Tag Archives: billing

Nothing But Kudos And Lots Of It To ‘Consumer Cellular’.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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Anura Guruge


Related posts:
>> Forray with Straight Talk a disaster — Aug. 19, 2013.
>>
U.S. Cellular billing issues … — Sep. 20, 2013.

>> U.S. Cellular Web site & long holds

>>  … Sep. 19, 2013.


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As I have explained before we are not ‘big’ phone people. Yes, I use a phone but it is not my favorite means of communications. I prefer e-mail. We don’t use the phone much. We also only use the phone, the old fashioned way, to make calls. So we need a basic cell plan — just voice and a basic phone.

I have been with U. S. Cellular for a long, long time. Maybe since about 2000, maybe even before. To be fair they treat me well. I have been out of contract for years. But, their rates keep on going up and their customer service is hard to reach of late.

Deanna’s aunt who works for Walmart told me about ‘Straight Talk‘. That would have worked but I had a horrible experience with a dead phone.

I have been an AARP member for a decade. It is a good deal. The membership pays for itself just in hotel discounts each year. When I remember I insist on my FREE donut at Dunkin. I think it is funny that Dunkin gives U.S. seniors free donuts. That is probably the last thing they need. I never eat mine. I give it to the kids.

I had seen ‘Consumer Cellular‘ advertised with the umpteen publications we get with AARP for years. But, I kind of thought that it might be even too basic for us. I was WRONG.

I saw yet another ad. on TV the other day. Decided to check them out. Prices and terms & conditions seemed right. No contract. Family plan for just $10 extra.

But, it didn’t say, inexcusably, whether you could transfer your existing cell number — a must for us. I have had this number for over a decade. All my accounts have it.

I called the 1-888 number to check. Yes, they support number transfer — the so called number portability.

They were beyond helpful. Very pleasant. Spoke good English. No real pressure. AARP members have an iron-clad 45-day zero-risk guarantee. I went ahead and pulled the trigger on that very first call. Ordered two Motorola phones and signed up for a family plan with 500 minutes to begin with. Yes, some catches. No free calls whatsoever, even at midnight. No free incoming calls. But, I can increase minutes on the fly.

The phones arrived within 3 days. They charged within 4 hours. Called to activate the service and have the numbers transferred.

WOW. WOW! WOW!

Talk about simple. They transferred both numbers within minutes. The final two-way confirmation within the hour.

Service is provided by AT&T. Yes, initially when placing order we had to use the ZIP for Concord because their system said that Alton was not within the service area. Didn’t bother me or them. We knew that AT&T worked in Alton.

So, that is the story.

So far, so good. Very impressed. No problems. Deanna set up voice mail etc. on both phones. I am happy.

U.S. Cellular, Sheepishly, Admits In E-Mail To Billing System Errors & Issues! Amazing.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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Anura Guruge


UScellRelated posts:
>> U.S. Cellular Web site & long holds
>>  … Sep. 19, 2013.
>> U.S. Cellular 4G LTE Data …
>>Feb. 27, 2013.

>> U.S. Cellular Battery Swap …
>>Dec. 6, 2009.


Click to enlarge. This is just the top fragment. It was sent to me as an e-mail.

Click to enlarge. This is just the top fragment. It was sent to me as an e-mail.


This is why it has been SO DIFFICULT, nearly impossible to contact U.S. Cellular for the last few weeks.

They are inundated with irate customers calling in about their bills. It has also crippled their Web site.

This is why I had so much trouble Wednesday evening and night trying to contact U.S. Cellular to cancel my service. On Thursday morning after an initial wait of 40 minutes and then a second wait of 10 minutes I finally succeeded in getting my account closed. Hurrah! I am so relieved and happy. Great weight off my shoulders. I was with them for over a decade and they did look after me quite well — my gripe was just with the expense.

I don’t know where I stand with my bill with them and don’t care. I had autopay with them until I cancelled that. Because THEY SCREWED UP they don’t seem to be billing me this month. That might work out. I will have to wait and see.

