So many companies these days have misnomers for names. Clear Rate Communications comes to mind. I thought I would do something to save money, but ended up getting burned. Listen to my tale and learn.
In January of this year, I had a fever. While coping with my illness, I received a call. The guy on the other end offered service from a new phone company. Ordinarily, I probably would have hung up after asking him to add my number to his do not call list. Perhaps because of my illness, or perhaps because I wanted to try to save some money on my phone bill, I listened. He assured me that they simply resell Verizon’s lines, since they buy them in bulk they can give better rates, and that I’d get the exact same quality. He assured me I could get unlimited long distance, something I need. Verizon would even still do repairs, I would just have to go through Clear Rate. That sounded reasonable, so I accepted.
Problems started immediately. On the day of the switch, I picked up my phone to find nothing. I had to use my cell phone to call Clear Rate, whose number I quickly memorized since I had a feeling I would need it frequently. I already had a bad feeling about this. I had fiber lines, and they had switched me over to their copper network.
Since my copper lines had fallen during a storm, they no longer existed, and hence I had no signal. This enraged me, but they promised me they’d have a Verizon tech out to fix it, which they did. Nevertheless, the line has a hum to this day.
After getting the line working, I wanted to set up my voice mail. I quickly noticed that the standard Verizon number didn’t work, so I called Clear Rate back for instructions, feeling glad I had memorized the number. They gave me a toll-free number to call, so I did. I felt disgraced to hear a completely uncustomized Asterisk PBX, stock prompts and all. This probably took them literally two hours to set up, they changed nothing I could see, as evidenced by the empty advanced menu. My contempt increased, and I laughed at their lameness, and began to regret switching.
After that debacle, things worked as well as expected, but a feeling of uneasiness remained. For one thing, I would not get an interrupted dial tone when I had voice mail, meaning I could miss messages more easily. For another thing, despite their name of Clear Rate, my bills never remained constant. Each month’s charges seemed a little different, and slowly increasing. This bothered me, so I called them back, once again glad I memorized their stupid number with the same looping hold music. At least they had a good attitude so far.
I’ve had a second line which came with the house, and for a while I held onto it with minimal coverage, since it would remain working when my main line failed during rainstorms. Since I switched companies, I left the package deal with Verizon, and my Verizon bill increased as well. Additionally, Clear Rate could not give me a good deal on the second line, which had now become superfluous. I now had a larger bill than I had with Verizon, less service, and more hassle. Besides, I felt like the Verizon techs regarded me as scum.
Finally, today something happened which capped it for me. I noticed long distance charges on my bill. I made sure I had unlimited long distance. When I called, the dork groggily told me that I had gone over the residential limit of 4,000 minutes per month. I became irate! “Do you mean to tell me that I only have 4,000 minutes of long distance per month?” “That’s right.” “At no time did they make this clear to me.” True enough, though a quick glance at their Terms of Service confirms this hideous truth. Apparently, consistently using a phone represents an inconsistent use of voice applications. I could not believe it. If I would have known that, I would never have switched. I knew what I had to do.
As soon as I began vehemently asking Duke Dork how I would go about switching my provider, his attitude began to shift. He told me I would have to call my provider of choice, and they would take care of it, so I did. I still had to do some running around Verizon’s system, which annoyed me, but I expected as much, and they
would welcome me back with open arms, according to one saleslady. She gave me a good deal, but wrote my number down incorrectly during the first verification. He transferred me back to the main number. It started burbling on. “Fuck!” I screamed. “OK, here is some help.” the robot calmly retorted. Did they actually map profane exclamations to the help function? It then gave me some error about not completing my call. Confused, I called their number for people with disabilities to also get free directory assistance, and finally got the verification completed as well. While waiting the second time, the song Satisfaction, by the Rolling Stones, played in the background – rather fitting.
I felt like I had won a war, but still had one small battle remaining. The Shire still needed scouring. Our friend from earlier called me back about my bill. He guiltily told me that they could
only take fifty dollars off my bill. I didn’t even care at this point, I just wanted out. On top of that, earlier he told me that I’d have to pay a $99 termination fee on each line. Those bastards got me up until the very end.
In summary, I wanted to do something to save money, but ended up spending far more. I also feel deceived, since at no point did someone make the 4,000 minute monthly limit clear. You can see for yourself, even on their web site, it has Unlimited> splashed all over it. They grossly overstate their abilities, and grossly oversell their services. To summarize the summary, if someone calls you promising you better service at a cheaper rate, take heed, and read their terms of service. To summarize the summary of the summary, people are a problem. If this article prevents just one person from getting ripped off, especially by these vagabonds, then I will feel like I have done my job. That makes me feel happy.