Once you’ve found a reliable service provider, you probably don’t spend a lot of extra time searching for a replacement. There is a certain comfort in predictability; knowing what to expect from service, expense and reliability. Unfortunately, when millions of other consumers rely on the same ideology, we eventually grow companies into ravenous giants that monopolize the market. Once there is a monopoly, consumers get fewer options and are forced to pay inflated prices.
Our family shared this ideology when it came to our cell phone and internet provider. After negative experiences with other providers [does WorldCom ring a bell?], Verizon seemed to be the light at the end of our communication’s once dark tunnel. Within a decade of customer loyalty, we were soon amidst the 98+ million users, it has today.
As our communication needs grew over the years, so did our monthly bill. Between three cell phones and internet access, we were dishing out almost $300 a month! Once we realized that we were paying more for cell and internet than a car payment, we decided to give T-Mobile a try. Here’s an overview of our experience with both providers.
Pros of Verizon
-Superior Customer Service (Initially) — Minimal wait time to reach customer service reps, excellent problem resolution, ease of technical support.
-Enormous Coverage Area — Roaming was never an issue and cell phone signal was reliable. Very few dropped calls.
-Convenient Online Account Access — Verizon’s website allowed you to easily access account information, make plan changes and manage parental controls.
-Free Phone Upgrade Every Two Years – If you are not looking for the “latest and greatest” in technology, Verizon offered decent free phones from their website when you renewed your contract.
-Parental Controls – From limiting usage and setting time limits, to blocking unwanted callers and spam, Verizon has an extensive list of options to ensure that you have control of your bill and your child’s activities.
Cons of Verizon
-Expensive Plans – Between monthly access charges, prorated upgrade or plan change fees, mandatory data packages for smart phones and other added features (like parental controls,) we were paying anywhere from $250-$300 per month.
-Contracts – A two year agreement is required for each device, with an early termination fee of $250-$300 per line. We had four devices that were each on a different contract date.
-Hotspot Devices Subpar – Between short battery life and unreliable connection, it was a struggle to get a solid connection. Web pages loaded slowly and downloads often failed.
-Customer Service Waned – As we slowly started removing phones from our plan, customer service reps were less diligent in resolving issues and became more “sales oriented,” in trying to convince us to stay. Our level of customer satisfaction has dropped by 50%.
Pros of T-Mobile
-Affordable Plans and Easy Financing on New Phones – Our plan for two new smart phones, unlimited talk, text, data AND an extra 5 GB of 4G Mobile Hotspot High Speed Internet is only $150 per month. Adding an additional line once our remaining contract expires with Verizon, will only cost an additional $20 a month. We will be saving over $1200 per year! And once our phones our paid off, we’ll save even more.
-NO CONTRACTS – We can cancel our plan at any time. If we decide to cancel before our phones are paid off, then the phone balance must be paid in full. You can pay off your phone balance early.
-Mobile Hotspot Internet Access is Reliable – For the most part, our internet accessibility is the same as Verizon. However, I have found that web pages load faster on my home computer when using T-Mobile and I no longer have to use or PAY for a separate device.
-Good Customer Service – Occasional lengthy hold times for phone reps, but friendly and helpful representatives eager to quickly assist with questions and resolve issues.
-Convenient Online Account Access – Like Verizon, T-Mobile’s website allows customers to easily access account information, make plan changes and upgrade devices.
Cons of T-Mobile
-Language Barrier with Some Phone Reps – I have encountered a few customer service reps that were difficult to understand and it became difficult to effectively resolve my issue.
-Poor Signal Strength at Home – We have had difficulties in getting a strong signal within certain areas of our home. At times, we would not receive missed call or voicemail notifications for several hours. Otherwise, same service as Verizon.
-Limited Parental Controls – This is my biggest complaint with T-Mobile and for this reason, I might not put our teenager on this plan. T-Mobile allows you to limit the amount of minutes your child uses, but that seems to be about it. Verizon offers far more options in the way of parental controls, including the ability to set time restrictions.
Saving Money was Ultimately More Important to my Family
Just as Verizon needs to meet their bottom line each year, so does my own family. Perhaps if Verizon’s service had way surpassed that of T-Mobile, I could see paying the absorbent rates. However for us, T-Mobile is meeting all of our communication needs at a considerably lower cost. With a few tweaks in customer service, a broadened coverage area and better parental controls, T-Mobile could continue to grow their customer base. But maybe I shouldn’t say that out loud…we don’t want their heads to swell like Verizon’s.
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