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Buying Nexus S, Changing Carriers Serious Pain in the Ass

I knew this wasn’t going to be easy, but come on. Determined to get a Nexus S (T-Mobile) even though I already had a perfect phone (Nexus One, though on AT&T) and a highly-coveted 212 area code number I wasn’t about to give up, and a wife already on T-Mobile with whom, sort of as to give ourselves a preview of what it would be like to expand our own family some day, I wanted to sign up for a T-Mo family plan and the new Nexus. I’ve been saying here for a long time about how badly AT&T sucks and definitely moving to T-Mobile, and I’m tired of exposing myself to being called out on not having left AT&T, so I’m in the middle of ripping that band aid off now. Because at some point I knew I’d have to bring my wife into this, something she wouldn’t enjoy, I wanted to do everything I could to eliminate any surprises for her to minimize ballbreaking. Here’s how it went down.

Started with asking how to pull this off on sites like Phandroid, our own site, our super secret internal staff mailing list, I then shifted gears to calling Best Buys which is tricky because in my city if you call one Best Buy and navigate your way through the menu to get a sales rep, if you’re lucky not to get hung up on by accident when they picked up finally, you get connected to a random store which makes it hard to call each one, one by one, to double check that they did in fact sell the thing out and to hear one more person claim even if we did the “Insta-Ship” thing where you go in and get them to mail you they would have no problem accommodating my complex situation including porting the number and creating a family plan, though I’d have to drag my wife in. Insta-ship, what the hell is that.

Fine, but before I did that to her I figured I’d better call T-Mobile and ask them to confirm Best Buy’s story. Real nice lady who said she thought that that would be above their heads, getting it right, but not to worry, just get the device and call them back with or wife (or just pretend to be your wife and raise your pitch a little) to straighten everything out. I told her there was another complication, that I was on a family plan with my folks on AT&T, and she said that shouldn’t be a problem but try to get the account number. I thanked her and told her, letting loose a bit as her inflection and verbal affect had put me at ease, that AT&T sucked so, so so bad and that I can’t wait to climb aboard T-Mobile. She shared my view of AT&T and wished me a merry Christmas – not a happy holiday like politically correct AT&T would after asking “Have I successfully solved all of your problems today Mr. Simmons and would you be willing to take some stupid survey and give me fives across the board?” That went a long way in my book. That’s edgy. The need to phase out merry Christmas is imaginary. I know at least one Jew who’d agree with that statement, were I still on good enough terms to ask him.

Conducting further diligence I dropped by a T-Mobile dealership to hear a salesmen tell me that in person. Nice looking store and more importantly there was a fairly decent looking saleslady, relatively speaking, better looking than any AT&T girl I’ve laid eyes on, and that reminded me of that chick in their commercials which made me sort of think that T-Mobile is for good looking people like me. The man I spoke with, nice guy, basically said what the woman on the phone told me but then he cross examined me a bit, though gently, on getting this Nexus S at Best Buy, which “is not even 4G,” when I could get their MyTouch 4G right there and right now. I was sympathetic to his need to make a sale so I did my best to shut the conversation down swiftly and painlessly, let him down easy that he’s got no hope with this customer, that I’m a “Google developer” and need the Google phone while flashing him my Nexus One. I didn’t want to say that I needed it so I could blog about it on MobilityDigest, didn’t want to get him too excited and star stricken by our celebrity.

So by then I felt confident enough that was time to bring the wife into this after she got out of work yesterday which she did around six thirty, more than enough time to make it to our eight o’clock appointment to finally retrieve all our wedding photos from a pro who apparently prioritizes her boudoir work over garden variety wedding post-production which she’d taken three months to do. My wife’s still got the Blackberry Pearl I gave her way back with the BB Connect plan but no data, one of those types who thinks what she’s got is all that she needs, doesn’t want to complicate things, doesn’t want to waste money (whether it’s hers or mine) — you know the type. But I’ve been pressuring her for a long time to go Google so even though she hadn’t agreed to it I thought I’d have a shot of pushing her over the edge once we’re in front of a nice Best Buy Mobile rep.

We got to the Best Buy on 5th Avenue and 44th. Packed so tightly you couldn’t believe we’re in a recession. I asked where the Nexus was, got pointed toward a cramped corner where they did their cellphone middlemanning. No Nexus S, not even a display model. Took over ten minutes for us to get the attention of a saleslady just long enough to find out they’d ship it to us instantly which was further characterized to us as three to five business days. Okay, let’s just get the paperwork and whatever else over with, so we waited about twenty minutes, a period during which we profiled which salesperson appeared to be the most competent in order to hope we got her. As we waited another couple came in asking for the phone and they were tersely turned away, not even told about the insta-shipment, which struck us as cold because he probably would have settled for it and he had his lady with him too, might lose his chance to pressure her to get one too.

