Have I Mentioned How Little I Love Verizon These Days? And Don’t Even Get Me Started On Palm…

So we’re a mega-Verizon customer, with three home phone lines, FIOS, three cell phones and a cell modem in my laptop. Our monthly bill is – well, it’s large – and has been for some time.

Here’s what this month has brought us.We realize that we really don’t need three home lines any more – in fact, we could probably just do with the home fax line. So I call to drop the least-used of the lines, my home office line, and discover that the FIOS account is linked to it. But they can’t change the database and just relink the FIOS account to another line – they have to disconnect our FIOS – meaning no phone and no Internet – for potentially three days. I’ve escalated this, and been waiting for a call back for – almost three weeks now. I’ll go chase them some more next week.

Now I use (and am addicted) to a smartphone – have had one since the old Kyocera/Palm bricks. I updated six months ago to a Palm 755p. Running the absolutely stock configuration, except for Chattermail (an email app I bought from the Palm site), my third handset has now failed on me. It’s locked in perpetual reboot mode. I managed to get it to stop by doing a hard reset…the other ones displayed a variety of problems; random lockups, failure to hang up and end calls, etc.

So first of all, bad for Palm for putting the things out in the first place.

Today, I called Verizon, and asked for a different handset. After much calm discussion, they are willing to give me a Windows Palm handset if I’ll re-up for two full years (extend my account by six months). I demurred; we’re traveling to Monterey this weekend and I don’t want to be switching phones over the weekend. Plus, to be blunt, I just don’t want anything else by Palm.

So here’s the debate – do I give up and join the Borg and get an iPhone, paying the $150 to drop my contract? I’ve been reluctant to – I like Verizon coverage, and I dislike Apple on a kind of visceral level…I’ve been waiting for the Android phones, and may switch to a Blackberry until next year when they are mature.

Whether I do it with Verizon remains to be seen.

But as an early Palm user and longtime Palm customer, I can say with some confidence that I’ve bought my last Palm device.

41 thoughts on “Have I Mentioned How Little I Love Verizon These Days? And Don’t Even Get Me Started On Palm…”

  1. I’ve embraced “the Borg” for quite a few years and have been quite happy with it. I have AT&T’s U-verse service at home for phone and Internet, and use their cellular service for my personal iPhone and my work Blackberry. I even tried the TV service, and while the picture quality was better than expected (just a hair below DIRECTV, but much better than Comcast cable around here), they don’t yet carry SpeedTV in HD—a real dealbreaker. I’ve been happy with the service for a long time; it’s not perfect (I wish I had another bar or two of cellular signal strength in my home office), but they haven’t pissed me off like Comcast and Verizon have done in the past.

  2. Palm will make a good product case study – albeit a negative one.

    Blackberry may be able to ride things out given its attached user base, and Microsoft will always have enough partners to keep WinCE in the market. But I really do not see Palm surviving against the iPhone/AppStore juggernaut as other competitors offer more iPhone-like devices, and the exclusivity period expires for iPhone.

    Palm’s Product evolution has been far too slow, battery life is a problem despite a brick-like form factor, and I wonder how many others are experiencing these quality issues.

  3. bq. But as an early Palm user and longtime Palm customer, I can say with some confidence that I’ve bought my last Palm device.

    {Waves original Palm 1000 at screen}

    Palm is one more reminder that first movers (as they were in PDAs), even initially well-received ones, don’t get to take it easy.

  4. Two words…. Blackberry Storm. It’d Blackberry’s first touch screen phone and what I plan to go to when it eventually comes to Sprint.

  5. I recently took Verizon up on their offer to increase my DSL speed to 7M. In doing so, they turned my DSL off for a week. I was so upset (I told them to send someone to the switch and set it back. After a week of being ignore, the tech who came to the house said, “Why didn’t they send someone to the switch to set it back?”) and received such lousy customer support I ended up getting 10 free months of internet service. Make them pay!

