Go beyond yourself.

One Man, Three Years, Four Wireless Carriers

It’s been too long since I’ve updated my website. Honestly, I don’t know where the time has gone. So much has happened over the past couple years, I’m not even sure where to begin.

We can start with the last post I made on this site, where I pretty much broke it off with AT&T to switch to Sprint. Funny how also I coined it a “breakup letter” back in 2011. Why did I do that? Well, it seems that even after the past few years, AT&T hasn’t improved on its stance with their customers. They still treat them like a burden, reducing service and raising rates every chance they get, but what sickens me the most is they are so unbelieveably blatant about making certain their shareholders are the highest priority, over customers, over their own employees. Whoever made up the wholesome and genuine motto “treat your employees like family and your customers like friends” would probably facepalm themselves to death if they ever saw the inside of an AT&T store or corporate office. I couldn’t be more happy to leave just on principal alone.

Yes, Apple did make the iPhone for Verizon by then, but Sprint seemed like a great choice at the time with their unlimited data plan along with their “promise” that their network is fast improving. I grabbed a bunch of Sprint iPhone 4S’s and 4’s for me and my family, and I thought I was well on my way to enjoying what I thought would be solid CDMA service. Of course, I wasn’t expecting the strength and coverage of Verizon’s vast CDMA network, but with the company corporate discount that I was offered, it seemed worth it.

What a nightmare it turned out to be. It reminded me of a time I was invited to a New Year’s Eve party at a club that offered “free drinks all night long.” With the place so crowded and the bartenders purposely moving so slowly, I didn’t get more than one drink in the four-plus hours I was there.

Want some definitive proof in the most conspicuous of places? Watch where Sprint’s 3G network was nowhere near up to snuff, that I couldn’t even get streaming audio to work, let alone video, or simple web surfing.

I kept returning to the retail store, only to hear apologies and promises that their network would improve, and that they’d be rolling out 4G and LTE shortly in our region (not that that mattered with my non-4G iPhone 4S), and that it would be worth my wait. Months went by and still nothing.  Like most Sprint customers, I was suckered into a lie. After missing so many calls and unable to get any decent data, I was so aggravated with their service that I sent my grievances (with the accompanying videos) through Twitter and all the way up to CEO Dan Hesse, which resulted in one of their regional service managers calling to make an agreement with me: I send back all my iPhones and they’ll wipe out the ETFs that would’ve been imposed on me. Though I paid $199 for the 4S’s and $99 for the 4’s, I felt I had no choice – who would want a bunch of locked iPhones on a network that doesn’t work? Fine, take them.

But, with AT&T’s CEO still blabbing like a complete prick in the most obvious of ways, I ended up turning to Verizon, following the same mentality as most people who were constantly brainwashed with the idea that while they’re the most expensive, they’re also “the most reliable network.” Maybe at the time, they were. After all, Verizon was the only network that actually worked through our ordeal during Hurricane Sandy (we lost power for over a week, and I ended up blasting through my data cap just trying to get news updates). My relatives on AT&T had nothing – broken calls and blank webpages galore. Sure, I paid for Verizon’s service dearly, but it worked and I praised them for it. The problem with that was that Verizon even took to the airwaves to praise themselves and their own strength during the storm, and I think that went to their head, because their network performance was never the same since.

The performance got so bad that Verizon’s 4G LTE network was outpaced by Sprint’s 3G network (which thankfully improved, but it was a year too late), as shown in this video demonstration.

I thought it was my iPhone 5, but my company issued me a Verizon Jetpack to test, and the performance was the same miserable junky performance.

Verizon repeatedly acknowledged their failure to provide satisfactory service, and promised they’d have it fixed by the end of 2013, but in the meantime, they wouldn’t offer any more than half of one ETF fee for my five lines as a consolation. Can you say “chutzpah?” And, it turns out their “fix” was adding a completely different spectrum that did nothing to help their current customers, and, to date, helpless Verizon subscribers are still having issues with their LTE.

Thank goodness that T-Mobile stepped up to the plate in early 2014 when they announced their Uncarrier 4.0 plan. I listened intently and laughed to the keynote with CEO John Legere, because I couldn’t find a single word I didn’t agree with: AT&T really is a bunch of fat cats in corporate-speak with no connection to their customers, Verizon did royally screw up and still didn’t fix the problem, and Sprint really is a pile of spectrum waiting for a capability.

I “broke up” with Verizon on day one of Uncarrier 4.0, even going so far as showing up to switch on the day of the announcement (yeah, I was too excited that I didn’t hear it wasn’t actually happening that day) and having the Kristen, my T-Mobile store rep, prepare everything the morning of the switch eight hours before I even got to the store. Talk about being desperate and ecstatic to leave Big Red! Here’s my shiny new iPhone 5s on T-Mobile after the supposed Verizon fix.

I’m glad to get simultaneous voice and data again like I did with AT&T, the fast speed and reliability that Verizon had, and the unlimited data that Sprint still offers. Plus, I have a CEO that listens to their customers, favoriting and retweeting my tweets, someone who talks the talk and walks the walk. Is their network footprint smaller? Perhaps, but not I haven’t been in a dead zone yet (and I travel from Northern NJ to NYC every day), and the places where I used to get EDGE just two months ago, I’m quickly getting 4G or LTE, so whatever they’re doing, it’s constantly improving. Did I mention it’s cheaper and I’m not tied to a contract? I’m also tethering whenever I need to. Beautiful. Plus, I’ll probably JUMP! to the iPhone 6 when they’ve got it and whenever I feel I’m good and ready, but I’ve never been more content with my 5s running iOS 7.1, and the LTE service I’m getting. I’m thankful that Legere told it like it is, because I probably can’t handle dealing with another switch, and I don’t think there’s anyone left to turn to anyway. After three frustrating years, I’ve run the full circuit, and I’ve ended up with the underdog who’s showing they can step up to the plate. And, I’ve been recruiting people to Magenta ever since.

As you can obviously tell, I’ve always been vocal when things go awry, but sometimes, that’s the way to solve the problem when they’re too big to listen. But, with the other three carriers, even though I spoke up and ultimately got what I wanted (out), I still feel like I lost. I mean, I probably pulled out a lot of my own hair, grinded down a few layers of my teeth, but more importantly, I did lose nearly $1,000 each with Sprint and AT&T in ETFs. But, I’m thankful that T-Mobile is footing the ETF for me leaving Verizon, or that would’ve been another grand. It’s always been in my nature to help others, so if my loss is your gain, and you’ve read this so you don’t have to experience it, so be it – I’ve done some good. It’s been an awesome three months in and I’m hopeful that T-Mobile will keep up the great work, but if not, I’m sure you’ll be the first to know.  😉

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