I’d been counting down the days for the last 1.5 years and it finally arrived….iphone day! We’ve been Verisign Wireless customers for about 6 years and have had no reason to consider switching to another carrier, as the services was great, albeit a little overpriced. Here’s the story of our switch to AT&T…
Okay, I admit it…I’m an Apple fanboy. But I’ve used everything from Windows 3-Vista, MacOS 7-10 and even Linux and I have to say that the new MacOS has it going on. It’s more stable and reliable than Windows in my experienced. And Apple hardware is equally impressive. I switched to Mac again after years of using Windows a couple years ago and haven’t looked back. I don’t miss the blue screens of death or the slowness after 3 months of buying the computer, because the OS needed to be reloaded.No more daily reboots…

Okay, with all that said, when Apple released the iphone, sure I was like "That is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen and I have to have one." The big problem was dropping $600 on a phone….a PHONE! So I put it out of my mind, and counted it as unreasonably expensive. Of course, then Apple cut the price shortly after, but we were under a 2 year contract with Verizon, so we couldn’t really switch anyway.

Well, our contract with Verizon ran up about 2 weeks ago, and I made the switch to AT&T, dragging my wife and parents along, since we are all on a family plan. I do have to admit, that we are getting more for our money with AT&T…400 extra minutes, rollover minutes, and a data plan for our iphone all for about the same price we were paying at Verizon. But the "More bars in more places" slogan from AT&T is simply not the case – big surprise. I host a guys outdoor adventure trip every year to the middle of nowhere and consistently it’s always ther Verizon customers who are the only ones who get a signal…and from what I’ve read, Verizon has the best network…so I wasn’t all that surprised. I’ve had 3 dropped calls with AT&T in 2 weeks and probably had 5 in 6+ years with Verizon…and there are times I get NO signal in my home, which is about a mile from DOWNTOWN Raleigh….so that wasn’t very impressive. But all in all, the signal seems clear and I usually have at least one bar. Most everywhere else I’ve driven in Raleigh I get a great signal with AT&T.

So on to the switching part: I knew that if I switched carriers, it had to be economically sensible…it couldn’t only be because I want an iphone. And I was particularly annoyed that AT&T decided to up the data fee for the iphone to $30 a month, AND get rid of the 200 included text messages that came with the old iphone. Sure the new 3G iphone is cheaper, and the sales reps were quick to point that out, but with a 2 year contract, any reasonably intelligent person can see that paying an extra $15 a month for the new 3G data and 200 text messages means the customer loses in the long run – big time. And when I’m sitting next to wifi 90% of the time, why would I want to pay $10 more a month for the 3g network, when many cities don’t even have 3G yet anyway. Sure, the new iphone has GPS too, but the old iphone has a clever way of getting your location figured out via looking at the data from the nearby wireless routers…so again, not worth an extra $15 a month. So, I pulled up trusty Craigslist and found a nice guy who sold me his old 2G iphone for $300…which is more than the new one, but again, with the lower monthly plan, was still worth every penny.

So I went to 3 different AT&T stores and it took multiple conversations to get a fair deal. First of all, I’m used to getting a $100 credit towards new phones every 2 years with Verizon, so I usually got a cool phone for myself and usually they would throw in up to 5 free phones for other family members – and not just 2 crappy phones….they usually had about 10 to choose from, all for free. This is not the case with AT&T. They have 2-3 free phones, at the time I was switching, and they were all dinosaur phones with no features and bad ratings. They didn’t even come CLOSE to the free phones we got at Verizon two years earlier. So, after a rebate, I had to pay $20 each for Motorola CU515 phones, which had a good rating on CNet, but honestly my wife’s phone was a downgrade from her 2-year-ago-free-Verizon phone. The camera had no flash, the phone was substantially bigger and the front outside screen was in monocolor rather than full color…..and NO VOICE DIALING…you have to pay $5 more A MONTH for that feature with most AT&T phones…HELLO….why has that feature been standard on every phone I’ve owned since 1999, but now I have to pay more for it!?! Lovely.

So that, combined with an $88 new customer activation fee (which is ridiculous anyway – carriers should be encouraging me to switch to them, not charging me extra,  shouldn’t they?) and lack of features, the switch wasn’t looking so good. And my attempts at negotiating with the Garner AT&T location was futile. They kept telling me they had to clear any "special deals" with heir manager, and he’s out at the moment…blah, blah. And when I called their manager, he never returned my phone call…Gee, you guys really want my business, huh? *Tries to not be bitter* Anyway, after them telling me that there is no way to waive the activation fee, I want to the Cary location and the first sales rep I spoke to waived the activation fee like it was no problem. Yay. So we get the phones and switch….my wife got a bum CU515 so the call quality was bad until we switched it out, but now that it’s all done, my wife does actually like her phone.

Now comes activation and number porting. Switching over my wife’s phone went flawless and was quick. Activating the iphone was a pain, as the first sim card didn’t work, but luckily the sales rep gave me 2 just in case….then I could make calls but not receive, but a call and 20 minute wait with ATT porting fixed that….had the same problem with my mother’s phone too.

So in the end, was it worth it? Well, the iphone is unbelievable. it is so easy and FUN to use…it’s not a chore to send emails…browsing the web and viewing maps is very easy and intuitive…it has tons of space on it for music…and the new app store is awesome…there are a lot of free add on programs and games that are really fun to play with. I love this thing. But if it wasn’t for the iphone, I never would have switched. And after talking with other people who switched for the same reason – and believe me, the AT&T store is constantly full of people switching to get the new iphone, AT&T’s deal with Apple to sell the iphone had to be one of their smartest moves in years.