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Smartphones' biggest drawback? Terms of service

TechRepublic member dcolbert vents about his previous smartphone experience, Verizon's terms of service, and how consumers and businesses need to put the hurt on major wireless carriers to help change their unethical, greedy practices.
This post was written by TechRepublic member dcolbert.

My introduction to the Verizon Droid highlights how unsatisfactory "smartphone" service has been from major wireless carriers - not simply because of the hardware, but because of their own, backwards, greedy practices. Let me explain.

Previously, I owned an HTC XV6800 (TyTN), which was a decent phone with a resistive touch screen, slide-out keyboard, and WinMo 6.1. Now, many of the unsatisfactory things about this phone were related to the hardware. The 2mp camera was horrible, the resistive touch screen was a complete hassle for dialing phones, plus the OS was dated and didn’t support finger navigation, so you pretty much had to use a stylus.

However, I carried an expensive data plan on this phone for a two-year contract, and largely because of Verizon's Orwellian lock-down policies that cripple hardware features on their phones, I could never utilize the phone to its full capability without either paying extra (double) to unlock additional "services" (disabled hardware features).

For example, Verizon disabled GPS on their early smartphones, and while they retroactively allowed GPS on some smartphones, they never extended that to the XV6800. They alienated a large segment of their gadget-happy subscriber base through this action, for no real good reason (the XV6800 probably also was an insignificant number of total phones on their network, so the logic of upsetting those customers seemed to have little financial incentive).

To me, this is like selling you a car with an 8-cylinder engine but only 4 cylinders are working - and you have to pay more money to unlock the other ones. Oddly enough, this is a model more and more consumers are willing to accept across a broad range of products.

My second complaint is the model of selling an "unlimited" data plan – which is in fact limited to a 5GB cap – and then charging extra to tether to a notebook or PC, even if it never exceeds that “unlimited” 5GB cap, tethered or not.

Verizon argues that GPS and tethering create additional load on their network and therefore need to be charged as premium services. With Assisted GPS, this is true to a certain extent, but again, so few of the GPS-capable phones on the Verizon network are Assisted GPS devices that alienating the owners of those phones makes less sense than simply absorbing the cost of allowing them to enjoy unlocked GPS, like the rest of Verizon’s customers.

With tethering, this is absolutely a fallacious argument. 5GB of "unlimited" data transfer is 5GB of "unlimited" data transfer, regardless of if it occurs on a notebook, phone, desktop, XBox 360, Wii, or any other device that can connect to the Internet. The fact that you can reach 5GB faster on a notebook has merit, but that doesn't justify charging TWICE as much to allow tethering UP TO that 5GB limit. Charging you for something that you've already been charged for is completely unethical – it’s greed, pure and simple.

Many Verizon users, feeling that they've been treated unethically by the company, have played a cat and mouse game where they unlock the GPS and use third-party tethering apps to avoid Verizon's unjustified charges. But why should people have to go through hoops to enable features that are already part of the device that they OWN and that do not cost the company any EXTRA money to enable? The short answer is that they shouldn't have to.

So, because of this, combined with hardware shortcomings, I found that the Verizon XV6800 didn't really deliver a significant advantage over a regular smartphone. I contemplated purchasing the new Verizon Droid, but after reflecting on my experience with the XV6800, I decided to cancel my service – and drop my number that I've carried since 1987.

Two decisions on Verizon's part, in particular, helped push me over the edge:

  1. Raising the price for early termination from $175 to $350
  2. The decision to continue to charge additional fees for tethering even if the 5GB cap on "unlimited" service was not exceeded

But in a weird twist of fate, the company I work for wanted me to have a cell phone. When I cancelled mine, they provided me with one – a Droid.

Now, the irony here should not be lost on Verizon executives. They consider the Droid a "consumer" phone, and it is. But at the prices they want for the services they offer, I’m not willing to pay those prices as a consumer. Only if my business offers these services will I accept Verizon's terms. And a lot of IT shops are not going to support the Droid, at least as it exists today.

