Author Topic: Grr. AT&T. Grrr.  (Read 3989 times)

begood

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Grr. AT&T. Grrr.
« on: May 20, 2014, 12:37:49 PM »
My username should be "MissGullible". I'm pretty new to this whole Mustachian thing, and WOW I wish I'd discovered it sooner! I've got lots of places to whittle down and cut, and one of those places is our cell phone bill.

We are spending too much on cell service. We know that. I recently dropped the number of shared Anytime minutes to 550 to save $10/month, but I'd like to do more than that. Problem is... my husband has 17 months to go on his iPhone 5S contract, and I just learned today that although the AT&T local store where I got my daughter's $10/month flip phone last fall assured me it wouldn't be on a two-year contract... it is. Dang it!

Obviously, I should have read the fine print. Of course I should have. I am trusting by nature. I just TRUST that when someone says, "Oh, no, ma'am, this phone won't be under contract," it, you know, WON'T BE. Grr.

So it would cost $118 to get her phone out of contract. It would cost $265 to get my husband's out of contract. Total potential moolah outlay to switch providers now: $383.

I am considering changing to Consumer Cellular (because, again with the TRUST thing, it's connected to AARP, so I figure at a minimum they must have decent customer service). It looks like I could take the 5S and my 4S over there with free SIM exchange. We'd probably have to buy our daughter a phone. I would hope we could all keep our numbers, but I'd have to call them and see.

I ran the Wireless Calculator that the amazing (and patient, OMG, he's so patient) I.P. Daley links in his superduperstupdendousjustreaditwhydon'tyou tech guide:

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/communications-tech-son-of-the-superguide!/

It looks like it would take us anywhere from 6 months to a year to recoup those costs, depending on where we land next, then from that point on, we'd be saving money every month.

I think on the Consumer Cellular plan, we'd pay about $80/month (before tax/fees) for three phones. That would be for 1200 minutes, 15,000 texts, and 2.5 GB data. My mister gets $45/month reimbursement, so that would be pretty good overall.

I do make liberal use of the "free nights and weekends" I get with AT&T, so though my "Anytime" use is under 550, my overall use, including mobile-to-mobile and night/weekends, is considerably higher. Like, hundreds of minutes higher each month. And I generally use more than 2.5 GB data, but you know what? I'd just have to do less of that. My husband is paying $30 a month for a 3 GB plan and averaging about 350 MB (just too much for their 200 MB plan... OF COURSE).

So my question, this being the Ask A Mustachian thread... anybody out there using Consumer Cellular? Good stories? Horror stories?

I have unlimited data on my 4S (and no high-speed internet at home - that's a whole other issue...) so it has been precious to me. But now I'm asking myself if it's worth what it's costing us each month.

I am generally pretty tech timid, so the thought of having to do this - pay to get out of contract, sign up with non-retail-store provider, deal with SIM cards, port over numbers - is all really daunting. It's absolutely playing a part in why I haven't done anything about it yet. But they really chapped my hide by putting my daughter's phone in a contract when they said they wouldn't so... learning curve ahead!

eyePod

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Re: Grr. AT&T. Grrr.
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2014, 12:47:42 PM »
I haven't used that service, but just as an FYI, you can sell your phone on eBay pretty easily. This would recoup a lot of your costs and speed up your ROI. Probably ~$500 before fees and shipping for an unlocked ATT iPhone 5S. Just don't fall into a scam.

SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT I wrote a blog post on avoiding being fraud on eBay talk specifically about my phone sales. http://flippingadollar.com/ebay-fraud-protect/

Daley

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Re: Grr. AT&T. Grrr.
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2014, 04:01:41 PM »
Janie, the good news is you could carrier unlock the flip phone just as easily as you can the iPhones to use with Consumer Cellular. This should save you some on further investment. The bad news is, it's a bit of a hassle to get AT&T to carrier unlock any phone under contract without first paying off the ETF, but they normally won't let you pay off the ETF until you port the numbers out or cancel service, and they don't like to let you carrier unlock your handsets without an active account. Clever, no?