We finally are invited to take a seat with the lady we had identified as the competent one based partially on her glasses and that she was carrying the most keys on her. Nope, she got up and said that the cold angry lady will be helping us. I give her the backstory, explained where the finish line was for us, she did her thing on her computer, said everything looks good and doable, I said Okay but if you port the number now I won’t have a working phone between now and three to five business days from now. She said she could do some sort of delay porting. Nope, T-Mobile doesn’t do that she discovered. She gives up and hands us off to the guy we’d profiled as the least competent.

She didn’t fill him in so we were back where we started. He lays down the various plans we could get, we pick one, then he sees he can’t plug it into the system for some reason, told us to pick another, we said just give us whatever has unlimited data, the least voice and the least text. He asks my wife if he could borrow her phone so that he could call 611 (he didn’t know T-Mobile’s number) and basically do what we would have done if we hadn’t gone to Best Buy.

I don’t want to turn your reading this article into reliving what I went through yesterday so to wrap up we dealt with him for another half hour with several more logistical obstacles in the way (including two or three surprise activation fees), final accomplishment after two hours in the store was that two phones would go in the mail, her contract renewed for another year, and we’d get an email with tracking numbers, then we need to call T-Mobile to activate the line, port my number and create a family plan. Kind of like what would have happened if we had just ordered it on the website, except we would have missed out on a ninety minute Best Buy adventure and wouldn’t have been late to this appointment with the photographer.

The bright side: Just as I was about to give up on pressuring my wife to get one (or let me buy her one) too, her parents emailed her that they’d cover the cost of the two phones for our Christmas present. So my wife’s getting the phone too. Unfortunately, as per our nuptial agreement I quit smoking so using Google Latitude to track when she’s coming home so I know when to stop smoking and freshen the place up is off the list of my incentives, but hey, we’ve got matching Movado watches, might as well have matching Google phones.

On our way to the photographer I google newsed nexus s sold out and discovered that they’d sold out at many Best Buys on the first day but on Twitter I found several claims that the stores were grossly understocked with them (though our salsemen claimed their store sold thousands and that the phone was an obvious success). I guess Google’s strategy in doing this through Best Buy rather than T-Mobile stores is that T-Mobile is the smallest of the big four carriers, though a lot of people go to Best Buy, so once they ask about the Nexus S that the phone would only work on T-Mobile would not be an issue to a large number of those people, a number which would greatly outnumber those buying it in T-Mobile dealerships, and maybe the exclusivity was either Best Buy’s or T-Mobile’s idea.

Or they were paranoid about the thing not selling, or Best Buy was, and Google already was aware how things work out if they try to sell their phones themselves. Probably it was along the lines of whatever reason Windows Phones were understocked. Whatever, I’m getting the damn phone and finally making good on my declarations here to abandon AT&T. What I can offer you is that the two couples next to us were there for Nexus Ss, I didn’t know what phones other customers were trying to get, so that’s 100% Nexus S concentration for you.

Oh great. Damnit. Damnit I was almost done writing this, now I gotta keep going: She’s not getting email, hasn’t been since the Best Buy episode last night. Called 611, got a nice lady on the line fast, turns out as expected Best Buy modified her grandfathered Blackberry Connect plan for the Nexus data even though we made it so clear to Best Buy in case they lacked such a sense of perception that we didn’t want our phones to stop working until we received the new phones. The T-Mobile lady struggled with her computer to try to revert the changes but because of the old plan which they no longer offer she couldn’t click it through without charging us. I explained to her that I really want to fall in love with T-Mobile, and I know it was the Best Buy people, not you, who screwed this up, and I understand grandfathered situations and appreciate what’s taking place on your end, but if you don’t fix this I am going to be in the doghouse for a long time.

And she fixed it! Email’s coming in, no money spent. It involved the T-Mobile lady writing herself a reminder to do another thing to the account tomorrow for some reason, I noted that what she just did sounded “like some above and beyond” shit, she responded that “Actually it’s not; this is how we roll at T-Mobile (loose quotation).” Calamity narrowly averted. First email she receives? The order for her phone didn’t go through. Thanks Best Buy.

Yes, don’t worry, I’ll give you an update on how the rest of the process goes later next week hopefully, though before I port the number and finally dump AT&T I will be sure to go around the city taking pictures of both phones doing side-by-side speed tests. I’m really looking forward to that. Might need to video it so I don’t get accused of photoshopping T-Mobile kicking AT&T’s ass so hard. Hell, it’s not mathematically possible for T-Mobile to do worse.

Doug Simmons

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