Sunday, June 05, 2005

Sprint vs. Verizon Wireless

Well, my contract was up with Sprint and it was time to re-evaluate my cell phone situation.

The biggest reason for the switch to Verizon was the lack of coverage we had with Sprint. It seemed that almost anywhere we went that wasn't in a major metropolitan area had little or no coverage. After a few years, this gets really annoying.

So I took to opportunity to move to Verizon Wireless. Their coverage is much better for us and many of our friends and relatives have gravitated to Verizon so many of our calls won't use our minutes.

We selected our new calling plan and phones on the web, which was a pretty good experience. I tend to be salesperson averse, so I like to shop online when possible.

I was disappointed that no phones where available that used flash, but neither did my sprint phone. It's just something I would have liked exploring. Maybe next time.

I didn't bother to get web access or text messaging this time either. Neither of those features have lived up to my expectations. Way too slow and cumbersome.

Lets face it. In general, text messaging is just stupid. You have a phone IN YOUR FRICKEN HAND! Leave a message. The only real use I see for text messaging is to be able to receive short automated messages. Cool for monitoring servers or stock prices, but just too geeky to pay for.

Here's where the story gets interesting. Once I activated the phone, I placed a call. No problem, except that the person receiving the call had a strange name pop up on their caller id. Curious. So I had that person try to call me back. What do you know, but they got that other person's voice mail. When I checked my voice mail, I actually got this other persons mailbox. It seemed like it was an active mailbox. There were messages in there, some new ones, asking questions about this guys products. Obviously a business phone.

I quickly called Verizon to look into the problem. 10 minutes into their automated system and I find out I can't troubleshoot a phone if I'm calling on that phone. Doh!

I called back on another phone and went through the process again. I finally got through to a person, but they were in New Jersey. They couldn't access my records, so they had to transfer me to someone in Maryland. No big deal, except that each time I called back I would get routed to New Jersey by their automated system. I then had to explain the situation again and get forwarded to somebody in Maryland.

Once I was on the phone with a customer support person in the right state, we started reprogramming the phone to correct the problem. Hmm... didn't work. Next we had to take the phone apart and read off a bunch of numbers so the cs rep could confirm them in the system. Everything looked correct. After trying this 3 more times with no effect, the rep gave up and suggested I go to my local Verizon Wireless store to have them flash the operating in the phone.

Once I got to the store, we went through the process of taking the phone apart, verifying the numbers and reprogramming and activating a few times. When I told the technicians at the store (who seemed very knowledgeable) that customer support suggested that the os needed to be reinstalled, they all laughed. "What are they smoking up there" was the general feeling.

To prove a point, the technician (Joe) put my phone number on a completely different phone. Same problem. They let me use a phone in the store to call customer service again. After getting re-routed back to MD from NJ, we did the "take the phone apart" thing again and the "reprogram the phone" thing again with no effect. We also reinitialized the voicemail box. No effect. The cs rep said they would now like to transfer me to technical support (I thought that was who I was talking with, but there must be another level). He informed me the current wait for tech support was about 25 minutes. I was in the middle of the showroom floor doing this. I had already been there for over 2 hours. I decided to try again from home after I had run a few errands.

Back on the phone with customer service at home. I've already done the NJ to MD thing again and told my story. I suggested that we just change the number to a new phone. After a little coaxing and a discussion about how that will affect my invoice and such, we changed the phone number. A little more testing and yes, it worked. I was able to call out and receive calls.

Whew, that was a pain, but at least it's done.

I go to use my phone the next day and I get James Earl Jones telling me that my call can't be completed because of a "conflict in serial numbers". Crap. Call somebody else, maybe it was the person I was calling that had a problem. Same message. Double crap. Ok, try to call my phone from another phone. "Phone not in service". GAHH!

Back on the phone with customer service. Apparently, they had to change my phone number again because the new number I was assigned belonged to somebody else. Reprogram the phone. Now I have my third phone number on this phone. Seems to work again.

Let me go make a quick call to see if it is still working... Cool. Still working.

I can't wait to see what my bill looks like.

I have to say that everyone I spoke to was very friendly and gave it a good shot. I think the technicians in the store were probably the most knowledgeable. It might actually sway me into going to the store to buy the phone the next time.

