Most recently, I have signed up for MetroPCS because I was previously on a family plan with Verizon and also had a Blackberry through my job. Because I realized having two phones was a bit silly (after 4 years of doing so), I gave my Verizon phone to my mom. Upon my departure from my last job, I had to return the Blackberry and that began the process of deciding where to get a new phone.
Below are some of my experiences with phone companies.
Verizon – Was on a grandfathered shared plan with unlimited data so adding another line wasn’t an option because any time you make a change to the plan or phones on Verizon, you get F*&*^d. While Verizon has great coverage, their corporate policies leave a lot to be desired. My complaints with them deserve their own post. The short version is that they will not stand by you after a natural disaster and will not provide good customer service – their reps are fine, it’s the corporate bastards that are the issue.
Virgin Mobile – I tried out VM for just 3.5 weeks. Fortunately, they have a great return plan. As of November 2012, the policy was that you could use the phone as much as you want within your plan (mine was 300 minutes with unlimited texts and data) and you just need to return the phone within 33 days after purchase for a full refund of the phone. You still pay for the entire month of service but it’s a good way to figure out if VM is the right plan for you. Unfortunately, these are the reasons why I hated VM:
1) They have horrible customer service. It takes forever to get someone on the phone (all while using your minutes) and then they route you from person to person to attempt to accomplish what you need. For example, one person deals with billing, the next with your plan, the next with issues, etc. etc.
2) Call quality in my apartment right outside of New York City was pretty bad. I would miss calls and not be able to make any calls from random places all over New York and New Jersey.
3) You can’t accomplish what you think you normally should be able to on their website.
4) Even after you cancel the service and return the phone, they keep harassing you via email until you unsubscribe. You would think their computers could take non-customers off their “customer” emails.
A positive about VM is that they did refund the purchase price of the phone very soon after they received it back. Overall, I would not recommend VM because of the stress they caused me in just one month of membership. It may work for some people, but it certainly didn’t for me.
MetroPCS: One of the strong points of MetroPCS is that they have great customer service via Twitter. The Twitter people really do try to help. The problem is their hands are tied by corporate policies. Recent issues I have had with them are:
1) Most of the time when you attempt to call MPCS, you either can’t get through to a person, or it takes a long time to do so. I have figured out that if you blast them on Twitter, you can usually get them to call you within a short amount of time and they are ready to help.
2) They have an 8 digit password/code that you have to give every time you speak to them. By default it is your full birthday but if you change it, it’s hard to remember. Seems like a silly way to verify your account.
3) Just recently when I traveled out of the country for a few weeks, I skipped paying my bill after confirming with MPCS that this was the way to be able to put my account on hold while I was away in a place without MPCS coverage. They originally made a mess out of the situation when trying to get the account off “hold”. My sister called to reinstate and pay my account. They charged a lesser amount than should have been paid, charged a fee to change the billing date (which I knew and approved before I left) but then didn’t actually activate my service. Upon my return to the States, my phone didn’t work and I had to call them from a payphone at the airport and blast them on Twitter again in order to get the phone up and working.
4) An additional fee was charged for paying my bill via the phone (even though it was their fault).
5) They are unclear where they have service. For example, I was in Houston during my layover and was told that the reason my phone wasn’t working was because I was in an extended area plan and would not have service. This turned out to be a false statement.
6) Initially, you are stuck with MPCS pop up ads on your phone. You have to disable the MyExtras app in order to get these pop ups to stop. Additionally, MPCS will spam you with their own ads via text message unless you specifically Tweet or call them to ask them to stop.
7) Service with them is spotty and I miss calls constantly. However, I think their network is getting better so hopefully this will work itself out.
Ultimately, MPCS really did help. The Twitter people called me and did their best to make me happy. They really are nice people. They got the ads to stop and credited me an additional $15 for all my trouble.
For a non-contract provider, I think MPCS is a decent service. I don’t have experience with any other non-contract provider other than Virgin Mobile though so I can’t say if MPCS is better than Walmart’s Straight Talk or T-Mobile. For a single phone with unlimited everything, I think I will stick with MPCS for a while. Overall, they supply what I need at a decent price. Hopefully, one day I’ll get a company-paid phone again. Until then….MetroPCS, here I am.