This is really going to surprise you ... we have a lot of cell phones at our house. As my son would say, we have "an official crapton" ... My wife and I both have Droids (woot!), and the four older boys all have cells. We use Verizon's Family Share plan, but that only covers 5 lines (2+4 = 6), so Ethan's phone was on my parent's Family Share plan. In case you missed it, though, we added a foster kid last week. And, we're paying more for our landline now than we are per cell phone. That makes two more lines we needed to add.
In case life wasn't complicated enough, though, add to the mix Adam's phone breaking, getting swapped out for an old one, getting repaired, and needing to get swapped back. Plus, we need to add Jory wanting a new phone number because his ex-girlfriend won't stop calling him and bugging him. AND Julian sacrificed his planned upgrade last month so I could get my droid, so it's time to fix that for him.
Got that straight? Welcome to life with 9 kids.
So, it started Monday with a call to Verizon. They were able to set us up with a "sub account" which is basically a second account, without the credit check, linked back to the first account. We got two new Envy Touch phones to put there (the second one was "free" with purchase of the first). They said to take care of the rest once the phones were in our hands and the accounts were created. I took the intervening two days to download and create a spreadsheet of our usage for the last several months to see what the best combination of people was so we could minimize our minutes on both accounts. Turns out we NEED unlimited texting, but with the right combination of people, we can reduce both plans down to their 700 minute minimum.
So, when the phones arrived last night, it was an official "Phone Zoo". I had 7 phones in my hands for 6 lines, plus my phone which I was using to make the call. Two of the phones weren't activated at all, and one technically belonged to my father.
Here's what we needed to do: We wanted to move Jory's phone (4 year old flip phone which he loves) to one of the new #'s, take his old phone # for the house on the phone Adam has been using as a replacement. Adam gets his old phone back. We then wanted to move Julian's current phone to Topher's new number, and the envy's to Ethan and Julian on their existing numbers. Then, we needed to move Ethan's phone off of my father's contract and onto one of ours. Then, move my phone over to the new account (without interrupting my "new every two" service date, which is coming up!) where I would now share minutes with Julian, Ethan, and Topher (some of which moved as well). That leaves Adam, Jory, and the House on the existing contract with Christina (who now starts getting a "new every two" discount for the second account).
Clear as mud, right?
I spent an hour on the phone with a very patient Verizon customer service rep, who was frustrated herself because their computer system only lets her make 5 changes per transaction. She was patient when the phones refused to activate automatically by dialing *228, and walked me through programming each one by hand. She was patient when I got lost trying to map physical phones to phone numbers, when I made test calls on the wrong phone, and when we got disconnected (she called me back). She made suggestions on what order to do things both so her computer system could handle it and so we'd keep organized. She talked about kids, phones, and Droids (she has the Motorola Droid herself), and made things comfortable during the downtime while phones were waiting to go through the computer system. Overall, she handled the situation with poise and grace, and kept me smiling the whole time.
She reminded me why I have Verizon. I may get frustrated with their technical support, but their customer support team has come through for me every time!
Cell phones may or may not be essential to survival, but good customer support experiences definately are!
And yes, I know I'm on contract ... so "free" phones are not "free" ... TANSTAAFL, but it makes everyone happy to think the phone was free.