Should I Buy a Satellite Phone? Satellite Phones Versus (vs) Cellular Phones
This page describes our experience with Globalstar
satellite communication services as provided by:
GMPCS Satellite Communications
Globalstar is perhaps THE worst company doing
business in the U.S. today. It simply
doesn't get any worse.
1501 Green Rd. Suite A-B
Pompano Beach, FL., 33064
(GMPCS Personal Communications Inc.)
"Should I Buy a Satellite Phone?"
This page contains and includes our opinions
This page graciously hosted for the author(s) by this domain and others.
Are you sick and tired of your cellular company?
Of course you are.
Google currently reports 8,520,000 results for "cell phone sucks", which is, undoubtedly, only the tip of the iceberg.
There's hardly an American citizen who isn't plumb fed-up with dropped calls, surly service, incorrect billing, overcharges, confusing plans, lying sales agents, poorly-made phones, high prices, intermittent services, etc. etc. etc. ad nauseam.
Here's an email we received describing one tenacious (albeit pissed off) cellular customer's saga after learning that we had switched to satellite:
.....mirrors my rage at Sprint month after month from May to November of last year. My brother and I were added to my parent's business account for an additional $10 per phone along with their phone and their partner's, 4 phones total. My parents had always complained about Sprint, their promise to rectify problems that never happened, the usual story....but somehow never having any trouble when it came to taking your money or adding services you might not have needed. The Sprint account was a back-burner item for them since they had bigger fish to fry with the business, but a thorn nonetheless, so I relegated myself to ironing out the account no matter what it took. I had never owned a cell phone before that, had no interest, been getting along fine without them and laughed at those who laughed at me and rolled their eyes thinking I was in the dark ages for not owning one. Granted there were the dropped calls, transfer[s] to voicemail without the phone ringing, the same things XXX experienced, but the nagging thing was the sheer expense for service. I am "blessed" upon having a Sprint Store within walking distance of my house, so the odyssey began and took the better part of the year to complete. One thing after another, each bill scrutinized to the nth degree for those charges and fees that lurked in plain sight yet hidden so well that those who won't take the time to rectify them fill the coffers and grant bonuses to the executives who know more how to manipulate customers rather than provide good service. Every month, every bill, copies, notes, names, times. I know everyone on a first name basis at the Sprint Store. It took my time standing at a counter for the better part of an hour each time while the rep pounded on a keyboard as I responded with the password once again. Time after time, interrogating about an item that was supposed to have been addressed at the last meeting but had not, new items that had appeared, why the benefits of the plan we switched to weren't in effect, it seemed to never end and the bills would always be incorrect. Have them print out all 26 pages of the bill since their web site was a piece of shit and wouldn't reveal the bill to me. Spreading that bill in front of them and demanding to know how to interpret disorganized garbage. The rep would call "Corporate" in Overland Park, Missouri, Sprint headquarters. More than once I was put on the phone after they called "Corporate" to reiterate to the person on the other end the reason I was taking my time trying to resolve something I shouldn't have anything to do with. I was doing their job and not being compensated. It should have been simple, but wasn't. It didn't have to be that way, but was. The rep would disappear to get a manager for an explanation. The times at the Sprint store were getting shorter it seemed, and I slowly, somehow became optimistic about my mission..... I was refunded and provided receipts for overcharges. I was given extra money off the bill as a bribe to keep the account. I was given a promotional discount on long distance for my home phone which I signed up for ($15.00 a month all the long distance you want on the landline). The service was misbilled for the Nov. - Dec. period in our favor of which I did not bring to their attention. I have considered myself somewhat victorious although it does seem hollow somehow and don't make my monthly pilgrimage to the Sprint Store any more. The dropped calls continue..... the calls go to my inbox without ringing the phone, that will not go away for some time. These people have put a product on the market that is not perfect, they know it, but also know there is a demand for it, much as there is for a motorcycle that will set you back half your yearly salary just so you can satisfy some emotional need. And they pay, oh how they pay, despite the frustration, hassles, overcharges, lies, terrible if non-existent support. It doesn't matter. It's new, exciting, and will get better because they say so. And don't forget peer pressure. A cell phone can be a good tool but also a source of great pain. There is a limit and you have reached yours after granting it a trial toward making your life easier. Instead it got harder. And they lost. Perhaps there might be a loss for you, such as convenience, but it will be infinitesimal compared to the grief you have shed. Please tread cautiously into the realm of satellite, who knows what fate awaits you there. And congratulations on your new beginning!
We had experienced all of the above and more, having paid nearly $900 for a Motorola brick phone way back in the 1980's for use on rustler patrol for a ranch in Nevada, and having endured every sleazy trick and stunt by this industry since then. Early in 2006 we decided we'd just plain had enough. We had grown extra-weary of dropped calls by T-Mobile, and decided to switch to Cingular, but only if we could get a UMTS phone to utilize their new broadband technology. We called them up and asked for a list of their phones that were compatible with UMTS (their own service) and were told there was only one. We bought it and signed up with Cingular -- only to discover the following day that the phone in question was NOT UMTS compatible after all, and that the rep had blatantly lied. He just plain lied, pretending to be reading from the list of specs about the phone in question. What followed was a three month odyssey to EXTRACT a refund from this gaggle of lying, scum-sucking misfits.
In the meantime we decided to go with satellite service.
