When I’ve just had enough.

This is one of those things where one who knows me might say that hell froze over for me to do what I’m about to do:

Switching to Verizon. Kind of. This is going to be some parts story, some parts rant, and maybe at the other end of this it’ll all sound coherent. Doubt it though.

The backstory with Verizon and I is a fun one that began in 2009. I was with T-Mobile at the time, but due to them not really having any compelling devices (really, the G1 was “it” unless you liked WinMo) and their coverage being insanely limited (keeping in mind that their 3G footprint was still ridiculously small), I opted to swap over to Verizon on the recommendation of my (then) girlfriend. And it wasn’t half bad! I was paying a little more than I was paying on T-Mobile, but the coverage was vastly superior and their phone selection was much better (especially on the feature phone side. The Voyager was my favorite.)

I had been an early adopter of Android with the G1, and when the Droid was announced, man oh man I wanted one! And I was thankfully still within my remorse period with the phone I had on me (remember when the return period for devices was 30 days? I remember. Sigh) so with some dancing around system failures (I had to open a new line to get the Droid because Verizon’s systems were having issues) I got the goods and short of the keyboard being kind of a pile, it was a great phone.

Problem the first came when the systems came back up and I wanted to clean up the mess I had to make by canceling the extra line I had made. There wasn’t a reason why I couldn’t do it (I returned the phone within the remorse period) but Verizon retentions was relentless in trying to stop me from canceling the line. I had bought the other phone at Best Buy, and usually they process it all, call an internal rep line, and they process the cancellation, but the person on the internal rep line was–again–convinced he could convince me to keep the line/give it to someone else. After much arguing, he finally agreed to cancel the line.

The next thing got me my 15 minutes of fame. Kind of. You see, the Motorola Droid had a fun little issue where the back panel wouldn’t remain securely attached to the phone, so you could just be using the phone like normal and the thing would pop off of its own accord and fall to the ground. I dealt with this a number of times, but I finally had enough and decided I wanted to do something about it. At the very same time, my (then) girlfriend’s phone (an enV touch) began having issues with the proximity sensor. We both headed to the Verizon store to get our phones looked at and see if we could make some headroom on this.

With me, the rep at the repair counter (because they had a dedicated repair counter toward the back of the store) decided that rather than maybe calling for warranty service (which was handled through the carrier for Moto devices at the time), he’d just…tape the back cover on. With scotch tape. Yeah, no. I’m not paying $150 and two years of time with you guys only to scotch tape my phone together! …so he replaced it with some Verizon-branded grip tape. As if that’s better. It was at that point that I decided to just give up, take my L, and go home.

My girlfriend didn’t fare much better, they said they couldn’t warranty her phone because makeup had made its way into the proximity sensor and that wasn’t something that could be warrantied. Which…at the time, she didn’t wear makeup, and the proximity sensor was pretty sealed under the screen plastic. It would be hard if not impossible for anything to make its way in there.

This was eventually settled, but what I ended up doing was posting a photo to Flickr talking about it, and I ended up sending it to John Gruber (of Daring Fireball fame) on the chance that he’d find it entertaining since there was something in his linked list about Droid battery covers just dancing away.

Sure enough…he posted a bit about it, and it blew up. Gizmodo covered it. I think even Engadget covered it somewhere (I can’t remember). My photo (that has since been removed). The “Droid band-aid” was a thing, because it DID look like a Verizon-branded band-aid.

Of course, in the wake of this Verizon did do the right thing and replaced my phone…but they screwed up. Because at the time I was putting my bills on my college credit card, I had multiple addresses on file. One for my mom’s house (which is where my card’s bill address was) and my home address. Verizon got confused, and decided…to send a Droid to every address on file. So they sent a replacement Droid to my house, and another one showed up at my mom’s. Wonderful. (And of course, they DID ask for the extras back.)

This might all have been why Verizon effectively kicked me off a couple months later, because I had the dumb idea of getting an iPad through AT&T and using that as my “data” connection, and just downgrading to a dumbphone through Verizon. When I did exactly that, they said they’d convert my account to prepaid, refund the postpaid bill I just paid, and void my contract that I still had 18 months left on. I didn’t even remotely ask for that, they just…did it. Here you go, your commitment to us is null and void, just…go away, please.

