First off, I am not unhappy about the prepaid plan that I wound up with, only that it is NOT what Verizon wireless marketed to us (i.e. online).
History for context:
Two years ago now, we bought a cheap prepaid phone (and a minutes card) at Walmart for my children to use in the event of an emergency while at camp. That worked fine for that event. We didn't read the fine print on the minutes card, though, that says the balance is only good for 3 months. Shame on us... Meanwhile the phone kept telling us right along (i.e. well after 3 months were up) that our remaining balance was still healthy (i.e. presumably useable). We now know that the phone was basically lying to us, giving us a false sense on security on at least two subsequent dates. We only found out that the phone was lying (i.e. unusable) when we tried calling them on this phone from the grocery store and a stranger answered. That's when dug up the original paperwork to see what happened. We chalk that up to a lesson learned. Shame on us for not reading the fine print.
So, last night we looked up how to re-activate their phone. It wasn't hard to find online -- and here we are. That's when we looked through the current prepaid plan listings and found the "Pay as you Go" section, which seemed to be what we want.
It has a nice snazzy table showing us the 3 or so options. We like the first one:
"With our $1.99 Unlimited Talk Daily option, just pay $1.99 for each day you talk on your phone. Talk all you want on the days you choose and pay only 2¢ per text."
"Just pay for what you use. No monthly payments. No hidden fees. If you talk and text just a little, this plan is perfect for you."
This sounded great! Except that our previous experience taught us be skeptical, and to read more carefully. So we skimmed all of the "More information" text, and missed the line in one innocuous paragraph that reads:
"Your account balance will expire at 12:01 a.m. on the day stated at the time of replenishment. To carry your balance forward, simply refill your account before your expiration date. If balance expires, unused portion will be forfeited."
Notice how ambiguous that line reads. What expiration date? We did notice however:
"You will forfeit the money in your account if you activated service without a Refill Card and did not make a call within 60 days. You must initialize the account."
But we interpreted the latter (i.e. w/o comprehending the former) to mean that you just have use it once in the first 60 days to formally activate the service on the phone. Sounded great. Use it once in order to formally activate the phone, and then we only have to pay for using for each day that it's used. NOPE.
After we signed up for this plan, then the website clearly informs us that the CONTRACT expires in 60 days, AND that the minimum amount that can add to the plan at any time is $15. Technically speaking, it's not a monthly payment -- but a 60 day payment. Doing the math, that essentially means that we have ~$7.50/month (due at least every other month) payment to make. In other words, a 60 day contract. SHAME ON YOU, VERIZON!
To be perfectly fair, we looked a the same type of plan on AT&T and found the same exact MISLEADING advertising scheme.
HOW CAN YOU GET AWAY WITH THIS???
Again, I'm not unhappy with having a ~$7.50/mo. emergency phone plan for my kids. It's better than all but Tracfone right now. But I want you to be honest and straightforward about what you're selling me.