I will, of course, keep you posted. In the meantime IF you get a crazy bill from U.S. Cellular or have trouble contacting them you now know why.

That they could screw up a computerized billing system in 2013 tells you a lot about how inept they can be. We have had more than 50 years of SOLID experience with computerized billing systems. Today, a halfway competent team can develop a new billing system that will blend in with no hiccups. U.S. Cellular probably outsourced this to the cheapest bidder — most likely in Mongolia. U.S. Cellular management should be ashamed.

U.S. Cellular Having Website Logon Issues And Horrendous, 2 Hour(+) Hold Times On Customer Support Calls!

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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 .by
Anura Guruge


UScellRelated posts:
>> U.S. Cellular 4G LTE Data …
>>Feb. 27, 2013.

>> U.S. Cellular Battery Swap …
>>Dec. 6, 2009.


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Click to ENLARGE and read error message from U.S. Cellular.



I had noticed that they were having Website issues a few weeks ago but hadn’t given it much notice. Everything I did with U. S. Cellular, who had been my cell provider for over 12 years, was automated and rote. So I didn’t really have to do anything. They auto billed my credit card etc.

Today was a different matter.

I finally pulled the trigger. I switched to Consumer Cellular (with my AARP discount). That was as smooth as could have been. Wow. Talk about simple, straightforward and great support. Bang, bang, bang. They transferred two numbers over from U. S. Cellular, activated the service and then confirmed, an hour later, via a text message, that the two-way cell phone number transfers had been successfully achieved. Nothing but kudos for them. Very different to my abortive attempt with Walmart’s Straight Talk. More about my great experience with Consumer Cellular in a later post.

Though my account with U.S. Cellular should automatically cancel within 24 hours, now that the numbers have been successfully ported, I do NOT trust U. S. Cellular.

I tried to cancel using the Website. That didn’t go well.

Around 7:40 pm I call 611. They did say that they had long wait times because of Website and billing problems! After 45 minutes on hold, with the same bloody annoying message claiming that they can prolong your life I was disconnected.

I tried again, while watching cricket at 10 pm. 50 minutes later I got to talk to a rep.

As soon as I said I wanted to cancel she said she had to transfer me! Back on hold again.

I stayed on hold till midnight. That was a full two hours.

During that time, while I also did some research into the fascinating 18-year long Trent Council of the 16th century, I:

1/ Used U. S. Cellular’s e-mail system to request a cancellation.

2/ Filed an online complaint against U. S. Cellular with the FCC.

3/ Filed a complaint against U. S. Cellular with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) given the recent success I have had with them.

4/ I also cancelled my autopay.

What more can I do?

Just a heads up. If you need to contact U. S. Cellular you might be out of LUCK.

Sorry.

Reasons 101 To 105 Of The 1,001 Reasons I Really, Really HATE DirecTV.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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Anura Guruge


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#101. So this afternoon, for the first time, I lost my satellite signal because of inclement weather. I get a cryptic message along the lines ‘signal from Sat. 2 lost …’ press for more info. I do that. It did NOT tell me that I should look out of the window to see if the failure was due to bad weather! Nw I have been liberal in my use of accusing DirecTV of being stupid, but this takes the cake. The main reason I am going to lose my signal is because of cloud cover or snow on the dish. That DirecTV does not address this just proves my case that they are stupid.

#102. Of late, each time I change channels I get this annoying black message bar at the bottom of the screen to tell me that I can hit the record button to record that show. Yes, I fully appreciate by now that DirecTV is targeted at the ‘technologically unsophisticated‘ would get this message after they have seen it 500 times, PLUS it isn’t that profound. To record a show you hit the record button. Most DirecTV customers should be able to work this out after 3 weeks. The bloody bar is annoying because it obscures the news ticker on Channel 202. So today I missed an item and had to rewind the damn thing to read it.