It’s that whole thing that made me just never want to touch Verizon again. (That and doing some shady stuff on my friend’s account on my behalf in 2017, like adding insurance and suggesting I buy a new device without his permission and behind his back. Yeah…)

T-Mobile Sucks

I was on a long journey through all of the carriers before eventually settling back on T-Mobile in 2013 when I moved in with my current girlfriend and it made more financial sense to have a family plan to reduce costs. Where I live has never been a strong T-Mobile area, but when we moved in 2014 to where we are now, things got…kinda bad. Still speedy enough, but you could tell the network was overburdened from living in a more populous part of the town.
2015-ish brought T-Mobile’s network management practices, and what this did was deprioritize the “heaviest” users on congested cell towers. Guess what? Our area was constantly flagged as congested, and it didn’t take long for me (even with my relatively light use) to end up becoming a “heavy” user and getting my connection throttled to the point of uselessness. It got much worse when I went on vacation to the SF Bay Area where T-Mo is extremely good (at least in some places) and I was using the crap out of my data connection while I had the luxury. Because the depri threshold can’t be broken down by area, when I went back to normal life at home, WHAM. Like a brick wall to the face, my phone was depri’d so hard even phone calls were a tall ask.
Even then, Verizon and AT&T were still not “good enough” to justify the price increase. Slightly faster, yes. But better to justify a huge bill jump? Nope.
Things with T-Mo just got worse and worse. The reintroduction of activation fees, the tightening of the unlock policy, the lack of any kind of attention toward the network in my area? It made the siren song of switching much harder to ignore with each passing day. The network still moved under its own power, sure, but it was barely moving. And with T-Mobile regressing away from the things that made them awesome and worth sticking around for? Eeesh.
Fast forward to 2020-2021. T-Mobile’s gobbling Sprint up! I had high hopes for this, I really did. Sprint was just a pile of potential, and if T-Mo beefs up capacity, man oh man would that be nice to see! While this allowed T-Mobile to have the technologically superior 5G network, in practice…things got worse.
There was a time when Sprint also had rural towers around my area, and for a minute us T-Mo folk were allowed to use them, so coverage in rural areas actually increased quite a bit! That is…until T-Mo decommissioned those towers. Meh. So much for that.
Things were okay-ish…for a time. Until T-Mobile started really merging the networks together and having the Sprint customers jump onto the T-Mo side of things. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back and caused T-Mobile’s network to absolutely shit itself completely in my area. If anyone’s old enough to remember how bad AT&T’s network buckled under the pressure of iPhone users, this was exactly that. I could have excellent coverage and have line of sight with our local tower, but Ookla’s Speedtest would just error out. Using my phone anytime between the hours of 2pm to midnight? Impossible. Just give up. Or hope wherever you’re going has Wi-Fi.
What brought this all to a head was what happened one night in late December, 2021. We were running some errands, one of which was to go curbside pickup a thing at a store as we do. Shouldn’t be hard, right? Well…we both tried, my girlfriend and I. We both tried so hard to mark that we were en route to pick up our things, but we just couldn’t. Our phones were both paperweights.  Worse yet, we couldn’t just go home, hop on Wi-Fi, mark ourselves as on our way, and then go to the store! Because at the store we’d have to check in, the app would have to load a code, and we’d have to show that code to one of the store employees. We’d fall on our asses at the “check in” part.
(And on that, as an accidental proof of concept…I currently have two carriers on my phone as we speak. When I had to do curbside a couple days ago, I forgot to swap the iPhone back to its Verizon connection when checking in at the store, and sure enough…couldn’t do it. Wouldn’t load the check in page. Just thew an error. So now I know that definitely wouldn’t have worked.)
I lost it and went full thermonuclear rage. I was done. Beyond done with T-Mobile at this point. Between garbage like this, and their rapidly failing customer service (they double-charged us the month prior and refused to issue a refund, even as we explained that the money they were saying we could just keep as a credit balance that could go into the next bill was earmarked for paying utilities, jerks. We eventually got it refunded but it took an act of a higher power to do), I had no fucks left to give. I was in fuck overdraft now.
I went home, found my spare Red Pocket CDMA SIM, and activated it on the spot.
Just like that, all the problems. Gone. My phone worked like normal. I was able to do little things with it again. I didn’t have to be home to do something as basic as ordering curbside takeout. 
It was fucking liberating. Like getting out of a years long abusive relationship. Like seeing sunshine after a month of dreary weather.
I couldn’t believe it. I was having a positive experience on Verizon. For once.
(Full disclosure: The activation process wasn’t 100% scot-free though. I had to activate service with an old Verizon LG G4 I have here because for whatever reason Red Pocket or Verizon won’t let 5G devices activate on some MVNOs. Weird. I popped the SIM back into my iPhone 13 Pro post-activation and it worked perfectly fine, and still did as of today.)

