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The wife and I drove up to Syracuse to return the iPhone 5S that T-Mobile sent me for my Test Drive on Sunday. There was a Winter Storm Warning... but... Subaru.

On Saturday we drove around a bit through Elmira and some of the usual spots first. My brother's house doesn't have any service (maybe 1 bar of roaming). But that's OK when you have wifi calling. They're really just on the edge of service from Elmira - so as it all expands a bit more, they might get lucky anyway.

Also no service inside Target. This is likely a band issue though. As T-Mobile's service improves, that will probably change and improve as well. I'm not sure which band would be needed to reach a bit deeper inside the building but I'm led to believe band 12 will fix all the things!

I have to say that overall I think TMo has come a LONG way from just 6 months ago. There was previously zero coverage around here (OK, so maybe they had actual 2G/Edge service... but come on, that doesn't count these days) and now there's LTE nearly everywhere. Still lots of room for improvement (and a few places to light up coverage) but it's coming. And the results are there so far.

Another interesting difference is just in support. TMo's social media team is relentless - they're even surprisingly active on Google+. Hopefully these people are well paid because they seem to be pretty good at their job. As I told my wife, they appear to actually give a shit. Try to find anyone at Verizon or AT&T that seems to give a shit about their customers... I can't recall anything that would illustrate that.

If in the whole process there was one thing that put me off a little bit, it was the in-store experience. When I went to drop the phone off (because you must physically return the phone to an actual TMo store), there were 3 employees working and they were each helping someone when I walked in. We waited 25 minutes before someone could finally help us. I don't know if these 3 customers in front of us had the most complicated processes ever - but it felt like forever for what I thought (based on nothing at all) should be fairly simple transactions. I guess not.

Another thing I'd consider odd about the return process - at least given all of my interaction with them thus far - was that even though I was returning their Test Drive device, no one even asked me how it was. Nothing about what I thought of the service or the device... or least of all if I wanted to sign up for service! I had no intention of signing up that day (network isn't ready yet around here) but it was surprising to me that they didn't even ask. Isn't that what the Test Drive is for??

Oh well. I don't intend on having to visit any TMo store even if we do sign up for service. It's far easier to do most business online.

One of the things we will still have to figure out is what to do about the switch. All 4 lines are under contract and thus will have ETFs. I'm not sure yet if it would be worth trading in our devices to get TMo to pay the ETFs. It seems to me that it might work out better if we sell each of our devices outright to cover the ETFs - as I'm pretty sure we'll get more money that way to help cover the cost of new devices. Why new devices if all of ours will work on TMo out of the box? Wifi calling.

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