Tuesday, June 12, 2012

New Phone Plan From Verizon

There are now new decisions to make.

Verizon is starting a new phone/data plan on June 28th.  It is called the "Share Everything Plan."  Actually it is really "plans" since you will choose the amount of data to use at a specific cost.

You can keep your old plan up until you decide to upgrade your phone if your upgrade is at the subsidized rate.  If you want to pay full retail, they will let you keep your old plan.

As if you really have a choice.  Would you rather pay the discounted price for a new IPhone which is your 2 year contract price, or $649 which is the retail cost to you if want to keep your old plan.

You do the math.  We really will not have a choice but to go on the new plan when we upgrade.  The fact that more people are using Data vs Phone Calls is one reason for the change. Money is to be made.

What is most important in the new format is that the plans will now have unlimited voice and messaging services, but data will be offered in packages.  Encouraging use of data, which will now encompass the ability to add other devices such as an IPAD, will increase data usage so that we can spend more.  Before we had unlimited data usage. Now you will also have a fee for each device added to your plan.

I called Verizon to see how this new plan will work in the current "Family Plan" where you can have up to 4 additional phones on one account.  You now will be paying $40 per phone number in your family plan for unlimited calling and messaging service and then have to share a gigabyte plan.  

AT&T will offer a similar plan.

Here is the article from the Wall Street Journal:

Verizon Wireless lifted the curtain on its long-awaited shared-data plans that allow users to put additional devices under one contract, representing a major shift in how consumers pay for wireless service.
Verizon Wireless lifted the curtain on its long-awaited shared-data plans that allow users to put additional devices under one umbrella. Thomas Gryta reports on digits. Photo: Getty Images.
The plans will provide unlimited voice and messaging services, while also offering a block of data for a flat cost, plus a fee for each device that will draw on that data. The new pricing structure shifts the focus to data usage and diminishes the role of voice minutes and texts, once the basis for most wireless bills.
The plans also encourage increased data use by making it easier to add devices, such as tablets. The move is an example of carriers providing buckets of data that can be used for multiple products and further transitioning away from prior plans that once offered data on an unlimited basis.
"We view this as a very positive move for [Verizon Communications]. The main benefit is to stimulate device adoption and usage on its LTE network," Wells Fargo analyst Jennifer Fritzsche wrote in a note, referring to Long Term Evolution, the name of the technology that Verizon is using for its 4G network.
Sanford Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett called the new plan structure "the most profound change to pricing in the telecom industry has seen in 20 years."
"In the high-fixed-cost world of telecom, pricing is the foundation of strategy," Mr. Moffett wrote in a research note.
Associated Press
An Apple iPhone 4S at a Verizon store in Ohio. Verizon on Tuesday announced new plans that allow multiple devices under one umbrella.
Rival AT&T Inc. also has eliminated unlimited data plans for new customers and is expected to offer a similar plan that draws from one bucket of data. Existing customers with unlimited data can continue using their plans, while Verizon has been more aggressive in encouraging a switch to newer plans.
Sprint Nextel Corp. continues to offer unlimited data for customers on its network. T-Mobile offers an unlimited plan, but throttles, or slows, users when they cross a certain usage threshold. T-Mobile also has questioned the usefulness of multiple consumers drawing from one data bucket.
The switch to unlimited voice comes as the carriers are seeing their users talk less and less, leading them to downgrade their spending on a service that is traditionally lucrative. Part of this has been driven by increased texting and other forms of data-based interaction, rather than the traditional phone call.
Meanwhile, data usage is rising, and carriers have moved to tiered plans in recent years to better monetize the trend. AT&T was the first to move away from unlimited data in 2010 when it began charging for a pre-set amount of monthly data usage with the biggest consumers being forced to shell out for their megabytes.
Last year, data accounted for 37% of carriers' $169.8 billion in wireless revenue last year, compared with 12% in 2006.
Stifel Nicolaus analyst Christopher King expects total wireless service revenue at Verizon Wireless to rise from the plans. He noted that subscribers may also be less likely to switch carriers, although he does expect other providers to offer similar data-centric pricing models.
An AT&T spokesman declined to comment on the timing of its own plan.
Verizon Wireless will launch the "Share Everything Plans" on June 28. They will allow users to cover up to 10 devices under one contract. Existing customers can remain on their current plans, but new subscribers will have to choose a shared plan.
The data plans begin at $50 a month for 1 gigabyte of data and range up to 10 gigabytes for $100 a month. The monthly device fees are $40 for smartphones, $30 for basic phones, $20 for laptops and $10 for tablets.
There is no additional charge to turn applicable devices into a Mobile Hotspot.
Users will get text message warnings as their data is consumed in the month, and can increase their allotment without extending their contract. There will be no fee or contract extension for current subscribers to move to the new plans.
Verizon Wireless currently offers a 2-gigabyte data plan for $30 monthly, and 5 gigabytes for $50 monthly.
Based on the current plan, a customer with 450 minutes of voice, 2 gigabytes of data and unlimited messages would pay $90. Under the new plan, a basic customer with one smartphone and the lowest data plan of 1 gigabyte also will pay $90 a month. In that example, the amount is the same, but the customer will have access to less data but will have unlimited voice and the ability to make the device a hotspot.
Some of Verizon's customers still remain on unlimited data because they never changed their plans. After June 28, such customers cannot keep those plans if they want to upgrade their device with a subsidized one.
If they choose to pay full retail price for a new phone, usually hundreds of dollars more, then customers can keep their unlimited plan. For example, a 16-gigabyte iPhone 4S from Apple has a retail price of $649.
—Greg Bensinger contributed to this article.
Write to Thomas Gryta at Thomas.Gryta@dowjones.com

Monday, June 4, 2012

Saving Your Choking Dog

I have dogs.  My dogs chew anything and everything.