The Path Forward Becomes…Visible

(Okay, some part of this might read like I’m sponsored by Visible. But I assure you, I’m not. This is my honest-to-goodness experience.)
Of course, Red Pocket wasn’t without its own issues. Their customer support is excellent. I love love LOVE the fact I can just send them a basic email and they’re quick to take care of anything I need (like turning on hotspot functionality).
But the problem is I was paying $20/mo for 3GB of “unlimited” data (high speed first, then throttles). And in 2022, 3GB for someone like myself is a bit too small. So while I knew in my mind I wanted to get out of T-Mobile and move to Verizon, sadly it wasn’t going to be with Red Pocket.
(Though I will not hesitate to recommend them for low-cost AT&T plans and such! Those are a bit more flexible in pricing, last I checked. Verizon sadly isn’t.)
As I began thinking about how I wanted to go about this, Visible came up. I know a good friend of mine who has been with them for a while now, and they checked all the boxes.
Low price? Check.
eSIM support? Not required, but they support it. Nice. Check.
Much bigger data bucket for the price? Yep.
Hotspot support to save my girlfriend from purgatory? Yep.
On top of all that, they had a referral program that made my first month $5. Screw it. I’m in for that price. 
Now, Visible is an order of magnitude more expensive on the surface than, say, Red Pocket. Their only plan is $40/mo. However…much like Sprint used to do in the old days, Visible has party pay where people join up and maintain independent accounts but are part of a “party”. Not sure how or why it works, but there’s a public reddit one with like, 15,000 people in it. 
So I joined it.
WHAM. Because you’re in a party, your bill is now $25 a month, or just $5 over what Red Pocket was charging for 3GB of data.
The sign up process was pretty flawless too. Going through the normal flow of an email and password, billing address and payment info (they support PayPal, which is what I used. Would have loved to see Apple Pay, though). You can pick eSIM (which is what I did) or physical SIM. eSIM prompts you to download the app to finish setup (and install the eSIM to your phone). Again. All flawless.
It was here that I also learned that unlike previous phones (I think the 12 series can’t do this?) the iPhone 13 series can do dual eSIM. So I popped the RP SIM out of my phone, and now have Visible and T-Mobile–both eSIM–operating in tandem. Wonderful.
Visible really nailed the sign-up process. I’ve never had signing up for service go that smooth. Ever.
(And the fun part? Visible is owned by Verizon! Visible is to Verizon like MetroPCS is to T-Mobile or Cricket is to AT&T. That Verizon could do something like this just kinda shocks me.)

The Plan, Going Forward

You might have heard me say “use T-Mobile in tandem with” back there. Why not just get out of T-Mobile entirely?
Because as of right now, we still have some unfinished business with T-Mobile. I was dumb and took a promo deal for my Galaxy S21 before things started getting really bad, and I’d much rather keep that phone around because it’s really useful when I need Android for something. That and there remain a couple devices not yet paid off that we need to finish off before we can leave 100%. 
I could just port my line out, but the problem there is we’re on a really cheap promo plan that gets voided if I leave the family plan, and because for better or worse our finances are combined, if I up and leave it’s going to be more expensive than if I just ran T-Mobile and Visible in tandem with eachother until our commitments end and we can make a clean switch.
This also lines up with me getting my act together credit-wise. One of the big draws with staying on T-Mobile is that we’re heavily tenured and automatically get the good credit pricing on anything we want to buy. As of the last year, however, I’ve made big strides in boosting my credit such that I can finance devices through OEMs directly (as I’m currently doing with my 13 Pro) rather than needing a carrier to do it for me.
And Visible offers device financing and I’m sure I could qualify if need be (but I’m going to be sticking with the 13 Pro for a good long while, so eh. It won’t matter.)
The plan is to just ride this out and eventually move everything over. If T-Mobile somehow makes hell freeze over and makes their network not hot garbage within that timeframe, maybe I might not fully execute my switch.
…however, they’ve had what, seven years to fix it and they haven’t? I’m not holding my breath.




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