A Verizon rep told me that Straight Talk phones that use the Verizon system only have access to about a third of their cell towers. When I asked a Walmart Electronics salesperson if the Straight Talk service using Verizon towers was in any way inferior to Verizon's service, he said they were the same. Which is true? What's going on here?
When sitting between 2 Verizon users, my Straight Talk phone wouldn't ring and went to voicemail, but their calls from the same person would get through for them to answer. I consistently got one bar below whatever the number of bars the other 2 Verizon users got. Now I know why. I guess you get what you pay for. What good is a phone that doesn't ring with 2 bars?
There is more to the issue you may have been having. Not all phones are equal either. Some phones have inherently better reception than others which may have also been an issue. If all three of you were using the same model phone, I would agree that you have a point. Before I switched to StraightTalk, my friend had his older iPhone on Verizon before he switched to StraightTalk with the same phone. I was still on Verizon with my similarly old Android at the time. He had just as much signal as I had and sometimes BETTER on StraightTalk! More bars... I was irritated when calls went to VM for me while his rang since I was paying more. I did some research and found it was the phone, not the service. I have the same reception I had on Verizon in my same locations (home, work, common recreational areas between Orlando and Cocoa Beach, and locations South) on StraightTalk using Verizon... . I just pay less for it.
NOW... there is a reason for it: They have crappy customer support when you can get someone on the phone. I deciced that a $49.10 a month bill instead of a $119.67 for the same coverage was worth the aggravation for the couple of times a year max I need customer service. Also, during peak traffic, yes regular Verizon customers get priority access over those of us using StraightTalk. HOWEVER, for the handful of calls where I experience a delay in connection, I'll take the savings thank you.