There was a time when one of my dogs started gagging and I did not know what to do.  I called the Vet and he said to first check his palate to see if anything was stuck there.  Well, to my surprise, a big twig was stuck in his teeth, going across his palate.  I was told to put my finger under it and pull.  Wow, out it came and no one had to run to an ER.

I just read an article in PetPlace.com about what to do when your dog is choking.  This was a very helpful piece and I had never read anything about this.  In fact, I was lucky that the twig was my biggest problem as far as choking/gagging was concerned.

Here are some tips which I took from PetPlace.com which may not be complete, but it is a start when faced with this problem.  Nothing substitutes calling your Vet, although having some information can't hurt:


1.  Clear Blockages: After determining that your dog is choking, remove any item that may be constricting the neck such as a collar or leash. Visually examine inside the mouth and remove any foreign object you see. Do not blindly place your hand down your pet's throat and pull any object you feel. Dogs have small bones that support the base of their tongues. Owners probing the throat for a foreign object have mistaken these for chicken bones. Do not attempt to remove an object unless you can see and identify it. If your pet is small and you cannot easily remove the object, lift and suspend him with the head pointed down. For larger animals, lift the rear legs so the head is tilted down. This can help dislodge an item stuck in the throat. Another method is to administer a sharp blow between the shoulder blades using the palm of your hand. This can sometimes dislodge an object. If this does not work, a modified Heimlich maneuver can be attempted. 

2.  Position Animal: Grasp the animal around the waist so that the rear is nearest to you, similar to a bear hug with the dog facing away from you.

3.  Place a fist just underneath the ribs. 

4.  Compress the abdomen several times (usually 3-5 times) with quick pushes inward and slightly upward.

5.  Check the mouth to see if the foreign object has been removed.


Verizon: There's Always Something

Let me start out by writing that overall Verizon is a fairly decent company to deal with.

Throughout the years I have used their services, I have had disputes resolved to my satisfaction in most situations.  Same for Verizon Wireless.

That said, I do have some things I would like to share.

The first has to do with Verizon, the phone, internet and TV company.

My monthly bills were growing higher and higher.  Whether it had to do with small increases in equipment, taxes, or fees, the total I owed each month never shrank.

I called to see what I could do to save some money.  Of course I did not want to reduce any of my services, that was not going to solve the problem.

What I found out, and this was easy, was that I could switch to Digital Phone service.  That way, my second line would cost substantially less each month than it was presently costing me and I would be able to use both lines with unlimited capabilities.  Before only the specified line came with the package.

Within that change, I could also up my internet speed for the same money, but the trade off came with the upload speed which was reduced.  I asked if I could keep what I already had because I knew how it worked and had no issues with it. My download speed was less than they were now offering but my upload speed was better.  The answer was that I could and it saved me $5 a month.  

The only difference is that you have to dial the area code before each number you call, even if the number is in your same area code.   Oh, you also get a Voice Mail service which has some interesting features. 

Not a bad day in VerizonLand.

The second item has to do with Verizon Wireless and what happens when you upgrade after your 2 year agreement ends. In the past, you went in search of your next new phone.  Easy enough.  This time while attempting to purchase a new phone, we noticed a new charge attached to the new phone purchase. It is a $30 fee each time you upgrade when your contract is ending and you want a new phone.

I called Verizon Wireless immediately to find out what this new charge was all about.  Being an informed consumer, I will tell you that I did not read one bit of info on this new charge.  Usually they hide the bad news in your bill, which most of us don't read.  Or if they are feeling decent, they send out a mailing.

So where did I go wrong?  Turns out that I did not go wrong at all.  After arguing until I had no voice left, I was told that Verizon chose not to send out any notice but would explain it when someone called to order a phone and questioned the charge.

They claimed that all the other major communication companies were doing this and in fact, their fee is the least of all.  Thanks so much for that bit of information!

I told them that for a communication company, their communications skills were lacking.

They apologized but said that they cannot do anything about the fee.  

We needed the new phone, so we paid the fee.

Unfortunately I can't tell you that I managed to get it removed. I did all I could...even wrote to Corporate and did get a written response as well as a phone call.

Maybe they need the extra money to pay all their customer service reps who have to deal with all the calls/complaints about this new charge.

Lastly, this has to do with how Verizon is not doing some things they made a big deal about doing. If all the information in this article is correct, this will make many of us angry. I will just print the link here because it will make it easier to read:


Read on.