Many of you have probably seen the advertisements for great cell phone prices on websites such as Wirefly.com, Newegg.com, Radioshackwireless.com, Cellstores.com and probably many others. The ones that I have specifically mentioned here are powered by a company called Simplexity (you can see this in the footer of the page). Simplexity has partnered with these companies and even though you purchase a phone through the company, all supported is quickly turned over for Simplexity to manage. These websites offer steep discounts over the prices that the cell phone carriers have. If you don’t terminate the account, there are good deals to be had, but if you do have to cancel, mind the consequences.
I wanted to share my experiences for anyone who is considering doing business with Simplexity and Verizon. As a consumer, you should be aware of how the customer service going to be at a company before you do business with them. The transcript of events below started on 12/29 when I place my order, and I have been fighting a battle on two fronts until today, 1/22. My transcripts are below:
- Ordered phone via Newegg (Droid X free phone, free activation promo)
- Received email with shipping confirmation
- Phone arrived, noticed price discrepency ($49.99 for phone instead of advertised free price)
Called Simplexity, told this could not be resolved
- I was told the promo never existed, then I was told that it did exist, but not when I bought the phone. The rep would not tell me the effective dates of the deal.
Talked to customer service rep, then supervisor (very rude)
Offered a free bluetooth headset
Requested RMA and issued 320638384RNS0
Confirmed I was within 14 day Simplexity return window, and there would be no penalty
43:09 minute call
- Contacted Verizon to terminate new account
Representative, Shanice Wilmington offered me a discounted rate
Asked to terminate line
I was told this was within the “Worry Free” Verizon 14 day window, so no penalty
21:29 minute call
- Emailed Newegg about my experience with Simplexity
- I shipped back the phone
- Received email from firstname.lastname@example.org about a feedback survey about quality of service. Buried them on the survey
- 1/1 – 1/4
- Recieved bill in the mail from Verizon for $391.64
The breakdown is $350 ETF + $4.83 prorated charge (2 days of service) + taxes
Bill was due 1/27
- Email from Newegg customer service representative apologizing for Simplexity. No further action would be taken.
- Email from email@example.com confirming that my phone has been received and the credit is being processed
- Email from EDP@whereismyorder.com stating that Verizon has notified them that the line has been disconnected. Specifically states: “If you deactivated service on the device listed above and returned your device in its original, new condition within 30 days of the activation date, PLEASE DISREGARD THIS NOTICE.”
- Called Simplexity to ask if the phone had been received after I got the notice about the phone not being received
Representative informed me it would be credited, I was just calling too soon after the phone had been shipped
1:23 + 1:00 + 6:32 + 27:32 minute call time
- Called Verizon to confirm that my phone ETF has been removed from my bill
Told the phone has not been marked as received
Told the $350 fee *might* be lifted when phone is marked as returned
Told I would be pro-rated for the 2 days of service ($4.83)
I assumed it was the same problem as with Simplexity, and I had just called too soon. Decided to call back later in the week
12:23 + 21:49 minute conversions
- Received email from Customer_relations@whereismyorder.com stating stating I have received a credit for $53.11 for the phone
- Called Verizon to ask about the status of the ETF
Told that the phone had not been marked as received, and there was still a $350 ETF
(Interestingly enough, I was told the ETF had nothing to do with the hardware. That even if I returned the phone, the $350 was for terminating a contract early)
Advised to contact Simplexity and get them to report the phone as returned
6:32 + 26:21 minute call
- Called Simplexity to inform them of the Verizon ETF
Representative placed me on hold while he contacted Verizon
Came back from hold and reported to me that the phone had been marked as received and that the charge should be lifted
Said I should get a new bill in a few days
1:51 + 23:10 minute call
- Received email from EDP@whereismyorder.com stating I have not yet returned the phone to Simplexity. It stated “Your Simplexity, LLC. equipment agreement, which is separate from your Verizon Wireless agreement, requires that you maintain service on this wireless account for a minimum of 181 consecutive days in order to retain the equipment discount applied to your initial order. As service has not been maintained for the required period, you have breached your contract and in accordance with the consent granted by you when the order was placed, pay back of the past due equipment discount of $300 is due.
As of today, your account is delinquent. You have been granted ample time to pay your account. We request your immediate attention to this matter to avoid your account being directed to a Collection Agency for further collection work and notification being sent to the Credit Reporting Bureau of your default on the $300 obligation.“. Ouch.
- Called Simplexity. Couldn’t reach representative
32:50 call time
- Called Verizon
Talked to Alice, and she confirmed that I would receive a final bill minute the ETF, and taxes on the ETF
Said the bill would be available 2/1
6 minute call
- Called Simplexity
Phone has been received
Credit has been applied to my account
Account is confirmed terminated
There are a couple of things I noted in my correspondences. The first is that the support I received from Verizon isn’t as bad as support from Simplexity. If Simplexity had marked the phone as returned in Verizon’s inventory, much of this would not have occurred. Verizon isn’t innocent however, as I got conflicting reports when I called. This reminds me of my dealings with Verizon in the past where they they are going to do something, and then don’t actually follow through. I remember getting a bill every month for four months after my contract expired with them in the past for payment of service I didn’t have.
Secondly if Simplexity is going to be the party responsible for the hardware, they need to have a better feedback system with the cell phone companies. I could not send the phone back to Verizon, because I had to send it to Simplexity. Since there is one phone, and two companies that need to report it as returned, this is absolutely Simplexity’s job to ensure gets done.
Third, I find the small print to be particularly punishing to do business with Simplexity and Verizon. Most big cell carries have gotten into the bad habit of charging Early Termination Fees for canceling a contract prematurely. Often, this ETF doesn’t even accurately reflect the residual cost of the subsidized phone to the carries. In other words, its just profit for the cell companies for you to terminate early. They want you to do it. Verizon has a particularly high ETF at $350, relative to similar carries with a $200 ETF. I don’t believe the higher markup has anything to do with their phone selection.
On top of this steep cell carrier ETF, Simplexity has their own ETF of $300. Had I not cancelled within 14 days, I would have been hit with the cost of the phone ($53.11 in my case) + the $350 Verizon ETF + the $300 Simplexity ETF for a total of 703.11. Compare this to the unlocked retail price of the phone today of $549. This extra profit is certainly not going towards customer service at either company.
Finally, if I can point to the lesson from this experience, it is a bad time to be a cellular customer. Contracts are a bad idea, and Americans have been “trained” to subsidize their phones. Compare this with Europe, where the popular model is to bring your own phone to a cell carrier. No contracts, no ETFs. Without a contract, I believe the cell companies will work harder to retain you as a customer. If you don’t like how your engagement is going, you can leave at anytime for a competitor.