I hope that a lot more consumers will come to the conclusion I have about smartphones – that $4000 in TCO for a typical smartphone every two years can go to quite a few other things I'd rather pay for. And hopefully businesses will increasingly either demand corporate-secure devices like Blackberries or they only buy smartphones for executive management. If consumers and businesses put the hurt on companies like Verizon, perhaps it will force them to change their ways.

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

190 comments
mauited2004
mauited2004

I was so stoked to upgrade to a "smartphone" through my Verizon, 2 yr. plan. After the upgrade, I realized that the "smartphones" providers are playing us for dumbusers and making money hand over fist. It seems that Verizon charges for Everything! Every App download, music, online usage, etc.! These practices have greatly diminished my enthusiasm for paying again for services that may PC takes care of all uses peanuts comparatively.The Smartphone boom has given servers a license to rob us blind!

jck
jck

I've heard for about a decade that Verizon has the biggest ripoff of plans on the market, plus exorbitant fees to break your contract (which I understand just went up). With my last phone purchase, the telephone wasn't working right through 3 different phones of the same model. So, I threatened them with the "lemon law" thing in Florida...and, I got a Motorola phone now that has very very few issues. But when I bought the last phone, I did not agree to a contract. I bought it for about $200, and when asked why I said "24 times 40 is a lot more than $200.". AT&T would make you pay out the remainder of your contract at the minimum package price if you broke it. No early termination flat fee. Just the rest of the balance you committed to. Ah well. Sorry to hear that Verizon is horrible. I've actually been thinking about leaving AT&T. But, I'd not use Verizon if I had a choice.

winderama@gmail.com
winderama@gmail.com

Why are you complaining all of a sudden. It is people like you who allow this. When new technologies first come out they are outrageously priced because deep pocket corporations buy it. Other people jump in on the outrageously priced market because they think it will make them cool even though the technology is still beta. I believe it is outrageous that 2 pay calling is still allowed. Someone calling from a cell phone pays for the call and one receiving a call on a cellphone also has to pay. This is a ripoff and this is the only country where this happens as far as I know. I guess your vanity does not allow you to be concerned with such blatant ripoffs because you will not be cool. Typical U.S. capitalism. Instead of offering value, the U.S. form of capitalism is for the service provider to offer their own proprietary features to suck you into their plan while restricting others and making it difficult for you to go to a different provider.

ricardofont
ricardofont

A few years back, my company required us to use a Blackberry or similar device for corporate e-mail, but imposed no restrictions on what type of provider/service we could use. A few of us got together and negotiated a great price for a Blackberry from T-Mobile. I've been with T-Mobile ever since (more on that later). My brother recently joined T-Mobile after going through basically the same problems you did regarding the "nickel-dime" philosophy that Verizon uses across its product line. He left them, and has been happy with T-Mobile ever since; he also found that the 3G coverage was BETTER for T-Mobile in New York and its suburbs than Verizon (against that company's claims). But I digress... I'm not making this a pro-T-Mobile post; on the contrary, to illustrate your original point, recently I upgraded my Blackberry from a 7290 to the newest Curve. Also, I am now working at a different company, and I found out (to my chagrin) that they would not cover phone expenses for me while on traveling (that's a whole other discussion...). I called up T-Mobile to turn on the data plan on the Curve (the SIM card I migrated across the phones had the data plan off while I was between jobs; BTW, the 7290 allowed data plans to be turned on/off at will and still retain phone functionality) and, when I found out about my new company's "philosophy", I called T-mobile again to turn the plan off. They refused to do it. They said it was "technically impossible" to do, this after I HAD TO CALL THEM to turn the data plan on in the first place! After another 3 calls, and talking to a supervisor, I had the data plan turned off (phone still functions great) and was "grandfathered in" (their terms) into a plan that would allow some customers to turn the data plans on/off, at no cost. Now I ask: I can't be the first person to lose a job, but want to keep my provider/plan, and want to lower costs until I get a new job. Why such an inflexible policy? I was a satisfied customer for years (which I told them) and wanted to keep their service, and yet they still chose to potentially alienate me. Why? As you put it, GREED. It seems that this is the provider MO nowadays...

