Free at last

My son cracked his cellphone screen. We paid insurance to Verizon for that sort of thing.

Turns out, Verizon farms the insurance out to someone else. Verizon used to send a new phone (ok, a refurbished one) out and you’d ship the broken one back.

Not any more. Now you have to go to this other vendor, and pay them a ransom, to get the phone fixed, or replaced. I don’t know what they do since I balked at how much I’d have to pay. What is the point of paying for insurance if it does you no good?

The point is, his broken screen, and my unsuccessful attempts to get Verizon to lower our bill, are just the straws that broke our back and why we left.

So we have a new carrier, and we all have new phones. I finally am free of that horrible piece of shit I owned, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. 

I’ve had nothing but loathing for that phone almost since day one. Ok, maybe after a few weeks. I’ve ranted enough about it here that I don’t need to repeat it.

My main bitch was its pisspoor reception. I admit, I work inside a Farraday Cage of a building. No phone I’ve owned since working here, had very good reception. I’ve gone through two Samsung Galaxies (the first gen and this S7), a Nokia Windows 8 phone, an iPhone, and a Motorolla Droid. 

All had bad reception in my building and in the mall, where there are several dead zones. 

But the S7 Edge was the worst of the bunch. Reception woes, even WiFi, continued to plague it even at my own home. I’d be next to my wife and her Samsung Galaxy S7 got great reception while mine wouldn’t get shit.

And this wasn’t just data reception, some days, maybe because of the weather (see radio wave propagation), I couldn’t send texts and phone calls would drop off.

The S7 Edge also sucked with bluetooth. It never ever did pair with my car and always had issues pairing with most other devices.

We had two options when my son’s phone broke. I could just get him a new phone with Verizon or we could all switch to a new carrier.

Since my reception problem at work seemed to effect every phone I owned, then the problem was either my building, in which case I was screwed no matter what I did, or it was my carrier and switching might help.

That was my impetus for switching to US Cellular. They claimed to have great coverage here.

So we switched. And I chose an LG V20. 

First cool thing is, they’ve done away with the trapezoid shaped mini USB cables that only fit one way to charge and eventually broke the connector from continual jamming the damned thing into the hole the wrong way. This new plug fits either way. My son chose the Samsung Galaxy S8 and it has the new plug as well. Good. That old plug sucked.

Second cool thing is, my V20 paired with my car’s Blue and Me! Whoohoo! Success! The car even recognized it as a V20. And this morning when i got in and started the car, it asked me if I wanted to upload my contact list! It knows me!

Third cool thing is I get 4G LTE signal in my building! Not 3G. Not 1x. Not no signal at all. Those were common with the S7 Edge. No. I get a real, honest to goodness signal.

And you know what else i found out? There are no dead zones in the mall!

All my phone woes were because Verizon Wireless sucked! Can you hear me now? Yes, goddammit! I finally can hear you now!

Honestly, I hate to judge something after only two days, but so far US Cellular and the LG V20 are amazeballs!
To steal a slogan: LG — Life’s Good.

(And if I irritated anyone with my split infinitives, it was on purpose.)

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Can you hear me now?

Cellphone carriers have you coming and going. Once one has you in its clutches, it takes more than a superhero to free you. It takes cash and a lot if it.

There once was a time, back in the good old days, when it was much easier to deal with cellphone companies, and leave them.

They sold you a two-year plan and gave you a phone. For free! If you wanted the top-of-the-line phone, then you’d pay a little up front, anywhere from a few dollars to $150 or so. Easy peasy. The phone was yours and you were theirs for two years.

Once the two year contract ended, you could either get a new FREE phone with another two year contract or you could bail for a carrier that had a better deal.

This kept carriers honest. They had to give out decent phones for FREE or give other incentives to lure in new customers and all was right with the world.

Then one of them got the idea that if they could sell the phones on the installment plan, they could keep customers locked in while making the customers think this was a better deal. “See? We dont have two year contracts any more, you can leave any time. Just pay off your phone.”

