Back on August 7 I wrote about my frustrations with trying to switch my cell service to a pre-paid provider. That effort failed, or was put on hold, but we have proceeded to work on getting E set up with this service on a new-to-her iPhone. It has been a learning experience, for sure! Here are some highlights:
- Even the company that presents itself as the premiere “customer service” provider doesn’t really understand what everyday people need in terms of hand-holding and explanations as you go into the wild world of wireless service.
- Getting a new smartphone up and running involves many, many steps and procedures (buy the phone, activate the phone, activate the service for the phone, program the phone, set up a passcode to get into the phone, test the outgoing call capability, test the incoming call capability, buy the time – or plan – for the phone, change the passcode for the network service, set up your e-mail account on the phone, test your e-mail – making sure you can receive mail, send mail when you’re on wifi, send mail when you’re not on wifi, and then finally start learning how to use the features of the smartphone.) If any one of these steps does not work, you have to enter the maze of sub-procedures to try to figure out why. Almost nothing can be done by talking to anyone; it all has to be through e-mail or “chat.” If you do have the opportunity to talk with a service representative by phone, it’s 50-50 whether or not they can speak English and then another 50-50 whether or not they know enough to actually help you solve a problem.
- The tech world is obsessed with passwords. If you forget a password, be prepared for a major hassle. My least favorite thing is to be told to create a password, and it has to be 6 to 12 characters, including both letters, numbers, special characters, at least one upper and one lower case letter, but no more than 2 of either one, a drop of O positive blood, 0.2 mg of sweat from your brow, and one mg of tears – from your left eye. Don’t try to get away with a tear from your right eye. That will be rejected and you’ll have to start all over again. After you successfully create a password that the system likes, then you’ll have to remember it, because you can’t do anything without it. But don’t use that same password for anything else, because every secure place you want to go needs its own unique password. And don’t write it down, because then anyone could just find your password and get into your stuff. Oh, and by the way, you’ll have to change your password every 6 weeks because none of this is really that secure.
- If you have a cell phone number and you want to keep it, DON’T let your current plan or time expire. The last time E added money to her phone was April 26. In the process of trying to re-activate this number on her new phone she was told that the number had been deleted due to inactivity. They told her that after 120 days the number is made inactive and it then goes into a black hole where it is unretrievable. We counted the days and discovered that it had been 119 days since she had added money. Then they told us that we had added a $12 plan on April 26, and the rules for the $12 plan require us to add money every 30 days. If we had bought a $10 plan on April 26, we would have had the full 120 days before it expired. I’m not making this up!