Phone Hell.

So here’s the deal, and thank you all in advance for letting me vent.
About a year ago, Tash told me about this great phone company that gave you unlimited minutes for one price. So I switched to them, and have been with MetroPCS for almost a year.
Now, they’re kind of a bare bones company- I get a text message every month reminding me to pay my bill, and if I do it any way other than online, there’s a fee. No bill, no grace period. You have until midnight on your due date to pay your bill or they automatically shut you off. Great for someone like my mom, but, as it turns out, not so much for someone like me.
Last month, my bank processed an electronic payment to Metro for me, something I did to avoid scrambling on line every month at the last minute- no bill means no paperwork to enter into Quicken to remind me, and somehow the text message reminder always came to close to the due date to have my bank send a payment.
But something happened- like Metro doesn’t accept e-payments from third parties. So my bank cuts a regular check off my account, and I assume when I see it online on my balance that it’s an outgoing payment for next month and don’t calculate the first payment in my register when reconciling. Stupid me #1, I know. Since I ONLY use that account for monthly recurring bills, I don’t keep any extra in there- it’s all at another bank with a higher interest rate. Stupid me #2. Can you see what’s coming here? Yup, you betcha, I bounced a check. No problem, I just go online to Metro and give them the debit card number for the other account, phone service is paid. Right?
Well, you would think.
While my actual bill got paid, APPARENTLY I owed them $15 for having a check returned. I say apparently because I never received any notification from them. No text message reminder, no mail correspondence, no bill, no e-mail, NOTHING. And while this happened a month ago, they chose this morning- with NO WARNING- to shut off my phone.
Now, last night was the election and I was on a late deadline to turn in an article about the election, and I found out about the disconnect while trying to get a quote for the story. One minute, I’m makng calls, getting quotes, and the very next minute, nothing.
So I call them. I cannot get a person, only the faux-person computer system that for some reason goes into some kind of loop and disconnects before I can get my balance. After about 25 minutes of continuous dialing- all the while with this deadline looming larger and larger- I find out I have a balance of $13.12. Now, at this point I have no idea why, but I’m committed to paying it because I kinda need my phone (as much as I hate that) and want to get this story done. I try to pay online, but the web site times out two times. Couple that with the one time I try on the phone and it also doesn’t accept the payment (phone loop thing again- and this is a phone service PROVIDER) and I’m at three times, which at Metro means I cannot make another web or phone payment for 24 hours, even if it’s because their server timed out (which they confirmed it had).
So I head around the corner to pay at the Metro store.
Now, by this time I have pretty much decided I can’t- WON’T- deal with this anymore. It’s too hard to get a person on the phone, they have a shitty coverage area, and my phone drops a hell of a lot of calls. It also doesn’t get stellar reception in my house, but, hey, it’s not like I work from home or anything, right? Oh, wait, I do. So I decide to pay the $13 and cancel my plan (no contracts with Metro) when my bill comes due in the next few days.
The guy at the store tells me it’s an extra $3 to pay at the store, which I knew. And, as a bonus, since I’m paying with a debit card and not cash, it’s another $3. So my $13.12 has now gone to $19.12, which isn’t a significant amount but it represents, what, a 50% increase? Gritting my teeth and longing for T-Mobile more than ever, I decide to pay it. After all, I NEED to get this article done. It’s now 11:30 and I have a noon deadline.
That’s when they call Metro to confirm that they actually shut me off for what even they consider a weird amount and Metro says they won’t reactivate it unless I pay the bill that isn’t due yet. That’s the part that doesn’t make sense to me; why? I go month to month and, while the due date was close, it wasn’t here yet. This irks me more than usual because I have already decided to switch to T-Mobile and I don’t want to go through another month of dropped calls and people saying they called when I have no record of them trying.
So I storm out of the store, telling the guys I know it isn’t their fault but Metro isn’t getting another damn dime from me (I really do have a way with people) and head to Wal-Mart, where I return to T-Mobile, paper bills, and the land of real representatives.
Of course, I never reactivated my Metro phone, so I had no service most of the day while they ported my number over. That part was kinda nice, but I finished my article without quotes that would have made it better and more interesting, and I wasted WAY too much time on something that’s supposed to be there as a convenience for me. What ticks me off the most is that a better story generally means more money from the paper, and my attempting to save money with Metro cost me money today.
Now, the disclaimer: had I left a better buffer in my checking account to begin with and not been so greedy for every last penny of interest, I wouldn’t be in this situation. Bouncing a check is illegal, whether or not it was supposed to just be a funds transfer. But what the hell kind of major company isn’t set up to take e-payments? Christ, Gulfport takes them and they have what, three people there? E-payments are bank-guaranteed, personal checks are not. But switching back was inevitable for me irregardless; as much as I hate that I’ll probably pay more for phone service now AND I have to watch the minutes again, T-mobile has been there for me since 99. They forgave my indiscretion of straying (it helps that I told them I was thinking of them the whole time, it was just about the minutes, and that Metro PCS meant nothing to me).
They will mail me a bill. They will take e-payments. And all, as it was for six years, will be well, or at least something I don’t need to think about or spend time on. Like I told my mom, you get what you pay for. And that’s what I got from Metro- and not a penny more.
I’m also developing a nice collection of cell phones I can’t use at my house. Paperweights? Coasters? The possibilities are endless.

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I write. I take pictures. I love my dog. I love Florida. My 2016 book, 'Backroads of Paradise' did really well for the publisher and now I feel a ridiculous amount of pressure to finish the second book.

One thought on “Phone Hell.”

  1. I can relate. I got Metro after going through torture from Verizon (had been a customer for 12 years), and thought very carefully before taking such a plunge. I think charging customers a fee to pay the bill is an outrage, but the e-payment system kept rejecting my card. By the time I entered an erroneous zip code that actually worked, it would not allow me to complete the payment as I’d tried too many times. So the funds were tied up at PayPal since I used the PayPal credit card, for awhile, because PayPal wanted to pay, but Metro wouldn’t accept the payment. I tried paying via my bank online, and thought all was well, but the e-check was not processed in time for the due date. So I went to the Metro store and paid the bill plus the $3.00 fee. Because the bank paid also, I paid twice! I called Metro customer service and they said they’d send me a refund check in 10 days. It never came. Fortunately, I guess, they applied it to my next bill. Their system really sucks. However, I like my phone and it has worked where I expect it to, which is more than I can say for Verizon (locally).

    When my next bill comes, I plan to try the e-payment again with the zip code it liked, because I really hate that fee. But like the first time, I’ll do it early, so as not to run into the trouble you did.

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