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No Wonder People Hate Mobile Carriers

In Store

Last weekend I went over to the local Costco to see if I could take advantage of one of the mobile phone deals. It was time for an upgrade, and their package of $300 worth of cash cards and a bunch of extra supplies sounded too good to be true.

But then I started talking to the sales guy*, and I decided to pass. I went in with one question: What’s this upgrade going to do to my monthly bill?

He started talking about the difference between the $250 cash card + wireless charger and the $300 cash card deals and how I really want the wireless charger to preserve battery life.

I followed up with, What’s this upgrade going to do to my monthly bill?

He began talking about the different insurance plans. Because you know I could drop my phone or it could get stolen. What an insight to share with someone who’s been using a mobile phone since you were in diapers.

My next question was, What’s this upgrade going to do to my monthly bill?

The conversation was steered towards screen protectors and shock-resistant cases.

One more time, because I was getting good at this. I asked, What’s this going to do to my monthly bill?

“Wait a minute, let me pull up your account.” He did, and he couldn’t make heads or tails of the numbers on the screen, because they contradicted the Verizon bill I was holding in my hand.

“No thanks, I’ll pass.” And so I walked away.

On Line

I’ve been spending a little time on the Verizon Wireless web site today. The good news is, for a little bit more money we can move up to unlimited data. The bad news is, the price breakdowns they give are totally opaque.

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Current charge breakdown

The highlighted numbers might prove to be problematic. Notice there’s a separate plan cost ($90) and line access fee ($80)**. The plan cost is essentially the data cost. The employee discount is just that, a discount. Bear with me now.

Possible upgrade breakdown

Right. There’s simply a “Plan” at $160 which, presumably, covers both the Plan and the Line Access Fees. Now when you do the math and add up the columns you do in fact come up with the monthly totals indicated: $207.82 and $208.84 respectively for the current and proposed plans.

But first you see this screen:

Comparison shop much?

Note the highlighted line. $208.84 minus $207.82 is $1.02. But the highlighted line says the monthly plan charge will increase by $21.02.

I’m a pretty smart guy. After all I run a blog. But something about this math doesn’t add up. He says with a trace of irony.

I guess if I want an upgrade I better go to a Verizon store in person and hope that, this time, I get an honest dealer.

About the featured image

This was one of my favorite Portlandia scenes. In case you missed it, Kumail Nanjiani is one of the funniest human beings alive:

Good luck finding the difference between “go unlimited” and “beyond unlimited.” But it mostly has to do with the quality of video streaming. You get DVD quality (or worse) with “go” and HD quality with “beyond.”

* Not a Costco employee, whom are uniformly terrific BTW, but rather one of the independent contractors who come in to run in-store promotions from time to time.

** It’s possible this is the source of the in-store guy’s confusion. My bill showed $40 as my personal line access fee, but his screen showed $20. That could be because my two-year contract just ended.

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