Straight Talk on Straight Talk
So my bill got a little behind and when I checked to see my due date with AT&T I noticed that I owed for two months. I wasn’t so late that I was "delinquent" or anything, just late enough to see in one number what I pay for 2 months of wireless service for my iPhone 4S. $220. $220 is a lot of money. I felt wronged. I felt taken. I know that I didn’t get a quarter of a grand’s worth of use out of my services during those 60 days. I thought to myself, "There must be a better way".
It wasn’t even the money as much… what really put me out was the fact that AT&T just cut the legs off my phone by disabling OTA Facetime. I always get the betas for iOS and when 6 first came out I was able to Facetime over the network and it was wonderful. You see, my daughter has an iPod touch and she calls me when she’s happy or sad over Facetime just to say hi. Not having to be on Wi-Fi and getting these calls and seeing her smiling face did feel a little magic. But, AT&T decided that the $100 plus a month I had been forking over to them since switching to them to get the first iPhone (unsubsidized might I add) wasn’t good enough for them. They needed more if my daughter was going to be able to call me. That made me angry.
First off, I don’t work for this service or anything like that but wanted to share my Straight talk experience. I recently saw the ads for the "bring your own device" program with Straight Talk. At first I paid it no mind. I had a friend that got all excited and tried Cricket when it first came out and after 2 days of getting half of his texts and spotty coverage he returned the phone and let the world know that prepaid is dumb.
$220 is a big enough number to make me think, though. Funny enough it’s actually the same number as my early term fee. I think realizing that is where I decided to make my move.
I did the research. Changing APN settings didn’t sound too harrowing. I actually welcomed the challenge to have to "work" on my phone. I kinda miss that sort of thing. It turned out to be even easier than I thought… It’s literally just a website you go to. Idiot-proof.
Let me say again, I’m not trying to sell this service or anything but I know how many Verge readers happily fork over around $100 for their mobile bill and then spend the rest of the time complaining about the carrier and when I turned to the Verge forums to see if anyone had used this service that seemed too good to be true I didn’t find anything so I figured I’d share.
I don’t have high expectations - - - I don’t expect good customer service – hell, I don’t expect any customer service. I expect that things may change some. I expect that at some point they may just push a button and I’ll have to go back to one of the big guys cause I’m all about saving money but only as long as I have my choice of smartphone.
My line of thinking was that the $65 a month savings would cover my $220 ETF in just a handful of months. If the service wasn’t great I’d just get a new contract (and a subsidized iPhone 5, to boot, since I’d be starting fresh).
Well, a few days ago I got my micro sim in the mail along with my first month of prepaid service. All together for the sim and the service it was about $60 plus tax. Even with buying the card it was about half the price of a normal cell bill!!
AT&T won’t prorate your bill so you have to wait until the end of the bill cycle to get the best bang for your buck so I patiently waited. I still finally made the switch a couple of days before the end of the cycle just to be sure there wasn’t some sort of "error" that caused me to get another $110 charge that I didn’t need.
The website isn’t fancy but it’s all you need. I got on there and punched in all the info to port my number over and before I even realized I was on the last step it gave me a notice letting me know it was now working on it and my phone should die soon at which point I’d need to do the sim swap.
It worked! After a few minutes the AT&T finally went away and is now replaced with "HOME" for the carrier. As soon as it sprung back to life I got a couple of emails, a tweet and a facebook notification… I was fully back in business. I ran a speedtest and was getting over 4 down. Not bad. All I need at this point…
Anyway, I feel like I cracked the code. I admit, it’s going to be hard to cough up the dough I’ll need to buy a full price phone when I finally decide to upgrade but it’s still cheaper. I’m kind of excited to maybe even buy some used Android and other platform phones as time goes on with my newly freed up resources.
Icing on the cake? And this blew my mind given that this is still all over the same AT&T network (still get the ‘4G’ indicator for whatever that’s worth)… Facetime works over their network. They are literally letting me get those calls from my daughter that were just showing up as missed calls on the more expensive AT&T plan. I did not expect that but I tell ya, it makes the whole thing worth it. Although, that extra $65 a month I now have to spend on other toys sure doesn’t hurt!! The picture below kinda says it all...