We quickly ruled out Iridium due to cost and the fact that Iridium had been so badly managed that it had gone bankrupt, and decided to go with Globalstar instead. At the time we were unaware that Globalstar had ALSO gone bankrupt. We had a few pre-sales questions so we emailed them to Globalstar. Over a couple of weeks we received not a single reply. So we called them up. Instead of reaching a live person, or even an obnoxious phone-menu system, what answered sounded like a ten dollar answering machine from the Sears Bargain Bin. We left a message. We received no reply. We tried again a few days later. We received no reply. We gave up on Globalstar proper, and decided to seek out one of their "dealers". We emailed a couple -- received no reply. But GMPCS offered on their web site the actual forms we would need to set up the system. That seemed like a touch of professionalism. We filled them out, faxed them in, and sat back to wait.
We had to email once or twice to get a tracking number, but, what the heck. We also discovered, after we'd bought and paid for the phone, that it wasn't really a dual-service phone (satellite and cellular) as advertised. It only worked as a satellite phone. We were told that we could do some research and maybe find a way to get it to work also as a cellular phone, but that we probably would fail in the end. This miffed us a little, but since we were disgusted with cellular anyway, we choked it down and moved forward.
We had also assumed the phone would work in SE Alaska, where we plan to move back to, but were at first told no, it might or might not work there, but that a new system was going into effect in the summer of 2006 which would cure all those problems. So we settled for that. Then, later on, we were told it might be five years, if it happened at all. We were beginning to have second and third thoughts about the whole Globalstar thing, but we'd already signed the lease.
We received the phone later than we'd hoped. The box contained the phone, charger, and owner's manual, and laid out neatly on top of the owner's manual was a clean, new, hand-written piece of paper which stated:
"4039272694, a new Canadian number"
Yellow Post-it Taped to Qualcomm User Manual -- Actual Scan
It seemed more than a little odd that our new number wouldn't have been printed on some type of official document from this company, and that made us all the more nervous. There was NO other documentation in the box. We were also miffed that incoming callers to us would have to pay long distance to Alberta, Canada. Of course it's expected that our satellite number would not, usually, be located in our local area, but Alberta, Canada, was a bit of a stretch.
The phone itself had been advertised as "used". That was ok with us. But we were a bit put off that the company (GMPCS) hadn't bothered to even wipe the grime and scuffs off the damned thing. We were now realizing that we were dealing with a "something less than an optimally professional outfit."
We set out to play with the phone, and managed to make a few outgoing calls to friends. We discovered right off, however, that if, while talking, we cocked our heads (and subsequently the phone and its huge antenna) the call would be dropped. Too bad Globalstar steadfastly refuses to reimburse for dropped calls.
We also discovered that we were having a heck of a time receiving incoming calls. Dang! We must be doing something wrong! In fact, we were never able to receive ONE SINGLE incoming call, and that was vexing. Ditto our voicemail system -- we could never, ever get it up and running, despite following the printed procedures precisely. We finally just gave up for the time being, swamped with work and duties, vowing to get back to the satellite phone and get it all sorted out at some later date.
When we signed up with GMPCS we opted to have them automatically debit our bank account for their bills. That's against our personal policies, and against the laws of common sense as well. But for some unknown reason we did it.
We noticed after about five or six weeks of "service" that our account had not been debited the monthly fee of $65 for the second month. Sometimes that can happen on the first month of such a contract, and is usually straightened out quickly, and the billing then proceeds smoothly for the duration of the lease. We didn't want our "service" to be cut off, so we figured we'd just email GMPCS and ask if there was a problem in billing our account. We figured the phone would stop working at any moment, since the bill was now one or two weeks past due. But our emails went unanswered. And unanswered. And unanswered......and STILL unanswered. We emailed GMPCS from several different email accounts, thinking that perhaps one account or the other was having trouble talking to the GMPCS account. But we also contacted GMPCS through their online form, repeatedly, and that brought no response either. Finally, now somewhat angry, we faxed the following to GMPCS's advertised fax line. We prefer all correspondence in writing anyway, because in today's America, too many transactions with too many "businesses" turn out like this:
Faxed at 18:27
3-14-06 to 1-954-973-4800
Over the past week we have emailed you repeatedly, both through your form and using your email address. We’re sorry you have not bothered to respond. Since we know of no other way of extracting a reply from you, we’ve decided to have the Attorney General’s office (Florida) entice you to reply instead. We are also forwarding a copy of this to Globalstar corporate. Our original question was excruciatingly simple, and required no more than about 60 seconds of your time. Your reasons for steadfastly, resolutely refusing to respond are as mysterious to us as they will be to Globalstar. When we set up our account through you (4039272694) it was to be an automatic debit from our VISA card. We know you were able to access the account, because you did so for the original purchase of the phone and setup of the account. However, we are now roughly six weeks into the account and our card has not been debited for the [second] $65/mo. charge. We simply wanted to know why. We don’t want our account to be suspended. This is the type of question that customers may pose to you every single day. To REPLY is merely an instance of normal customer support. Again, we don’t know why you refuse to do that – but it speaks volumes for the type of company you must be. We left cellular for satellite hoping to find a bit more professionalism. So far, we find that satellite companies are run like circus-tent acts. We were never able to get our voicemail up and running, so, if you ever decide to reply, you must do so by email, at ########@USA.NET, or by snail mail as shown below. One last time, for the record: What. Is. The. Status. Of. This. Account? Good freaking grief!
We received no reply to ANY of the several communications we faxed in this manner. In profound exasperation we began contacting other Globalstar dealers, trying to find out if GMPCS had gone out of business, or what. Most dealers didn't reply to us at all. Several did, however, and some apparently contacted GMPCS on our behalf. We also began asking other dealers if they could take over our account. Here's a typical example of some of the replies:
.......I do not run Globalstar, Globalstar gives out Globalstar dealerships -you can cancel an account, but in advance of the one-year term there is a fee to do so, like $250 - I do empathize with you, GMPCS is slow to get to email/written requests, you generally have to call someone on the phone to get action......