One thing I have noticed, that I'm not too happy about is difference in sound quality between the Sprint and Verizon Wireless networks. When you can get a good signal from Sprint, the sound is crystal clear. With Verizon, I seem to get more distortion and changing of sound quality during a call. Its like the way streaming audio will degrade when your connection can't keep up with the streaming rate. I don't think you would notice the difference unless you move from one system to the other.

I hope Verizon works out. I feel like I've put in a lot of work getting the thing to work.

I wonder if this post is worthy of the BlivitLog?

12 comments:

  1. Jeff Coughlin06 June, 2005 09:16

    I started using Sprint when they were giving away every feature (because they were new to the cell phone market and needed a customer base) back in 1996/97. I had them for almost eight years and recently changed over to Verizon because my wife and I wanted to go to a family plan rather than having seperate phone bills (to save money). At the time (October 2004) Verizon had what we felt was the best family plan. Even after speaking with Sprint's sales reps over the phone they didn't want to conter-offer what their competetors were offering. They didn't seem to care that a longtime customer might leave. So I left.

    Big mistake. My personal experience so far is that the voice quality sucks on Verizon. Okay, I'm probably just spoiled after all of these years of having Sprint. I can't wait for this contract to end. I may have paid more for Sprint, but the voice quality alone was worth it (and their coverage is actually not too bad where I live).

    ..just my personal experience.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah, I'm bummed about the sound. I guess that's why they never let you hear what the guy on the other end of the "Can you hear me now" call says. It's probably something like, "I can shhshh...chchchch you, but you sound like crap."

    If it hadn't been for the poor coverage where I live, I don't think I would have switched from Sprint. The price for my family plans are not that different. Verizon charges more for "taxes" which they don't advertise at all or tell you about before you sign up. Neither does Sprint for that matter, but they are not as high.

    I think there might be a consumer protection issue that could be taken up there for these taxes.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well, now I'm thoroughy confused... do I stay with Sprint, or switch to Verizon? My contract has just expired with Sprint and I've been considering switching carriers, top runner being Verizon since the coverage appears to be about the same. Anyway, I've been doing as much research as possible as to where to go and have been leaning towards leaving sprint and joining Verizon with the new LG 8100... but after reading this blog and comments, I'm second guessing my decision making. Though I do wonder, could it be the individual phones with Verizon that are of better or worse sound/voice quality and not the carrier? I'm pretty satisfied with Sprint now and have not had any major complaints, but am looking for the best deal out there. I went to http://www.phonescoop.com and read reviews on the different phones that different carriers offer and see that there are excellent sound quality reveiws on the LG 8100 with Verizon... with Sprint an equal comparrison would be the Sanyo 8300 (though the picture/screen quality pales in comparison)... anyway, I'm just wondering which verizon phone you have and if you think it could be more the phone than the actual carrier?? Any opinions here would be very much appreciated. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Well, I'm not sure if there is a clear answer about which service to go with. On the plus side for me is that many, MANY of the people I call are on the Verizon system. The monthly is also significantly less expensive than my sprint contract. I rarely use any of my allotted minutes because all of the in-system calls are free.

    The coverage area for Verizon seems to be better as well, although I still find large pockets where they claim to have coverage where they really don't. Most people don't have a problem with this, I just happen to wind up in a few places where thee are dead zones (and my family lives in one).

    Another thing that bugs me with Verizon that I didn't have with Sprint was the way Verizon will show a full set of bars for your signal, but you sound quality during a call can still be terrible. How you can have a strong signal and a bad connection at the same time is beyond my knowledge of how these things work. All I know is that with Sprint, if you have a strong signal, you will have good sound during the call. As a matter of fact, I ALWAYS had good sound quality or no sound at all with Sprint.

    I really think that the sound quality problems with Verizon are due more to their network than the individual phones, but there might be some problems introduced with each.

    I have a Motorola V710 and an Audiovox CDM89110. Both have similar issues.

    If I had to do it over again after being able to compare the two, I'm not sure which way I would go. I like cost savings with Verizon.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have the exact same problem with the signal bars, but I have Sprint. I live in Los Angeles and Sprint has the same annoyingly deceptive practice. My phone shows the maximum number of bars which made me excited when I moved to my current apartment. Unfortunately, as soon as you receive or place a call these bars go down to 1 or no bars, and 90% of the time the call is dropped. I had to get a land line eventually...

