Ummm, pardon me. What can I get for $34,761.27?

Verizon DroidWhat can I get for $34,761.27, anyway?

For what it’s worth, that’s what our company has spent on cell service and cell phone hardware since April 2002. The only problem is, we’re not getting everything that we want from Verizon, who has been the recipient of every penny of that sum. So, I’m doing the unthinkable; considering a new carrier.

I pay on time, every time, so no worries there. But before I start taking applicants, let me set some ground rules.

I won’t complain about monthly minute charges because I’ll buy your unlimited package for all of our phones. Nor will you hear me opining about the high markup on replacement charging cords, USB, mini-USB, or any other connectors. I won’t break a sweat about waiting in line at a store, or waiting for donkeys years for a rebate check.

I will, however, take issue with two areas.

  1. Stupid, non-beneficial, whats-that-for-anyway fees.
  2. Technological limitations.

Allow me to explain. When one of the principles of our company needed to spend extended time in Australia, it was only prudent that we place his U.S. cell phone on hold. After all, he’d be gone a month plus, so why pay for service that won’t be used?

That’s when Verizon hit me with the $15 dollar ‘on-hold’ fee. So why would someone who uncomplainingly spends so much on cell service get heartburn about $15? Because it falls squarely into ‘stupid, non-beneficial, what’s-that-for-anyway fees’.

Rather than take it lying down, I calmly asked the operator to kindly review the importance of that $15 ‘on-hold’ fee vs. the ~$4k I spend each year on Verizon service, and to then make what he felt was a prudent decision.

He waived the fee.

I was then annoyed to learn that there wasn’t a way to pause a line without having that line appear to the world to be disconnected. I would have paid a small fee for something like VM, or a message stating that the line was paused due to int’l travel, or something other than what callers to his phone actually received. Remember, I’m against non-beneficial fees. The ability to tell people that a line is only paused vs. disconnected is definitely a value.

Still… that experience wasn’t enough to cause me to leave. But before I get that relative point, I must make a slight, but necessary, detour.

In November 2009 and I purchased two Motorola Droids and two HTC Eris phones. (As much as I enjoyed my Blackberry 8830, I finally accepted that RIM was the Iomega of the new century, and decided we needed real smartphones). I was pleased with the Moto Droid. Great apps. Great phone. Fantastic camera.

14 months later and my phone is dying a painful, prolonged death.

It hasn’t taken any nasty falls or been doused in a Jack Daniels bath (as the other Moto Droid in our company had during the aforementioned flight to Australia).

Nope. My phone was in good shape. Unfortunately it just started dying. Shaking screen, unresponsive tapping, and text messages that would autofill with garbage text. My phone was possessed. Hammering out a text message was like entering a low-budget remake of Poltergeist.

Warranty expired.  What do I do?

Oh, I know what you’re thinking. Verizon has the iPhone now. Well, allow me to opine.

I love Apple. They are the only vendor outside of Verizon that has received more of my money. Lest you doubt my Apple credentials,   I have the new MacBook Air, the iPad, the 28″ iMac (which I am using to write this blog, incidentally), two MacBooks, two MacBook Pros, two Mini’s, and more iPods than I care to count. Yep, my Apple credentials are all in order, thank you. (If I got into the company Apple assets it would be an entirely new blog post).

So why not jump in and finally get the one Apple gadget that I don’t already own? Simple answer. I’m not interested in spending hundreds o’ bucks on 3G anything.

The Verizon iPhone would have been cool in ’08, ’09, or even early ’10. Sorry, ’11 is too little too late. When the 4G iPhone does come out, I’ll be tempted, but it likely won’t get beyond that.

Today at the Verizon store, where they pronounced my beloved Moto Droid DOA, the Verizon employee dropped the straw onto the camels back.

Verizon 4G phones, when they do come out, will still not be able to simultaneously browse the web and take calls. Even though they are leaving CDMA behind, they will still (“initially”) have this problem.

Ummm, Verizon? This isn’t a minor glitch or a ‘nice-to-have’. Cell phones and broadband are seamlessly tied together. Crippling one to serve the other is the wrong solution. Answering a phone call without jeopardizing my wireless tether is important to my business (and sanity).

Just how important, you ask? Well, it pains me to say this, but for the first time in almost ten years I’ll visit Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile stores.

It should be a quick visit to each. I’ll only be asking one question.

What can I get for $34,761.27?

*** UPDATE ***

Because this limitation has been existing at Verizon, many users, myself included, have resorted to aircards. The allure of GSM is that many of us could (finally) elect to use just one device. (Thanks to warrenk for pointing this ommission out).

Follow me on Twitter @ShawnAnderson