AT&T Unlimited Data: What does it Actually Mean?

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Pickles was going to write this post but as you can see, he’s decided that napping on the job is priority one.  Guess it falls on my shoulders to share what we learned about what AT&T unlimited truly means.  Sometimes it helps having a family member who works in mobility.

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AT&T does truly have unlimited data without ever incurring an additional fee no matter how many times you exceed the 22GB “cap”.

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s always, Unlimited Data Plan smartphone customers will still have the comfort of knowing that, no matter how much data they use in a billing cycle, they will continue to pay a single monthly flat rate. That is the essential promise of the Unlimited Data Plan, and we are pleased to continue honoring that promise.

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What AT&T unlimited data plan means is that when a customer reaches 22GB of data per billing cycle, network access is throttled back only under certain conditions.

Because the amount of congestion at a cell site can vary significantly, the performance impact for affected unlimited data plan customers may also vary significantly. Standard speeds and latency will resume once the cell cite is no longer congested, or the customer’s data session moves to an uncongested cell site. In addition, speeds and latency will return to normal at the start of the customer’s next billing cycle.

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What does this mean for the RV  Community?

Quite simply, if you are in a less congested area and have exceeded your 22GB cap, your data will NOT be throttled down for the remainder of your billing cycle so long as you remain in an uncongested area or use most of your data during non-peak hours.

If you are in a highly populated area, then expect your data to be throttled once you reach your cap.  But let’s be blunt, aren’t most RV’ERS looking to escape heavily populated areas in the first place?  

Don’t have an AT&T unlimited plan?  They are still available if you sign up for the DIRECTV package available here.

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Our first truly stressful week concludes

This week has been a trial of patience for me and parents.  First, in a time span of four days we changed campgrounds three times.  Personally, that’s a little much for me!  I like riding in the car but seriously, this bird needs some play time away from those pesky dogs who insist they must sit by me in the car.  So finally we settle in and next thing I know, the furnace goes out in the middle of the night.  I am a tropical bird people, I demand heat!

Pickles isn’t far off, it has been a trying week for residents of The Gump. When we pulled out a week ago we were looking forward to a nice stay at Dead Horse Ranch State Park.  It was a mere two hours from the house but cooler than Phoenix.  We got here and Dave decided that he could back into the space without assistance.

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The tree won the argument and Dave no longer believes that backing in without my help is such a great plan.  So, we park and I get everyone settled while he gets us hooked up for the next two weeks.  By this time, he is upset with himself, tired, and stressed out that he has irreparably harmed The Gump.  So, you can imagine his joy in realizing that he read the site information wrong and that while we had 50amp power and water, we didn’t have sewer.  Frustrated, tired, and pissed off that everything so far had gone horribly wrong we decided to change campgrounds the next day.

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Scrambling quickly we decided on Alamo Lake State Park, change our reservations, and climb into bed.  Well as you know that didn’t work out so well, and we ended up back at Dead Horse Ranch.

The night we all tumble into bed exhausted but content at the new site at Dead Horse Ranch.  We took showers before bed and suddenly the blasted furnace kicks on but is only blowing cold air and not kicking off.  Dave fiddles with it, pulls power, resets the blasted thing, everything you can think of in the dark.  Finally, we settle on pulling the fuse and going to sleep. Pickles was in his usual spot in the kitchen, the fireplace was on.  I woke up cold on Wednesday, stiff joint cold which isn’t a sign of an adequately warm home.  I check on the bird, he’s fine a little mouthy but fine.  I grab a sweater and read until Dave wakes up.  He starts work and eventually gets a chance to fiddle with the furnace.

Nothing we try works, so we contact our service advisor who recommends calling Keystone.  Keystone’s wonderful advice?  Take it to a local dealer and have them look at the issue.  Astounded that on a rig less than forty-five days in our possession that’s the advice, I grumble but call the closest dealer.  Nope, they don’t have furnace parts in stock and they don’t make housecalls (so to speak) and so we’d have to drag The Gump there and leave it for multiple days.  That SO wasn’t happening!

I did a little research and found RV Medic who were able to come to us the same day.  Imagine that, reasonable service that wouldn’t require moving The Gump.  So, Gideon Ephart from RV Medic showed up and diagnosed the problem.  A blown circuit board on the furnace.  We paid the fee and had the circuit board replaced.  Once again, we would have heat and the trip could continue.  Well, Thursday night the furnace started acting up again but different than last time.  We once again called RV Medic and they came out.  Turns out we were the lucky ones and got the first bad circuit board in six years.  Woo Hoo!  Problem is now solved.  The furnace ran all night like it was supposed to and Pickles can once again claim to be the world’s most spoiled Severe Macaw.

Look, we don’t mind the work and the little things that go wrong. We greatly appreciate small, family owned businesses like RV Medic which solve problems quickly and efficiently.  What we didn’t expect was the cavalier attitude of Keystone/Dutchman about the problems we are experiencing.

