As of this writing I have been the customer of four different cell phone providers since I retired nine years ago: Verizon, T-Mobile, Consumer Cellular, and as of yesterday, Sept. 20, Xfinity. It hasn’t been easy.
Verizon was too expensive, but I don’t recall having problems with coverage. T-Mobile was more reasonably priced, but had unreliable, spotty coverage (in fact, on one phone call I made to their customer service, the rep, looking at a map of coverage on her computer, told me straight-up that there was no signal here where we live)! Consumer Cellular – again, reasonably priced – also had unreliable coverage. I would open my phone to check email, for example, and a little window would pop up that said, “You are offline.” I was in my house, for heaven’s sake! Or, multiple people would tell me that they had called or texted, but there would be no indication on my phone that those calls or texts were ever received. I took my phone to Target to have the tech fix it. She said that the failure was in my SIM card. I had an AT&T card, but the towers had been down for two months! She sold me another SIM card – for T-Mobile!! I went from the frying pan into the fire. No wonder the coverage was so lousy.
So I decided to go with a totally independent (or so I thought) company. I took my business to the local Xfinity store yesterday, arriving at 11:30 AM. I knew it would take a while to get things set up, especially since I was told that my phone was incompatible with the program I wanted and needed to get a new phone. Providentially, they offered a free phone (Moto g Play) with that program, so I took advantage of that opportunity. Transferring data (contacts, photos, etc.) from my old phone to the new one would be the time-eater. The young lady who worked with me, Kristina, was a delight. She was very conversational, and we ended up talking about everything from cartoons to religion.
Time was passing. The next thing I knew it was 3:30 PM, and there were still many photos and videos to download, so I asked Kristina if I could leave for a few minutes to check on wife Evelyn and pooch Kianna. No problem. By the time I got home, Evelyn had already taken Kianna for her 2:30 walk, and they were doing fine. Kristina had expressed interest in reading the Bible all the way through, so while I was home, I picked up a copy of “The Year of the Bible” to take her. I went back to Xfinity. Kristina had gone to lunch, but another rep was keeping track of the downloads. They would still take a while, so I left again to pick up a few items from Walmart.
By the time everything was finished, Kristina had come back from lunch (I gave her the Bible-reading guide) and it was nearly 5:30 PM! I had invested most of a workday’s worth of time (almost six hours) just getting a new phone set up! My first thought had to do with why, in these high-tech days, it takes so long just to set up a cell phone. I thought of the “NCIS” programs that Evelyn watches, where they need to confirm a suspect by facial recognition. Hundreds of faces instantaneously whip by on a screen, Ken Burns style, and – poof! An immediate match! So, why does it take so long to transfer photos and videos from one phone to another? Questions that will never be answered, I suppose.
I have to go back to the store again today. When I opened up my photo files, there are only six pictures from 2019 there. I need to know where, after all those hours of transference, the pictures aren’t there anyway. I also need to ask them to remove my sign-in process. For some reason, in an apparent moment of idiocy, I set the new phone up so I have to enter a password every time I want to use it, which I learned VERY quickly is a pain in the tushy. I don’t know how to undo that. I also noticed that there’s no hot spot, which is an absolute necessity when we’re camping, since not all campgrounds offer wifi service. So, still a few details to clean up. The acid test will be whether the phone actually works any better than the ones did with the previous providers.
Earlier I said that, when I chose to go with Xfinity, I thought I was moving to a totally independent company. Turns out that even THEY don’t have their own towers! They use Verizon.
Well, there’s still hope.