And that was the catch. Because the phones, which we once got for a mere $150, now cost in the neighborhood of $700 or $800 or more.

And if you have a family plan with four or more phones, guess what? That buyout can end up costing you quite a bit of cash out of pocket. Add up the remaining phone balances plus your final bill (which can be two months worth depending on when you leave), and you find you have to plunk down $1500 or so to leave them.

And that was their evil plan. Hold customers hostage.

Until smaller companies questioned, “How can we get customers away from the Big 3?” That’s when they came up with their buyout plans. “Come to us and we’ll buyout your contract!”

Which sounds great on paper, until you go and talk to them and find out they don’t pay you in cash, they pay you in credits. 

In other words, if you think you’ll borrow money earmarked for your mortgage payment that month to pay off your cellphone contract with the Evil Empire in the hope that your new friendly Rebel Alliance cellphone company was going to give you cash back to pay for your house, you’ve got another think coming.

Those Rebel Alliance credits are only good for buying Rebel Alliance stuff, like to pay for your new phones, thus reducing your monthly bill or to pay your bill off for several months, so you can be bill free for a while.

Neither of which are truly bad if you can afford the initial buyout of the Evil Empire. If you can’t, you’re shit out of luck.

However, if you do manage to scrap together the extortion fee to pay off the Evil Empire, then it is possible to move to a new, more affordable cellphone carrier.

Which is what we finally were able to do. After being held hostage by Verizon Wireless for over 10 years, having to pay $350 a month, we left them for US Cellular where we’re already saving over $100 a month, and once we get our buyout credits, that price will drop even more.

Can you hear me now?

Tomorrow’s blog will talk about how good it feels to be rid of my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.

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The day the music died

As you should be aware if you follow my blog, I hate my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. I’ve written twice about it since I got it in June.

Hate. It. With. Passion.

My biggest complaint has been that the receiver is just weak. I can’t get decent signal strength at work and even at home on wi-fi, reception is spotty.

But the one thing I kept forgetting to mention in those reviews was it’s music capabilities. When I first got it, I was able to load a small portion of my music library to it with the intent of adding the rest when I had more time.

The problem is, it hasn’t allowed me to add more and I can’t figure out why. 

I’ve followed online directions. For some reason when you connect the S7 Edge to your computer, the phone defaults to Charging mode. If you want it to do something else, like transfer files, you have to swipe down and change that on a menu.

How idiotic is that? I would think once you plug it in that should be it. It connects, it charges, it transfers files, it’s happy. Like every other phone I’ve ever owned.

But no, not the S7 Edge. It has to be difficult.

The other issue I’m having is regarding connecticity with the computer. Once I do the swipe, the computer sees the phone, recognizes it as a storage device, but files won’t transfer!

Use Windows Media Player to sync? It won’t. In fact, it crashes WMP. Use Explorer to drag music over? Nothing happens.

Even rebooting both devices won’t help.  So the few songs I had downloaded when I first got the device I was stuck with. I couldn’t add any more.

But now this morning, I go to listen to my music and… Nothing! There is no music! Somehow all my music, and only my music, was wiped from the S7 Edge! 

I’m this close to smashing this piece of shit with a sledge hammer.

Tonight, I’m going to do a factory reset and see if that solves anything. Maybe I had downloaded some app that was preventing my phone from transferring music. Fine if that works. That won’t explain what caused my already downloaded music to disappear.

And if you can recommend a good quality music playing app, I’d appreciate it. On my Droid Turbo I had the Poweramp and I was very satisfied with it. On the S7 Edge, however, the app plays much too softly. It has no volume to it no matter how I set up the equalizers.

I’ve downloaded and tried a few, Black Player being the one that seemed to work best with this phone, but I deleted that to see if it was interfering with my downloading of music. It wasn’t.