kevlar700
kevlar700

I could talk about the lack of and over exepectation put on smart phones for ages but I have just a few things to say. Don't over spend because of what is round the corner and it will break. The police are spending loads on smart phones to pay back over 10 years ignoring state of the art secure technology or hiding the fact that it exists after using it to win contracts (airwave are hiding it). The UK police will be a laughing stock with the most exepensive and a less functional and less secure network than some forces had years ago. Just because of profits, ignorance and embezelment. Why is iplayer only allowed on a few networks. If a phone at 1000mhz was comparable to a 1ghz pc it would burn a hole in your pocket, which shows how much slower it is.

specialfx63
specialfx63

I've been with Verizon for around 10 years now. The ONLY reason I stay with them is due to the fact that they are the best service provider in my area.(for now anyway) The Samsung Omnia i910 was the first smart phone I've purchased. Again, as most have stated, I found out, after the fact, that many features were crippled by Big Red and they had no intentions of "fixing" them. So I did what any self respecting gadget-freak should do. I simply turned to the "Omnia Community" and we hacked and cracked the ROMs and added those features including tethering & unlocking the internal GPS. We added a whole lot more by even porting apps from other phones. Heck, I really like this phone now. As regards Verizon's continued greedy and anti-consumer practices, yes, I will bail and sign with another provider, as soon as something better comes along. But right now, I just don't see that happening, so we're kinda stuck if you want or need these services.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

As you noted, smartphones don't do anything you can't do with a computer for a lot less. You're paying for the ability to perform those functions away from your computer. How much that mobility is worth to you is between you and your wallet. If the providers are charging an arm and a leg, it's because enough people are willing to pay limbs in exchange for downloading music in the can.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

They see that low price on the hardware, don't calculate the TCO over the life of the contract, and don't buy the extended warranty. Then when it breaks 13 months into a 24 month contract...

dcolbert
dcolbert

Well said, Ricardo. When companies start behaving unethically and treating their customers as commodities, expect to see those industries experience tough times. Ask Detroit.

dcolbert
dcolbert

They're not really stopping anyone who wants these services and has a modest amount of technical knowledge. They're *only* pissing consumers off by putting a bunch of arbitrary locks on their devices. It is a real world example of Windows UAC. I simply have to click through a bunch of extra steps to enable features of the device which are included with the *device*, that Verizon wants to charge double for. We've sold you the phone, at a discount, with a contract, but we've disabled features that the maker of the phone intended to be sale-points of the device. And here is the thing, even if I bought the device, off-contract, at full retail, those features, those *hardware* features, would be disabled by Verizon. That... is B.S. That is charging me, and then charging me again for the same thing.

jck
jck

But it doesn't make it anymore right for them to charge "a la carte" for each little thing. Of course, I wouldn't have one of those things anyways. If I want mail, I can do it from a regular phone for practically nothing just as if I was on a smartphone. My reasoning is: why pay for a premium for what basically amounts to have a qwerty keyboard? Besides that from what I understand, a refurb netbook is just as cheap as an off-contract smartphone, and you could get the connector to hook a regular cell to it and have 3G internet speed under a regular cell plan. Plus the screen would be easier to see :^0

dcolbert
dcolbert

Seeing a breakdown of a TCO is when my blood really started to boil about this to this degree. So, you're right on this one. Doing the math and realizing the TCO is the wake up call. $4000 for a 2 year contract on a typical smart phone. People are nuts.

jck
jck

But, I'd even heard of how bad Verizon was with their service and stuff over 8 years ago. I cringe at the thought of having to go with them, but who knows.

