Monday, November 24, 2014

My T-Mobile $30 Plan Adventure

So in getting the Nexus 6, I also wanted to change away from Verizon. Not because the services was terrible - it actually worked pretty well - but it was kind of expensive and CDMA and just not what I was looking for these days. After doing some research, I decided I really wanted to go with the $30 plan (100 min/unlimited text+data) from T-Mobile. I had heard good things about it - even from the Verge's Nilay Patel, who you would think would be somewhat picky.

But I still hesitated ordering from Wal-mart.com. So Thursday afternoon after the phone arrived, I made a trip out to the store. I wasn't even sure exactly what I was looking for but in the Electronics section there was a whole display of various cell-phone related items - including some rectangular boxes that sounded like they were exactly what I wanted. The only immediate problem is that they are locked in so I hard to turn to the counter for assistance. There was one Associate behind the counter - waiting on someone buying a new phone. They were both shooing people away (it turned out the customer was also an Associate - he just wasn't on duty). Getting a chance to interject, I asked for some associate. The "customer" associate instantly tells me that I am wrong and I don't want what I am asking for because T-Mobile coverage is terrible. I asked him what he would recommend instead and he wouldn't answer. Finally after a bit more discussion he unlocked the shelf and I got what I was seeking. I had a few groceries I needed to pick up so I grabbed those and went to the front.

Checking out proved to be a challenge because the barcode was damaged on the packaging. Fortunately (or so I thought at the time) a supervisor popped up and after 3 or 4 tries got the packaging to ring up. I took my purchases and headed home.

I unboxed the Nano sim (infinitely smaller than the packaging as you might expect) and tried to get it registered. After multiple failed attempts via the website, I finally called them. I am fairly sure the call center must be India and the connection wasn't the greatest, but we got started only to find out that, in fact, the sim had not been activated in the store after all. I had to make a second trip.

I returned to the store, dropped by Customer Service and was immediately sent back to Electronics. There was a new Associate on duty now in addition to the woman from earlier. He listened to my story, verified the purchase on my receipt, told me I should have bought it in Electronics because the check out staff were not knowledge, and said he would have to start over with a new sim. So we repackaged the old one (fortunately I had brought most of it) and he chose a new one. He ran into the same problem with barcode - necessitating contacting a supervisor. Finally, after several failed attempts, instead of exchanging it, he just refunded me the original purpose. Then he started getting activation failures with the new one before it finally worked correctly. Hoping that everything was done, I went home and tried it and it worked.

Then I ran into a second problem. I have had the same cell phone number for years - originally, on Sprint with my Treo 300, then on AT&T with my iPhone 3G, then Verizon with the Moto X. I would love to port it to Google Voice but for some reason, Google has declared it ineligible.  To port it, T-Mobile asked for the account name and PIN. To shorten this part of the story, the PIN number T-Mobile wants is what Verizon refers to as the Billing Password - which I had no idea so I had to call Verizon. Which meant I had to go through the Verizon guy trying to convince me to stay - which was pretty hard at that point, considering I already had a new phone and cell phone plan.

But anyway, it all worked out well in the end, and so far at least, I am happy with T-Mobile coverage.