Friday, January 18, 2008

Hello AT&T

So, about 1 month without a cell phone was all I could stand.

I really wanted the iPhone, but I wanted gps too, and since the iPhone doesn't have it yet I went with the Blackjack II until the next gen iPhone comes out. I assume Apple will add gps and 3G next time around.

The phone is really great and I purchased the unlimited data plan with tethering, so I can supposedly tether whenever I need to, and even potentially download without caps (unlike Verizon's supposedly unlimited plan which has a 5GB cap).

So far I'm very happy with the phone. Its thin and fast, and I've been getting away with google maps for mobile as gps software. I've tested the bandwidth, and gotten as much as 1MB/s down and 200KB/s up.

The people at the AT&T store were unbelievably different than the Verizon store folks, although, my Verizon store experiences were in NJ while I got the blackjack from an AT&T store in California. I suppose that could account for a difference in mentality and mental capability on its own, but being a Jersey boy I'm thinking its the companies, not the states ;).

The last thing I'd like to tell you all that I found out that might be of interest is that since I really ultimately wanted an iPhone I asked a lot of questions about it. As it turns out, while I received my Blackjack II at a discount for signing with AT&T for 2 years, were I to upgrade even today to an iPhone I would still be able to get the normal iPhone new subscriber price and would not have to break my contract on the Blackjack II. So this means I get all the benefit of having a new phone with GPS and 3G data in the meantime while Apple get's their act together, and when the new one comes out (as long as the policy doesn't change) I can upgrade to the iPhone without paying any penalty other than the $100 I paid for the Blackjack II (after $100 mail in rebate).

This seemed to me to be a great policy and a great deal, at least for me with my sights on the iPhone. Otherwise I might have gone with a prepaid phone or perhaps bought a cheapy phone on ebay and simply signed up for a contract free month to month service. So now I've got the best of both worlds.

Thanks AT&T - so far so good!

PS: the one thing that is interesting, not that I'll be roaming to Canada anytime soon, but AT&T's data rates there are $.015/KB compared with Verizon's now well known $.002/KB. So AT&T comes in at $15.36.MB - which seems outrageous compared to Verizon's $2.05/MB - so you folks on the border, make sure you do your math before making the switch like me.

PPS: I transfered my old Verizon number to my broadvoice account, since I was trialing AT&T and didn't want to hassle with the number portability thing (back and forth) should I decide to cancel. This worked out great as I use Broadvoice's simultanous ring feature so that should anyone call any of my old numbers, it will ring on my new phone. Then if and when I decide I will keep this phone I can either port my older number over to AT&T from Broadvoice, or just keep it in my Broadvoice account for less than $2/month. I'm really happy with their service. Anyone going over their monthly mobile minutes who also spends much of their time in front of a PC might want to look into Broadvoice. I use the free X-Lite from as my PC SIP client and make calls right from my computer. For anyone not familiar VoIP I can make and receive calls to and from any phone, and I also get unlimited calls to the US and many other countries included, all for about $27/month (including taxes). Remember too you can make calls from other countries for the same rates - as long as you have reasonable internet access (about 150KB/s up and down). Check out


Jason said...

Too bad you didn't try out Sprint. Their data plans are very good.

George Vaccaro said...

@jason, thanks for your comment - unfortunately I had a bad experience with Nextel a few years ago with an "Unlimited" everything plan, that included unlimited everything except call forwarding.

I swear these wireless companies thrive on misdirection and confusion and then crap customer service hoping that most productive people don't have the time to follow up and instead will just suck it up.

AT&T customer service has been excellent by comparison to Nextel and Verizon.

Tazgranny said...

So, are you happy with AT&T? I'm still with Verizon and going to Canada/Alaska soon. I'm wondering if I should just leave my aircard and cell phone at home?

George Vaccaro said...


I mentioned in the post, Verizon appears to have a much better roaming data rate than AT&T, so if that would apply to your travels, I'd definitely keep that in mind.

AT& has been working out great. The coverage where I've been has been fine, my data speeds excellent, and customer service has been unbelievably better than Verizon's. That said, I had to call customer service for a few reasons in the first place - to their credit the issues were resolved promptly. In this day and age thats about all you can ask for.

Eric Tully said...

George, I've considered switching to other carriers but because of their coverage, I'm pretty much staying with Verizon forever. When I talk to my friends who are on other networks, every single phone call ends with, "you there? hey? you there?"

Consumer Reports backs up my personal experience which is that Sprint's coverage sucks the most. AT&T sucks a lot. Nextel sucks a little. And Verizon is awesome and amazing.

If their customer service gets worse (which hardly seems possible) and their prices go up (which is likely) and their phones continue to be hobbled, I'll still stay with Verizon.

- Eric

Shawn said...

Working for AT&T, and coming across your blog over a year ago, I must say, I enjoyed it very much. So much, that I ripped a CD and keep one at my desk, and share it regularly to this day. I have a case made out with your website address on it, and although our work comps don't allow outside internet sites, yours is one of the very few that are allowed at our location.

There are some reps who seem not to understand, especially when they first hear the recording, and try to follow along using our systems/charges. Their rates are definitely cheaper than ours. Most wonder why you weren't given the credit as a courtesy right off the bat. I mean $71. C'mon.

I'm sorry for your experience, but realize it has brought smiles to many people. If you have any issues with AT&T post it, I am sure someone I have hooked onto sharing your experience will call you.

George Vaccaro said...


I can't believe my site is actually on an include list :).

The CD thing is very funny too.

I have actually called AT&T a couple of times for some minor stuff - like starting my billing cycle on the 11th when I signed up on the 5th resulting in sms overages (prorating my 200 texts to 47) since I was trying out my built in AIM client. Also, using SMS to send AIM messages? Two very strange policies resulted in SMS overages for me in the first week I had my phone.

However I was very impressed with not only how they reps ultimately dealt with the situation (from refunding minor overages because of the prorating, to giving me roll over minutes), but also with just their general demeanor. I got the impression that Verizon was running a sweatshop compared to the more local feeling, open, friendly demeanor of the AT&T reps. I'm very happy so far. And yes, it seems weird to be characterizing a huge company like AT&T that way, but the contrast is pretty drastic.

Also the fact that my unlimited data minutes is supposedly actually unlimited (as opposed to Verizon's caps) is refreshing as well. Truth in advertising, how about that?

So far so good, but thanks for the advice - it would be nice to run into an "insider" so to speak, from your internal "and they told 2 friends..." network.

Maybe I should mention to the next rep I speak to that I'm the VerizonMath guy - scratch that, sounds pretty cheesy.

Finally, I agree, I and many others have been paid back at an amazing interest rate in laughs :). Totally worth the initial hassle.

Thanks for the post.

phoenixineohp said...

Just to let you know, a chopped version of your call is now on Fail blog and YouTube! It's pretty popular. :)

kswiss said...

Kind of an old comment thread. But AT&T is the worst carrier ever.

I've had no problems with Verizon, but I would never sign up with AT&T. Hands down, worst carrier ever. Dropped calls, slow 3G, fake 4G. Just awful.