AttackComputerWhiz
AttackComputerWhiz

My current Verizon phone has WiFi which has not been locked (so far). However, Verizon demands a minimum data subscription even with the working WiFi. I never use their data service, preferring to find and use hot spots for a quick surf if I need it. That is another example of rampant B.S. because they will not activate a phone without that service (to be fair, none of the big companies will) even if you have a phone that will work without it. If you ask for the data service to be turned off, they will do so, ALONG WITH turning off the entire phone. When I questioned that practice, I was also told that on the next billing cycle, the system will automatically sign a subscriber up for the most expensive plan whether you approve it or not. Why do that since it is so blatantly illegal? "Because we can!" was the answer some smarmy help desk supervisor gave me. This is truly senseless because the whole purpose of the WiFi is to be able to use it. I need a smartphone because I need the Office apps and a way to make quick sketches and a laptop is too bulky at times. I would dump them today if I could, but none of the other services will reach the remote areas I have to support. I may cut my plan to bare minimum and pick up a Cricket. Hopefully, they will behave for a while...

specialfx63
specialfx63

I agree with you 100%! Why should we have to jump through all these hoops, have to hack our devices, etc, even if we paid full price in the first place? All the nonsense, time & energy expenditures myself and others go through to "produce" a good phone with good features is just mind-blowing! When the opportunity presents itself, I will jump ship. Bye-bye Big V. There's nothing wrong with any company generating good profit margins, but you need to *do-right* by your customers. Things have to change or people will go elsewhere.

dcolbert
dcolbert

The discussion was about the dangers of jumping onto an open, public wifi hotspot. If you understand those dangers, then the discussion of certain protocols sending data in clear-text as it relates to an open public network connection is clear. We weren't talking about crashing Win32 systems, either. We were talking about virus infections. I just think you didn't quite keep up with us on the twisties there.

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

Don't get the connection. You say that some protocols broadcast text, and then talk about security is needed to prevent WinOS crashing (? .. it wasn't clear what happened) when connected unsecurely. What is the connection please? Les. This branch of the thread is losing all cohesion... I can't even actually follow the conversation. Most people do not understand that FTP and e-mail travel in clear text .. So, the minute you hop on anything connected to the public network, you better know what you're doing.

dcolbert
dcolbert

I can't even actually follow the conversation. Open WiFi is a risk - but really no more than plugging into a public ethernet (e.g., most wired connections at most hotels you'll ever go to). If you're going to use an unknown, public network, you need to take extra security precautions - *but*... Most people do not understand that FTP and e-mail travel in clear text (or the implicatios of what that means), or that a HTTPS connection is vunerable to a Cain and Able style Man-in-the-middle attack. Should you only be able to use the internet if you're a competent IT professional? And who gets to judge? If I hop on an open WiFi connection, and I've got a secure VPN and a strong local firewall - I'm as safe as if I were on my own network. So, then really the question isn't about the risk of using an open network, of any sort, but the risk of a lack of knowledge to safely engage in any given "risky" practice. As an IT professional, I know the ONLY safe machine is one that is isolated - but how useful is that? Barring that, we're limited to sneakernet - which is still practically useless. The minute you hook up a machine to a network, you've stastitically increased the odds of being attacked, compromised and infected. Once you hook up to a network that is connected to a public network, the odds go up exponentially again. Some magazine did a study and put a Win32, OSX and Linux box on a public network, unpatched with no security. The Win32 machine lasted something like 15 minutes. So, the minute you hop on anything connected to the public network, you better know what you're doing. This is less about the connection portal, and more about the person at the keyboard.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

it's considered poor form to continue posting. It's the on-line equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and saying, "La la la la la; I'm not listening!" Repeatedly posting after 'leaving' can damage your credibility beyond repair.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

