Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cell Phone Woes - Update

After a couple more weeks of AT&T deliberately dropping my calls (apologies to all my friends who were on the other end at the time!), I finally said "No mas!" and went online in search of a new provider. T-Mobile was the top contender--good J. D. Power ratings, a wide selection of affordable plans and a plethora of cool free cell phones to choose from.

My only issue was the whole text messaging thing. I hate TM and I don't want to send or pay to receive them. Unlike Verizon or AT&T (I'm not sure about Sprint), T-Mobile doesn't have the option of disabling the feature. But with a little research on the Internet, I found a way around it--thanks to Jonas at TechNudge Live. Apparently you can block ALL text messages via a spam filter where, instead of specifying key words that are "spam," you create a filter character string that MUST be in the subject line. With this little trick up my sleeve, I felt confident about moving forward with a T-Mobile plan.

I decided on the Motorola RAZR phone. It's slick and sleek and looks like something out a Bond movie. It was also FREE! Gotta love that. In fact, I got the phone for free, plus up to $70 in rebates via an offer on Wirefly. It was pretty easy to compare phones and plans online--my only glitch was right before I went to place my order, I could not find where I needed to note that I was porting my old number from another carrier.

So I called Wirefly's customer service. I just need to know where I enter my current cell phone number for the order. I get an Indian (big surprise!) customer service rep named Robert or Robbie or Robin. It was hard to tell with the accent. Anyway I try to explain that I just want to submit my order online, but he says he can take care of the whole thing for me. Sure he can...

He takes down all the info I've already input online and then proceeds to attempt to sell me insurance for the phone. No thanks. Accessories--a car charging kit? Nope. A pouch to protect it from scratches? No. Then he reads me the terms of service which I must agree to. Online I would just breeze right past that and "X" the little box, but with Robbie I have to listen to the whole thing and insert my assent at the end of each paragraph. Then he puts me on hold while he makes sure my credit info is good. Comes back and tries to sell me the insurance again. Aggravated I say, "This is why I wanted to place my order online." Confused he asks, "Why?" "Because I wouldn't have waste time listening to sales pitches!" A bit hurt he counters that he was only trying to make sure I knew about all these great offers. I'm NOT interested! I tell him.

He wraps things up and I'm good to go. Today FedEx delivers my brand new RAZR phone--now I just have to figure out how it works. Usually that means playing around with it through trial and error, but today I decide to read the manual. Have you ever read a product manual before? They're hilarious. Under "Safety and General Information" it warns that "Persons with pacemakers should:

  • ALWAYS keep the phone more than 6 inches from your pacemaker when the phone is turned ON
  • NOT carry the phone in the breast pocket
  • Use the ear opposite the pacemaker to minimize the potential for interference
  • Turn OFF the phone immediately if you have any reason to suspect that interference is taking place."
I'm glad I don't have a pacemaker!

The manual also warns that you should "turn off your phone prior to entering any area with potentially explosive atmosphere." Good grief! This sounds like a plot device in an action movie. Character enters potentially explosive atmosphere. His cell phone rings. KA-BOOM!!! Character blows up. His cell phone skids across the ground. Through the receiver, the evil snicker of the villain is heard...

The manual also warns about seizures/blackouts and repetitive motion injuries--but this seems to be in relation to playing video games on the phone, so I'm safe. As long as I stay away from potentially explosive atmospheres...

Under "Use and Care" the manual cautions keeping the phone away from:
Liquids of any kind (makes sense)
Extreme heat of cold (Okay...)
Dust and dirt (I'll try!)
Cleaning solutions (if I can manage to keep it from dust and dirt, cleaning solutions won't be necessary...)
Microwaves (It says not to dry your phone in a microwave oven. Seriously! Since I'm not supposed to get it wet, I have no idea WHAT would possess me to dry the phone in the microwave.)
The Ground (Don't drop your phone!)
Now I just have to wait for T-Mobile to activate my phone so I can cancel my service with the NEW AT&T (See ya! Wouldn't want to be ya!). And then hopefully I'll be able to have complete conversations (preferably after 7 pm or on weekends, guys...) with my friends.

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