We finally received an email from GMPCS which contained no message whatsoever -- just a link to their web site We browsed to the site and signed up for their "online account", which is something we'd had no interest in "joining" and so had not done so until now. We hoped the online account would at least shed some light on the problem.
We discovered that a charge of $116 had that day been levied to our account, a sum we disagreed with, but didn't have (and still don't have) time to research out. At this point we're beyond caring.
We also found a few other problems with our account. We emailed our questions to GMPCS, using their online form, but again received no reply whatsoever. Finally, now angry all over again, we faxed them as before, as follows:
When we were issued our sat phone from you, we were given a number of 403-927-2694. We happened to be on your web site today and see that our account is referred to as 254-381-XXXX Why? Also, we have changed banks and need to update our billing info. We’re unable to find a way to do this through the web site Our old VISA account (44921011281XXXXX) is no longer used. Please change our billing to MasterCard 53221810182XXXXX, exp 12/08.
We received the following reply:
Your credit card number has been changed. I am curious to know who told you the phone number of 403-927-2694. Gmpcs does not activate numbers under that area code. I have looked for the fax below in our system and I do not see it from March 31st. Please in the future email me directly.
Christina Milian [underlines mine]
And our reply back:
You don't have to wonder at all "who told us" about that number. We've attached two jpgs, which are screen-prints from your site, showing how that number is listed as associated with our account. We were simply asking you, by fax, for clarification. And speaking of faxes, we are attaching a third jpg showing our fax log. The fax in question was sent at the time indicated with a result of "OK". We trust you have entered the new billing data into our account. At this time we are asking for the name of the company that issued and now controls your license to sell Globalstar products and bandwidth.
We received the following reply:
As you can see from your original invoice in January it shows your number to be 254-381-8927.
Customer Service Manager
GMPCS Personal Communications
1501 Green Road
Suites A & B
Pompano Beach, FL 33064
Thank you for contacting GMPCS!!!
****It's ALL about CUSTOMER SERVICE****
So here we had at least ONE answer. Christina had conveniently forgotten to address our request for the company that controlled the GPMCS license, but at least now we finally knew that the reason we couldn't receive incoming calls, and the reason we were never able to get voicemail to work, was because GMPCS had given us the WRONG PHONE NUMBER. Now we were Goddamned angry. We emailed back:
Please explain why this phone came with a large, handwritten note in the box with the words: "New Canadian Number 403-927-2694." ......Please tell us what in the Hell this 4039272694 was for, and why it was supplied to us with the phone. Good freaking grief.
But Christina apparently felt that our email to her (above) was just too rude. In fact, we weren't even warmed up. Here's Christina's reply to us:
I am trying to help you as much as possible. I personally have never done anything to you and the little comments are not necessary. I do not know why that note would have been in your phone, because like I said earlier GMPCS does not activate 408 area codes for Globalstar. I do apologize if that large handwritten note was in your phone and you have your phone number and it is the number that is attached to your phone. If you need anything , please do not hesitate to ask.
Customer Service Manager
GMPCS Personal Communications
1501 Green Road Suites A & B
Pompano Beach, FL 33064
Thank you for contacting GMPCS!!!
****It's ALL about CUSTOMER SERVICE****
---If we "need anything further?" We fired off the following to Christina:
We do realize you're trying to help. But this has been a ridiculous experience with GMPCS, and as you do represent GMPCS, and since you're the ONLY contact there who seems capable of responding to us, you naturally end up hearing our gripes. As it stands now, we have spent nearly two months struggling with this voicemail system, utterly confounded as to why we couldn't get anything to work. We've had many friends waste their time and phone bills trying to test things by calling in to the Canadian number -- the ONLY number we were given-- which has now turned out to be incorrect. We've never once been able to receive an incoming call because, of course, WE HAD THE WRONG NUMBER! If I were running GMPCS, well, this crap would not have happened in the first place, but if it did, I would spare no effort to track down whoever packaged our phone system and laid the hand-written note carefully on top of the manual so it couldn't be missed, and I would unceremoniously fire their stupid, lazy, incompetent $^%%%# ass. At this point we're not sure how we're going to handle this. There are many options, not the least of which is a small claims suit by proxy for a month's rent on this phone. At the LEAST we'll post our experiences on the web, which may include complaints to the Attorney General, the BBB, and the FCC. This has been OUTRAGEOUSLY unprofessional and incompetent service from GMPCS. --Trouble is, we have reason to believe that Globalstar itself is not much smarter, which is probably part of the reason they went bankrupt.
