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Verizon Has the Same Problems, But No One is Vocal Yet

Hey all you AT&T users. This is just a quick reminder that switching to Verizon won’t necessarily save you from smartphone hell. If you think your current GSM provider is bad, think again.

Currently I’m a Verizon customer; an owner of a Motorola Droid. While die-hard Apple fanatics might find it hard to believe that an editorial writer such as myself doesn’t have an iPhone, I’m not alone; I believe one or two editors of Mac|Life Magazine are entangled in Verizon’s web as well. As for me, I fell into the AT&T trap: I was too afraid to get an iPhone on a carrier that might have spotty coverage. But in all honesty, I can’t see how Verizon has fared much better against my old provider, Sprint.

When my father got his Verizon phone (at the same time I got mine), Verizon didn’t waive his activation fee. Not even a month in, Verizon had already effed something up in the transaction. Needless to say, it was a big pain in the ass to get it fixed.

As far as coverage goes, there is coverage. And right now I’m happily tethered to my Droid (against Verizon’s wishes) as I write this post. While I pray I don’t exceed the magical cap of 5GB during this AT&T service outage; in which AT&T’s customer service has been fantastic through Twitter; Verizon is supposed to charge you an additional $30 to use tethering. And that’s what rooting on Android is for (somewhat equivalent to Jailbreaking on the iPhone).

So already I have to hack my way around Verizon’s policies just so I can get internet access in times of emergency or travel. And with Verizon you can’t get Internet access as you’re talking to someone on the phone. I wanted to browse the Android Marketplace while I was talking to a friend, and it wouldn’t let me. If I ever needed to pull up map data (as I often do), I have to hang up and call back.

With just a few of these personal, touchy issues in mind, there’s been a couple other great minds in-line with my type of thinking. Marco Arment, a developer for Tumbler and Instapaper, had this to say about Verizon:

“It’s not that great. […] Verizon’s customer service and sales staff seems like they have never used, sold, or heard of data service on anything. The salespeople too afraid to say “I don’t know” will give you false information, and the customer service people will bounce you around in transfers because they have no idea what to do with data-service issues.

Every change to your plan or billing info is likely to be screwed up at least once.”

And those right there are the most damning words for any carrier. If you thought AT&T was incompetent at any point in time, will Verizon be much better?

Verizon is a company that’s not only ignorant of customer service, but of their partners as well. As Matt Drance from the Apple Outsider points out,

“Did you know Verizon invented the Blackberry Storm? Have you noticed it’s always listed before Google and [insert OEM here] in Droid ads? Like most carriers and telcos, Verizon believes it brings, well, everything to the table, and subsequently demands all the credit. Apple, meanwhile, is the only Intel partner on the planet that does not have an Intel Inside logo anywhere on or near its products. If any talks between these two have taken place, you don’t need a vivid imagination to guess how they’ve gone.”

This is something that many have discussed time and time again. Verizon wants control over each and every cell phone they sell. Because you’re not just buying an iPhone, you’re buying a Verizon phone. Apple will have a hard time being second in branding if that agreement ever came to be.

Here’s the deal. All carriers have their problems. But we haven’t been vocal about Verizon’s service because no one has really stood up to talk about the bad things. I’m certain that if Verizon does take on an influx of iPhone users who make use of that wonderful data plan, it’s not going to be pretty.

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