In the spirit of coming celebrations, one out-of-States friend has asked me for a favor. He asked me to buy an IPhone with Verizon account for him. He even provided the money for the purchase. “Piece ’a cake!” – thought I. And oh my, what a mistake…
It might seem that there is nothing easier than buying an IPhone in the States. Well, think again. This is a story of wasted time, poor customer service and an unbridged cultural gap which prevented me from getting a cell phone.
There’s an Apple store in the plaza where I work. Naturally, I chose it as my destination point. The store assistant was pleasantly quick and efficient: I almost had a phone and a new Verizon account in about 15 minutes. That is, Almost… For verification purposes, Verizon required me to FAX my IDs to them. No problem! Here are my IDs. “Oh, I am sorry, ma’am, we do not have a fax in store. You can fax it in at a printing office. We’ll get you the nearest address in a sec!” And I go WHAT? No way… So, this lovely fella suggests I go to a Verizon booth across the street – “I’m sure, they’ll help you in no time!”
Sure enough, I go to that Verizon booth. It’s past 5pm, there is only one assistant in the booth and he is busy with a customer. I sigh and wait. And then I wait. And then I wait a little longer. Finally, he turns to me. I say I want to buy an IPhone and a Verizon account. I explain I want to pay full price for the phone and buy a new Verizon account separately. He is confused.
He sais “We do not sell pre-paid service”. I say “But I do not want a pre-paid service. I want a contract account. ” He goes “Then, you are getting a phone for $199 and a 2-year contract”. To which I reply “No. I want to buy a phone for its full price and open a new Verizon account separately.”
This blows his poor mind. Quite visually. “But we don’t do that. Verizon offers phones with great discounts for its customers with a 2-year contract. Why do you want to pay $700?!”
And then he utters this: “I don’t want to be rude, but you make no sense at all”.
At this point, MY mind was blown. And I walked out of the Verizon booth in Town Square, Las Vegas dumbfounded as may be. Without a phone.
For my American readers, I’d like to explain my motives. I know it must sound ridiculous around here to want to pay the full price for something when you can get it for so much less, provided that you sign up for a contract of a sort. But I do not want to be bound by a 2-year contract! Especially, when I can so easily avoid it! I value my freedom of fee-free cancellation of a service any time I find necessary. I attribute my attitude to making this kind of purchases to the cultural difference between Eastern Europe and the U.S.