We received no reply to the above. We then asked Christina for a refund of 50% of our payment for the first six weeks of the contract, seeing as how we'd only enjoyed 50% of the use of the phone. We received no reply. We were debating what to do, but other concerns took up our time and thoughts of GMPCS began to fade. After all, no one wants to think about the idiots of the world. We might have forgotten about GMPCS altogether, but for their brand new screw-up, as described in our email to them, below:
We have been around and around and AROUND with you regarding your company's screw ups. We recently sent you a fax providing updated billing data. You said you didn't receive it. We then sent you the fax log showing that you DID receive it. We then sent you the data AGAIN. You emailed back and said you had updated the billing data. We still have your email and we're getting ready to post it publicly along with every other G---damned screw-up you people have perpetrated since day-one. What has us so angry AGAIN? On 4-14-06 you debited our OLD ACCOUNT!!! You are absolutely incompetent. You are unprofessional. In fact, YOU ARE STUPID! There is something WRONG with you people. We've had it. You've driven us to apoplexy. You've driven us to THIS: We are filing complaints with every agency we can think of. We are posting a web site dedicated specifically TO YOU, and it will detail every single stupid G---damned idiotic shenanigan and brain-dead freaking stunt you have pulled to date. Every email will be publicly displayed. We are also taking steps to move our account to another company. We are also demanding, AGAIN, the name and business address of the company that you are directly answerable to in your agreement to provide Globalstar bandwidth. We asked you before; you glossed it over. Now we want THE EXACT NAME AND ADDRESS. We have concluded that there is not ONE SINGLE THING you people can do correctly. Not one. Not one single interaction or transaction has been performed competently or accurately. Are you all on drugs? Are you all alcoholics? Are you all retarded? How in THE HELL could you POSSIBLY screw up EVERY. SINGLE. THING. YOU. TOUCH!? HOW! Seriously! HOW!!?? Once again, UPDATE OUR BILLING INFO CORRECTLY! Just f##cking DO IT! You CAN do THAT, right? Well, no, you've already demonstrated that you CAN. NOT. But please TRY……. Good Freaking Grief. You are eligible for the Guinness Book of World Record stupid companies. You truly are. We are absolutely over the edge on this. Don't even reply. Don't EVEN F**king reply except to supply the address of the company you answer to in your agreement with Globalstar. We want the ADDRESS.. We don't want to hear from you otherwise. Everything that needs to be done will be done from our end. All you need do is sit back and watch.
We received the following reply:
461 South Milpitas Blvd
Milpitas, CA 95035
Customer Service Manager
GMPCS Personal Communications
1501 Green Road
Suites A & B
Pompano Beach, FL 33064
Thank you for contacting GMPCS!!!
****It's ALL about CUSTOMER SERVICE****
The above was received on 4-14-06. GMPCS DID manage to get it together enough to go back and charge the new bank account for our monthly service. Unfortunately (you KNEW this was coming, right?) they failed to credit back the OLD bank account, and no amount of emails, faxes, threats of small-claims-court suits, complaints to the Attorney General, or anything else, has, as of 4-25-06, convinced them to do that. They have now charged us TWICE for the same month and, for all intents and purposes, appear to be refusing to refund back the overcharge.
Well, Fuck GMPCS.
We. Have. Had. Enough.
We've filed a charge-back on the old bank account to have the duplicate funds forcibly removed from the GMPCS account.
We're filing a document to prevent GMPCS from accessing our NEW account, as they have demonstrated that they simply cannot be trusted with ANY access to ANY bank account. We will pay them by check henceforth.
We have asked GMPCS to voluntarily let us out of our contract with them, and to allow us to move our contract to another Globalstar dealer. GMPCS has steadfastly refused to respond. What a surprise. We will therefore hire an attorney local to GMPCS and force the matter to be done. We will then sue GMPCS for attorney's fees and expenses.
And this is only the beginning.
What's our advice to those thinking of dumping cellular for satellite?
The technology is there. It works fairly well within its design limitations. Of course you can't make or receive calls inside ANY structure, or often under heavy tree or vegetation cover, or sometimes under heavy cloud cover. In an urban setting you often can't make or receive a call because even though you "think" you're "out in the open", there's an overhead wire (maybe even at a 45 degree angle from you) which happens to be in the path to your satellite. Buildings block the signal. Cars block the signal. Sometimes the signal is blocked and you can ascertain no reason whatsoever for it. Sometimes you simply can't get a bird, and you'll never know why. We had assumed that receiving a satellite signal on a satellite phone (Globalstar system, not Iridium) would be about as difficult as obtaining a signal on a GPS, which is usually no problem. But it's apples and oranges. GPS satellites are all over the sky, so if one, or three, of half of them are blocked by a leaf, a branch, a hovering sparrow, you'll still receive the other half dozen. With satellite telephone, you'll likely only have access to one or two satellites. Let one be blocked by a telephone wire or the smoke from a sky-writing biplane, and you're out of luck. You'll endure ten times as many -- nay, fifty times as many dropped calls as with cellular, and you won't be credited for a single one. The voice quality is clear.
Forget about data transfer -- at least not in any meaningful way. It may work as a novelty to download a text-only email or two. But that'll cost you, especially if you accidentally tip the phone off horizontal (meaning the antenna goes significantly off vertical) while the transfer's in progress, and the call gets dropped. Again. And again. And again as the satellite flies behind a power line or a tree, or a truck passes by on the street.
Still, the technology DOES WORK, but is so unreliable as to be useful only in situations where there is absolutely no other alternative, and that includes two cans and a string, which we can PROVE is more reliable, albeit with somewhat poorer sound quality. Still, poor sound is better than no sound at all.
Still, satellite phones are kind of fun. That's all. Just "kind of" fun. Not NEARLY fun enough to put up with the likes of GMPCS, or Globalstar, who won't EITHER reply to emails, or return calls, or answer their own damned phone.
Oh-- what are WE going to do for wireless communications? Would we go back to cellular?
Once this contract is up (or we buy it out and sue for the buyout cost) we'll do without, just as we (as a species) did for the last eleven millennia. We've learned that, due to the stupidity and dishonesty and unprofessionalism of the human animal, wireless communications create more stress and grief and aggravation and BS than they cure. Enough is enough.
CC: Globalstar, Attorney General, Better Business Bureau
On 4-26-06 we recieved notification from our old bank that GMPCS had credited back our account for their double-charge. Unfortunately, instead of crediting back the $66 they owed us, they credited back $116, which does not represent the double-charge, nor does it represent the amount we asked for to compensate for not having incoming service for 6 weeks. What does it represent? We'll probably never know.