  6. I have two cells, one with Verizon, the other with AT&T. Verizon’s phones are awful, no getting around it. Their network is the best. My AT&T phone is an iPhone which is great, at least for my needs. However, AT&T’s network around SE Massachusetts is awful. Too bad neither company gets it completely right.

    Boy Genius has it right-The Blackberry Storm. It’s coming to Verizon sometime soon. When it does, AT&T is gone and I won’t cry about it. The iPhone going might bring a tear or two.

  7. After I accidentally dropped my Sprint Treo 755p into a urinal, it stopped working, and Sprint specifically excluded “water damage” from their repair insurance.

    I seriously considered getting an iPhone to replace it, til I added up the total cost over the life of the contract. Instead, I bought an unlocked Palm Centro for $300, and hooked it up on T-Mobile pay-as-you-go service for a total of $130, including a thousand minutes.

    Downside: no Internet access, because T-Mobile doesn’t offer that via pay-as-you-go

    Upside: all the Palm PIM features I love still work exactly as before, the Centro is smaller than the 755p, but without giving up any features, and my usage of minutes has declined so dramatically now that I’m paying ten cents for each one that after three months I still have 850 minutes left. Final upside is that this can never happen again. If I manage to break this phone too, I merely move the SIM to whatever new phone I like, and I’m back in business immediately. Similarly, if I ever travel overseas, I just drop in a local SIM. I’ll never buy another phone that isn’t SIM-based.

    By the way, T-Mobile announced the Googlephone yesterday. Might be worth a look.

  8. Once you have had Verizon’s wireless coverage, you are spoiled. Once you get on ATT, you will likely be disappointed. I used to use a Treo but have a VZW Blackberry Curve. It is amazing. You will love it, especially if you use it for business, and you will have all the advantages of VZW coverage.

    Cannot speak to FIOS though I wish I had it!

  9. Verizon got my name wrong in their database. It took over three months of emails, letters, and telephone conversations to get it straightened out. It was a struggle. Our problems may be similar, because, presumably in the interest of security, it is virtually impossible to make a change at the deepest level, as you requested. They can easily add this feature or that enhancement, but when it comes to changing the basic entry in the database, you’re screwed.

    Verizon’s problem, deep down, is that they have too many people at high pay grades who still think like The Phone Company. It will take some fancy retirements before it is straightened out.

  10. I have a Treo 755P also on Verizon. Dennis, #12, said it best: the network is great, the phones stinketh. I’ve had problems with self-reboot of my 755, too, and the OEM email app simply crashes the phone whenever I try to use it, which I don’t anymore, of course.

    I haven’t had the bad customer-service experience you’ve had, but I use Verizon only for cell service. They replaced without question and without charge my old Treo 650 when it fried itself one day, and I had bought that phone on eBay.

    But please, Palm, get your act together!

  11. As a Verizon agent who deals with hundreds of users a month, I can speak to your cell phones issues. One, I will not sell a Palm unless the customer signs a disclaimer that he has been apprised of the Palm problems and is electing to proceed with the Palm regardless. Two, for those customers with Palm needs, I’m putting them in Blackberry Curves: great PDA, no issues to date though I have more than a hundred units in use. Three, Verizon coverage spoils a person. It is the best (and the reason I won’t represent another brand). Four, the iPhone is going to be trounced and put out to pasture by the Blackberry Storm.
    If you want, I’ll replace your Palm with a Blackberry Curve, free, if you choose to become a VIP Wireless customer.
    For specifics, call my sales rep, Trevor, at 1-800-473-2604, or email him at trevor@vipwireless.net.

  12. FWIIW, I have a Black***k and ATT and have been very happy overall. I went with the Black***k over the I-Phone when the latter first came out, as it had more useability/international portability than the IP originally had — something that was important for me as I travel overseas on occasion. The system worked excellently even in Iraq: even when I didn’t have internet I could send text messages, and that is how a lot of things related to Operation Puppy Love got taken care of even as I was out in Arab Jabour. Now that the IP is getting better portability and features, I may switch to it for them and because I will admit that I cordially loathe portions of the MS OS on the Black***k.

