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08 July 2009 @ 08:52 am
Last October, I switched from Verizon to T-Mobile because [long, not particularly interesting backstory] and wound up with a one year contract. At the time, I suspected I would only be on T-Mobile for that year before switching to an iPhone, so I bought a refurbished phone that drove me crazy for about 6 months until I figured out how to change its predictive text dictionary from Italian to English. After that, the phone was fine until last week, when the battery appeared to have died.

Fortunately, I had a backup phone from spike, which I had tried to use as my actual phone last October, but there were a couple of things about it that made it significantly unsatisfactory for me for that (thus the refurbed phone). So, though there was no urgency about fixing the dead phone, there was motivation.

Yesterday, through a series of conversations and attempted solutions with Radio Shack (those people are so helpful), it became clear that the answer was going to be some combination of a $30 charger and/or a $30 battery to make the phone work.

I have 97 days left on my T-Mobile contract. Thanks to the sliding early termination fees instituted a couple of years ago by most carriers, if I wait a week, I can pay only ("only") $50 to end my contract early and switch to an iPhone three months ahead of my original plan. Though this makes sense from the money-I-spend perspective (only a difference of $20 to switch to an exciting new phone 3 months ahead of plan), there's still part of me that hates to pay $50 to T-Mobile for nothing.

Thus, a poll:

Rosa should ...

hang in the 3 months with the workable if imperfect phone.
buy the new battery or charger and finish out the 3 months on the preferred phone.
pay T-Mobile the damn $50 and enjoy her new iPhone.
other (specify below)

Whenever Rosa gets her iPhone, she should get

a refurbed 3G (8GB or 16GB)
a new 3G (8GB)
a new 3Gs (16GB)
a new 3Gs (32GB)
other (specify below)
I'm feeling: cheerfulcheerful
(Deleted comment)
ruthless compassion: phoenixaroraborealis on July 8th, 2009 01:59 pm (UTC)
This is the best comment of the year. Thank you.
veek on July 8th, 2009 01:32 pm (UTC)
Oops, I didn't see the S in the 16G 3Gs. I vote for that one instead.

But the real reason for the comment: unless things have changed, Apple/AT&T will give you a hard time about buying more than one refurb. They don't want people to scalp? It's confusing and wrong but whatever, I've heard it happens a d thought I'd pass it on.
ruthless compassion: martini handsaroraborealis on July 8th, 2009 01:59 pm (UTC)
I'm confused about why I would want to buy more than one refurb, anyway?
veek on July 8th, 2009 02:00 pm (UTC)
If you buy your first one as a refurb, and something happens to it such that it needs replacing, and you wish to replace it with a refurb.
ruthless compassion: martini handsaroraborealis on July 8th, 2009 02:05 pm (UTC)
Ahhhhh. Got it. Thanks!
Ashrising_moon on July 8th, 2009 01:37 pm (UTC)
I'm curious, why does prevailing wisdom suggest buying the 3Gs 16GB rather than the 32GB? Or the 8GB?

(I'd definitely skip to the iPhone, regardless.)
funner'n a sack a weaselsmoominmolly on July 8th, 2009 01:41 pm (UTC)
It's what I'd buy because I want the New Shiny but am broke enough to not shell out for the 32GB. If money were no object I'd get the Big Fancy New Shiny.
Ashrising_moon on July 8th, 2009 01:48 pm (UTC)
Ah, agreed. Shiny!
Ellenkeyne on July 8th, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC)
I'd just like to say that I've had my iPhone less than a week and it already has 14Gb on it. I'm glad we shelled out the extra hundred bucks :)
pir on July 8th, 2009 01:38 pm (UTC)
Borrow a phone with working battery/charger from someone for the last few months? Must be people in our Boston circles with a spare unlocked GSM phone kicking around. I'd lend you one but... kinda far away.
pir on July 8th, 2009 01:39 pm (UTC)
(though I have to say, I'd be getting new shiny.... although not an iPhone, they're too locked down for me)
ruthless compassion: martini handsaroraborealis on July 8th, 2009 02:00 pm (UTC)
Well, I already have that -- it's option #1.
Co-conspirator of Squeemuffyjo on July 8th, 2009 01:57 pm (UTC)
If you get a refurbished one, be careful of counterfeit phones on ebay.
ruthless compassion: martini handsaroraborealis on July 8th, 2009 02:01 pm (UTC)
You can get officially refurbed iPhones from both Apple and AT&T.

(But thanks for the heads-up!)
maebethmaebeth on July 8th, 2009 02:01 pm (UTC)
The reason I don't like the charger/battery option is after 3 months you'll have another useless piece of equipment to store, barter, or give away. I hate the accumulation of needless stuff MORE than I hate spending a little extra-stupid money.