We've received an email from Jon Klein agreeing to let us out of our GMPCS contract with no penalty.
Quickly, before someone gets confused and changes their mind, cancel our account, effective immediately.
We'll find another dealer as time allows over the next week.This concludes our interaction with you, and yours with us.
Good freaking grief.
We've thought about the whole messy thing for awhile now. We're moving back to Alaska, and even though there's a huge question mark as to when Globalstar service will really cover our particular area, we do feel it will cover it in time. Cellular never will. So, despite all our reservations and fears, we've decided to take another shot at satellite.
We went to Globalstar itself and explained that we would not open a new account with their dealers, and we asked if we could do business directly with Globalstar. We received a prompt reply from one Robert Ferguson who said he'd be happy to allow us to do that. After a few emails back and forth, Robert sent us a pre-populated contract. We completed it, signed it, and faxed it back within an hour. --Rather, we tried to fax it back. There are two fax numbers on the contract; the first didn't work, so we faxed it to the second. We also included a note asking if the security chip in our phone needed to be flashed or replaced under the new contract.
When we received no reply or verification of the new service the following day, we emailed Robert and asked for a status. Robert didn't reply, but we received a generic note from the billing section telling us the contract was set up.
That was it. It just said the contract was set up. There was no reference to how much had been debited from our credit card, nothing. Nada. Zip.
Well.....let's see. Could it be that Globalstar has plans to supply us with a TELEPHONE NUMBER? We emailed back to billing and asked them for our telephone number. We received no reply that day. We're hoping for a reply on Wednesday. Have we merely jumped from the frying pan to the fire? This stuff is not really that difficult, is it?
No reply awaited us on 5-10, and since it's just about closing time for Globalstar, we emailed them again, as follows:
We did fill out the form, sent it in, and received notification that the account had been activated. Unfortunately, that email didn't state the amount that had been charged to our card, nor did it tell us what our new phone number is, nor did it answer our question regarding the chip in the phone -- will we need a new chip, can the old one be flashed, or is it not something we even have the worry about. We emailed again asking these questions, and again received no reply.
We need a reply re these three issues.
Will this elicit a simple reply? Who knows. At this point we're thinking we've made another horrible mistake. Two cans and a string! Two cans and a string! That may be what America is reduced to for all future communications needs. You can actually buy two cans and a string at this link:
We did finally hear back from Globalstar and have received our new number -- which happens to be the same as our old number. Our question about the security chip was never answered, but at this point we feel lucky to have simply gotten a phone number, and we're not going to press our luck. Globalstar wouldn't answer our question regarding how much they had charged our card, either, but what the heck -- we'll find out when we get the bill, right?
As long as Globalstar bills us on time and for the correct amount, we see no reason things can't roll smoothly along for years. Anyone taking bets?
We managed to go two whole days without another cluster-f---k. Then the honeymoon ended abruptly. Here's our email to Globalstar:
Re sat number 254-381-XXX, we need some clarification quickly.
We used to have an account through GMPCS. The service was beyond anyone's worst nightmares -- it was legendarily bad. It was SO bad we ended up posting a website describing it.
We finally (or so we thought) extricated ourselves from that miserable, backwoods outfit, and we then approached Globalstar for a new account.
Our belief was that GMPCS was a dealer FOR Globalstar.
Globalstar set us up with a new account, using our old phone number. The service through Globalstar was just about as shoddy as what we had experienced through GMPCS.
Today, 5-12-06, we see that GMPCS has debited our bank account for $58 and some change.
We need to know immediately: Is GMPCS and Globalstar one and the same? Are YOU part of GMPCS? If yes, you must cancel this account instantaneously, and we do mean now, within the hour, today. All of our communications have notified you that we were unwilling to do business with GMPCS again. If you ARE GMPCS, and you allowed this service to be initiated a second time with GMPCS, you may be guilty of fraud.
If no, if you are NOT GMPCS, but are a different entity (Globalstar) then GMPCS has illegally accessed our bank account and we will file a criminal complaint by the close of business today.
What in THE HELL is going on here? Who is whom?
Our new reply-to address is as follows:
If we do not hear from you by close of business we will file a chargeback on the debited amount and submit a criminal complaint of credit card fraud against GMPCS.
Emailed at 11:31 Pacific, 5-12-06
Attempted Fax to 408-933-4448 at 1321 hrs -- Received recording, "We're sorry, your call cannot be completed as dialed" (etc.)
Faxed successfully to 888-604-7517 at 1324 hrs.
And the fun continues......
Richard Ferguson, 'email@example.com'
We're sorry we did not hear back from you. It is now after 1800 hrs, Pacific time.
Since you did not respond we are filing a chargeback against GMPCS in the amount of today's debit of $58 and some change. That amount will be removed from their account on, probably, Monday.
Once again, we are asking you for an explanation of exactly what your relationship is with GMPCS. Due to past experiences, we will not do business with GMPCS again, nor will we allow ourselves to become even remotely, vaguely connected with them in any way. That they have gone into our bank account again is outrageous. We thought we had made it clear to you that we wished to do business ONLY with Globalstar, and NOT with GMPCS. At this point it appears to us -- and we can only speculate since you have refused to respond -- that either Globalstar IS GMPCS, or Globalstar has for some reason handed our account off to GMPCS. That's the only way we know of to explain the GMPCS debit of our bank account. In either case, it's unnacceptable.
If Globalstar IS GMPCS, we need to extricate ourselves from you once more, as we will never, ever do business with GMPCS again. If you are NOT GMPCS, but have merely handed off our account to GMPCS against our express wishes, you have two choices: (1) Get our account back without delay. In that case you will enjoy full and timely payments on our account, to you, for years or decades to come. Or (2) If you're not, for some reason, willing to get our account back from GMPCS, you must cancel our service entirely and forever.
