it doesn’t work, you have a two-week window to cancel your service. What he neglected to say was that all “the deals” we got on the new equipment disappeared!

Immediately Verizon started emailing me to send my iPhone11 to them for the upgrade offer, so I did.

The following week I went to Branson, Colorado (within the two weeks), and to my dismay, the reception was worse than it had been five or six years before. So, I spent a week in Branson with no cell phone service. Panic gripped me. What if someone needed to contact me? I had a landline at my house, but oh, my!

After this disconnected week, I returned home on July 6 and called Verizon to start the switch back to AT&T. The Verizon customer service person said I should receive my iPhone11 back from them on Friday. He also said we had to send the new phones back to them by the end of Friday. Very stressful trying to orchestrate this timeline.

 Afterwards, we had a delightful call with AT&T on returning to them, and they gave a great discount for coming back.

So, on July 8, Lin and I went to an AT&T store in Albuquerque. The sales agent put SIM cards in our two new phones and my new iPad. My iPad worked but our two phones didn’t because Verizon had locked them.

Then we returned to the scene of the crime, the Verizon store where we had been deceived. The manager said we had 30 days (not the stringent timeline the customer service person told us on July 6) to return the phone because the map on the internet showed marginal coverage. She also told my husband they would lock his XR10 for sixty days, so he plans to send it back. 

Believing what we were told, on Friday, July 9, we looked repeatedly all day for my iPhone11, and it never came.

In the meantime, Lin bought an XR10 from Apple who gave him a better exchange for his old phone, so I used his old cell phone with an AT&T SIM card; otherwise, I would have been without a phone this whole time.

Because my iPhone11 didn’t show up when they said it would, on Tuesday, July 13, I called Verizon and waited 30 minutes. I worked with a customer service person who tried to help. The previous person I talked to on July 6 did not create an order number or location code attached to the file. So, this person created both and shared them with me. Also, she created a rush on the order with one day shipping because of the urgency. She said it should arrive on Thursday by FedEx. 

Again, being optimistic, my husband and I looked repeatedly all day on Thursday, July 15 for my iPhone11, and it never came.

So, on Friday, July 16, I called Verizon and talked to a third customer service person and was on the phone for 3 hours and 43 minutes waiting to talk to a manager because they all were in a meeting. (What if a major world event had happened?) She looked up the order number and location code given to me from the previous customer service agent and found nothing.

While we were waiting, she said she talked to others who do her job, and they told her Verizon never sends a phone back to a customer but sends it to the vendor. She said she could put in a ticket for “an early unlock” on the iPhone12 I upgraded to because of the marginal coverage if I decided to keep it. At 4:13 pm MST, she said a manager would call me back today to resolve the issue. The manager never called me back. 

I have filed a complaint with the BBB and FCC, so hopefully we’ll get some action done.

This has turned into a nightmare, all because this cell phone carrier knows how important a cell phone has become to us, the consumer. Tomorrow I plan to call one more time to talk to a manager, then I will have to send back the iPhone12 or get charged for it, but the insane part is if I keep it, they will lock it for sixty days, so I can’t keep it!

Finally, I will buy a phone from Apple, and we will send Lin’s old iPhone7 to Apple for his upgrade, and we will have learned an expensive lesson! Don’t believe a sales agent or a coverage map!

When I first got a cell phone years ago, I thought a cell phone was a luxury; today it has become a necessity! Whew!

Have you ever had an experience with a cell phone carrier? If so, how did you handle it?

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