  13. I manage over 140 cell phone lines that are provisioned from AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint. All lines use smart phones. Here’s what we experience:

    Verizon – Hate to say it, but they’ve got the hands-down best cellular network. They have the least dropped calls and best voice quality in the most places. If you need your phone to work internationally, they’ve only got two phones to choose from. I did cancel my personal service with them because when my wife’s phone broke, it was cheaper to go to another company than get a replacement from them. (After I cancelled they then called with a good offer – too late however.)

    AT&T – The addition of the iPhone 3G hit their network hard. Lots of dropped and missed calls due to overloaded cell towers. Edge based phones were less effected but still suffered. The problem seems to be easing and I expect the quality of service to gradually improve as they continue to upgrade their towers.

    T-Mobile – They aren’t too bad if you don’t live in an area with poor reception. For some reason, in some major cities their towers are stretched a little thin creating some bad spots. However, many cities are great. They’re starting to ramp up their 3G service in major markets. Their customer service has been pretty good.

    Sprint – Avoid at all costs. They have beens shedding customers for a very long. They are cash strapped and their legendarily bad customer service has only gotten worse.

    iPhone – I use one, it isn’t perfect. However, with the latest patch it’s perfectly acceptable as a personal phone and ‘fun’ to use. It’s a bad choice for most corporate environments for many reasons that I won’t go into hear. (Hopefully that changes.)

    The Google phone – I’m intrigued but I’m betting it’ll have some issues when it first rolls out.

    Palm – I agree, I’d probably avoid their products as well at this point.

    Blackberry – They have a chance to suprise some people over the next few months. They are going to be rolling out many new phones starting in October. They are spreading the wealth between the three main U.S. carriers as each one gets an exclusive phone for a few months. The new phones include a flip phone and a touch screen that will compete with the iPhone.

  14. I just consolidated my Verizon DSL and cell accounts. I had to cancel the DSL and start a new account to do so, too.

    I have never had a more frustrating customer service experience. After the 5-7 working day waiting period, Verizon hadn’t reset the switch, even though they said my account was ready, so I called support, and the scheduled a service call.

    I took the morning off work, the technician never came, and when I called them, they said my service window had been extended to 7pm, so I took the afternoon off too. They still never came.

    Same thing happened a second time.

    The third time, a tech went and reset the switch – never even had to come to my house, even though I had taken a third day off work – and told me the ticket had never been assigned.

    I’m awaiting my first bill to have a discussion about compensation. I probably spent 10 hours on hold with Verizon through the process.

    My advice is to get another DSL line set up temporarily so you can have continuity of service, THEN disconnect what you don’t need.

  15. Don’t do it AL. Verizon is the cellular version of democracy- the worst company except for all the others. Check out the LG Voyager. Not as flashy but more elegant in my opinion.

    That aside im still looking for a phone that feels good against my ear AND sounds decent. I really like everything about LG except their sound quality (ironic, i know). Its not such much an electronics issue as the design of their transducers i think.

  16. #21, that won’t work. Generally when Verizon installs FIOS they discontinue copper plant service to that residence. Yes to the point of refusing reinstall. So you can’t get DSL back once you go FIOS.

    Armed Liberal,

    Here is what you do. Wait till you make that California trip. Then go to T-Mobile and buy yourself a G1 Android enabled phone from HTC. I believe they go on sale to the general public in Oct.

    Now you make sure that on the sales slip that the unit was purchased IN CALIF for Calif service. The reason you want that is because the State of Calif is suing each carrier in turn. T-Mobile is next. Sprint has already lost their suit, VZ has demurred. T-Mobile will lose theirs. That means no more ETFs can be applied. It gives you a way out without penalty.