    I'm just as confused as everyone else, I hate Sprint after 6+ years, but is the alternative any better? I'm all about free markets, but I kinda wish the government would step in, especially with these so called 'taxes' called the federal something tax, which in smaller letters says, this is not a governmental tax, but rather a charge by your carrier....what??? Yes, read the small print on your bill.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Generally Verizon service bars are better than most networks, that is the ONLY thing going for them. They cripple the firmware of the phones, nickel and dime you for things that should be free, and although you think you are saving money you probably are not.. Once you get an unlocked GSM phone and can transfer your numbers from current phone to next phone by just popping in a SIM card you may start to see why the rest of the world is using GSM. If Verizon or Sprint moved towards GSM standards, I'd think about going back to them...

    ReplyDelete
  7. Well...

    i see there are more people out there that are not familiar with wireless technology than i thought. Reference the "service bars" statement above. In addition to claiming that a SIM card swap will be the best option for everyone...when in reality, this kind of switch typically dissables many phone programs and can brick a phone in 2 seconds flat. The problem with this is that without true knowledge, people are easily swayed to believe certain things...so, with that said, here is a crash course in the differences between the three top wireless carriers in the USA:

    Sprint

    uses CDMA (code division multiple access), and has the most "coverage" in the USA...yes i said the most... In fact, sprint covers 295 million people with their network. Sprint is known for its advanced technology, faster and larger EVDO (web) service, and call quality.

    Verizon

    uses CDMA also, has 290 million in coverage. hence, although people "think" they have the most coverage, they do not. Verizon claims to have the most "reliable network" based on some tests taken periodically in a few places...Verizon is most noted for their customer service being better than most carriers. although ths isn't the case for everyone, in general, it tends to be true.

    AT&T

    GSM carrier known for their worldwide coverage...although this does nothing for the potential 275 million people they have covered in the USA, it does have its boasts for travelers, and over seas customers. GSM is known for bad call quality and terrible tower hand shaking, due to the TDMA (time division multiple access) technology it uses... GSM stands for Global Systems for Mobile communications, NOT, i repeat NOT Global Services Management, which an ATT manager once told me (this alone speaks wonders for ATT). I do have to say though, that ATT has the most subscribers in the USA, which allows them to market as the "largest wireless service provider" in the USA.

    Plans

    As you can see above, i'm no fan of GSM for state side users, as most of us don't care if our phone will work in China or Europe. So, i will only compare Sprint and Verizon plans. If you choose to research ATT plans, you will see more reasons why i don't find them to be competition for Sprint or Verizon. as you can find out via their web sites, Sprint and Verizon offer about the same services, for about the same price. A few differences will highlight who is the clear leader in "most bang for your buck"....

    Verizon isn't the only carrier to have "in calling"...although they are the only ones to call it that, just about all other carriers offer this, for free.

    also, comparing minute packages, and monthly costs, sprint and verizon are identical in both individual and family plans until you reach $199.99 where sprint goes unlimited and verizon offers 6000 mins. Sprint also offers a lower cost family plan of 550 mins for $59.99.

    Roaming and Long distance charges are also a probable thing of the past for both carriers, as they are included at no additional charge in almost all plans.

    below, you will see a few things where sprint stands out...

    Unlimited text (individual plan)
    Verizon - 20
    Sprint - 10
    Unlimited text (family plan)
    Verizon - 30
    Sprint - 20
    Unlimited nights start time
    Verizon - 9pm
    Sprint - 7pm (w/ 6pm option)

    keep in mind, if you take 2 hours a day worth of unlimited calling, and take those calls away from your current plan on any other carrier, you could probably change to a cheaper plan and save about $20 per month, if not more.

    Notice, i've not included T-Mobile or US Cellular in anything here. This is because, as most people can admit, they aren't even close to being competition when you see the small print, the coverage levels, the extra charges, the plan options and the customer base.

    i will stop here and allow you time to research for yourself the many advantages that Sprint has over verizon, and how much money you can save if you choose sprint...on phones, and service.

