Activate This

Our wireless carrier – Alltel – was bought out by AT&T some months ago and we have been waiting – patiently or not – for the conversion to the new system. This was not a change that we asked for, nor is it one that we had much of a choice to reject. Alltel will be history in Montana, so change was the order of the day. The same thing happened a little over a year ago when Alltel bought out the Qwest franchise and we went through the transfer between companies. NBD. Been there, done that. None the worse for wear. Should be a cakewalk…

Since late last year we have received URGENT!!! messages alerting us to the forthcoming change. Oh, Joy!!!! In January we were commanded to choose NEW PHONES – because our present models would not work on the NEW NETWORK. Wahoo – new phones!!! Early in February, AT&T billed us for our new phones and finally some three weeks later sent us the promised SMART PHONES. Cool new phones – yay!!! Which don’t work yet, because the network conversion won’t happen for another month or so. So I have a really fancy inactive iPhone sitting in a cute little box, nestled between the stacks of crap on my desk gathering dust bunnies. Bummer.

Today in the mail we received another URGENT! message telling us about the billing policy of our NEW CARRIER. Lo, and behold! In addition to the monthly plan and data service charges, the taxes, fees, and not to mention, miscellaneous assessments for which we will be billed IN ADVANCE!!!, we will also be expected to pay – wait for it – an ACTIVATION FEE for each line.

I’ve looked over all those URGENT messages and the receipt from my order showing the plan I signed up for and the associated charges and nowhere on any of the information I’ve received before today is there any mention about any ACTIVATION FEES. And pretty healthy ACTIVATION FEES they are, too. I have been assured by a perky little service rep that, indeed, I had been advised of such charges. Sometime. Right. I must have missed the FINE PRINT in that URGENT MESSAGE! My bad.

Now I suppose – since we are talking about an unregulated utility there isn’t much of anything I can do except pay the ACTIVATION FEES. But it seems to me strange that – in a competitive marketplace – a provider would start a new relationship with a customer by MUGGING them.

Who says MaBell is dead?

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