    After a month or so, quietly have the home range moved to your residence area if that applies. Just to avoid any possible roaming. Might want to inquire when you make the purchase. By the way you possibly could buy the Android phone full cash and sign up for a MTM plan with T-Mobile. However I have not gotten hold of the full terms of that deal yet.

  17. bq I’m awaiting my first bill to have a discussion about compensation. I probably spent 10 hours on hold with Verizon through the process.

    Sounds oh so familiar. I just got off the phone yesterday after receiving a bill from Verizon for service that I never received. I ordered a home line and DSL back on July 28th. They could never get the address correct and then hooked it up to the wrong address. After endless calls to customer service, I determined that the company’s internal communication was so fouled up that it was time to apply the sunk cost concept. Instead of throwing good time and energy after bad, I canceled my order. So I hadn’t spoken to anyone at Verizon since Early August. But apparently, even simple order cancellation is beyond the ability of their order system. Accordingly, I received a bill yesterday…it was a month old (sent to the wrong address)…notifying me that if I didn’t pay right away, my service would be terminated. So it was back to the phones for me. And about an hour later, after speaking to the customer service, then billing, then orders departments, maybe my “service” (read account, since no service was ever rendered) really is canceled. We’ll see.

    Verizon’s auto-attendant has to be the worst voice driven phone menu I’ve ever encountered. Truly unbelievable. Talk about setting up your employees for misery, anyone who successfully wades through it to actually reach a human has got to be on the verge of cussing from the aggravation. Makes it tough to respond civilly when the agent cheerily says, “How may I provide you with outstanding service today?”

    I have a Sprint cell phone that has less than stellar coverage but excellent call quality and excellent internet connectivity. I’ve never had this sort of Customer Service experience with them. They’ve always been fairly responsive.

    /rant off


    I never say never, but I’ll NEVER be a Verizon customer!

  18. Luckily I don’t need a cellphone… never have, even when I traveled a lot.

    I was an old MCI customer who was so-so with them, but had to go with their DSL deal at the time, which was better than my Speakeasy deal. Then MCI/Worldcomm which was awful on tech support. Then Verizon bought out MCI/Worldcomm and didn’t bother to offer a ‘switch’ package on DSL. Imagine that, buying out a company and wanting to PO a segment of its customers by just disconnecting them from service. I had heard about the problems of Verizon and wanted nothing to do with them. I kept an email account with Speakeasy and wanted their friendly DSL service. That required me to go with the ILEC, Verizon, which controls the lines… literally they wouldn’t let a third party do telephone and DSL over their lines.

    As a customer I finally bit the bullet and got their phone service and Speakeasy’s service, even though Verizon offers a lower price package? Why? They treated me poorly and have a reputation worse than MCI’s when it comes to tech support. Yea and verily that is true.

    Why not internet over cable? Adelphia was a criminal concern, really, and deserved what it would get and I had to be their customer for cable. Comcast bought them out and is the pits for cable quality and I don’t want HiDef TV… I don’t trust Comcast based on how I’m treated as a cable subscriber on their regular service. Who bought out Speakeasy, recently? Comcast.

    It is a conspiracy, I tell ya… competent companies replacing incompetent ones. But then I don’t need the fanciest, latest, greatest in cell phones, HDTV, etc. I am disappointed, as is without the extras, TYVM.

  19. My experiences mirrors what others said above. Verizon has the best network and voice quality, and I’ve only had 1 dropped call in the 5 years I’ve been with them (across 3 different cities).

    However their customer service sucks, in part because it seems their lower level reps aren’t empowered to make the necessary account-level changes that actually “change” things in their account database. They’re crippled by bizarre rules and procedures for problem resolutions that leave them unable to actually solve problems.