#103. Decided to download the DirecTV android APP on to out two (2) Google Nexus 7 pads. So I go to the Google Play APP store. There are 2 DirecTV apps and one for DirecTV Genie. Of the two DirecTV apps, one says ‘tablet’. That is what we have. An Android tablet — the quintessential Android tablet at that, made for Google and running the latest Android OS. So I go to download the tablet app. Says the Google Next 7 is not supported! Ah! Yes, I could down load the other (phone) APP. Stupid.

#104. The LIVE TV guide in the DirecTV App (#103) does not show you the channel numbers. Just the names of the show. I need channel numbers. Plus I can’t find the movie channels on the LIVE TV part! Not good. The usual DirecTV stupidity and incompetence.

#105. So far, and I have only spent a few minutes playing with it,  the MOVIE section of DirecTV App (#103 & #104) only appears to show me pay-for-view movies. I am sure I haven’t found the others. But it shouldn’t be that hard.


Reasons 96 To 100 Of The 1,001 Reasons I Really, Really HATE DirecTV.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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Anura Guruge


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#96. The erratic volume levels that I mentioned in #46 drive me nuts. I had been watching a recorded documentary: “The King’s Speech: Revealed”. I don’t think it was HD. Downstairs on the Genie, with my Philips Dolby sound bar, the volume was ‘OK’, probably because I had it cranked up high. Yesterday morning I wanted to finish watching it upstairs via the Genie Mini and the 27″ Philips HD TV. There was hardly any volume. I had to crank up the TV’s volume to MAX to be able to hear anything!

#97. By coincidence had another volume event downstairs last night. We had been watching “New Year’s Eve” (which was quite good). It was in HD and I had the volume to a level that was comfortable. When the movie was done, I hit stop … and that brought up CNN. The CNN volume (also in HD) was at least twice as loud! I had to scramble for the audio remote to turn down the volume before it woke up the neighbours.

#98. By happenchance I happened to see a DirecTV information clip (and I am not sure how it came up) on how to set the FAVORITES. It is by no way intuitive. No wonder I had struggled to set it up. It really would have been nice if DirecTV gave you a small printed booklet with how to setup all these functions.

#99. Both remotes are possessed. Typically when we go down to watch TV I am a few minutes ahead of Deanna and I turn on the TV & Genie while Deanna settles down. Last night she was already seated next to me when I turned on the TV & Genie. And this was to be a 4-minute wait event. She could not believe it. I showed her how all the buttons were dead. She was amazed. Then about 4 minutes into it everything starts working.

#100. The upstairs remote, for the Genie Mini, is definitely on the blink. More often than not I have to hit a button TWICE before it does anything. Just a few minutes ago, when I tried to turn it off … the volume bar came up, as if I had hit the volume button rather than OFF! Second time — it worked. Very annoying.


Reasons 91 To 95 Of The 1,001 Reasons I Really, Really HATE DirecTV.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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Anura Guruge


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#91. The ‘LIST’ (i.e., list of recorded programs) does NOT have an option where with one click I can check what I have scheduled to be recorded. That is so, so stupid — but so, so DirecTV in that I am now more convinced than ever that DirecTV is targeted at technologically unsophisticated users. On DISH you had the ‘Scheduled’ button right there. I want to see both — what is already recorded and what is in the queue to be recorded. To get to the ‘To Do List’ requires about 5 other clicks. Stupid.

#92. Yesterday I discovered the second ‘only half recorded’ movie. Not good. So had to delete it and schedule it to be taped again.

#93. Monday night while I was browsing SHOWTIME on Demand I suddenly get a message saying my Internet connection was down. Now I had been checkin HBO on Demand and STARZ on Demand previously. So basically it lost the Wi-Fi connection in mid-stream. It took me close to 30 minutes to reestablish the connection! Wow. Wow. Wow. It should just reconnect automatically — but this is DirecTV, the domain of the brain dead.

#94. So after I establish the Wi-Fi connection, out of curiosity I run the diagnostic tests. It says that 2 tests failed. The first error message is that it could not establish a dial-up connection. I kid you not. Could not establish a dial-up connection. I am so f*ing glad that it couldn’t. I don’t have a bloody dial-up connection. QED. DirecTV is meant for the technologically crippled.

