10-03-2013 08:44:50 AM
I was recently in touch with the AT&T retentions department due to a problem with my warranty exchange. After we solved that problem, the representative wanted to talk to me about something. I had no idea what he wanted to talk about but it turns out he wanted to talk about the MicroCell.
Apparently, my phone had been "tagged" as being in a primary location where cell phone service reception is weak and I agreed that I don't have full service. I live in the basement of an apartment building, so I figured it was because of that.
Anyways, he has an offer for me to purchase the MicroCell for my apartment for the one-time cost of only $120. He said it would be charged to my cell phone bill. I wasn't sure I wanted to spend the $120 as money is a little tight right now.
To help me out, he told me that he would take $10 of my cell phone bill for the next 12 months, totaling $120 in savings. He said in the end I would only end up spending less than $5 for the Microcell. My question is about the payment for this MicroCell. A $120 charge would be applied to my account as soon as I agree, and then my bill this month would be the normal $70 plus a one time extra $120. Do I need to pay the extra $120 right away in the first billing cycle, or can I carry a reducing balance over the next 12 months and only continue to pay my normal $70 bill? I guess the bill would now be $60 monthly, and that I would be paying $70 anyways because that's what I am used to.
I said I was unsure and would have to think about it, to which he said that is OK and I am going to go ahead and give you the $10 a month discount anyways for the next 12 months. So, do I need to purchase the MicroCell or should I just take the $10 discount for the next 12 months? What do you think and what would you do? I have a home phone, and sufficient cell phone service at home from what I can tell. It's not full service but I can make and get calls, and have home WIFI which reduces my need for better data service.
10-03-2013 09:00:33 AM - edited 10-03-2013 09:01:33 AM
I'm not sure about this. Why would he agree to reduce your monthly bill by $10 if you didn't agree to purchase the MicroCell? I would call back and see if you get a different person who can be a little more clear in explaining the "deal" to you. Do keep in mind that basement coverage with a MicroCell can be dicey. You need to have a constant, unobstructed view of the sky for the MicroCell to work reliably because it is a VoIP device that uses GPS coordinates to verify your position, and internet requirements are specific. You might want to look at the Technical Guide (link in my sig) to get an idea of what's involved and how it works before you commit the $120. Also, there have been quite a few reported issues with the Nokia 920 and the MicroCell that weren't adequately resolved.
10-03-2013 09:41:21 AM - edited 10-03-2013 09:45:20 AM
You first said your cell phone service is weak and you don't have full service. You then said that you had sufficient cell phone service at home but it wasn't full service yet you can make and receive calls.
Do you have trouble making calls on your cell phone when at home? Do you have dropped cell phone calls at home? Do you just show low signal strength bars on your cell phone? In order to give you accurate advice, I would first need to know more details about what you describe as not getting "full service".
If I were to walk into an AT&T store and wanted to buy a Microcell, they currently sell for $199.95. Since you were talking to the Retention Department, they were doing what they are tasked to do, keep you as a customer because of what I assume was a problem that you had with their service. Perhaps you told them you were considering leaving AT&T for another provider and that prompted the offer of either a Microcell at a reduced cost of $120 up front with a payback of $10 per month until the Microcell ended up being no cost to you or simply $10 per month of reduced charges for a year to keep you as a customer. The offers are designed so that you have to stay with AT&T in order to receive the benefits. Nothing wrong with that IMO.
The question is: Do you really need a Microcell? If you are experiencing dropped cell phone calls or difficulty in making or receiving calls at home, then perhaps you should take them up on their offer. When I called AT&T about poor cell coverage, I was insistent on them giving me a Microcell for free. They agreed and I went to the nearest AT&T store and bought one for $199.95 and they gave me a credit on my next AT&T bill for that amount.
If you decide that you need a Microcell, then I'd contact the Retention Department again and say you want one but only if they credit your bill for the full amount immediately. Tell them you can't afford the $120 hit. I'll bet they will be willing to do that if you press them hard enough. Keep in mind what Otto posted though. If you can't place the Microcell or install a external antenna to the Microcell where it can receive a GPS signal then it won't work.
If you don't really need a Microcell, then take the $10 per month reduction of your bill and be happy for a year. If you already have a land line, then a Microcell isn't so much a necessity as it is a convenience. I ditched my land line years ago and depend completely on a cell phone for communications so a Microcell was a necessity to me.
10-03-2013 10:38:40 AM
10-03-2013 01:04:44 PM
Thats for all of your replies.