    I have a family member who got a low-cost handset from them on the “included phone” contract, and it stopped working. They provided a replacement, which stopped working 3 months later. After the third handset failed 5 months later, she demanded a different/upgraded handset… but the service rep responded that she can only get a newer model if the current one fails 3 times within a 6 month period. Maybe I’m missing some clever quality control trick, but I can’t figure out what possible reason a company could conceive for this policy, especially in light of the poor customer experience!

  20. Can’t comment on the network as I live in Canada, but as a PDA junkie over the course of the past few years I’ve owned and used two different Palms, two different Windows CE devices and two different Blackberries.

    In order of importance to me are: 1. E-mail. Must sync with my work server so that actions taken on the PDA are automatically reflected on the work system and vice versa. 2. Cell phone. Has to be easy to use on a network with excellent coverage and high quality. HATE tinny sound. 3. Calendar. MUST be able to sync with my work calendar which, sadly, is the highly annoying Oracle Calendar. 4. Texting – I use GoogleTalk a LOT.

    Anything else the device does is just gravy and is rarely used.

    My experience has long been that I could find devices that do two of the above three really well, but not all three. And the one thing it doesn’t do well is usually so gimped that I end up hating it.

    Then I acquired my new Blackberry 8310 Curve a couple of months ago. Great phone, syncs effortlessly with my e-mail and calendar, built in support for Google Talk. I love love love it. A crackberry, indeed.

    All the above said, I played around with a buddy’s iPhone the other day and was deeply jealous. The web browser was actually viable for surfing the net, the first time I’ve ever seen that in a PDA. As soon as they make an app that allows it to sync with Oracle (or work finally gets with the program and goes to Microsoft) I may just switch again…

  21. Go with the iPhone and AT&T. Their coverage is very good in SoCal but don’t expect to use teh 3G much. Besides, it drains a lot of power. Also, expect to have your iPhone plugged in any time you really aren’t using it. but the UI on the iPhone is far superior to anything offered by Blackberry and MobilePC phones. It really is a pleasure to use the iPhone and I use it a lot!!

    I currently have an AT&T, Verizon and Sprint phones. Verizon blows chunks and would be the worst in customer service if not for Sprint’s notoriously surly phone attendants. AT&T is surprisingly good on their service.

  22. If your technology purchases are based so heavily on emotion and not reason then you deserve to stick with Verizon and all the services you wanted to get at some point.

  23. There are coverage holes in both the ATT and Verizon networks. I used to have Verizon, before joining the Borg, and thanks to a sweetheart deal Stanford had with Cingular, Verizon had either no signal or poor signal everywhere on the Stanford campus while I was on sabbatical there. An outlier, but a significant one if you work there.

    But I’m commenting mostly on the Verizon customer service for the landlines. Texas A&M used to have a deal where we could get slow and overpriced DSL from Verizon that had the benefit of being inside the campus firewall. When this was discontinued, I thought that they should be able to update a database and change my existing service to a regular Verizon plan, using the same line. Wrong! Couldn’t be done without going dark for an indeterminate period. So I went to the local office of my cable provider and got a cable modem instead. This was kind of pathetic, since I actually preferred where the DSL would allow me to put my wifi base station relative to where the cable comes into the house. But after several rounds of trying to navigate the twisty maze of Verizon’s customer service system, which has a nasty tendency to drop your call whenever you think you’ve found the right person to talk to, I gave up. It was especially distressing that despite paying monthly bills to Verizon for years, the Verizon customer service people didn’t have access to a database that showed me as an existing customer (Because Verizon was my NSP, but TAMU was the ISP).

    Of course, the day after I gave up, a more empowered Verizon rep called me.

  24. Sir:

    Palm is crap. It breaks, freezes, jams and finally dies. BlackBerry is dependable. Maybe not as many bells and whistles, but it never leaves me stranded. My 20 year old is a former Palm user too: she swears by the Berry as do her friends. Palm must have been designed by an interior decorator. Regards,

  25. I had VZ DSL for almost a decade until I moved a short distance and kept my existing phone number. VZ had no way of moving my DSL without having a new phone number. They absolutely could not figure out how to do it.