I connected to an open Wi-Fi spot called 'FreeConn' and I got infected with a virus / details were stolen! I should have known with the name (and the fact it was open) but hey I needed access and decided to press on anyway. Now the question. Were you right to use the 'open connection'? If a persons front door is left open do you have the right to walk in? Where does the blame lie? The person for infecting / stealing your details OR you for walking through the open door and trying to steal a connection?

dcolbert
dcolbert

I'm not an on-topic Nazi... But I'm not sure I understood where G-Man was trying to go with that observation. If there is another interesting conversation down that road, let's go there. :)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Discussion have gone whither they may wander around here. You've mistaken this for ZDNet.

dcolbert
dcolbert

What does this have to do, and what does this comment add, to this conversation? It isn't Verizon's risk to access an open WiFi spot on a public network on a former Verizon handset with no Wireless service. It is the consumer's own risk - and one that can be mitigated by a smart user. I don't see your point in bringing this into the conversation. This is completely irrelevent. Unless your new thesis is, "Verizon should be allowed to abuse their customers and break their handsets outside of service because they provide a more secure, trustworthy network connection than public WiFi hotspots"... Which actually, wouldn't surprise me in the least to hear you claim. Beware of Trojans bearing FU... FU... FUH... No... I can't... I won't do it... I mustn't... But man, if ever there has been a time for this particular TLA...

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Tell me...how do you know that the 'Open WiFi' is safe and not just a harbour for the old 'man in the middle' attack or worse?

jck
jck

Wifi is so prevalent now in most towns and cities.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Is going to be harder to tether than a smartphone without paying the extra fee... they're going to get you for this either way. A netbook and finding an open WiFi spot will help you get around this, though.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Arbitrary divider, I think. It's always been the number I've seen used in generational over/under comparisons.

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

And WC was a conservative (IIRC), so can't take anything he said seriously. I really don't remember changing my attitude towards free stuff on my 35th birthday .. on my 40th maybe .. don't remember much before that. Les.

dcolbert
dcolbert

It is also an ideology difference between the young man and the old man that doesn't always hold true, but is generally a fairly accurate generalization. That is why I "hit back" with a generalization about his observations of you (generally, it is going to be a man over 35 with a certain set of ideological principles that notices that younger generations have a different concept of free than older generations - with a certain sort of intellectual background). Younger men generally reject these kind of "stereotypes" "generalizations" and like to think they are unique and individual and that they can't be summed up by a personality profile. Older men tend to think differently. Or, as Winston Churchill is quoted as saying, "If you're not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you're not a conservative at forty you have no brain."

dcolbert
dcolbert

"Sweeping generalizations", "personallity profiles"... tomato, tomatoe... :)

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

When you reach maximum level, you reply to the parent post for that branch. The age question came about because most younger people I know don't understand the economics of "free" and don't want to; your posts are worded in much the same way as these young people express themselves. The wifi thing is probably to do with different areas of the country. Here in the Southeast, unless you're in Atlanta, there may not be a coffee shop next door to move to. They know they have a captive audience where wifi is concerned and want to make some money off you while you're there. And loss leaders are not given away. They are sold at a reduced price (often at a loss) to, as you said, attract the customers into the store. The hope is that these customers, once in the store, will purchase other merchandise at the regular (inflated) price.

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

.. because we have reached maximum reply level (any ideas how to fix this?) -- 1st, the IQ comment was a little low, but I couldn't be bothered to rephrase. The age comment I still don't get. I do not see any difference in the definition of free .. although we do appear to have a lot more free things than when i was a kid, but that may just be a growing up thing. I'm in a big coastal city, and nobody here displays wifi terms of service .. why would they? If I don't like it, I'll go next door to the OTHER Coffee shop - now there's a giveaway. What about loss-leaders at supermarkets - are they not giving stuff away free in order to get you into the store? Les.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Colbert: You had to be three sheets to the wind. Those were two sentences. Sing my praises, but, decorously, please, as is your usual wont.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