Sangria and Daddy
Stressful week but they’re so happy it was ALL worth it

We have reservations for two peaceful weeks at Fool Hollow Lake State Park starting tomorrow.  With a working furnace, and what we expect will be a mostly empty park due to weather, we are looking forward to packing the family tomorrow and moving .

Lessons Learned This Trip (So Far)

We’ve been gone five days this trip and the first three were filled with lessons learned.

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Dave decided he could back The Gump in alone just using the truck mirrors.  He forgot to account for the tree on the passenger side.  The tree decided to fight back and now The Gump has exterior war wounds.  It had to happen sooner or later and now we know.

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Not all camp hosts are created equal and the lovely view above was the last straw after wounding The Gump earlier in the day.  We didn’t come prepared for dry camping, our fault since we misread the campsite descriptor as including sewer.  Damage, no sewer hookups, and a neon green cactus made us change our plans and reservations.

After some quick, but thorough, research we made new reseverations with full hookups and cell coverage according to the maps.

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Well, those cell coverage maps failed to account for the dead spot we landed in.  Zero bars on either AT&T or Verizon which was just soul crushing, because go around the bend and wham four bars of coverage. The site had full hookups but was primitive and poorly marked.

We stayed but sat down and came up with a new strategy moving forward.   First night or two of a new locale we are staying at a known quantity  (either via word of mouth or listed amenities confirmed with campsite personnel) and we will then use the next day to scope out the cell coverage where we truly want to be for two weeks or a month.  The constant moving from campsite A to campsite B is stressful and exhausting.  A little more foresight and planning on our part can elminates, well greatly minimize, the stress.

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Sunday morning we are returning to Fool Hollow Lake State Park.  We both love it there, as do the flock.  Pickles has loved hanging out on the back patio here at Dead Horse Ranch and at Alamo Lake state parks.  The dogs and Leo have been as pleased as punch about it too.

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Our First Week

We’ve been here a week today and so what is the general take-away you might be wondering? If your spouse isn’t your best friend then the close quarters will not be to your liking. Luckily, we are best friends and so far so good!

Biggest Challenge
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Pickles is the biggest challenge so far. Birds, much like toddlers come with a lot of kit. It isn’t so bad when the sun is shining and we can chunk him on the back patio to hang out. He’s loving the experience but his cage eats up real estate which can be challenging at times. We knew that going in so it isn’t a surprise.

Our mission when we return to “civilization” is to look for different options for him. We need to have the ability to let him come out and play safely (for him and The Gump both) and sleep at night. His travel cage isn’t an option because he doesn’t have the room to spread his wings. We will figure something out, even if it means making it ourselves.

Biggest Surprise

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Wally has been the biggest surprise. At fourteen and half, he isn’t the most spry dog but he has embraced the lifestyle with enthusiasm and gusto. Sure the stairs up into The Gump aren’t his favorite but hey that’s why we got a toy hauler with a back patio so the dog ramp could be used. He is active and loving every minute.
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Sangria has taken to the woods like a duck to water. This is the same dog who won’t poop while walking her home neighborhood. But apparently, put her princess bum in the woods and pooping is no longer an issue. She’s been awesome the whole time.

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Leo loves laying down and chattering at the birds and squirrels. He hasn’t tried to escape once, well the cold may have something to do with that. Overall, one very happy cat!

The Humans

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Once we solved the data dilemma, or rather Dave did, we have settled in quite comfortably. The Xbox One is connected and we can game. We have settled into spots on the sofas with ease. We have our own space but are never far from one another.

There are certain things you learn to live with and handle. The black tank backing up because of the 10° temperatures at night, the after effects of broccoli for dinner, and forgetting to turn on the bathroom fan after use. But overall, small things compared with the solitude and peace we’ve experienced in the last week.

Our Top Tips for Newbies

1. Be adaptable – you will forget something and things will act up. A little patience goes a long way into making challenges molehills and not mountains.
2. Forgive and forget – yup, things will annoy the crap out of you pretty quickly in tight quarters. Grumble and forget is our best advice.
3. Bring more socks than you need if the weather is inclement!
4. If not connected to 50amp shore power, be prepared to flip the breaker often until you get in the habit of checking amp usage. Coffee pot, fireplace, and microwave/convection oven cannot all run at the same time!
5. You will never miss that missing width from a residential king mattress.

So while we have much to learn and figure out still, it’s been a very good week. Everyone is happy and healthy.

The Importance of Exceptional Personnel

First impressions are powerful things and rarely does a company get a second chance to make a good first impression.  Our first impression of La Mesa RV was so far from favorable that honestly I’m surprised that we gave them a second chance.  The second chance impression was even worse than the first which I found impossible.  So when we first contacted the Tucson dealership it was with zero positive expectations and every belief that the experience would be as negative as all previous interactions with La Mesa had been to date.

