Barrett Manor

Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

The phone upgrade saga

Fresh (almost) daily from Julie Barrett

I suppose I should write this down. I'll cut to the chase and then do a flashback: I ended up with an LG LX350. Cute phone. I've only had it a couple of days, but so far I like the camera much better than the one in my previous phone. This one also has Bluetooth connectivity, so I suspect that a Borg implant will be in my future. C'mon, that's just what those earpieces look like!

This started a little over two months ago when my cell phone began to shut down at random times. There was no rhyme or reason; sometimes it would happen when I pulled the charger plug. Sometimes it would just be off when I pulled it out to make a call. We took the phone in as I'd read that if the problem was simple they'd fix it on the spot and it wouldn't cost very much. They came back and said a technician would have to keep the phone for a bit and it would cost "up to" $65. But for $75 I could trade it in on a new phone.

Wait a minute. I thought I had a $150 credit. When I bought the phone two years ago this summer the deal was a $150 credit after 18 months. Nope, they changed it to two years. I decided that I'd live with it until August.

Last week Paul got to talking about phone upgrades. A couple of weeks or so ago we got a card in the mail stating that he had an upgrade offer. I thought it was $150, so we dropped in to see about upgrading his phone. Nope, he had a $75 credit, but I had a $150 credit. (I found the card when I got home, and it did state a $75 credit on his number.)

Wait a minute. Again. I bought my phone new two years ago in August and added a new number to my old phone for Paul. Why isn't his ancient phone eligible for the higher upgrade price? They tried to explain that it had to do with when the number was activated. Hmm. He asked what would happen if I got a new phone and moved his number to my phone. The two-year clock would start again, he was told. It would be that long before he could get the full upgrade credit.

That doesn't add up. How can I get an upgrade credit now, then, since I started the clock over the same day as him? We were flummoxed, but that's what the computer said, and the computer was right, right?

We decided to wait until August, and then the next day decided that I should upgrade now and then we'd do his in August. That way we could spread the expense out. Makes sense, really. Twist my arm.

I noticed that there was a $15 service credit if you turn in your old phone for recycling. I printed out instructions on how to reset the phone so my contacts wouldn't be left when I turned in the phone, and we took off.

We were the only customers in the store, so we got served quickly. Unfortunately, we were "served" by a bored college student. We showed her the phone we wanted and I pointed out that it was PictBridge compatibile, and asked if I'd need to purchase a cable. Nope, she told me. If that's what it said, then there'd be a cable in the box. Cool. (PictBridge is a standard for printing direct from a camera to a printer.)

We got to the counter and she pulled out the phone, leaned her elbow on the counter, stuck her chin on her shoulder, and began to type with one finger. She barely looked at me the entire time. I finally asked her if there was a cable in the box, and she answered "no," as in "of course, there isn't a cable in the box, you moron." O-kay.

I asked about the recycling credit and she gave me a look as if to say that not only was I a moron, but I was a moron from Mars. O-kay again.

She finally handed me the charge slip to sign and gave me the phone. She never explained any difference in service or charges or anything. I didn't sign a new agreement, though I got an unsigned copy of the agreement in my bag. Just as we were about to walk out the door another clerk told us about the rebate on the phone. I stupidly assumed that the paperwork was among the stuff she shoved in the bag. No it wasn't, but they were out of forms anyway. He did show me where to find one on the web - sort of. All the time he acted like he was doing me a big favor.

Pardon me for being a customer.

We got the phone home and discovered that the shortmail feature (an Internet-enabled text messaging system) didn't work on this phone and I'd get billed for SMS text messages. That wasn't explained. And naturally the web site won't show me my current usage or billing until the next cycle, so I have no clue what I'm being charged for.

The bored salesgirl was also upset that we didn't purchase any add-ons (I'm sure she gets nice commissions on that stuff), but I rarely buy them when I get the phone unless I know for sure that I need them. Good thing, too, as the new phone uses the same charger as the old phone, which means I'd have wasted money on a car charger. I did determine that I wanted a case, and naturally the phone is so new that the dealer is the only place that carries a case that fits. So it was back there today.

The place was packed. I grabbed a case and walked to a register and was promptly ignored. It turns out that even if you want to grab an accessory and go, you have to give your name to the counter in front. So I had to wait nearly half an hour just to buy a stupid case. I nearly walked out.The clerk seemed susprised that I had to wait that long for my transaction and did offer to cut open the killer plastic packaging. I let him do that. The case fits and so far it's okay.

So there you go. I'm just waiting for the phone company to call with a satisfaction survey. I hope they have some time to talk. They'll get it from me!

(ETA: I do understand about the two-year upgrade policy based on activation rather than age of equipment. Otherwise, what's to stop someone from adding a POS phone to their account and then asking for an upgrade credit? Fine, but it still doesn't explain the math above. Maybe I'm just blonde.)

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Filed under: Technology   Life           
6/10/2006 9:44:43 PM
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