A little over five months ago, I packed up my family and moved from South Korea to the United States. One of our first priorities was to get cell phones. To get us started, we went and bought the cheapest, shittiest phones we could find at Walmart, with a $45/month Straight Talk plan, thinking we would upgrade at a later date.
When we finally decided to take the plunge and get ourselves some real phones and a more permanent plan, we stopped at the first cell phone place we found, which happened to be a Verizon shop. All of these cell phone service providers are a bunch of dickless thieves, right? Are any of them really better than any of the others?
Good fortune shined upon us that day, as Verizon was offering a Buy One Get One promotion on the Samsung Galaxy S7. We signed up for the cheapest data plan they had available. I don't require a whole lot from my phone. I mainly use it to check my book sales and keep updated with my Facebook page. And I spend easily 95% of my time where I've got WiFi anyway, so data usage shouldn't be an issue. (Pokémon Go hadn't been released yet.)
We walked out of the phone shop having paid full price for both phones, with the assurance that a rebate for one of them would be delivered in the mail in a few weeks. If that seems like a sketchy way to run a Buy One Get One promotion, it is.
After about a week, we received a text message warning us that we'd used up 90% of our data for the month. What the actual fuck?
Sure, my wife and I were only paying for 3 gigs of data a piece, but I have no idea how we managed to tear through it all in one goddamn week. We both immediately turned our data usage off, and of course that made no difference at all because, as I said before, we nearly always have access to WiFi.
Our lives continued pretty normally for the next couple of months, until I got to wondering what the hell was taking so long for that rebate card to show up in the mail. I drove over to the Verizon shop where I'd bought my phone and asked about it. The representative who'd sold me the phone, and the shitty data plan, recognized me. The look on his face when I asked him about my rebate, well...
But he explained to me that I was supposed to have registered my phone on the Verizon website, fill out a bunch of online forms with information Verizon was already privy to, and enter a promo code, which he was kind enough to jot down for me. He sent me on my way knowing full well that I was never going to see any kind of rebate.
So I went home and logged in. The first step of the process was to enter the date of purchase and the promo code. That was also my final step, as the website claimed not to recognize that combination.
After a bit of digging, I discovered that there's a thirty day limit on claiming your rebate.
I guess I'm partially to blame. All of those details were probably buried under a mountain of fine print that I should have looked over more thoroughly. But this "Buy One Get One" offer seems a trifle more complicated than is necessary. I've certainly never had to jump through all of these hoops when taking advantage on a similar offer for cinnamon rolls at the supermarket.
Could it be that Verizon intentionally made this so complicated because they're counting on a majority of people being too stupid or lazy to follow through with it, legally allowing them to fuck over their customers?
Well played, Verizon. You sure got me good. I hope you spent that $672 on something nice.
But I got to thinking, while that was a sweet little cash grab, how's it going to work for you in the long-term. Being lazy, I might have hung around for a while with your shitty data plan, rather than go to all the effort of researching other carriers. But stealing close to $700 was just the fire under my ass I needed to drive over to the nearest T-Mobile shop and see what they could offer me.
I'm no math wizard, but I've done a quick calculation here, subtracting the $90 I won't be paying you this month from the $672 you failed to rebate me, and it looks like you're not coming out quite as far ahead as you perhaps thought you were.
Well shucks. Sorry about that. But $582 is still a pretty good haul.
Who knows? Maybe it'll stop there. I'll let you know next month.
If you're looking for a more straightforward bargain than what Verizon offers, I'm currently running a promotion on my hilarious collections of fantasy novels and short stories. (7/18 - 7/24) You can buy the four-novel Caverns & Creatures set, or any of the d6 collections of short stories or only $0.99 each. No rebates. No forms to fill out. No promo codes. No bullshit. Just click the link and go.
Liking my Facebook page isn't required to enjoy this promotion, but you might find you enjoy it. And it's a nice way to tell Verizon to go fuck itself. :)