I don't know which phone to buy, we got new 3G (8GB) when we made the switch and I am extremely happy with it.
Doug Orleansdougo on July 8th, 2009 02:19 pm (UTC)
Have you thought about getting a T-Mobile G1?
ruthless compassion: martini handsaroraborealis on July 8th, 2009 02:32 pm (UTC)
I have! But between my inherent leaning toward Apple products, the appeal of the whole app store, and the intense peer pressure of all of my closest people having iPhones ... I'm powerless to resist the iLure.
Kcatkcatalyst on July 8th, 2009 02:27 pm (UTC)
I'd put up with the workable imperfect phone, but I can't actually click that *you* should, since I basically never use my phone, I have no concept of how wearing or tolerable an imperfect phone is on a day-to-day basis. I'm also inclined toward the refurb, because apparently I'm just a stick-in-the-mud.
D. Fennelfennel on July 8th, 2009 03:16 pm (UTC)
I don't know that it's what you *should* do, but if you can get your hands on a 3G without signing an AT&T contract, I believe it's possible to unlock it for use on T-Mobile-- I did it in 2007 and then again a month ago on my 2G, and in the space of (almost) two years, it went from a minor nightmare to a pretty easy process. Not worth it just to avoid a one-time $50 charge, but if you're attached to T-Mobile or want to keep a cheaper plan, it's an option.

*goes and reads about the 3Gs*

Oh my god, video and a compass? You should get one of those.
... in a handbasketinahandbasket on July 8th, 2009 04:55 pm (UTC)
used 2g iphone on TMobile FOR THE WIN!
Meg and I are both doing this right now, haven't had a single problem so far. (2 days into said project... heh.)

If you don't mind the 2-year contract with AT&T and their horrendous customer service, by all means get a 3Gs. They're great phones.
For my money though, I'm sticking with TMobile for the time being.
phitotient on July 8th, 2009 05:39 pm (UTC)
Does Visual Voicemail work for you?
... in a handbasketinahandbasket on July 8th, 2009 06:02 pm (UTC)
sadly no, there are a few hacks to do interesting voicemail stuff though which I'm planning to mess around with when I have a moment.
You can do some cool stuff funneling VM through a google-voice account, but they're still in the invite-only stage of beta.
uberjay on July 10th, 2009 01:27 am (UTC)
Visual voicemail is only supported with AT&T. T-Mobile is introducing VVM with the (fucking stupidly named) myTouch 3g. It may or may not be compatible with the implementation used by the iPhone. Speculation is that it may be!
Stephghislaine on July 8th, 2009 04:48 pm (UTC)
Fwiw, I got a return and it was in perfect condition ... Have had no problems at all.
Stephghislaine on July 8th, 2009 04:51 pm (UTC)
Er... Damned autocomplete! Return = refurb
Haptotropehaptotrope on July 8th, 2009 06:43 pm (UTC)
I say nothing other than you need the Game "Zen Bound"

And you can get cheap batteries and chargers on ebay.
evolution, and some other stuffjacflash on July 8th, 2009 09:41 pm (UTC)
I love my 3GS. I got a 32 because I don't have an iPod (other than a Shuffle, which doesn't count). If you already have and like an iPod and plan to continue using it, a 16 should be entirely adequate, and while I find the 3GS to be awesome, you'd need to decide if it's worth $50 extra over a 16GB 3G.
Scheherazade is my patron saint.a_kosmos on July 8th, 2009 11:25 pm (UTC)
Take the plunge! My iPhone is awaiting shipping a (16GB 3Gs). Shiny toys are fun.
Paulo: Glassesearthling177 on July 9th, 2009 06:46 am (UTC)
I don't have an iPhone yet, but might soon.

As for my answers, it's not so much they are what I think you should do, you decide, but y'know, I'm an enabler -- you deserve the best iPhone! Go for it! ;-)

As for the $50, I don't see it as useless, although I understand the sentiment. I see it as telling T-Mobile loud and clear "here, I am fed up with the situation enough that I'll give you the stupid fifty bucks and leave!" which is significant, given that, like you said, some people (not me!) would stay for the rest of the 90 days.

People love to fling around words to the effect that this or that company have worthless customer service, but it seems to me that all mobile phone companies are about the same now.

And given that anecdotal evidence is next to worthless, here's my tale. A few years ago I was pretty happy with Sprint (everyone used to hate them back then), but I needed a phone that would work while I was in Brazil, and Sprint had no agreements with any of the Brazilian companies to roam over there. And, to top it off, I started dealing with the problem just a month or so before going there to visit my family. Cingular didn't even want to talk to me, they'd let me roam internationally, they told me, only after 6 months with them. Bummer. T-Mobile said they'd let me roam internationally after 3 months with them. Sorry, I can't deal with that. AT&T took me with open arms, gave me a plan that would charge me less to roam internationally and, to top it off, told me where to go to unlock the phone so I could, if I wanted to, get a pay-as-you-go SIM in Brazil. I didn't even care that they cost 10 bucks per month more than Sprint, 'cuz y'know, they took care of me. Then Cingular took over AT&T a year or so later, raised the price and nearly had a conniption fit because I was new (less that a year into a 2 year contract) and they couldn't raise my rates unless I signed a new contract -- they tried a bunch of things to seduce me into a new one, and I didn't 'cuz I wanted the low international rates and international roaming rates; now it's AT&T again, and, while things didn't improve dramatically, the reception near my home improved, they lowered my international rates again, and told me I can have a new phone at the subsidized price every couple of years, so that's why I'm waiting to get the newest toy (I currently have a Nokia that doesn't really thrill me).