Accessories for my Preciousssss, err laptop and more about ETFs. :)

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the future. πŸ™‚ I kid. This is the mouse that I shall grow to love when my laptop gets here. One thing I don’t really like about HP’s laptops is that the too-slick touchpad. My hands gets rather sweaty so I will need an external mouse. My choices were simply between any Microsoft or Logitech offerings (trusted brands). From there, I narrowed my search to ease of use. If you recall, my HP dv9700t customized notebook will come with bluetooth so I decided to get the Logitech V470 Bluetooth Cordless Laser Mouse. It was a bit pricey, but I am looking toward the future with the purchase of high quality components that will come with solid warranty support. I’ve been toying with getting a dedicated laptop bag, but I will hold off on that and create a makeshift laptop bag from the items we have at home. Yesterday’s post on cell phone contracts led me to check out what AT&T’s wireless service agreement says about early termination fees. Here is the relevant bit excerpted from the “Service Agreement” in the paragraph titled Changes to Terms and Rates:

“[…] You understand and agree that State and Federal Universal Service fees and other governmentally imposed fees, whether or not assessed directly upon you, may be increased based upon the government’s or our calculations. If we increase the price of any of the services to which you subscribe, beyond the limits set forth in your rate plan brochure, or if we materially decrease the geographical area in which your airtime rate applies (other than a temporary decrease for repairs or maintenance), we will disclose the change at least one billing cycle in advance (either through a notice with your bill, a text message to your device, or otherwise), and you may terminate this agreement without paying an early termination fee or returning or paying for any promotional items, provided your notice of termination is delivered to us within thirty (30) days after the first bill reflecting the change. […].”

It’s a bit confusing, but from what I understand from the entire contract, the following conditions have to be met in order to cancel your contract without paying an early termination fee or ETF:

  1. If you signed up today, you have a 30-day grace period in which to cancel your service. Obviously, the majority of people are past that 30-day window.
  2. If there is a price change in services you subscribe to. However, they put a caveat there which is “beyond the limits set forth in your rate plan“. Now, I have the lowest rate plan ($39.99 a month) and I have no idea what the limits to which they can raise the prices to. I intend on calling a customer service representative to get this cleared. Anyway, I currently use the pay-per-use text messaging service and have the internet/MMS on my phone turned off. My current text messaging fees are 20 cents for each incoming and outgoing text message. The way I’m reading this contract, my plan says the fee per text message (incoming and outgoing) is $0.20. If they raise that fee, I have legal standing to demand to be released from my contract. The other caveat to demanding your release is that you have a limited window of opportunity in which you can do this.
  3. According to the contract, you have 30 days from the first bill that reflects this price increase so you have to diligently check your bill in order not to miss this window. From reading tips online about how to cancel your cell phone service, the key things to remember are: staying calm, having the relevant sections highlighted, having your paperwork i.e. bills in front of you and remembering to escalate your call if the CSR is being a twerp.
  4. Nevertheless, there are extenuating circumstances that the determined individual could press in order to get released e.g. moving (if you can prove that your coverage will suffer) and see this CNN blog about other viable excuses e.g. active military duty and such.
  5. Another confusing part about this whole business is the part about “returning or paying for any promotional items“. Does this mean I would have to return my Treo which I got at a discount because I signed up for the 2-year plan? I suspect so. Nevertheless, if you get to that point in your negotiations, my advice to you would be to simply save your contacts to your computer if you have a cool phone like mine (lol) and agree to return your discounted phone. Since you will be potentially signing up with a different phone company, you will be getting a discount on your new phone so don’t be too worried. If you have installed a lot of paid applications on your phone like I have, make sure you have your installation files saved somewhere. If you are lucky, you will get your exact same phone with your new carrier. If not, your files will be useless.
  6. Finally, part of this depends on the customer service representative’s disposition. You see, some people have had their cancellations take place in less than 10 minutes. Some like Ely Rosenstock had it extended over days. Some get stymied and some end up getting discounts or refunds in order to stay with the plan which is not a bad idea anyway. What am I saying? Be nice and hope the CSR is nice too. lol. I mean, I can definitely testify to the power of being nice to reps. If you have less than 6 months left or if you could live with their service for awhile, stick with them and when your time is up, your service agreement will “automatically renew on a month-to-month basis” until you leave or AT&T kicks you out. πŸ™‚

Speaking of being nice to customer service representatives, I learned the hard way how not to be behave. πŸ™‚ I screwed up on an order and I called the hotline. My first mistake was being a bit combative and trying to “bully” the representative into giving me a discount by concocting a story about how it was the company’s fault. Well, she clearly pointed out to me that the fault was mine and she remained steadfast in her refusal to grant me any discount. Well, I ended the call and had a cooling-down session with myself. I slept on the issue and the next day, early in the morning, I called the hotline again. I got a different CSR and I was genuinely apologetic about my mistake. We talked about options and I suggested the option which was most pleasing to me and she agreed with me. She agreed to give me the discount and I was amazed at the difference in response. For the record, this happened with my laptop order. I forgot to add the TV tuner option and now I will be getting it at a discount. I will have to return the laptop back to them so they can put it in, but I won’t be paying the full price for it. So it does pay to be a nice person. I get ashamed of myself sometimes because I read articles on the web that talk about how the customer is always right. Well, some customers are idiots/bullies/inane/smart and I happened to fall into one of those categories (hint: not smart) when I first called the hotline. So, with that expose on cell phone contracts and calling representatives, I’ll be signing out!