I do not recommend the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.  In fact, I rate it a piece of shit. Avoid it. (Note: my wife owns the Galaxy S7 and loves it. So if you think you need a Samsung, get that instead of the Edge.)

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The Edge of Tripe

I apologize for not posting much recently, but I’ve actually been doing some real writing, fiction-type writing. 

And no, I wasn’t participating in NaNoWriMo. I don’t need an artificial challenge to write shit. I can write shit all on my own, thank you very much.

And speaking of shit, I thought I’d do a long term review on my smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. I first reviewed it here. OK, it wasn’t a review so much as I savaged it.

Well, time hasn’t improved matters. After six months of ownership, I’m chomping at the bit to replace this piece of shit. It is by far the worst smartphone I’ve ever owned and I’ve owned a few.

My first “smartphone” was an LG something or other with a slide-out keyboard. it wasn’t an android device, it had a weird user-interface and to get online (which I rarely did because we didn’t have a data plan at the time) you clicked on the LG browser icon and were launched into an AOL-style experience. Anyway, it came out about the time the iPhone first did, before android, when Crackberry dominated the market and touchscreens were still in their infancy.

My next real smartphone was the first generation Samsung Galaxy S. I liked it at first, but quickly found it didn’t like the area where I had just started working: downtown in the mall.

Thus started my love/hate with smartphones. The building I’m in is, as I’ve mentioned, like a Faraday Cage. Reception within sucks. Although some people seem to do it, I haven’t been able to. 

That first gen Samsung Galaxy S wouldn’t connect to the Internet until I did a hard restart by yanking the battery once I stepped outside my building. 

My next phone was the iPhone 4S. Oh, yay, Seri! Personally, I don’t get the whole fad of talking to your phone (or those Google home devices where you can turn on the sprinklers to get rid of annoying people on your lawn). I don’t like to talk. Period. Not to people. Not to my devices. Seri, therefore, was a wasted accessory for me. But beyond that, and at first I was thrilled with the iPhone, I soon came to loathe it. For many reasons which I won’t get into. I’m sure I ranted about them four or five years ago. But the iPhone’s reception sucked, too. I had to do a hard reboot all the time to connect to the Internet.

At this point, I’d tried Android and the iPhone and found both lacking, so I picked up a Nokia Win7 phone. If memory serves, the hardware was pretty decent (Yay Finland!), but the disappointing part was the lack of apps for Windows phones.Basically, with that phone I could get online, but the apps sucked so bad it didn’t really matter that I’d gotten on.

My next phone was the Motorola Droid Turbo. I liked this phone, except the camera sucked. it was like time warping back to 1998. This phone suffered from severe digital lag. Snap a picture and seconds later the picture takes. Forget action shots unless you could anticipate when something would happen. “Oh, my son’s shooting a basket!” *click!* And by the time the phone reacted, all the players were already at the other end of the court. “Hey, nice shot of an empty court, dude.” Shut up.

So I traded that in for this, the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. Yes, it takes excellent pictures. I have a great portable camera.

But for anything else? It sucks. As I mentioned in my first look post, the receiver is THE worst. (Pronounce it like thee for full effect.) I have to restart or do a shutdown all the time so it’ll find a signal.

Wi-Fi isn’t any better. I can sit right next to my wife in our house and she’s Facebooking and Instagramming like all get out, but there I sit only a few feet away unable to get a fucking signal. It can’t find the Wi-Fi. And she owns the standard Samsung Galaxy S7! WTF?

Does hers have a better receiver? Because her phone is thicker, was Samsung able to squeeze a bigger, more powerful receiver in hers and we S7 Edge owners get stuck with inferior crap?