We got lucky.  Our call to Tucson to view the Heartland 3900FLP was answered by Chris Johns.  Chris is Internet Sales and not a salesmen waiting like a vulture outside the front door.

Chris is polite, soft spoken, and funny.  He did everything I requested and didn’t seem to mind the obvious chip on my shoulder (Dave is more forgiving than I).  Chris and the outside sales guy, Terry, left Dave and I in peace to discuss the FLP.

We made multiple visits to the Tucson dealership in the coming six weeks.  Every time Chris answered our questions and let us wander in peace.  He gave us the space and time to do our research and make a decision.

Chris Johns is the sole reason La Mesa RV got our business.  He alone is responsible for delivering us as customers.  I was ready to price shop and drive across country to give  another delearship our business.

Floyd Hall is our Service Manager and the reason La Mesa will continue to get our service business.  Floyd is an extremely busy man but he is polite, funny, and conscientious about doing what is right for the customer.  Floyd answered our overnight emails every morning and got our concerns addressed promptly.  That level of service and response has continued since we took possession of The Gump.  We have no concerns that Floyd will ensure things are done right the first time.

Dave and John of La Mesa were immensely helpful while we were there as well.

Chris Johns and Floyd Hall are exceptional employees that La Mesa RV is lucky enough to employ.  They completely reversed our opinion of the corporation and are the reason we will drive four plus hours round trip to return The Gump to Tucson for future work when there is another La Mesa RV less than ten miles from our house.  Chris and Floyd made, and continue to make, La Mesa RV Tucson a delearship we would recommend in good faith to friends and family.

Our PDI Experience

This post is late because we got home from Tucson and immediately came down with very bad colds and the flu. We are both finally recovering and feeling human.   So without further ado, our PDI experience with La Mesa RV Tucson follows.

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Lana and The Gump headed for home for the first time

 

We went to Tucson the third week of December and lucky us, it was the coldest week in the last several months.  Dave was grumbling about the amount of stuff I was packing to take but hey, we were camping out on the lot for at least two days so stuff had to come along.  Once the normal spousal grumbling ceased we made our way to Tucson, fully expecting the worst.  We had heard so many horror stories about dealers rushing the PDI and things not being caught.  I had warned La Mesa I was going to be a stickler and they assured me that it would be no problem.

Our expectations for far exceeded and there was no single question that wasn’t answered or concern addressed.  The PDI was actually an incredibly reassuring experience.  Every person we dealt with was professional, polite, and low key.  When we arrived we greeted by our salesman, Chris Johns, who introduced us to our service manager, Floyd Hall.  Floyd and Chris are exceptional individuals who I will heap praise upon in the next post

Floyd had one of his service advisors, Dave Masters, walk us out to the fifth wheel and he proceeded to walk us through the outside of the coach.  Dave had more questions than I did but the Dave’s asked and answered until my Dave was comfortable.  Then we went inside where I had more questions, which were comfortably asked and answered.

Not once did either of us dig out one of the numerous check lists we had found online prior to leaving for Tucson.  I’m infamous for making lists and so it is shocking that not once during the entire PDI process did I feel the need to pull out a PDI checklist.  I attribute that to the patience and professionalism of Floyd and his team.

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Hard at work for the first time in The Gump

 

When we purchased the coach, part of the deal was that we would spend a couple of nights on the lot at La Mesa before signing off on the PDI.  I cannot tell you how invaluable those nights were.  Dave worked during the day, as you can see above.  (He actually hates that picture but I’m proud of him since he lost fifty pounds in 2015).  Every morning we had an e-mail waiting for Floyd with questions or things that went wrong overnight.  Those camping nights were far more educational than the physical walkthrough.  Every morning John, our service technician, would knock on the door prepared to fix stuff, everything from misbehaving  MCD shades to gouged flooring.

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The first selfie I think we’ve ever taken

 

Speaking of gouged flooring, the amazing ladies at Creative Colors International out of Casa Grande, AZ did an amazing job repairing our linoleum (of which they had never seen or repaired before).  The repair job is so amazing that neither of us can pinpoint the exact location where the floor was damaged.  The pictures below are of the repaired area, before and after.  It’s a little evident in a close-up photo but everyday life, not at all visible.

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Before

 

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After

We are pleased that the floor looks so good and the linoleum didn’t have to be ripped up and replaced.

 

We left on Friday morning, after three nights on the La Mesa lot.  Almost every concern or issue we had was addressed prior to returning home.  The outstanding issues were under discussion with La Mesa and Dutchmen for resolution.  The Gump will be returning to Tucson at the end of January for outstanding items and the new stuff we’ve found on the first trip out.

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Our landing lights, one of which was out and only discovered while camping on the dealer lot

 

Our biggest advice and take-away from the PDI experience?  Staying overnight on the dealer lot before signing off on your rig cannot be under-estimated.  So many issues and concerns were addressed that we would not have found during the normal PDI process.  Should we ever replace The Gump, we will be overnighting on the dealer’s lot during the PDI.