July 29, 2014

I was shafted by Verizon with my Chromebook Pixel, too [UPDATE]

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If you follow the tech space closely, chances are good you might have heard about the data problem that some Chromebook Pixel owners have run into. If not, here’s a quick and dirty rundown of what’s happening:

LTE versions of the Chromebook Pixels are supposed to come with two years of 4G LTE through Verizon. Users are/were allotted 100MB of data to use each month. Should a user want or need more data they can purchase a day pass or a big bucket without worrying about a contractual obligation. In other words, it’s not much free data, but it’s perfect in a pinch.

Fast forward to today and we’re hearing that Verizon is no longer honoring the deal. Instead, users are just given options to purchase 4G LTE data. Meanwhile, over on the Google front, the support page for the Chromebook Pixel no longer references the 100MB monthly data.  Someone, somewhere decided to stop providing the data and a few users, myself included, are getting pissed off.

Here’s how I was shafted.

As a member of the press I received a Chromebook Pixel at Google I/O 2013. It was the 4G LTE version that’s still available today and the same model that was supposed to come with data. I, too, was to receive my own 100MB of data to use over the course of a month…for two years.

Seeing as how much of my day is spent in a home office with Wi-Fi, I don’t need to rely on data all that much. I tend to spend much of my time in this room, plugging away on a Chromebox.

After about two months of using the Pixel in the house I decided to take the show on the road and work from outside of the house and test out Verizon’s speeds and connections. I bought a 1GB monthly pass for $20 and used a few hundred megabytes of data back in August. Come September I went back to the 100MB bucket for the next few months.

At some point in February I realized I was nearing the 100MB threshold on my Pixel so I tried to purchase the 1GB bucket. Somehow or other I was able to log in with my account but was unable to purchase the data. I did the standard troubleshooting stuff and waited until the next day to try again. Same thing. So, I called Verizon and talked to a rep who said they’d fix the issue and get me onto the right amount of data within 72 hours. Guess what? I waited. Nothing. Not only was I unable to access that data but now I was unable to log into my account. I later learned that my SIM was disabled.

I make another series of calls to Verizon over the next two weeks and try to get back into my account and where things were working properly. I’m told that the first rep I spoke to did not leave correct notes on the account and that they took the wrongs steps. Duh. Without boring you with the details, my SIM card was deactivated and all traces of my history and usage was wiped.

Lo and behold, I ultimate get a guy who gets my SIM running again and I am able to log back into my account. Only problem now is that my 100MB of data is gone. The rep kindly advises that he cannot add the feature to my account and that his supervisor would do it. Once his superior does he will call me to confirm. Another week goes by and still no call.

Weeks after this started I finally get into a representative to tells me that it’s impossible to add that to a SIM card and there’s no way to include it. Instead, I am offered 1GB of data for the remainder of this month (March) plus 1GB of data for the next month (April). The way he saw it, it’s worth far more on paper than the 100MB I was going to get.  According to him, he was giving 2GB of data for my troubles. The catch? I had to use it before May.

Great theory, Einstein, but come May I am out of data altogether. If I want any amount of data whatsoever I am forced to purchase it. The part that chaps my ass the most is that this will be the case going forward and at no point will I ever receive 100MB of data. I don’t know about you but I would much rather have 100MB of emergency data to fall back over another 18 months than 2GB that was only good for around 45 days.

UPDATE

And, as if by sheer coincidence, my account has been suspended today.

Your plan is currently expired. To activate a new plan and start using your device, please click “Purchase Data Plan”

Perfect.

It’s the principle, stupid

Did I use all of my 100MB each month? No. Did I foresee using it every month going forward? No. But, what bothers me most is that I will not have even 50MB to use to pull down emails while on the road some day a few months from now. In fact, if I don’t use data on a semi-consistent base with that SIM card I run the risk of it being cancelled on me. In other words, the very day I need to use it for an emergency I might find the SIM is invalid and my account not registering.

I have a very hard time understanding how nobody at Verizon could honor the agreement set forth with the device. I didn’t even get a full year into it and I’m out of luck. Nobody there has the ability to provide that same deal to the SIM card? Fine… what about another one? What about those new Pixels rolling out the door that are supposed to come with it? No one at Verizon thought to offer up one of those SIM cards.

I know, I know. First world problems, right? I should have much worse things to complain about than a free 4G LTE laptop with at least a few months of data. I really haven’t voiced my issues publicly thus far but felt compelled to jump in when I read JR Raphael’s post. It’s related, yet not exactly the same stuff, but something I still felt needs shared.