This is coming to you via email, and also via fax. If, again, we do not have a reply by close of business Monday, it will come to you via the Attorney General's office.
We're giving you every possible opportunity here to simply conduct business in a straightforward, simple, responsible manner. So far you haven't been up to the task. As of close of business on Monday all bets are off.
Emailed at 1823 hrs on 5-12-06
Faxed at 1826 hrs on 5-12-06
A chargeback in the amount of $58.03 was filed at 1841 hrs on 5-12.
No reply on 5-13. Even if Globalstar someday decides to grace us with a simple reply, we wonder if we want to be associated with any company this badly operated. The chargeback has been registered by the bank and is in process.
No reply to date.
All we want to do is give Globalstar (not GMPCS) money.
What could be simpler?
First let me apologize for the delayed response, my daughter was sick last week and I am just now catching up with emails. Let me assure you that your phone us currently active as a Globalstar phone on a Globalstar account (account # 1.100XXXXXX) and was activated last week on 5/9/06. You should have received a call at 206-706-3957 from one of our customer care reps informing you that your phone was active.
GMPCS is a reseller of Globalstar equipment and service. What this means is that they purchase equipment and airtime from Globalstar in bulk and resell it to consumers. They provide their own billing, technical support, customer care, shipping, etc. They are a separate entity from Globalstar.
Please feel free to call me at 408.933.4405 or we can correspond via email if that is more convenient for you. I want to make sure this issue is resolved to your satisfaction. Thanks.
Still awaiting a response, so we emailed again:
Thank you. THANK YOU for your reply!
OK, here's the deal. Our experience with GMPCS was beyond horrifying. We don't know if you're aware of it, but we transcribed the entire encounter and posted a website detailing it. We finally extricated ourselves from them and then just sort of "rested" for a few weeks before approaching Globalstar. We assumed that signing up with Globalstar would be a fresh new start. When we saw that GMPCS had debited our account, we went ballistic -- and we're still ballistic. We will not have anything to do with GMPCS. Period. Nothing. Nada. Zip. We never want to hear their name again, if possible. Are you saying that it is impossible for us to have our account through Globalstar without in some way dealing with GMPCS? Why can't Globalstar bill our credit card? If GMPCS is merely one of your dealers, why must we do business with them on any level? When we first came to you, we asked, in writing, "May we deal directly with Globalstar and not through any dealer?" And you replied that we may. But now we're dealing with GMPCS. WHY? How can we get GMPCS totally and completely out of our lives and simply have an account through Globalstar?
No response, so we emailed again:
Maybe we haven't been wording this correctly. We've attached a small jpg image which is a screenprint of the charge placed on our credit card by GMPCS. We want to know why GMPCS is taking our money, and not Globalstar.
The way your account is currently set up you will only be dealing with Globalstar. You have not seen a bill from Globalstar at this point because your phone was activated just last week, your first bill will be sent out May 16th and you should see delivered to the address listed on your account sometime in the end of May. Since your account is set up for standard billing, there will not be any credit card charges from Globalstar unless you call our customer care department at (877) 452-5782 to put a credit card on file and request automatic monthly payments.
In regards to the GMPCS charge on your credit card, Tom Babb and I contacted Christina from GMPCS and she informed us that a credit has been issued in the amount of $58.03. She terminated your account and deleted your credit card information from their customer database ensuring the end any further charges from GMPCS. Hope this helps.
So.....even though Christina from GMPCS told us, in writing, that our account had been cancelled, it had not. Well, what a bloody surprise. We are having GMPCS served with a legal cease and desist document. We don't even have words to describe that outfit. In trying to do so, we would exhaust every four-letter expletive we know in the first .08 seconds, and we know a lot of filthy words. We believe our relationship with Globalstar is on the right track now. Knock on wood. Cross our fingers. And toes. All we want to do is pay for phone service, for God's bloody sake!
This not only helps, this solves all of our problems and gripes. Thank you!
After we receive your first bill you'll be set up on an auto-pay system from our bank, and that should all work from here on out, with no hassles and no problems for either of us, for years.
UPDATE: Summary / Conclusion
We've not yet received a credit back from GMPCS, but we believe we will. Either they'll willingly credit back, or the chargeback will forcibly take the money from them, or we'll fly to Florida and remove it physically from their wallets. Why did GMPCS debit a card they were not authorized to access, for an amount that makes no sense, without identifying any such transaction to us? We believe their local police department should be made aware of this situation, and we can certainly take care of that. You can't access someone's credit card without express permission. To do so without permission is usually called theft in court.
We don't have an explanation for why Globalstar didn't reply to our emails several months ago when we first started looking into satellite communications. Had they, they would have gotten our contract right from the get-go, and things probably would have proceeded smoothly from then onward. But instead we ended up dealing with GMPCS, because Globalstar wouldn't respond to us. Of course GMPCS wouldn't respond most of the time either, but by the time we figured that out, they already had our money and our contract, and escape was then difficult (Moral? Don't let this outfit have your money or your signature! Ever!). Neither do we have an explanation as to why Globalstar was slow to respond this time. But the bottom line is, they did respond, and when they did respond, they performed correctly. They did set up our account. They did finally see that GMPCS had debited our account AGAIN, and Richard and Tom acted proactively to get ahold of GMPCS and back them down. Apparently Richard didn't understand that GMPCS had debited our account again, and we can see how he might have been confused by that. We do now believe the whole mess is straightened out, and we don't have any problem with Globalstar except their lack of a sense of urgency in responding. We feel that 99.2% of this entire mess was the fault of GMPCS. We do not believe that company can do one single thing correctly. But it's worse than just that, because even when they're not required to do anything, they make up things to do which weren't SUPPOSED to be done, and which they STILL do incorrectly! God and Allah save us from companies like that. Professionally, American businesses are becoming the laughing stock of the world. And this is why.
