Here's how 'Unlimited' your carrier's 'Unlimited' data plans really are [telecom]

At this point, anytime you see the word unlimited in relation to phone plans, you should probably just assume you're being misled. And after seeing the hijinks Verizon is trying to pull with its latest "unlimited" cell phone plan, it seemed like a good time to check in on the other major carriers to get a sense of how limited each company's supposedly "unlimited" data plans really are.

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Bill Horne
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Here is a bottom post just the way you require it. [Thanks - Mod]

Every time I have switched to another carrier, I always end up returning to Verizon for some reason or other. I won't name any carriers here, but I will share two of the things that made me return.

Sorry equipment. One carrier gave me a phone that was really the pits. It came with a defective battery and I had to purchase a new one. Sure they gave me a credit for the battery. But that wasn't all that was wrong with the phone. Despite the fact I had the voice command feature disabled in the phone, it would squawk 'Voice command. Please enter a command.' very loudly and obnoxiously at tunes that were very unpredictable. It was often at times that proved very embarrassing. I called them several times trying to get a resolution. When I struck out with their support, I asked to speak to a supervisor. I was actually told that I would not be 'allowed' to speak to a supervisor as they felt that the issue was with the carrying case that I had on my belt that was causing the problem. When I can't escalate an issue, that's unacceptable. So I returned to Verizon.

Unreliable call completion. One carrier promised me better rates and better service. Yet I often had to redial several times before the call went through. One day, I urgently needed a phone number. Their automated directory assistance hung up on me five times without giving me the number (I still don't know what that number was). When I was billed for five directory assistance calls, I told them I would not pay it. They gave me a discount on the calls but refused to removed the charges. I changed back to Verizon. They harassed me for months before they turned me out for collection. When I received a letter from their collection agency, I responded by explaining why I refused to pay the charges. I dared them to report me to the credit bureau reminding them that if they did so without advising the credit bureau that it was a billing dispute that I would file a complaint against them with the credit authorities. I also instructed them never to write me a letter again. And they never did.

I'm sorry to have to say it [as I believe in free market competition] but other cellular carriers simply don't rate. Every time I tried an alternative, it never works out. There are always major quality issues that force me to return to Verizon.

Verizon is more expensive. But I simply can't deal with the [lack of] quality issues of the other carriers.

I remember a commercial that AT&T put on about their long distance services some years ago. I think it was in the eighties or nineties. It compared its quality to the quality of other carriers. It showed a jack-in-the-box when referring to the service surprises and shortcomings of other carriers. Whenever I think about my experiences with the cellular carriers, that commercial comes to mind.

I tried to find a clip of that commercial on Youtube. But no luck.

Those who are competing with Verizon should focus on their quality issues. Lower rates may get some of Verizon's customers to switch. But poor quality [of service and of customer support] is going to make them change back. I always do.

When I was finishing my degree in management [and taking the TQM course], the instructor spoke about the importance of apologizing for inconveniencing the customer when trying to reach a resolution.

I pointed out to her that 'I'm sorry' only cuts it X number of times. When customers are having to spend more of their time resolving quality issues instead of focusing on the things that further their business or personal goals, it simply doesn't follow.

'I'm sorry' may sound really nice. But when it becomes a cliche' or the norm instead of the exception, it doesn't go too far with customers.



***** Moderator's Note *****

Som Competitice Local Exchange Carriers (CLECs), and some Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) have realized that the reputation for customer service, reliability, and competent, timely repairs which "Ma Bell" built up over a hundred years could be exploited as a salable commodity.

Carriers like the ones Fred encountered are trading on their customers' expectations of what a "phone company" does, or what public regulatory agencies should require it to do, without any legal or civil requirement to actually perform to Ma Bell's standards.

I have dealt with CLECs in various situations, and I even worked for one. The margins are razor-thin, the customers' expectations often unreasonable (sorry, Fred), and the carriers are sometimes the target of fraud or tariff-shopping by sophisticated communications managers whom are willing to take advantage wherever they can.

It's a race to the bottom.

Bill Horne Moderator

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