I'm guessing the 4S has time served, correct? It might be easiest to migrate the two lines under contract out first, then pay the ETF for those lines so you can get the handsets carrier unlocked. Once those two are taken care of, you can probably do yours last. In the case of going Consumer Cellular, you'd just add your line after the fact. I know, I know, easier said than done. It can be an intimidating process, and that's no coincidence. I believe you can persevere and make it, though. :)

I believe Shadowmoss here on the forums is still with CC, you might want to drop her a line if you're interested in first-hand experience with the company.

Thank you for the kind words, and I hope you'll be able to get this sorted soon.

begood

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Re: Grr. AT&T. Grrr.
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2014, 06:37:46 AM »
Thank you for getting down into the nitty-gritty details, Daley! In macro it sounds like a grand idea to switch, but now that I see more of the micro I wonder if I can get 'er done.

I will ponder. There is a small ray of hope on the horizon that we might be able to get FIOS at the house; if that comes through (and I'll believe it when it actually happens), then I might be much more motivated to get out of my cell plan since I could substitute stable Wi-Fi for the cellular data we're currently using.


Daley

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Re: Grr. AT&T. Grrr.
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2014, 06:47:05 AM »
Thank you for getting down into the nitty-gritty details, Daley! In macro it sounds like a grand idea to switch, but now that I see more of the micro I wonder if I can get 'er done.

I have faith that you can do it, it just takes some gumption. :)

Scandium

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Re: Grr. AT&T. Grrr.
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2014, 07:43:13 AM »
yes quitting AT&T is hard. Tried to get my wife's iphone 5S out. They told me, which might be a lie, that to cancel and pay the ETF could take up to a week! With no phone during this time. Still haven't decide what to do, even though I'd be better off paying the ETF..

I switched my phone to Aio, now Cricket. They give a little more data, for more money of course. 500MB=$35, or 2.5GB for $45.
www.cricketwireless.com/cell-phone-plans
They're a GSM carrier on AT&T, owned by them actually so your phones would work. If I got this right your two smartphones and one dumbphone would be $105/month. If you can use <500MB that would be $10 less per line, or $85.
edit: fixed my math. Turns out talk+text line not eligible for family discount. Bummer.

Looked at the site. Consumer cellular would be a bit cheaper if you limit talk and data use some.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2014, 09:09:57 AM by Scandium »

TickInTime

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Re: Grr. AT&T. Grrr.
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2014, 07:52:04 AM »

The bad news is, it's a bit of a hassle to get AT&T to carrier unlock any phone under contract without first paying off the ETF, but they normally won't let you pay off the ETF until you port the numbers out or cancel service, and they don't like to let you carrier unlock your handsets without an active account. Clever, no?

These are certainly the rules they layout on their site, but I have found that this is NOT the case. I unlocked my iPhone 4S about 90-120 days into a 2 year agreement.

It doesn't hurt to try and the system will let you know within minutes to hours if you are approved for the unlock.

www.att.com/deviceunlock/

begood

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Re: Grr. AT&T. Grrr.
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2014, 10:17:09 AM »
Because I feel like I have found my people here, I am comfortable sharing that we just had a COMCAST guy at our house, IN MY BASEMENT looking at places to plug in the cable modem.

This is exciting news, my friends! It means it might just possibly happen, even though he caveated all over the place about the actual construction required to get the equipment up the road to the house, and I don't have a timeframe, or a price (it's being negotiated as part of a larger contract with the employer, very hush-hush). I am cautiously optimistic! I would prefer FIOS, but I'll take Comcast. :)

begood

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Re: Grr. AT&T. Grrr.
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2014, 10:57:31 AM »
Thank you for getting down into the nitty-gritty details, Daley! In macro it sounds like a grand idea to switch, but now that I see more of the micro I wonder if I can get 'er done.

I have faith that you can do it, it just takes some gumption. :)

Ahhh, yes... gumption is not my strong suit, Daley. BUT! One of my new mantras is "You can do hard things", so I will continue to consider the various options.

My mister's eyes glaze over when I try to talk about porting and ETFs and cost/benefit analysis. He came reluctantly to iPhone (I know, I know, but to me, my iPhone is a little miracle in my pocket. It helped me through a really tough move by being my window to the world, and I'm an extrovert: I NEED a window to the world!) and now he feels stuck with it. SIGH.