I don’t know. All I do know is I hate this piece of shit phone and I can’t wait until I can trade it in for something else. Maybe the new Motorola Droid Turbo 2, if they’ve improved the camera. Or possibly the latest LG (which I was looking at until the Verizon Wireless rep talked me into this POS. “Oh, the S7 is so much better!” Or maybe I’ll get the latest HTC, that one with the stereo speakers, because the speaker on the S7 Edge is horrible. No. Horrible would be a improvement. You need headphones to listen to videos because it its one weak ass tiny speaker on the bottom can’t be heard unless you’re isolated inside soundproof room.

Okay. Sorry. That really wasn’t a review so much as as rant about every smartphone I’ve ever owned, was it? This phone really has me on edge. Pun intended.

Maybe one day I’ll find a phone I can be happy with. 

What do you have? Are you happy with it? Whose your carrier? Are you satisfied with them? Feedback it’s appreciated.

Until next time.

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Samsung Edge disappoints

I’ve had my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge for little over a week now and I can tell you this: it sucks.

I know what you’re thinking. “How can that be? Everyone is raving about it. I’ve read the reviews!”

Sure, the Edge gorgeous. It’s got that cool curved edge on the screen with scrolling notifications. And the camera is fantastic. It’s the best phone camera I’ve owned.

“Well then what’s the problem?”

It’s the receiver. This phone has the worst receiver of any phone I’ve ever owned with the possible exception of the crappy free noname Sprint phone we got back in 1995.

As you know, I work in a Faraday Cage-like building. But I know that and really don’t expect much in the way of Internet access. I do, however, expect to be able to receive calls at my desk–like every other cellphone I’ve owned.

Not this one. It rings, I answer, it drops the call.

I’m also aware that the mall I walk in on breaks when the weather is inclement (and this is Wisconsin, so the weather is always inclement) is called the Black Hole by the cellphone stores inside it.

But I’ve also been walking it for 6 years.  Six years and 5 phones. I know all the areas where there is weak reception and avoid the one dead spot.

The receiver on the Edge is so piss poor, the entire mall is one big dead spot! Even though it says it has a couple bars of 4G LTE, it still chugs away before giving me the notice “Try again when you’re online.”

I am online, asshole!

And you’d think going outside would clear things up, but no. Even in the open the Edge finds the dead spots.

“Post will appear when you’re online” is Facebook’s standard response to my attempts to post from this phone. It really chaps my ass.

It’s sad that I have to carry my little Jetpack mobile Hotspot with me so I can get online with this phone, but that’s the situation.

Yet even its reception of Wi-Fi sucks. We have home Wi-Fi and all our phones and devices can pick it up throughout the house and in the yard.

Not the Edge. I go outside and it complains there is no Wi-Fi signal. But instead of switching to the 4G network, it just sits in Limbo, unable to make up its mind what to do. Leaving me without any Internet, wondering if I should just drop it into the grill and be done with it.

In the time it’s taken me to write this I’ve watched my Edge say “connected to Wi-Fi,” “Lost Wi-Fi,” “connected to Wi-Fi,” “Lost Wi-Fi,” countless times.

So, in summary, if you plan on using the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge for anything other than a fairly decent camera, you’ll be sorely disappointed.

And the “beast of a battery” some reviews claim is pure bullshit. Maybe it’s an improvement over the S6, but compared to my last phone, the Droid Turbo, it’s like it doesn’t even have a battery. I have to charge it two or three times a day.

For a supposed state-of-the-art phone the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is a monstrous disappointment.

Makes me wonder if Samsung isn’t engaging in a little payola to get those glowing reviews for this POS.

I wonder if Verizon will let me swap for the latest LG?

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All good things come to an end

My wife and I have had a data plan with Verizon Wireless for several years, long before they changed their all their plans in order to make more money at their customers’ expense. So we were grandfathered in for unlimited data while new customers were charged more and more for their new tiered data plans.

Until May. When my wife upgraded her iPhone 4 for a Samsung Galaxy 4s, we were informed that the whole grandfathering thing was over. We too, having lived the life of Riley for all these years, would now join the rest of the commoners and get screwed on a monthly basis.

