Verizon Wireless bandwidth, call minutes limits: there has to be a better way

I have been on a work vacation in Florida this week and have used my iPhone hotspot for Internet access. Since that costs $20 a month and it was $30 for a week of the timeshare’s WiFi, I opted for the hotspot. Big mistake.

Verizon Wireless (VW) limits you to a scant two gigabytes a month for the hotspot. It’s grossly inadequate for anyone who needs a reasonable amount of bandwidth for work. VW limitations are punitive and consumer unfriendly. You’re always worried about using too much bandwidth just going too fast on the highway.

Here’s how it went. I got a text from VW three days into the Florida stay saying I have used “at least half” my meager allowance. So I called VW and asked what happens if I went over the allowance.

The VZ customer support said it would be another $20 for one GB. I asked if she could toss a little free bandwidth my way as I knew I would shutting down the hotspot at week’s end. I wanted the two GB to last the week and then I would shut it off.

She said she “wished she could,” but could not. Right.

Exceeding the limit felt like VW giving me a speeding ticket. These limits do not deal with reality of video and what most of us do on the Internet. She said the hotspot should only be used in a pinch…that it was there when there were no alternatives. Oh really? That was the first I has heard that VW hotspot is a last resort. Well, now I know it truly is.

Anyhow, I tried to cut back, but went over my limit today, five days into the trip. Yes, I was pinched by the bandwidth police 12 hours shy of shutting down the hotspot, which is also colossally slow – 313 kilobits per second download speed, according to CNET’s online speed test of my MacBook. And it has a tendency to time out and drop connections.

It’s same with calling minutes. I have 700 minutes and occasionally go up to 800-9oo. But the next level is 1,400 for another $20 a month. Or I can keep the 700 minute level and just pay for penalty minutes when I go over…like $30-$40 for a couple of hundred extra minutes. There’s the VW flashing blue light in the rear view mirror again.

Sometimes, I call and ask for the charges to be removed. I thought I had lost the battle with the last woman I spoke with, but she relented when she agreed that 1,400 minutes meant paying for a lot of wasted minutes given the usage of the four phones on my plan. I kept saying I’d go with the 800-minute plan and she kept repeating there was no 800-minute plan.

VW’s plans are hopelessly complex. Who has the time or wherewithal to regularly monitor usage? No one. By the way, my monthly VW bill averages $180-$190 although the next one should be around $230 from hotspot hell.

I think VW wants you to constantly log into  your VW account to check minutes and bandwidth used. That way, you are thinking about VW – negatively, I might add.

I’ve told my family members no more new discounted phones so I can get out from under the two-year contract. Whichever carrier figures how to provide consumer- friendly plans with the latest phones is going to be a big winner.

Clearly, this is something that has yet to dawn on VW.

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