For the last couple of months, I’d been thinking about switching my cellphone service from Virgin Mobile prepaid to Verizon Wireless prepaid for several reasons (which I’m going to write about in a future post). I had thought I would do it after Christmas, thinking there might be some extra deals on phones then, but I had to move up the date when last week my Samsung Galaxy S3 phone completely died on me. It would power on but would get stuck at the Samsung logo and I couldn’t access any of the data on it by connecting it to my computer. Although I had insurance for it, I couldn’t use it with Verizon’s plan, so there was no point getting it fixed.
Fortunately, since I had already been researching it, I knew which plan (Allset) and phone (Motorola Luge) I wanted and could have the latter sent to me overnight for free. So I signed up online and provided my Virgin Mobile info so that my phone would be shipped to me already set up to use the same phone number. And I figured since both phones are Androids, it would be pretty painless to set up the new phone.
Of course, anything related to technology is unlikely to involve the word “painless,” and I did run into a few glitches along the way. And to be honest, I STILL don’t have the new phone working properly and it’s been four days since I got the phone. So I thought I would share the various issues I’ve experienced so you can avoid the same problems the next time you switch phones. Not that these things may or may not apply to iOS, Windows, or other phones.
(By the way, if you’re wondering why I’m not freaking out about this, it’s because I don’t actually use my phone all that much. And I do still have a landline phone so I can use that when necessary.)
Lesson 1: Don’t sign into Google until you’ve connected to Wi-Fi.
The setup started out really well. I plugged in and turned on the phone and it just took a few minutes to give me a notification that it was ready to go. I don’t remember exactly how it went but at one point it asked me if I wanted to sign into Google. This didn’t surprise me because Android is Google’s operating system, but I didn’t think much about what it meant.
But as soon as I signed in, I started getting notifications that all the apps I had installed on my old phone were automatically being added to my new one. My initial reaction was “Yay!” because I had been expecting that installing them all would be the one headache in making the switch, like reinstalling software on a new computer.
However, that happy feeling didn’t last long when I then got a notification that I had used up all my data allowance (500MB) for the month! This really took me aback because a) my Virgin Mobile plan included unlimited data and b) even with that, I think the most I had ever used was maybe 100MB. That’s because I mostly used my phone at home where data was downloaded via Wi-Fi, not the phone service.
With my new phone, I had been prompted to log in to Google as part of the initial setup so I hadn’t set up my Wi-Fi connection yet. So all those app downloads ate up my allowance in about two minutes.
I immediately went to the Verizon Wireless support page and started a chat session with someone and explained the situation. They weren’t able to re-credit my account with the used allowance but they gave me a phone number I could call and the rep there did it for me. So kudos to Verizon for that save!
Lesson 2: Don’t assume making a phone call successfully means it’s ready.
I really don’t understand how cellular service works. I don’t get why you can’t just buy a phone and use any provider with it and move your phone number without a problem. But that’s the way it is.
So when I had made the call to Verizon to deal with the used data issue and then received a text message back about it, I thought my number had been transferred over and everything was good to go. I spent some time setting up some more apps and then put the phone down since I didn’t really need to use it right then.
The next day I suddenly thought I should probably call the phone from my landline to see how it responds to calls. Except it didn’t. Respond to my call, that is. It went straight to voice mail and didn’t even register the call in my phone’s call history. Hmmm…
I couldn’t find a voice mail app on the phone to check its settings (which is weird, right?). So I did some Googling and found a code to stop forwarding calls, which I tried. I didn’t really expect it to work, since I had never set up forwarding to begin with, and I was right. Calls still went to voice mail. I did find a LOT of people complaining about this online but unfortunately no clear answer as to how to fix it. So I went to Verizon Support to set up a chat session again, but unfortunately they don’t do chats on weekends. (Whaaaa?) So I called them and talked to a rep. Very shortly after I told him what was happening, he told me he had fixed it.
At that point I realized to test it out I would have to hang up the phone. I said that to the rep and he said he would call me right back at my landline number. So I hung up and waited. And waited… No call from the rep. Then I tried calling my cell again and it still went straight to voice mail. Anti-kudos to Verizon for that!
I then sent this tweet to Verizon Support.
.@VerizonWireless New phone. Calls go straight to voice mail. Phone rep said he fixed it. Didn't. Said he'd call me back. Hasn't.
— Elizabeth Kricfalusi (@EKricfalusi) December 20, 2014
They quickly tweeted back to me to ask for more info, but at about the same time I came to…
Lesson 3: Check your landline voice mail.
When I signed up at Verizon, they asked me for a backup phone number. I gave them my landline number, which I almost never answer because it’s virtually always a telemarketer. Fortunately, since I had that phone right near me, I decided to check my voice mail and, sure enough, Verizon had called to let me know they didn’t have the right account number for Virgin Mobile and I needed to provide it to complete the phone number transfer.
I have no idea how I could make phone calls from that phone if the number hadn’t transferred, or get text messages or voice mails, but I figured that was the problem behind the other things not working. So I went to the URL provided to enter my Virgin Mobile account number.
Which brings me to…
Lesson 4: Virgin Mobile hides your account number from you.
When I was filling out the Verizon form to begin with, and it asked me for my Virgin Mobile account number, I went to my VM account page to get it. There was nothing listed. I looked through emails from them and they referred to my phone number as my account. So that’s what I entered in the form.
Unfortunately, that was not the account number at all, as Verizon informed me. So I had to call Virgin Mobile and ask them what my account number was. Seriously.
I was worried they were going to try to convince me to stay with their service but they didn’t. They did ask me the reason I needed the account number and when I told him, he just said that was fine and he needed it for his records.
So I went back to the Verizon form and submitted the new info. I got a confirmation notice that it was the right number and that the transfer should be completed in x hours. (I’m saying “x” because I really don’t remember what the message said… Maybe 24 hours?)
I alerted the Verizon Support team on Twitter that I may have solved the problem myself and would get back to them if I still needed their help.
Where we are now…
So I’ve been checking my phone for the last couple of days to see if the switch had taken place but no such luck. Verizon’s website has had a notice posted that VM has released the phone number and I should get a text confirmation within 4 hours welcoming me to Verizon. By this point, it’s had that message for well over 24 hours. *sigh*
So I’ve gone back to tweeting Verizon Support. I asked for an email address to send all the details, but apparently they don’t have one. Seriously.
Anyway, so that’s where I am now. I’ll update the post when I have a fully functioning phone but, in the meantime, I hope some people find the above lessons helpful when it’s their turn to make the switch.
One more random tip.
Despite all of the above, the thing that has caused me the most frustration throughout this entire process was trying to get the stupid plastic screen protector off my phone! I tried picking at each edge of it and I could NOT get under it to pull it off. Fortunately, a quick Google search found a tip that worked perfectly: Stick a piece of scotch tape to the protector and pull. Success! 🙂
Update 1: Reply from Verizon Wireless Support
Just got a tweet back that they don’t provide support for prepaid accounts and they told me to call the same number where the rep told me he fixed the problem days ago but didn’t. So now I’m right back where I started… Ugh.
Update 2: Huzzah!
After a bit of a call transfer-palooza, I finally got connected to two people who could actually help me. I had to reset my voice mail and turn my phone off and on again, but phone service is now mine again!!! 🙂