We're discovering that roughly three out of five calls that we try to initiate, even from the middle of school football fields, are never connected, even after try after try after try. It seems that, often, no matter what we do or where we try to call from, we simply can NOT initiate a call. We've also discovered that roughly 50% of all working calls get dropped, and we can reconnect in only 50% of cases. This product/service is, thus far, almost completely disappointing. If we weren't locked into a contract we'd be teetering on the edge of dropping the service. We are simply not finding it useful.
Around the first of September our Qualcomm 1600 was left on a piece of wet carpeting. The phone wicked up the moisture and stopped working. Drying it for several days didn't help. We called Globalstar to inquire after used replacement phones and were told they had none. We then inquired about repair, but were told that when the damage involved moisture, no repairs could be attempted. This was not surprising. We used to be in the business of recovering and restoring marine electronics that had gone down in sinkings. Success was possible, but often elusive, and always expensive.
We then began perusing the net to find a used replacement phone. -- No point in buying a new one if we're just going to dump the contract when it's up in 8 months. We ended up at The SatPhoneStore. They offered several used phones. We chose one of the product pages, read the page carefully and completely, and placed the order. The product page appears below:
The remainder of the page lists the available plans and shows a map of the coverage area -- nothing more. Nothing more AT ALL. We specified "second day air" on this purchase.
A few days later we received an email from this outfit stating that if a customer wanted rush shipping, the customer had to first call the SatPhoneStore by telephone.
What the heck is this about? We place from 5-25 orders per DAY, and this is one we've never heard of. The shipping method was specified during checkout and paid for at that time. Why couldn't this business simply do what all other businesses do and just ship the purchased product via the chosen method?
Ah, well, this is, after all, the Satellite industry.
The following day we called the SatPhoneStore, ready to jump through whatever ridiculous hoops they had set up to inconvenience the customer (an "upsell" ploy?). Unfortunately, they didn't answer the phone. We left voicemail, explaining that we didn't have time for this crap, and that we simply wanted the phone to be shipped via the method we chose and paid for. Period.
A day or two later, the phone STILL not having arrived, we received an email explaining that we could not HAVE the phone unless we set up service through the SatPhoneStore. The phone had not yet even been shipped. By this time it was getting irritating, being without a phone.
We went back to this gaggle and explained that we ALREADY had a service plan through Globalstar, and would they JUST. SHIP. THE. PHONE.
We canclled the order and told them what we thought of them, advising that they should STATE THIS REQUIREMENT UPFRONT BEFORE THE PURCHASE, then went to eBay to just buy a simple phone.
We won the bid on a used Qualcomm 1600 and specified Next Day Air. That was days ago. The phone didn't arrive, but we did receive an email from the seller, stating that they had screwed up the Next Day Air shipping, and would refund the shipping costs. And, by the way, please look for the phone in about 8-10 days.
Who knows if it will EVER show up. Who knows if it will be faulty. Who knows if we will be able to smoothly transfer this new phone to our existing service plan. Who knows if we even give a G--damned rat's ass anymore.
We say again: There is something mentally wrong with people in the Satellite Communications industry. We don't know what it is. We don't care what it is. We simply warn the prospective customer/victim in this way: Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Since 9 of 2006 we simply stopped using our sat phone. It didn't work most of the time anyway, dropped virtually every call at least once or twice, and we threw it in the drawer and left it to rot. We called GlobalStar to inquire of our last payment due on our one year contract, and were told the last month we needed to pay for was March of 2007. On 3-30-07 we rejoiced as we sent in the last payment along with the letter shown below:
Los Angeles, Ca. 90030-0519
Enclosed you will find our check number 2096 in the amount of $77.97.
This represents our final payment to you under the terms of our contract.
This was a miserable experience. You will NOT contact us again.
Account No. 1.10------
CC: Public Internet Post
You'd think that would be that, wouldn't you?
Ah! But you'd be wrong! Because this is GlobalStar!
On 5-1-07 we received yet another bill for regular service.
We replied as follows:
Los Angeles, Ca. 90030-0519
Registered mail: 0103 8555 7490 3263 ----
CEASE AND DESIST
Re your errant bill of 4-16-07, for account # 1.10030740, in the amount of $78.42, be advised that, per the attached letter, this account was paid off on 3-30-07. The one-year contract has matured. We owe you nothing.
Perhaps you do not comprehend the disgust and loathing we have for your company. You are beyond worthless; you are a liability.
You will cease and desist sending us bills on this completed lease. One more correspondence from you, for any reason whatsoever, will cause us to file a formal complaint of interstate harassment with the Los Angeles police department.
We’ve put up with all we’re going to from you, and then some.
CEASE AND DESIST.
Enough is enough.
You may always view this and other documents at:
Account No. 1.10---------
CC: Public Internet Post
We have continued to receive bills from Globalstar which have been contested. They have sent no explanation of their billing. They are apparently refusing to reply to the Attorney General. Our attorney advises that we should pay the disputed amount, then sue to recover it. This has been done. Once again, our advice: Stay away from this outfit. Maybe the Iridium systems are better, but we doubt it -- after all, we haven't yet seen a single communications company with the brains God gave a crowbar.