For dcolbert: Yes, and, well, yes. Aren't generalizations great? For SObaldrick: The "free" wifi at all those coffee shops and wherever else is intended for the customers of those establishments and not for anybody who happens to be walking past. I can't think of a single business offering "free" Wifi in my area that hasn't posted notices to that effect. Panera Bread, for one, requires that you accept their terms of service, one of which stipulates that you must be a paying customer, before connecting. Certain establishments (Taco Bell and Atlanta Bread stand out in my area) do enforce this and will ask you to leave if you have not made a purchase. These places also do not allow you to bring your own food and drink; they are, after all, in business to make money, not subsidize your Wifi habit. As for the age question, I have not heard your views about "free" expressed by many people my age; that attitude is (in my mind, at least) associated with a younger generation. And IQ is simply a measure of how well an individual responds on standardized tests, but at last check, it will be at least 15 more years before the double of my age exceeds the number in question. etu

dcolbert
dcolbert

Les... I think this is a difference of opinion on terminology. I understand the claim Palmie is making (and I wish he would continue with the debate if he disagrees with the counterpoint I made, because I think it is an interesting discussion). That WiFi Coffee shop is offering subsidized WiFi. The Coffee drinkers and scone eaters are paying for the WiFi, the cost is built into their Butternut Mochas. IF they stopped buying Grande Lattes, one of the first things that would disappear would be the free WiFi. The idea is that you may go in for the free WiFi, but if you're there for several hours, you'll probably get thirsty or hungry and buy yourself a Fudge Brownie and a cup of Hot Chocolate. But I also see your point - and that was the counter argument I made. For you, if you show up with a water bottle, some snacks in your backpack, and a laptop - it is FREE. And there are absolutely people like that - getting a free ride on the subsidized backs of tax payers, coffee drinkers, burger eaters, and whoever else IS paying for the service. I see both sides of this argument. To me, the Linux angle is the interesting one. Because if absolutely *loses* money in the sense of the time all the developers put into the OS, interface, artwork, apps, distribution, and everything else involved to make the various distros available. The few profitable Linux companies do not begin to compensate for the tremendous "Free" effort invested in making Linux available and as polished as it is community wide. It isn't subsidized, and although it isn't absolutely FREE (in the sense that you've got to have some sort of paid way of getting it, some sort of media it arrives on)... as a business model, it is absolutely a communal system that allows it to continue to exist. That could be a whole 'nother thread, though...

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

What do you mean by gives .. and .. doesn't ask for payment? - a phone company asks me to sign up for a 2 year plan and GIVES me a free phone? - my buddy who I have done many favours (there's a giveaway for you) for GIVES me a phone that they no longer use .. is that free, even though I have paid for it in advance? - another buddy GIVES me a phone, and says no matter, you'll pay me back in the future .. is that free? - i am walking down the street with my wifi enabled phone, and happen to pass a coffee shop offering 'free' wifi. I stop outside and pick up my email using their open wifi service. Did I get a connection for free? I may define 'free' to be applicable to any of these situations. Depends on the context of the discussion. In this discussion the word free appears to be highly ambiguous, so I don't see any point in attempting to discuss whether something is free. Yes, not only my age, but my IQ is also over 35 .. can you say the same? Les.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Lots of arguing from within supposition going on here, you are as observant as ever.

dcolbert
dcolbert

"Semantics So if somebody gives you a piece of equipment and doesn't ask for payment, it's free, too? Am I correct in supposing that you are under 35 years old?" Am I correct in supposing that you are older than 35, and that Heinlein is one of your favorite Science Fiction authors? (I mean, if we're going to be making sweeping characterizations based on superficial conversations on an Internet forum... this one seems very likely to be accurate, to me...)

