Way back in ancient times, back when I was married … yeah, that was ancient times … my wife signed us all up for a Verizon cell phone plan. She got the “good” phone, and my kid and I received the “two free phones” that came with it.
I should note that the “free phone” was barely capable of making calls. It was a smart phone in the way that Charlie Gordon was a smart person before the surgery. If you don’t understand that reference, go to the library and sign out a copy of Flowers for Algernon.
Eventually I purchased a second-hand BlackBerry phone from an eBay seller, and I immediately fell in love with the phone and with the brand. Wow, e-mails that can show up on your phone? And you can still use it to make calls? Yes please…
Over the years, I’ve stayed loyal to the BlackBerry brand, going through various products associated with the company – the Q10, the Priv, and my current KEYone.
Unfortunately, my association with Verizon – my phone carrier – has been less “loving,” shall we say. Because I took advantage of Verizon’s one-time offer of unlimited data, I now have the ability to use my BlackBerry brand – whichever one I choose – for streaming TV shows and movies and videos and whatnot, without incurring overage fees. And over theyears, Verizon has tried desperately to convince me to give up that perk. I’ve stayed out of contract with Verizon, knowing that the minute I go into a contract, I’ll be paying overages and surcharges. I’ve had to purchase my phones at full retail price – or unlocked – so that I don’t incur any contracts that would make my unlimited data plan disappear.
Heck, even on those occasions when I make a payment and the Verizon store attendant says to me, “You know, your plan is kinda outdated, let me just lick on some buttons here and I can get you a much better plan,” I basically have to wrest the keyboard away from his click-happy fingers. For what I need and for what I demand, I’ve got the perfect plan that Verizon doesn’t want me to have, and I’ve got it with the perfect phone that Verizon doesn’t want me to own.
Which is why the last two news articles involving BlackBerry’s resurgence – yes, the brand is resurging – both made me smile and made me wince.
First, BlackBerry is discounting unlocked 64g KEYone phones on Amazon to $270 and change. This is great. It’s an amazing phone and a steal at that price.
Unfortunately, that price is only available for GSM carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile. BlackBerry KEYone phones for Verizon, a CDMA carrier, are still at full retail price with no discount. Blech.
So … maybe I should consider upgrading to BlackBerry’s hot new KEY2 LE phone? Faster? Better processor? Still has that physical keyboard and lots of power? Totally uncrackable by hackers?
Well, recently Verizon offered a new plan to customers to add the BlackBerry KEY2 LE phone. Wow, 64g of data, Google Assistant, that awesome BlackBerry processor, the physical keyboard, and I’ve got enough money to get one …
Except … Red Checkmark is only offering the BlackBerry KEY2 LE to its business and Enterprise customers, not to regular consumers like me. And a quickcheck of Amazon shows that the only KEY2 LE phones for sale are the models for GSM carriers like T-Mobile and AT&T.
And I know why Verizon is doing this. They don’t want me to be a happy customer. They want me to give up my BlackBerry and get a substandard (to me) iPhone or Galaxy or some other creature of cellphone. And that’s not what I want.
It’s like if I went to my local Chevrolet dealer and said to them, “I want to buy a Chevrolet Camaro, that cherry red one over there.” And they would tell me, “Oh, the cherry red one is not for sale to our customers, it’s only available for special orders by customers not named Chuck Miller, could I steer you over to our used car lot where I can sell you a Hyundai Entourage at full price?”
No, I get it. Trust me. They want me to leave. They want me to give up my golden goose “unlimited data” account.
It’s a stalemate. They want me to go. But I don’t want to go.
And the next time BlackBerry has a new phone out there … whether it’s a KEY3 or a Priv 2 or some other keyboard-enabled treasure … I’ll get it. So long as it integrates with a CDMA phone carrier.
Sorry, Verizon. You can’t chase me away that easily.
Can you hear me NOW?