Sunday, April 16, 2017

The ongoing story of a cell phone

For a while now, I have had two cell phone lines.  One of these lines is attached to a grandfathered unlimited data plan I have with Verizon. This line I use for Mario's calls, as well as calls to people who know me as both Mario and Marian. The other line is attached to an unlimited talk/text (no data) plan I have with Total Wireless. (Total Wireless is a rebranded reseller of Verizon's network capacity.) This line, I use only for Marian's calls. The first line costs me roughly $100, while the second line costs $25.

I had been using the "latest and greatest" of Motorola's offerings on the first line, often having paid full price for the phone to protect my grandfathered data plan.  If Verizon had offered me a plan where I could get the data I regularly used at a reasonable price, I might have surrendered my grandfathered status to continue getting discounts on my phones.  Sadly, this never happened when I needed it most.

On the second line, I used a cheap Motorola phone. Unlike the first line, I could only use a 3G CDMA phone, as Total Wireless had not yet cut a deal to allow its customers to use Verizon's 4G LTE network.  Recently, this situation changed, and Total Wireless now offers 4G data service.  I could now use an old Verizon 4G phone for the second line.

When I upgraded the phone I use on the first line to a new Moto Z Play (a midrange phone), I figured that I'd move my old phone to Total Wireless. It was working perfectly while in active use on my Verizon line. So I pulled the SIM card, and made my first trip to the Cell Phone Repair shop in Wappinger's Falls to get the old phone's battery replaced. If I had known what I'd be going through, I'd have bought a new phone instead of going the route I did.

Although I could have bought the tools required to work on the phone and had videos like this ( to guide me, I had decided to use the cell phone repair shop, as I knew that I'd likely screw things up the way my luck has been going as of late. The outfit's web site mentioned that it serviced Motorola equipment, so I figured that I'd be safe.

Knowing that it would take some time to get the parts, I was not bothered when the fellow missed his first target date of 2/4, and was prepared to wait another few days for the battery replacement. I called the gentleman again on 2/8, and he said the phone would be ready that afternoon.  However, with the storm that came the next day, I wasn't able to pick up the phone until Friday, 2/10.

On that Friday, I drove up to Wappinger's Falls and drove home with a phone not yet connected to any network.  So I put in the new Total Wireless CDMA SIM card and tried to use the phone.  Everything worked, save the speaker on the phone.  I played around a bit, then did a factory reset - that only served to clean out Mario's data from the phone. (I didn't mind this, as I didn't want Mario's name on the new phone for anything.)  So I drove back to Wappinger's Falls the next day and explained my problem.

My phone was back in the hands of the repair shop. Although I could have waited in the Poughkeepsie area for 2-3 hours, I decided to go home and pick up the phone the following week.  On Monday, 2/13, I found out that the speaker was still not working. So the repair shop had to order a new speaker.  This speaker came in on Saturday 2/18.  Unfortunately, the speaker still didn't work.  So the fellow asked me on 2/20 about sending it out for service, and I OK'd it.  As they day: "In for a penny, in for a pound."

On Wednesday, 2/22, I got a call.  It seems as if they ordered an incompatible speaker.  So, I was asked if I could wait for the new speaker to come in - and I said "Yes".  I have a feeling that he ordered the wrong part, figured out what he did wrong (with assistance), and then knew what he had to do.  AARGH!  Another 6-9 days of waiting.  At least, I don't depend on that phone for much of anything.

I figured that I should touch base with the repair shop on Monday, 2/27. And I was told that he is expecting to receive the part towards the end of the week.  This was not a problem for me, but it will now be a month that I have not had use of the phone.  Again, if I had known what would happen when trying to replace the phone's battery, I'd have bought a new phone and said the hell with the headaches I'd be going through.  But, without a functioning time machine, no one can have 20-20 foresight.

A week later, I decided to give the cell phone shop a call to see what was going on. The lady who answered the phone said that the phone was ready for pickup, and yet she wasn't sure about that. So she said she'd talk to the phone repairman (probably the owner of the franchise) and find out more. Well, I had plans to meet GFJ in Poughkeepsie for lunch, so I figured that I'd drop in afterwards.  

After a nice lunch with GFJ, we both went to the shop and asked about the phone. Both of us were confused about what the fellow was saying. Did he expect the phone to be shipped back from California? Or, did he expect to be able to contact someone in California in regard to when the phone would be shipped back to New York.  In either case, he was supposed to know something by 4:00 pm, and would give me a call (which came the next day). When I finally received the call, he told me that I should expect to see the phone on Friday or Saturday. 

On Monday (3/13),  I got dressed and made my way to the repair shop.  For the life of this man, he (and his crew in California) coudn't fix the phone. He offered me a partial refund (I know I could have gotten more) which I accepted, and then I went to Walmart to pick up a new phone for my "Marian only" line.  I should have known better than to have asked the fellow sweeping up the technology area for help. Although he was able to ring up the sale on the phone, it wasn't done right.  When I got the new phone home, I found out that it couldn't be activated because it was rung up wrong at checkout. As a result, it was back to Walmart to have this issue taken care of.  They ended up doing a return and new sale on a new phone, not bothering to do anything with the old phone. That was fine with me, as I got an extra phone charger out of the deal.

The old phone that no longer worked was a Motorola Droid X (2nd Gen.), while the new phone is a LG Premier LTE.  I could have looked more closely for a replacement phone, but I wanted something inexpensive and I wanted it now. As long as it worked with Total Wireless, and as long as it could run the most basic of apps, I figured that I'd be happy for a couple of years.

After I finally got the phone up and running, I was no longer sure if the phone would be piggybacking on Verizon's network. There is something about using "Big Red's" network that comforts me - and I think it may be related to having coverage I rarely need. (Several years ago, I drove to Cooperstown, and enjoyed listening to streamed music all the way up, save one small gap in a desolated rural area.) But when I checked the model number of the phone, I think I might have been lucky - this phone seems to be the CDMA version of the phone, and has a better than 50/50 chance of being on Verizon's network and not Sprint's network.

Sadly, this phone has mixed reviews, and I don't expect to have it around for more than a year or so. If I weren't so frustrated by not having a phone for this line available in over a month, I might have taken more time to buy something better. Battery life and memory size are two big complaints.  Although I can replace the battery on this phone, there is a limited amount of things I can do to cope with memory size. But until I decide to make the change, this will be the phone I use whenever I give out a number to people I want to only know me as Marian.



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