The Great Verizon Data Famine

The other day I visited my local Verizon store for the fourth freaking time! My mission was simple: upgrade my goddamn phone and change our account from my wife’s name to mine. In sane retail environments long-standing customers with impeccable payment histories get treated like royalty. I know it will come as a shock to all you parasitic socialists out there but it is the paying customer, and only the paying customer, that is keeping civilization’s lights on! I understand and appreciate the need for businesses to make profits and for the last three years Verizon has profited from my patronage and I have benefited from their excellent cell service. We had a mutually beneficial relationship but now I’m wondering if this marriage can be saved.

I have no technical complaints about Verizon. The engineers at Verizon clearly know what they are doing but it looks like the administrative and sales division’s model themselves on the DMV or Obama’s I’ve seen this before. Most software companies harbor competent to brilliant programmers yet are often fronted by ethically challenged sales baboons. My father, a retired petroleum engineer, used to say, “It’s a good thing oil is so valuable and customers are beating down our doors because head office couldn’t sell shit to a house fly.” I know it’s not my place, as a motivated shit seeking house fly, to question the sales practices of multi-billion dollar enterprises but, to quote a very wise old white guy, “you’ve confused me with someone who gives a crap.

When I first walked into the Verizon store I wanted an accurate answer to this question:

How much will my monthly bill be if:

  1. I pay the full retail cost of the phone upfront. Old white guys do not buy on credit because old white guys have learned the hard way that buying anything on credit means you eventually pay more. I am not interested in paying more. I have a very bad attitude when it comes to paying more. My butthole has been reamed often enough, long enough and hard enough that it’s now operating on a strict cash upfront basis.
  2. And if I have an uncapped 4G data plan. Cell providers constantly go on about their unlimited data plans yet down in the fine print — old white guys always read the fine print — you typically see “limited to two gigabytes per month.” Two gigabytes is not unlimited, four gigabytes is not unlimited, fifty yottabytes is not unlimited; unlimited means arbitrarily high.

It took two trips to the same store to get a simple price quote. The quoted rate was $69.99 per month. This is close to my current rate and since I’m burning another $39.99 per month on Internet cable it looked like I could cancel cable, divert all my residential Internet traffic through an iPhone 4G hot spot and save about thirty bucks a month.

I realized I would have to go on a data diet. 4G connections are faster than 3G but 4G is still much slower than cable Internet. The cable provider in St. Louis, Charter1, runs at 30 megabits per second. This is about five times faster than 4G. 4G is okay for blogging, modest sub-gigabyte downloads, uploading a few dozen high-resolution pictures and normal web browsing. 4G is not up to irritant free HD streaming. You can stream but the image is often downgraded to a blocky low resolution mess. I planned on giving up streaming because TV, whether broadcast or streamed, is still mostly time-wasting garbage. I was looking forward to reallocating my streaming time to good old-fashioned paper2 book reading.

After doing my research, considering the options and allocating funds I returned to the same Verizon store I had visited three times with the intention of plunking down the full cost of an iPhone 5s and signing another two-year service contract at the price I was previously quoted. Then things went horribly wrong. First, we had to call my wife to change the name on our account from hers to mine. The simple act of changing the account name voided my unlimited data. I went from an uncapped plan to a two gigabyte plan. Then, as a final affront, it turns out that you if you actually want to use your iPhone’s hot spot you need to pay another $30.00 per month on top of your normal data plan. In other words my bill would be a few cents shy of $100.00 per month. So, I would pay roughly the same as my current Verizon and Charter bills combined and end up with a connection that is five times slower. Old white guys are slow and stupid but not that stupid.

Instead of walking out of the store with a shiny new iPhone 5s and another two-year contract I left with my old iPhone 4 and a downgraded, but equally expensive data plan. I am now looking at other options. I will probably retain cable and cut off all cell phone data. Most of my cell phone data moves over Wi-Fi so why pay Verizon, or another provider, $30.00 bucks per month to keep up on Twitter tripe. Verizon’s sales did a bang up job here. They convinced a loyal and reasonably happy customer that it’s time to take a serious look at the competition. I was planning on a data diet but not a data famine. Can you hear me now!

  1. Charter Internet is a binary operation. When it’s working it works very well, but over that last three years I’ve watched it go down more often than a cheap street prostitute. Right now it’s down. Charter outages are annoying but they’re usually quickly resolved.↩︎
  2. eBooks are developing nasty data mining habits. I have no desire to expose the my reading habits to busy bodies. I am giving up on on-line eBooks. I now demand complete eBook control on a device that I can shut off logging. If you don’t control it you cannot trust it.↩︎

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