    Comcast had no problem, so they got my business. I wanted to go to FIOS last winter — even had the installer in my house — until I found out they do inbound port blocking. No web hosting, no deal. I set the tech packing.

  26. I have a bare minimum AT&T land line plus DSL. The house phones are on Vonage running over the DSL along with the computers. Not terribly expensive. It’s the AT&T cell phones that run up the bill.

    My business PDA is an ancient Handspring Visor with Quicken and some custom databases running on it, and an equally ancient Sprint phone module. Self-employed so I don’t have to sweat synchronizing email on the phone with a company server.

    I *have* been wondering whether it’s worth it to get a newer Palm. I could move Quicken and my databases to WinCE, but I’ve no intention of ditching my Mac office computer. Too many must-have apps don’t exist on Windows.

    There are no versions of my must-have Palm apps for the BlackBerry either.

    So I’ll stick with my obsolete but dirt cheap Handsprings and Sprint phone modules. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

  27. About 8 years ago I had a long ongoing conversation with the marketing Chief at Verizon. We could not come to an agreement on Verizon’s presence on my site.

    It was not that he turned me down, but the reason he gave, which was telling. He thought it was a good idea, but he did not see why he would use something that might give his clients better service if they were satisfied with what they had.

    This pretty much sums up Verizon. I wouldn’t go near them.

  28. _”but he did not see why he would use something that might give his clients better service if they were satisfied with what they had.”_

    Point taken, but i wouldnt be too hard on the guy. Business is littered with the corpses of guys with great ideas for reinventing the wheel. From New Coke to Windows Vista, muck with something customers are happy with at your peril.

  29. Back in May, I bought a Palm Centro through Sprint’s SERO plan – $30/month for unlimited data and 500 minutes. It’s my first smartphone, and so far I’m thrilled—the web browser isn’t as fast as my husband’s iPhone, but I have a Palm app I can’t live without, and the Apple application model doesn’t let me see the source code, which was a deal-killer. I’m sorry the Treo has been so flaky!
    (I tried to hold out for an Android or a Neo FreeRunner, but I just couldn’t wait—they both look like cool toys.)

  30. I have Verizon’s wireless broadband. I guess it’s better than dialup (which is my only other option out here), but it’s not that great. At least it was great for the first 6 months I had it, but since the summer it’s been constant trouble, not working for hours, sometimes days at a time. And verizon tech support is useless. And having a 5 gig cap per month is pretty ridiculous, if I do anything that is, well, broadband-ish, I go over after a few days.

  31. Marc,

    Regarding Verizon and Palm issues. BTDT. I’ve always preferred the VZW network coverage, and suffered with their phones. That being said, I did become accustomed to having phones that were good … phones.

    When I moved up to the Palm Treo last fall (700p?), I was immediately dissapointed in the poor performance of the unit as a phone, and a lack of features (voice dialing, etc.) that I had become accustomed to with solid Motorola phones.

    I elected to move up to the Blackberry, initially with the Pearl, but I’ve recently switched to the Curve.

    Now, I was a long time Palm user, but I have to say that I prefer the Curve’s trackball over the Palm’s stylus any day. The full keyboard Curve has the performance I want and the features I am expect with the broadband access account, AND IT IS AN EXCELLENT PHONE.

    My favorite feature is actually some free add-on software – Google Maps – with real time traffic updates – a must for any commuter in a major metro area.

  32. #36 from Mark Buehner at 8:13 pm on Sep 24, 2008

    I understand that. It was more his attitude and the fact that ATT, Cingular, Time, Inc., Pimco, HP, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Merril Lynch, the Boston Consulting Group, ABC, et al came on Board and none of them showed an attitude that approached that of Verizon. The corporate culture was rife with disdain for its customers. But, then again they essentially had a monopoly on service in the NYC area, in those days and service was not one of their top concerns.

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