For all the talk of me loving Total Wireless because it’s super cheap and uses Verizon’s superior network, I’ve run into a problem: the Verizon coverage at my job has been consistently mediocre, and since I’ve moved to a new office in a different part of the building, I basically can’t make any calls. Time to switch!

I’ve already been on AT&T’s network, and the main problem with it is that in my favorite grocery store owned and operated by a small crazy man, the AT&T signal didn’t make it into the building.

I’m the primary grocery shopper in my household, and I often check my grocery list app while shopping, plus text with my wife about tweaks/additions to the list. The store has wifi, but (maybe?) because they’re all about LOW LOW PRICES, their wifi sucks. It would constantly drop and reconnect, and often when reconnecting I’d have to re-do the login splash page. This got very frustrating. When I switched to Verizon/Total Wireless, the signal worked totally fine in the store. No more stupid wifi.

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But since Verizon doesn’t work at my desk, and AT&T doesn’t work at Woodman’s, I’m going to try T-Mobile. My unlocked Galaxy S7 Edge may or may not actually support wifi calling but hopefully even if it doesn’t, the T-Mobile signal will at least make it into both buildings.

I don’t need unlimited data, with being on wifi at home, work, and my gym, and also since T-Mobile prepaid plans don’t count most music streaming against your data cap. Their Simply Prepaid plans page lists a 4 GB for $45/month plan, 6 GB for $55/month, and a 10 GB for $50/month “limited time only” plan.

Right now I’ll probably keep my wife’s phone on the Total Wireless $35/month 5 GB plan so we have Verizon coverage if we find ourselves out in some part of the boonies where T-Mobile doesn’t work, but I might move her over to T-Mobile later. So I called the T-Mobile store to find out how long this 10 GB $50/month plan will be available, in case I want to switch my wife over later.

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The guy who answered the phone had no idea. All he could tell me was the 10 GB plan had been available for as long as he’d worked there. He also mentioned that on prepaid plans I would have to come to the store every month to pay my bill. I made some kind of comment that it’s weird to have to go to the store every month, and then he tried to tell me that all prepaid plans with all carriers work like that, and he tried to say that prepaid brands like Straight Talk are owned by Sprint, when it’s actually owned by Tracfone and uses AT&T’s network.

I didn’t want to spend a bunch of time trying to get actual answers out of this guy, but he said he would ask his manager if there was any way to sign up for automatic payments. The manager told him that on a prepaid plan, I could download the T-Mobile app and at least pay through there, but not set up automatic payments. This still sounded fishy, but whatever. I didn’t want to extend the conversation.

Once I hung up the phone, I tried to research this autopay situation myself. Which led me here:

I mean, that’s pretty clear right there! I wonder if this particular T-Mobile store is telling people they can’t do autopay on prepaid plans to upsell them to the more expensive T-Mobile ONE plan. Who knows? All I do know is I’m now going to rely on these oh-so-competent employees to switch my service over to T-Mobile on my lunch hour.

Wish me luck!

UPDATE: The store employees were actually nice. I mentioned that I did a little searching and the T-Mobile website said how to do autopay for prepaid plans. This was news to them but they were cool about it.

I ported my number over to T-Mobile and the process went fine. Coverage at my desk isn’t really any better (shows 1-2 bars) but crucially, when I flipped SIM cards, the phone did this “restarting to reconfigure to features of new SIM card” dance and wifi calling is now active. My phone actually works as a phone and not only an internet device connected to wifi.

I should probably mention that my office building has some unique signal-killing properties. We make products that emit radiation so there are concrete bunkers in the first floor to insulate the radiation testing from the outside world (and the rest of the office). The building is built on a grade. The front entrance is on the first floor, but the back entrance is on the second floor. The radiation gets aimed towards the back of the building where it has to go through lead, concrete, and the ground. I’m on the 2nd floor but still, the building screws with cell phone signals.

I stopped by Woodman’s on my way home to see how coverage works there, since we’re out of coffee creamer anyway. It works! My phone was clinging to 1 bar in the back of the store, but it works, and that’s better than AT&T. I’ll take it.

Oh, and about autopay? When I logged into my T-Mobile account online, well...