So we asked the Verizon rep what would be the best plan for us, knowing that we’d be adding our teenager to the data plan since he was inheriting my wife’s old smartphone. The rep looked at our previous history then made the bold statement, “You can go with the 2Gb plan. People always think they use more data than they really do. Hardly anyone needs more than 2Gb.”

OK. Fine. It’s his job to know these things, right? They don’t just hire any schlep off the street and put them on the Verizon Wireless store’s floor, do they? They go through training, no?

Probably, no. Because from the very beginning we started getting “data alerts” warning us that we were nearing our data limit for the month. Some months we were only warned we were at 75%. But there were a couple where the alert told us we were at 90%.

September was the straw that broke the camel’s back (and he wasn’t shouting, “What day is it?”). On the 28th, we received a 75% warning. Then, a mere two days later, we received the ominous text “Your account used abt 90% of its data allowance for the bill ending the 4th.”

Now I’m not a math wizard, but even I can extrapolate that if we used 15% of our data in two days that 10% would not last the four or five days until the plan reset. I had a decision to make. Either try to hold out until the plan reset and hope if we did go over that the overage charges wouldn’t be very excessive, or upgrade our account to the next tier up.

SO I logged on to Verizon Wireless and did a little figuring. The next step up from 2Gb was 4Gb and it was only $10 more. I decided to upgrade our plan.

Now we’re at 4Gb. “Hardly anyone ever uses more than 2Gb.” I wonder if the schlep rep now has a job advising the House Republicans? “Hardly anyone likes Obamacare.”

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Smartphones and Deals

eMail:

I received an email from Verizon Wireless letting me know one of my lines was eligible to upgrade. Their emails gave 3 reasons why Verizon is the place to be.

1) They’re the fastest 4G network. Which is fairly true.

2) They have award recognized customer service. “J.D. Power and Associates ‘Highest Ranked Customer Service Performance amoung Full Service Wireless Providers.'” Complete with typo. Their customer service isn’t bad, unless you’re trying to convince them your phone is for shit. Then it’s an uphill battle.

3) Cutting edge devices. To which I say “Bullshit!” I just posted entire rant about how Verizon is always months behind the other providers called “Verizon: Too Big for Sass.”

Upgrade:

So yes, Friday I finally pulled the trigger and ordered my Nokia Lumia 928 Windows 8 phone. I had several choices. Go to the store and get it instantly, but pay $50 and receive a $50 rebate card in the mail. This, a “free” phone. Sorry. I hate rebates. I want the free instantaneous. But it from Amazon for a penny and have guaranteed delivery on Tuesday. Or buy it from Verizon online and get the free right away, no rebate. So I took that route, thinking (because it kept saying it — free delivery to the store) I’d get it almost right away. Turns out, yes, it was free but it never gave me the option for store delivery. That kind of ticked me off. My son bought his phone online from Best Buy and was able to pick it up immediately. I finally received notification that the phone will arrive on Wednesday. Maybe I can have the delivery changed since no one will be home to sign for it.

I’m excited. Wednesday. Tuesday. It’s a horse apiece.

Provider Deals:

I just heard that AT&T is offering the new Nokia Lumia 1020, the one with the 41 megapixel camera, for NO DOWN PAYMENT. Does that means free? I don’t know. Maybe you have to pay it off during the term of the contract, but they were originally selling it for $300 WITH a 2-year contract. So if it is free, that’s a great deal.

Verizon Wireless, on the other hand, as I mentioned, is offering the Nokia Lumia 928 for free or for close to free with a mail-in rebate. And it looks like all their other Windows 8 phones are free now also. Either the Windows 8 phones aren’t the big sellers they hoped they’d be or Verizon just wants to push everything because they still aren’t keen on the iPhone and all its associates fees and are hoping people will choose something else.

Whatever. Meanwhile, my Nokia is somewhere in Memphis.

Happy. Happy.

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