PO BOX 30519
LOS ANGELES, CA 90030-0519
Registered receipt: 2103 8555 7490 0547 xxxx
Enclosed you will find a check in the amount of $156.84.
This amount is disputed; this payment is disputed. You may be sued to recover this amount.
The Attorney General of Washington has contacted you regarding this case. It would be in your best interests to reply to them.
This letter comes to you via registered mail so that you cannot claim you didn’t receive it. We have found Globalstar to be one of the worst, most unprofessional and dishonest businesses operating in the USA today. Your service is virtually non-existent; your customer service IS non-existent; you have provided us with NO usable service over the past year.
By cashing or depositing the enclosed check you are agreeing to never contact us again – not by email, nor USPS mail, or private carrier; not by telephone, fax, carrier pigeon, smoke signal or telepathy, not for any reason, not by third party, not at any time. We wish to be done with you in a way that is utterly and absolutely conclusive. Failure to comply will result in a restraining order being filed against you both in Washington and in California and possible civil action.
You may always view our publicly posted experiences with you and your service at the following URL:
If you’re unwilling to cash or deposit the enclosed check, we urge you, we urge you to send the matter to collection. When it comes to court you may try to explain to the judge exactly WHY you are refusing to agree not to contact us again. We can’t wait to hear your argument suggesting that you should have the right to contact us.
If the reader or potential Globalstar customer (read: VICTIM) has ANY lingering doubts about the professionalism, honesty, honor, competence or committment to customer service, the potential Globalstar customer (read: VICTIM) need only refer to the letter below, recieved from the Washington Attorney General on the date indicated.
We are now filing a criminal complaint against Globalstar for harassment and fraud. See below:
Los Angeles Police Department
150 N. Los Angeles St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Please consider this a formal complaint of fraud and harassment against the following company:
Los Angeles, Ca.
We entered into a one-year contract with Globalstar Satellite telephone systems about a year and a half ago. The contract was up approximately three or four months ago. We paid through the end of the contract. However Globalstar continued to bill us. We sent numerous letters to Globalstar via registered mail explaining that the contract was paid off, and demanding that they cease and desist contacting us, especially for the purpose of billing for amounts that were not due. Unfortunately, Globalstar continued to bill us. We advised them repeatedly by registered mail that we considered their continued billing to be harassment, since it served no legitimate purpose. Globalstar ignored all such demands and continued to bill us. Why would any company act like this? Because our service through Globalstar was SO BAD that we posted a website about it, and this is Globalstar’s way of “showing us”. Showing us what? Showing us that it REALLY IS exactly as bad as we’ve been telling the public online. The Globalstar website is at the following URL, and includes a copy of this letter:
Finally, several months ago, our attorney advised us to go ahead and pay Globalstar for the two months of overbilling they were asking for, in the hope that would remove any further reason they had to contact us. We were advised to then have an attorney in L.A. collect that roughly $200 overpayment back from them, with damages. We did send two months worth of overpayment to Globalstar by registered mail. They signed for the delivery. They have refused to cash the check (two months now), and they are now continuing to bill us for even more months beyond the end of our contract.
In profound exasperation we appealed to our Washington Attorney General’s office, who immediately appealed to Globalstar. As you can see by the enclosed reply from the Attorney General, Globalstar has refused to reply to any of the Attorney General’s letters or phone calls, and that office has given up.
At this point it’s crystal clear, and any prosecutor will agree: This is a case of premeditated, orchestrated harassment by Globalstar. It is designed to harass and annoy us. This exactly the Globalstar we have all come to know and love. This is what they DO.
At this point, since this is clearly no longer a civil matter, but a case of harassment and attempted fraud, it comes under the jurisdiction of law enforcement. We need this to stop. We believe that Globalstar is continuing this nonsense so that they can finally turn it over to collection, for the express purpose of causing us grief. They apparently are not bright enough to understand that the collectors will take delivery of copies of all the registered letters we’ve sent to Globalstar, along with copies of the overpayment check we sent them and which they signed for, and will kick the matter back to Globalstar. Globalstar will then be guilty of fraudulently sending the matter to collections, and the collections company may well go after them to pay for their time.
In the meantime we want the harassment to stop. We’re happy to travel to L.A. for trial – we could use a few days at Disneyland. We ask at the very least that you make Globalstar aware of this complaint, and advise them to cease and desist. If they then do not, we’ll ratchet it up another notch. This is perhaps the worst company we have ever come in contact with on two continents and several Third World countries. We want relief from their harassment. We have never seen a company so dishonest and so petty.
We’ve enclosed the letter from the Attorney General. Any other documents you need, please ask.
And Globalstar CONTINUES to bill:
On 9-1-07 a second copy of the above criminal complaint to LAPD was sent to Globalstar at the address on their above bill.
In case anyone was wondering what ever happened to Globalstar Satellite, they're still there, still at it, and pushing us closer and closer to a full-out civil suit. We continue to receive invoices like the one below, except now they show a zero balance. You'd think that nine months after the police contacted them and advised them to cease and desist, they'd get it. But as we've said all along, these ain't the brightest bulbs in the string, and this web page proves it. In fact, we now think of these folks as being at least mildly retarded. No sane adult acts as they have, jeopardizing their business and indeed, their very freedom. This is an intentional, premeditated, calculated, orchestrated scheme of harassment; that is clear. There is truly something wrong with the people at Globalstar. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome? Too many drugs in the Sixties? Just bad genes Too many knocks in the head as kids? We don't know, and we don't care. We just want them to leave us alone. So now it's back to L.A. P.D. to see if we can get them to do more than just have a talk with these bottom-feeders. Still looking for an alternative or even a supplement to cellular service? Globalstar isn't it. Trust us.