Thanks for all the feedback, fellas.
I could complain some more and even take Verizon to small claims (which I've done before and won), but my time is money and it's probably not worth the hassle.
The best thing I got out the whole deal is the stimulation to educate myself on my current wireless options. That's when I discovered that I could take my existing Verizon cell phone over to Page Plus Cellular and get 1200 minutes (and 1200 text messages) a month for $30 with no contract. That's 3X the minutes at 75% of the cost.
But, since my phone was old, and Page Plus only sells older model refurbished 'dumb' phones, I went with StraightTalk instead. I got a new Samsung R451 'semi-smart' phone for $100 with no contract. It features a full physical QWERTY keyboard, MP3 player, and internet browser. StraightTalk (and Page Plus) runs on the Verizon network, so I still get the best coverage and reception like I'm used to. For $30/month with no contract I get 1000 minutes, 1000 text messages, and 30MB of data. I could get unlimited everything for $45/month if I wanted. The phone doesn't have an email client, so it doesn't check for emails. Instead, I set up my Gmail account to forward emails to [mycellnumber]@vtext.com so I get text messages within 15 seconds of someone emailing me. The messages contain enough of the emails so I can see what it's about and if it's worth replying to. I can then use the phone's browser to get into my Gmail inbox within 30 seconds to read the full email and reply to it if I like. The phone's screen is not really large, but it's good enough to do emails, check movie times, and get text directions on how to get somewhere. I like that the phone is big enough to use easily, but still fits neatly in my slacks or jeans pocket. I'm very happy with the phone and service so far. I'm almost glad Verizon cheated me out of a few dollars
If you're interested in StraighTalk, here's some details. They're a reseller formed as a collaboration between Tracphone, Walmart and Verizon. Buy the phones at Walmart, don't buy a minutes card, go home and activate the phone on the www.StraightTalk.com
website and sign up for an automatic debit plan. If you're going with a new phone number you'll be up and running with both calls and internet connection within minutes. If you port a number the calling ability may take 24 hours to move over, and the internet may take a couple of days to start working. If you call customer service be patient with those guys; they're located outside the U.S. and their English isn't perfect, but they do try to help you. Just remember how much money you'll be saving while still being on the best network and relax. By default the service has an annoying pre-call message that tells you how much call time you have left. Just call customer service and tell them to turn that feature off.
Hope this is useful info