By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

There ought to be a law

This afternoon I paid a visit to my friendly Verizon Wireless store, which may or may not be providing my calling information to the National Security Agency. I had come to upgrade to a Treo 650 — an expensive proposition somewhat ameliorated by the fact that I had $100 coming toward a new phone.

Obstacle #1: The saleswoman told me that I had to choose between two Internet plans. I think they were $25 a month and $45 a month. I told her I didn’t want an Internet plan — that I intended to use my Treo as a phone and organizer, not to receive e-mail or access the Web. She seemed mildly flummoxed, but I cleared the hurdle.

Obstacle #2: The sale was nearly complete when I sought assurance that we wouldn’t be paying any more per month than we are now. No, I was told — except, of course, for the $5 a month mandatory fee that comes with my having chosen “pay as you go” Internet access. I repeated that I didn’t want any Internet access. The answer: Not an option. My answer: No sale.

I am not a Luddite. In fact, I had intended at some point to check out the possibility of adding WiFi to the Treo for occasional Internet access, à la carte or free. But I wasn’t going to pay $60 a year for something I don’t want or need. Why can’t I choose the features I want? Ridiculous.

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  1. Anonymous“Ordinarily, a company that conceals their transactions and activities from the public would violate securities law. But a presidential memorandum signed by the President on May 5 allows the Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, to authorize a company to conceal activities related to national security. (See 15 U.S.C. 78m(b)(3)(A))”

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 5:07: What is this? Political spam? Stop. I’m concerned, too, but just because I haven’t written about it yet doesn’t mean you’re free to post it to every one of my posts.

  3. Anonymous

    Sorry! I actually put it in the Colbert thread by mistake, thinking I was putting it here. I thought repeating it once here wasn’t so bad, since you had just returned from the Verizon store with gripes about their products and service. Again, I apologize – didn’t mean to flood.

  4. Anonymous

    A couple months ago went to Verizon store to upgrade my phone and perhaps change my # to a local one- took an hour to just get new phone after I cut my losses and decided not to seek new #- I left feeling relatively sorry for the folks that work there

  5. Tom Tom

    To my ancient and humble mind the amount of cash heaped out for services that accomplish little but an ego boost is beyond the pale.

  6. tony schinella

    Dan, get the Treo. I have a 650 and I don’t know how I lived without it! I got mine from Earthlink – $99 after rebate – with a $80 a month phone/Internet plan. Even though you don’t want to pay for the Internet, believe me, you will use it. 🙂

  7. Anonymous

    To buy a good from Verizon you are being required to pay for a service that you do not need or want? I think the operative phrase is anti-trust violation and it would appear that the Attorney General of the Commonwealth would have jurisdiction.

  8. bostonph

    Anti-trust violation seems a little strong. How about all those extra cable fees and channels comcast makes you eat?My experience is ALL Treo vendors charge you for internet hook-up. Verizon is at least up front about it.In my experience, Verizon has the best cell coverage and customer service in New England. Unfortuantely, the bar isn’t very high.

  9. Anonymous

    It took Verizon four months to get my cell charges correct after I signed up. Each time they apologized and swore they would fix it on the next bill (which of course ran out the “clock” for canceling without penalty). For three-plus months that was a potentially expensive lie, with bills that were approx. four times what they should have been. Consumer Reports says that all the cell vendors are terrible; Verizon is by a very slim margin the one that is the least terrible, so I went with them, but it staggers the mind to think how bad the really bad ones must be.Thanks for the warning about what to expect when my “free” phone extortion offer comes up in June.

  10. Anonymous

    Mark, the recent storm drowned my Cingular phone so I went back to the Porter Square store and was told for I could get a replacement model – their cheapest! – for a mere $150. This thing looked like it came from a Barbie playset. Screw it. I canceled my contract.Went to T-Mobile this week in Harvard Square and had the best possible experience. Purchased a Nokia and the to-go plan, a pay-as-you-go plan. I ended up with a better phone, and since I’m just a casual user, I’m getting a better price on minutes. No contract, no hassles and much better phone connection than Cingular, home of dropped calls.

  11. Anonymous

    Anyone with the Treo 650: Check out Palm’s GPS Navigator, a small GPS receiver that talks to the handheld via Bluetooth. It’s usually $250, a great price for a portable receiver, and it’s often on sale at Palm’s web site for $200.

  12. Anonymous

    Dan: You either are, or are acting like, a Luddite. Once you have email and internet all coming onto the same device you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

  13. MeTheSheeple

    Dan, call your phone company and ask for the customer-retention people. Tell them you’re thinking about getting a new service contract but can’t get it on acceptable terms.There’s three things to keep in mind about the cell phone industry:1) They spend a -ton- of money recruiting new customers, so they may be willing to spend a little bit of money to keep a customer.2) The hardware is typically heavily subsidized because they expect to get it back through long-term profitable plans.3) Avoid Cingular, especially if you could possibly move across the country.

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