    ReplyDelete
  8. My Sprint contract expired and I went to the Verizon store to check their options, since Consumer Reports says that Verizon is tops on customer satisfaction...
    I first tried a BlackBerry phone, and was surprised by the poor sound quality, so I moved onto a Treo, which was also terrible... Next I tried the Motorola Q which was no better... I ended up trying 12 phones, because I couldn't believe that none of them had decent sound quality. I alternated calling with my Sprint / Nokia and the Verizons and I was able to determine that indeed, whereas all the calls on my phone sounded good, all the Verizons sounded muddy and every now and then there was a hint of a delay or a tiny breakup of sound. This was reported by my girlfriend as well, who was at the receiving end of the tests.
    The following day I went to another Verizon store to try the same tests again, since I wanted to make sure it wasn't a problem with the location, and I had the same experience...
    I then walked two blocks to the Sprint store and tried the same BlackBerry and Moto Q I had tested at Verizon and confirmed that they sounded much better with the Sprint service.
    The sound quality on Verizon was so bad, that the only way I could consider signing up with them would be if their rates were 50% of what they are now, and even then I know I'd be dissatisfied.
    So there it is, kids... Sound quality is definitely inherent to the phone company.
    I am staying with Sprint, even though I am not at all satisfied by their customer service; but in the end, isn't the ability to understand the people on the other end the most important aspect of telephony?

    ReplyDelete
  9. I don't know why GSM users always say that the best thing about GSM phones are their ease of taking a SIM card and putting it into a new one. CDMA phones (Verizon & Sprint) let you sync up your contacts/pictures/videos onto their server so that if you were to get a new phone or get it stolen/lost then at least CDMA people still have their information in a database instead of getting it lost with your phone if you had a SIM card.

    Also, just because most of the world has GSM doesn't mean it's better. CDMA is by far the better technology.

    As for Sprint vs. Verizon debate....JDPower&Assoc just ranked Verizon Wireless above Sprint (Sprint was ranked dead last) in terms of call quality, customer service, and data speeds. Sprint and Verizon share the same technology so I couldn't imagine why Verizon would have bad call quality and Sprint doesn't Maybe it's your phone. I travel between San Francisco and LA almost every month and both metro areas have sucked for Sprint. My friends in New York City all have Verizon as well ans love it so Loco's comment is actually a surprise to me.

    ReplyDelete
  10. That silly JD Power study is based on customer polling. All it shows is that some companies do a better job of managing expectations.

    What we need are real tests. Ones that compare services with the same handsets by the same people.

    The thing I remember the most about Verizon is how I would have 5 bars of signal and still not be able to understand what was being said on the other end of the phone. The voices constantly cutting in and out.

    With sprint, the sound quality was not just good, it was perfect. Sprint just had much less coverage at the time. I remember them trying to sell people on the idea that they had the only all digital cellular network. I think that made a big difference.

    Are the others catching up? You tell me.

    Anyone that has tried both, speak up.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I currently have a Verizon and Sprint 8830 blackberry. I am testing them here in Phoenix.
    My experience so far has been that Sprints call in customer service sucks but in store it was great.

    I didn't have time yet to compare service but haven't really noticed call quality yet.

    I am almost past my 30 trial period with Verizon and wanted feed back on service between the two.

    Thanks,

    ReplyDelete
  12. After reading this it makes me feel better that I'm not going mad. Sprint does have better voice quality than Verizon.

    Here is the deal: For eight years (maybe longer) my family has been owned by sprint. Two weeks ago we jumped ship, to Verizon.

    The Motivation: Consumer Reports rated Verizon highest in customer satisfaction and Sprint dead last, with no warm words of encouragement for the latter. Also, Sprint's customer service is abysmal... it's god awful... Verizon on the other hand makes you feel good even when they don't solve your problem, just wonderful, they really make you feel like they "Don't stop working for you."

    The Current Situation: Although completely satisfied with Verizon's customer service, their service falls short. "Can you hear me now?" has become part of every conversation. The coverage at our house is spotty at best (yeah, we checked with friends, and for some reason that Verizon can't explain all of our phones consistently get two fewer bars than everyone else's on their network). We are also experiencing dropped calls at about twice the frequency as sprint. According to Verizon and this is a direct quote "Your dropped calls are well with in our standards" maybe theirs but not mine.

    The Conclusion: While I can't bring myself to go back to a company that values you're patronage more than yesterdays garbage, my family seems more than interested in returning to the "Dark side" as I have begun referring to sprint.

    I hope this helps someone else avoid a similar situation.

    ReplyDelete