#95. So, #94 above, while it says that my Interest connection test failed, I hit the dash key, yes, the dash key … “-” … which is supposed to be the way to quickly check Internet connection and it says that I have an Internet connection. Again, ditto. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. But, to make sure I selected OnDemand. No problem. I got a list of movies. This is like a bloody joke. DirecTV is so stupid.


Reasons 86 To 90 Of The 1,001 Reasons I Really, Really HATE DirecTV.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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Anura Guruge


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#86. The ‘LIST’ (i.e., list of recorded programs) does NOT tell you how many programs you have recorded, just the amount of disk space left (in my case, right now 83%). I need to know the NUMBER of programs I have recorded — as I could with DISH. So with the DISH ‘list’ not only did you get a total number of items recorded, but each recorded program had a sequence number relative to the total. So, I would know, for example, that I had 176 programs recorded. That was critical intelligence for me. I knew that about 80% of that number would be movies. So I would know, right away, that I had just over a 3 months CACHE of recorded movies. That was always my goal. 3 months of movie on file. That way IF I cancelled or lost a movie channel (because the promo period ran out) I knew I could go for 3 months without having to worry about getting more new movies.

#87. The ‘GUIDE’ in addition to not telling you the proper channel name [e.g., ‘Bloomberg’, as I explained in #83], also has a cryptic ‘white’ tab against the Channel symbols, very like the ‘green’ tab that Excel puts on some cells to let you know that there is additional information associated with that cell. It is definitely because of this. When I see that ‘tab’ I want to know what it says behind it. But, I have yet to work out how I can click on that ‘tab’. Very frustrating. But, that is the watchword when it comes to DirecTV: ‘frustrating‘.

#88. I first reported this in #71, but yesterday, i.e., Monday, I just could not, and I mean COULD NOT, get the remote for the Genie Mini to accept 202 or 355. I am not kidding. Just would not take in those damn numbers. I would start punching in ‘2 …’ and it would immediately go to Channel 2! I would wait and I would start again. Now it would go to Channel 25 … that being the nearest to ’20’. After 4 f*ing attempts I had to haul myself out of bed, go upto the f*ing Genie Mini, put the damn controller right up against it and punch in 202. That worked. Then I was OK since I could use PREV. I hate DirecTV. Worst company in the World, hands down.

#89. Happened 5 times yesterday, on two separate occasions, with Channel 202 & 355 [i.e., CNN & CNBC]. When I selected the channel I got a BLACK screen. Nothing, but nothing on it. No sound. Just a BLACK screen. Had to hit PREV to go back and then start again. F*ing stupid. The Genie Mini is a piece of garbage.

#90. Also, yesterday morning with the bloody remote for the Genie f*ing Mini. Mute would only work, every other push. This is so pathetic. I have said it before, I will say it before. DirecTV’s business model appears to be that of giving their customers untested, inferior products and then holding them to a 2 year contract. 


Reasons 81 To 85 Of The 1,001 Reasons I Really, Really HATE DirecTV.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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Anura Guruge


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#81. The movie reviews have cryptic symbols like red tomatoes, green tomatoes, popcorn etc. with NO EXPLANATION as to what the heck they mean. There are even percentages against these symbols. It is like a f*ing private joke. Did I mention that I really, really HATE DirecTV.

#82. In addition to these annoying in their indecipherability icons, the movie descriptions can in some instances be just 2 sentences — leaving you totally in the dark as to what the movie is all about. DISH, in general, had fairly detailed, fairly decent synopsis that gave you a chance in terms of deciding whether you want to record a movie or not.

#83. In the GUIDE the channel names are not properly represented. I challenge you to tell me, without looking it up, where I can find the Bloomberg Financial channel. Yes, it is there. But, on the GUIDE you will NEVER see even a reference to ‘Bloomberg’!

