Whenever you see those ads offering a better deal on your cell phone, it’s hard not to go looking. It’s even harder when you look at how you actually use your phone, tablet or wireless hotspot and realize that you are paying $100, $200 or even $400 a month for services that you only use a small amount of. Of course, there are options to save, but more often than not, something suffers. Usually, you can find the same network, but you might lose the roaming coverage. You can find cheaper pricing, but without all the freebies thrown in. You can even find cheap devices, but they may not have quite as nice of camera as your old one. There’s always something that suffers, but usually, the worst offender of them all is the level of customer service.
When you have a plan through a national carrier, you have a higher bill. That higher bill has a reason for being there though. When you have an issue, in most cases, you can swing by a local store to get some help with it. Say your phone is acting up or your voice mail password won’t work. Just a quick stop by the Verizon store has you all fixed up in a jiffy. Your battery won’t stay charged for more than 20 minutes? No problem, the local T-Mobile store will swap it out for you. The lines begin to blur on this a bit with lower cost carriers like Cricket (AT&T) and MetroPCS (T-Mobile) as they offer the lower service prices, but still have retail locations in some areas. Overall though, most MVNO’s don’t have high quality retail locations throughout the country.
It gets even worse when you deal with the online distributors like Republic Wireless, FreedomPop, Cintex, Ting and many others. If you have a problem, you might be able to get an answer from a social media guru from 8-5 Monday through Friday or find something in an online forum that will answer the question you had, but getting those billing issues fixed, addressing phone problems and speaking to actual people, probably not going to happen on a regular basis with online companies. This is where knowing who to ‘chat’ with really pays off with the ultra-savings operators.
The first bit of advice is to make sure to find help before you sign on to a carrier. Find them on Facebook, Twitter and their support forums. See how they interact with customers, especially the problem children. Do they have good information and are they able to address the issue at hand or do they just blow off the question with a generic answer and leave it open? Next up, ask them some question about their service and their devices. Ask about their hours of operation and how you can get help after hours. See what service options are available and if you feel comfortable using them.
Next, visit the forums and see how many praise reports their service has. Don’t look at anything negative, because that’s why forums are there – to vent about issues and get some kind of resolution to users complaining. When you see a complaint, look to see how it is handled. Do they simply say. “It must be your device because it’s not our network,” like was the popular Solavei answer for the longest time, or do they address the concerns about not having data services with ways to check and see if there is a setting that got changed or if there is an outage in your area at the moment. A simple answer is sometimes the best, but look at the resolution.
Once you are happy with the customer service options of a carrier, it makes the move much easier to handle and the savings even more valuable.