Grandma gets a smartphone
Actually, despite the title, I don’t exactly have my new phone in hand yet. In theory I should have it, but there have been a few stumbling blocks along the way.
First there were about two days of intensive web surfing and browsing, trying to make sense of all the calling plans offered by the four main carriers — Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T. I had pretty much dismissed AT&T before I even started, based on all I’d heard the last couple of years about how they always finish dead last in consumer surveys.
My benchmark for the actual phone was my son’s Galaxy Nexus. I knew he liked it a lot, and he’s quite a geek, so I compared everything to the Nexus. (Calling plans are an insane mess of options, limitations, exclusions, etc., and I just couldn’t see adding to the chaos by trying to sort out all the different features of all the different phones.)
I was also well aware of how zealously The Son guards his aging contract with Verizon which includes unlimited data. They are trying their darndest to trip him up and get him rolled into a limited data plan — so far without success. Plus, when I checked with them, it appeared the only options they offer now are “Share Everything” and involve paying a bloated rate to allow pooling of all your devices — and all I wanted was one phone. It seemed the only low-priced plan they offered with seniors in mind assumed that we elderly types would only want to call or text the grandkids; no data whatsoever. I was pretty set on getting unlimited data and that brought my choices down to Sprint … or Sprint.
So, I’d finally narrowed my options down to a particular phone and a particular plan with Sprint, had my online shopping cart ready to go … and decided I’d wait till the next day and go see the phones at the nearest Sprint store to make sure I really did like the white better than the blue. (These details are important, you know.) I took with me a printout of the shopping cart so I’d have all the relevant information with me when I asked the sales rep if, hey, is there any chance you’d do this online deal for me here in the store — knowing full well that online deals are often online-only specials. Not sure why such deals exist when brick-and-mortar stores are fighting for business, but anyway …
I walked in, told the young woman I’d like to see both the blue and white phones, and asked if, since I was already there, was there any chance she could give me this deal in the store — and showed her the printout. “Sure!” she beamed. “No prob.”
For reasons I can’t begin to explain, I was there for four (4) hours! (I spent less time buying a new car.) She kept asking what I intended to use it for, as though someone who’d never owned a smartphone before would have a good grasp of all its potential uses. (Look lady, just sell me what I asked for and skip the pop quiz.) Part of the delay was time she spent figuring out how to port my old TracFone number over to the Sprint phone, and part of it was her manually typing all my contacts from the old phone into the new phone after failing to find any better way to do it. They want you to be ready to go when you leave the store; I’d been ready to go for several hours before I finally got out of there.
The four hours were from 10 am to 2 pm, notable because I hadn’t eaten anything before I headed to the store. By the time I finally got home with my bag of new toys and a couple of chalupas from Taco Bell, I had a splitting headache. (I’d also missed all but the last ten minutes of the Olympic women’s soccer championship I’d planned to watch.)
But I was triumphant! I had successfully entered the world of smartphones and I had my prize, a brand new marble white Galaxy S III. I spent the next few hours playing with the phone, figuring out the basics — on, off, change screens, ringtones, contacts and email, etc. Believe me, there are a lot of basics if you’ve never had your hands on one before, right? (I know it’s been a long time for the rest of you, but you do remember your first smartphone, don’t you?)
Then, at some point, for some reason, it occurred to me to double-check the phone’s packaging for information I couldn’t find on the phone and … dammit! … she’d sold me the wrong phone! The printout I showed her specified the Galaxy S III 32GB and she’d given me the 16GB model. It never occurred to me to double-check it at the store; after all, I’d shown her exactly what I wanted in print. It was there on the counter in front of her the whole time. Besides, my head was spinning with discounts (surprise, a AAA discount! More than the AARP discount!), freebies, a case, a screen protector, a car charger, Sprint’s Phone Connect for my home phone (“knocks $100 off your total!”), and four hours of chatter about things I wasn’t at all familiar with.
But never mind all that. It was the wrong damned phone! I was so angry and frustrated … and had such a gawd awful headache …
So I called the store. The sales girl was extremely apologetic and said they’d have to order the 32GB model; they didn’t have it in the store. Of course not. Several days to get it in. Uh huh. Grumble, grumble.
Then the manager called back and said “how ’bout if we just put in a 32GB SD card. We’ll only charge you half what the more expensive phone will cost, and you’ll end up with 48GB!” I was immediately suspicious. Not at all sure if that was going to be comparable to what I’d wanted originally, I ultimately called him back and said no, I wanted the exact deal they’d agreed to when I walked into the store. Glad he was so accommodating, because my old TracFone was long gone into their recycling program, meaning there was no way I could indulge my inclination and just cancel the whole deal; I’d be left cellphoneless. Shortsighted of me not to hang onto it until I was sure I was happy with the new one, but a cagey move on their part to ensure I didn’t back out of a sale.
I’m also returning the Phone Connect device. Never even opened the box. I didn’t understand in the first place how it was supposed to work, and after getting home and doing a little research, I concluded I wanted no part of it. Cheaper than my land line, yes. But iffy 9-1-1 locating, no security alarm support, poor voice quality, and non-functioning during power outages, according to some of the comments. As an old lady living alone, I don’t want to risk those problems. Not to mention that the gal’s pitch on it sounded like one big snow job, considering, I’d discovered, that the device is free online. It should have had no bearing on the cost of my new phone.
Long story short (you can see now why I was in the store for 4 hours!), the correct phone should arrive Monday or Tuesday. Meantime I’m keeping the first phone to play with and learn on, while not downloading a whole lot of stuff in case it can’t be transferred to the new one (during my third trip out to the store; the second trip was because I had to pay for the second phone before they’d ship it).
Somewhere in the back of my mind, a little voice keeps reminding me that the success of this entire venture ultimately depends entirely on how good or bad Sprint turns out to be as far as area coverage, dropped calls, etc. I think Verizon is supposed to be the best in the Denver area; I just didn’t like the calling plans they had. So, I’ll just have to wait and see. The way I am, I’ll probably assume any dropped call was my fault — I must have done something wrong.
Right now I’m practicing how to get my big fat fingertips — previously thought to be rather slender — on those tiny little screen keys and type the intended letter with some consistency.
Now if I could just remember where I saw that setting for larger fonts …
But the story doesn’t end here …