#84. So yesterday, Sunday, I powered up the TV/Genie 3 times. Whereas on Saturday night I had to wait 4 minutes, yes, 4 minutes, for the Remote to become active, on Sunday it was active from the Get Go … why? Because the first time I turned the TV on, Genie was already powered-up since it was recording a movie. The other two times, it had not gone into hibernation because there had not been 4 hours of inactivity. I find this erratic unpredictability annoying and distracting. I don’t know whether I should wait 4 minutes or whether it will work as soon as I power on the TV. Very annoying.

#85. I recorded a 2 hour documentary (very good I must say) from the Military Channel on ‘Lee & Grant’. It has quite a few commercial. And yes, I FF through commercial — which is why, other than with news and financials, I only watch pre-recorded shows. FF with the Genie is not pleasant. It is very slow and jerky. It is like skipping through a PowerPoint presentation rather than a video. THEN, when you hit PLAY … Oh, Dear! It takes ages for the sound to catch up. The video is all over the place. It is quite pathetic. 


Reasons 76 To 80 Of The 1,001 Reasons I Really, Really HATE DirecTV.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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Anura Guruge


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#76. Following last Wednesday’s call from the DirecTV ‘Problem Resolution Specialist‘, where he basically lied to me about the video resolution settings, I realized yesterday that there is NOW WAY to determine the resolution that the Genie Mini is working at — since the only real way to check the resolution is to look at the lights on the Genie. There are no such lights on the Mini. Hitting FORMAT, as this guy (correctly) explained to me, does NOT show the current resolution because it skips to the next resolution as soon as you hit the button!

#77. So contrary to DirecTV’s claims you do not get all of the Genie functionality in multiple rooms with the Genie Mini. So that is another bold face lie! For a start there is NO PIP (#58) and now, as I found, no way to tell video resolution (#76).

#78. Last night it took over 4 MINUTES for my downstairs Remote to become active! This is #56 at its worst. 4 MINUTES. That is crazy.

#79. The GUIDE format is too large. You can’t see enough on one page — i.e., horizontal spread. A tighter, more compact grid that showed more hours on one page would make me happier.

#80. The program descriptions on the GUIDE are inconsistent in terms of specifying when a program is part of a series. In some instances it says so, in others it doesn’t. The only way to get the full story is to hit ‘INFO’ in which case, if it is a series, you will see the ‘record series’ option.


Reasons 71 To 75 Of The 1,001 Reasons I Really, Really HATE DirecTV.

Anura Guruge, June 8, 2013.

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Anura Guruge


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#71. Now the remote for the Genie Mini is giving me grief; q.v. #66. This morning it took me two attempts to power up the Genie Mini and the TV — this remote programmed, by the DirecTV tech that did the installation, to turn both of them on together, when I hit the ‘ON’ button.

#72. DirecTV had sent a cheaply printed ‘sample of what you can watch in July‘ flyer in the mail, along with other assorted junk. For Saturday, July 20, in the highlighted orange box for PREMIERS on Saturday it claims “Here Comes the Boom“. Not true. Actually a lie. I recorded and already watched that movie! So it can’t be premiering on Saturday, July 20.  Actually it was the 1st movie that I taped when I got DirecTV on June 21. So much for their veracity.

#73. Though they claim that I can order programming through my account on the Web, it does not seem to let me have the option for selecting Willow cricket!

#74. I have now made 5 calls to try and get the NFL Sunday Ticket, which is totally of no interest to me, cancelled. I am still not sure whether they have cancelled it. However, two folks, who work for DirecTV have told me, though they claimed that they didn’t have the power to cancel it, that DirecTV will whack me for upwards of a hundred dollars for this in early 2014 IF I haven’t cancelled it by then.

#75. Just now, in the mail, I received a fat envelope from DirecTV with two MORE, fancy, elaborate, FAKE $100 ‘Gift Cards’ to tell me that that is what I can get for referring folks to DirecTV. I now have a total of five of these stupid, but expensive to produce, cards. I asked for NO PAPER when I signed up with these clowns. I hate to see trees cut for useless promotions. OK, send me two cards. Then no more. Save the production costs and postage. Pass on the bloody savings. I would rather have my little finger chopped off than ever recommend DirecTV — even to somebody that I do not like.