dcolbert
dcolbert

Doesn't account for the fact that the guy who gets the subsidized free lunch and doesn't buy drinks, doesn't CARE that those who buy drinks are subsidizing him, it is *effectively* free, to him... and he is probably ALWAYS going to be the one "not buying drinks" - so it is unlikely that he'll be "carrying the burden" in some other situation. No, the REALITY of the situation is, he is getting the free lunch. Is Linux "free"? Who is paying for Linux? All the people paying the Windows Tax? I guess we can get granular, and say, "you've got to pay to get it somehow"... and "even people who are downloading it from a library are "paying" for it... in that their tax dollars pay for the access... But it isn't making money through this, and yet development goes on as if it were... so, how does THAT fit into an Econ 101 model? It doesn't... does it... not really. It is socialism, I suppose - maybe even communism. To be fair, I think trying to work this point into this conversation is a real unnecessary distraction and tangent, Palmetto.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Arguing from within his supposition as opposed to without.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

So if somebody gives you a piece of equipment and doesn't ask for payment, it's free, too? Am I correct in supposing that you are under 35 years old?

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

By your definition, as pointed out above NOTHING is free. By my definition of free - you're paying for it whether you use it or not. It costs you nothing to use it, therefore it's 'free'! Les. We could continue arguing definitions of words, but since we are using the same words to argue their definition, doesn't make for a solid foundation for any argument - done!

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

or, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch!" Econ 101 - nothing is 'free'. If a bar is offering you a 'free' lunch (or 'free' wifi), it means the cost is being covered in the price of the drinks. Those who buy the drinks without eating are paying for the lunch of those who eat (or use the wifi connection) without buying drinks.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

It may not cost you anything directly, but somehow, somewhere, somebody is paying for it. Municipal wifi? Your tax dollars at work. Starbucks? Atlanta Bread? Taco Bell? Panera? Maria's Mexican Restaurant? Pilot travel centers? Customers only. Free wifi in the complex? That's in your rent or association fees. Or perhaps from your neighbor.

SObaldrick
SObaldrick

In many parts of the US and I'm sure in other countries. Why do you suggest that it has to be stolen .. Ah, Tennessee .. don't know where that is, but would that explain why you don't have free Wifi? ;-) Les.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

So you don't pay ISP costs then? What ISP are you with or did you steal an unsecure?

dcolbert
dcolbert

My former phone had WiFi, and after I disabled the service, the WiFi still works. As a bonus, it is a WinMo phone with Skype on it, and that works fine over the WiFi, as well. Effectively, I've got a portable, WiFi, WinMo PC with Skype on it - which could actually *almost* serve as a replacement for a traditional cellular phone. I felt like this was a small victory over Verizon. I recently sat in my hot tub and had a conversation with a friend in Portugaul on this disabled Verizon phone - and it cost me "nothing". This is EXACTLY what Verizon is worried about, and if they would just behave ethically, I wouldn't be looking for these kind of alternatives in the first place.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Collusion between different competitors in an industry to limit consumer choices, often through price-fixing, is an illegal practice. Limiting features, tying devices to certain carriers, and otherwise crippling service, applications, and devices to make consumers trade off between alternate, distasteful "choices", I would argue, is the same as price-fixing, and therefore, illegal. It also removes the *consumer* "choice" from the picture, that other people are arguing "exists" in this thread. So, I absolutely agree. Verizon is not the only one, they're the biggest target, much like Microsoft was years back.

daayers
daayers

That is the real issue, there is no decent alternatives. All of the wireless companies are basically the same. There is no real competition that would force the companies to change their practices. So if you want to use these features and not hamstring your productivity as it seems a few in these threads have chosen to do you just have to choose your flavor of kool-aid and drink deep.

dcolbert
dcolbert

Verizon has treated me with so much disrespect over the years, that if another alternative comes along where I am treated better, I'd leave immediately. This really is largely about respect in that regard. Verizon has consistently treated me with contempt and disregard. When someone comes along with a better, less expensive, more reliable technology, I'm going to drop them. The land Telcos never thought it would happen to them, and look at what Wireless has done to their buisness model.