My cell service at home isn't 5/5 bars really ever (by the way, I currently have a Lumia 1020) it is more on average only 2 bars. It is sufficient because I can make and receive calls without too much problem. I've certainly dropped a few calls here and there while at home, but most of the time I either have 0 service so I can't make a call, or I am receiving them.
No service usually happens when I am handling my phone, but when I leave it sitting on my living room coffee table I do have service. That's happened to me before with all of my phones, though (I've been sticking with Nokia).
I guess the MicroCell isn't really a necessity to me, having a home phone and everything. Do I need to have cell phone service if I am forwarding my calls from my cell to my home phone while I'm at home? That's probably my biggest concern.
Otherwise, I was offered the MicroCell deal from the retentions department because I was sent a Lumia 1020 for warranty replacement of my Lumia 900 (thanks, AT&T) which had text messaging problems. Perhaps they were service related, but my Lumia 1020 hasn't had any problems. They denied my warranty claim and sent me my Lumia 900 back and said they were going to charge me for a damaged phone. The thing was, though, my L900 was in perfect condition when I sent it in. They didn't provide me any bubble wrap to send it back in, just the packaging box. The Lumia 1020 came in the same box, but it was in the original equipment L1020 box. I obviously didn't send the L900 back in the L1020 box, and so it was damaged during shipping, which by the way took nearly 1.25 months to procedd through the mail to them. It also took them 2 full weeks to deliver me my L1020 which also upset me. They took care of me, though, and removed the charge for the damaged L900 phone from my account and let me keep it. Once the retentions department got the whole story from my side, that is.
And when that conversation was over, they asked me about my interest in a MicroCell as I stated above. My entire phone call with AT&T was 1hr 35mins.
10-03-2013 01:07:03 PM
Also, my basement apartment does hav a walk-out porch, and windows on 2 sides. I wouldn't consider it exactly below the ground but it is the basement of my apartment building. My internet router/wifi (Comcast X1) is located next to my porch as well. Basically, it is on a window sill with direct visibility to the sky.
10-03-2013 01:36:24 PM
We don't really need a MicroCell either because I kept our landline. Our ISP took over the AT&T landline and rolled the cost into our DSL monthly cost. However, our kids lived on their cell phones so a MicroCell was a necessity.
There were quite a few problems reported with the Nokia 920's and the MicroCell sometime back. I was able to get an AT&T engineer to run some tests on the 900 and 920 and another undisclosed model. He couldn't duplicate the problems (lost connection, poor call quality) but I'm not convinced that it was entirley due to the phone. There was just something wrong with the way the Nokia's communicated with the MicroCell or vice versa. Holding the phone, in your case, would indicate to me that it's signal transmission issue, either to or from.
There are external extension antennas that some have used quite successfully with the MicroCell so it doesn't always have to sit next to a window if that's not convenient. But it does need to have a wired connection to your router or gateway. Being below ground level could still pose problems though because it's possible that something could block your view to the satellite(s) for GPS, and if your address can't be verified when AT&T does their maintenance at night, you may find you have lost connection sometime during the night when you get up in the morning.
If you really need to have better cell coverage in home then I'd but the MicroCell from AT&T, and just keep track of the return period so if it doesn't work, you can take it back without any hassle.
10-03-2013 01:53:58 PM
From your description of your apartment and you cell phone performance, I would say that if you had a Mcell, you should be able to obtain a GPS lock and benefit from having a Mcell to enhance your ability to use your cell phone at home.
I too have seen signal attenuation on my iPhone when I have it in my hand and then see the signal strength go up a bar when I set it down. Without the Mcell, my iPhone would get calls but when I picked it up to answer, I would have calls drop occasionally, especially in the basement of my house where my office is. The Mcell solved that problem.
That being said, you will need to decide if you want put the $120 up front and get paid back over a year for a Mcell. I would still recommend that you contact Customer Retention and see if you can convince them to credit your account immediately for the Mcell instead of drawing it out over a year. They have the latitude to do so if you are firm about your situation.
In either case, you should have 30 days to return the Mcell if it doesn't work for you. You can verify the return window if you decide to have AT&T send you one. As Otto stated, make sure to keep that return date in mind while evaluating the Mcell's performance in your home. You will need to get an authorization to return it before sending it back, so allow for that also.
Let us know if you get a Mcell and how it works for you. If you have problems getting set up, we can help you.
10-05-2013 05:50:12 AM
I have a M Cell in a basement and I use an external antenna to get my GPS lock. Works great.
10-05-2013 09:23:00 AM
Thanks. There have been quite a few postings from users who have had the type of success with an external antenna like you mentioned, that's why I incuded it in the Technical Guide. Why AT&T didn't include one, or offer it as an option in the instructions is beyond me.