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iPhones at Last

November 29, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments


We got them. Yesterday. Why not sooner?

Let’s go back to July 28, 2006. It was a Friday. I left my office and met Gail and Joel at the Sprint store just off campus by University Village. There we hooked up with the slickest, most dishonest (and incompetent) salesman I have ever dealt with, though we didn’t know that yet. Our goal was to buy Treos for Gail and me, so we could do email and web surfing on our phones, and so my phone and PDA would be combined into one object. Joel came along too so he could choose a basic phone and we could switch our cell phone service from T-Mobile to Sprint, selecting the appropriate family plan at the same time.

The iPhone didn’t exist yet. It would not be announced until January 2007 or available until the end of June 2007. The Treo was our best bet, especially since we were already Palm PDA/Palm OS users. So that’s what we got, along with a two-year contract that made the phones reasonably priced.

Somehow, our salesman managed to completely screw up our plan. When the first bill came, I discovered that I had unlimited data, which was good, but so did Joel, who didn’t have a smart phone, while Gail didn’t. And Gail’s phone was insured, but so was Joel’s cheapo, whereas mine wasn’t. I spent a long time on the phone with a friendly, courteous Sprint customer service representative, who made the appropriate changes, or said so. But the next bill proved otherwise. So began a monthly ritual, a nine-months long monthly ritual. Sometimes the customer service rep was so extraordinarily friendly and courteous, so assuring about everything being taken care of, that I could hardly resent wasting half an hour on the ritual. But each such time, the result was the same. Something was changed, or some charge reversed and some reimbursement provided, but they didn’t get it right. Somewhere along the way, the rep said that the deal the sleazy salesman offered us on discounting the two data plans was no longer available. I said that wasn’t my problem, it was when we signed up. But he said he couldn’t reinstate it — not in the computer I guess. So he offered an alternative plan that was almost as good. I gave up. I took it.

That must have been when Sprint decided our contract had been revised, so the start date for the two-year contractual period needed to be revised. We got a letter saying our two year contract now began on December something 2006, not July 28, 2006. I couldn’t take it. Gail took over on that one, and after what must have been at least an hour, she got the rep to agree that an error was made and to put our start date back to August 1. Why August 1 instead of July 28? Who knows. But okay, we took it. Except we never got confirmation.

By April 2007, the bills stopped being wrong. But also by then the iPhone had been announced, and I knew that come July 2008, when we would finally be free of our Sprint contract (in principle), we would buy iPhones and Sprint would say wait, your contract isn’t over, here is a $200+ charge per phone, or over $600. I wasn’t sure I had the stomach for that fight, especially after losing a similar fight a decade ago when we switched from the hated AT&T to T-Mobile.

In the summer of 2007, when the first iPhones were released, with all the news about their slow internet connection, I wasn’t feeling too bad about being locked into our Sprint contract. I got an iPod Touch when they came out a few months later, so I had access to some of the iPhone experience, and that was good enough. Between the iPod Touch and the Treo, I was content.

But when the new iPhone 3G came out this past July, we were ready to change. We just had to find a time when Joel was home from Boston so we could go in together, get new phones, and switch from Sprint to AT&T. Yes, the once-hated AT&T. But after all, this AT&T is a different company, so I was prepared to let go of my old hatred.

Yesterday was the appointed day. Joel’s home from Boston and we had time to do it. But I warned Gail that I still had this queasy feeling that Sprint was going to screw us. So she went on line, found she couldn’t log into our Sprint account for some reason, and began a live chat with a Sprint rep. This made logging in unnecessary, as she asked the rep when our service started. July 28, 2006. I pointed out that that wasn’t the issue. The issue is when Sprint claims our contract started, or ends. She asked that. November 26, 2008.

They did screw us! I was ready to fight. But, that was two days ago, so even if it’s wrong, so what? We were free. Gail wrote for clarification. Not so fast. My contract ended November 26. So did Joel’s. But Gail’s ends on December 15! Huh? How can they be so incompetent? We’re all in it together. The fight was joined. I pointed out to Gail, and she to the rep, that in fact all our contracts should have ended last July, that we never started a new plan, etc. etc. The rep said she would have to do research. Ten minutes later she said she’s still working on it. Another fifteen minutes later she said, “Gail, I do see in your notes that your contract has been changed mistakenly and they requested to have it changed back so you are correct with everything you said, your contract is currently over now.” Wow! We won! For now anyway. We better wait for the final bill to be sure.

And so we headed off to the U Village Apple Store, where Matt helped us buy and set up 3 iPhones on a new, AT&T family plan. By 4:30, we were out of there and by 4:45 we were ported from Sprint over to AT&T. Last night we synced them up and set the settings. This morning I’ve learned how to create free ringtones from songs on my iTunes library. I’ve been creating them, pushing them to my iPhone, and assigning them to various people.

Now I no longer have to travel with my Treo and iPod Touch. I can use just the iPhone. And now I am free of the Palm products and software altogether. I’m fond of them, but they no longer met my syncing needs, since everything else I do is on Macs. I sync my contacts, calendar, and bookmarks across my home desktop Mac, my laptop, my office desktop, and my iPod. Syncing the Treo had become a nuisance. I no longer used it as a PDA. It was just a big, clunky phone. And email reader. And now it’s retired.

AT&T, I’m yours now. Please don’t disappoint me.

Categories: Family, Technology
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