Monday, August 2, 2010

The world of cell phones~ or High price hang ups....

Our old cell phone contract was up & we needed to do the cell phone update, contract renewal deal. It is all done through Kiosks, mostly these days, because any full on dedicated cell phone store is going to charge a whole lot more.  There are internet options for buying phones, but I tend to want to see & touch the thing before buying. They are always upping the ante. Lots of fine print. Any super cool, full featured phone comes with a mandatory web connection element that tacks on an extra $30 bucks a month per phone, above all the regular charges. Ka-ching Ka-ching.

I mean 30 x 2 x 12 months= $720 x a 2 year contract we're talking $1440 above whatever the monthly rates are plus maybe additional costs for the phone, then the tack on if you want a text package.... etc etc.
All that stuff really adds up. Unlike my kids who have cell phones only, I also maintain a landline w an internet broadband connection. So I have to add about $100 a month to whatever additional cell phone deal we choose to realize the total cost of phone communications in our household.
There is no doubt the so -called "Smart Phones" are super cool, and they have dazzling features- but I don't want to fork out that kind of money, just for an auxiliary phone.  But really, some of them, when seen in person, are pretty crappy pieces of cheap plastic. To read the reviews are a kick in the pants...
you get the full gambit of "I love this phone" to "No- I do not recommend & can't wait to get rid of it."
Some are phantom phones-- take pictures while in pockets & purses. Others don't hold a charge (great the one time you want to use your cell phone to save your life.... it runs out of juice!). Some, you almost need Tinkerbell to operate the keyboard, because they have teeny tiny keyboards, with slick plastic keys.
I'm sorry, really no human old enough to operate a cell phone has fingers THAT small!

But as I check out the kiosks, I feel overwhelmed with iphones, Blackberries, Droids, Touch phones, Smart Phones, 3G networks, and the plain old flip phone... which you can text on & take pictures, etc.
To make it more confusing some places fail to post prices on the phones. My mind makes it a blur... plus today we got a guy who, every question we asked he answered with "I'm new here, and I don't know"
Ok... you don't post prices & you don't have info-- thanks for wasting my time!

And here is one serious complaint I have--- most have some pretty funky ringtones. I mean seriously... a lot of rudimentary prefabbed music, it's embarrassing, really. We should not have to pay extra money to get a respectable ring tone.

I will admit up till now I had eschewed texting, but bought a phone with a nice qwerty (real keyboard) feature.  So much easier to send a quickie message & have it appear on the other person's phone screen, rather than call voicemail, punch in a password & wait for the robot to play the message.  Texting is cool. Not that I am a crazed teenager, feeling obliged to send hundreds of texts pertaining to all things adolescent, each & every minute of my life..  My messages would be more like *I'm toast, please bring home dinner*or *Have I mentioned I HATE the corporate world lately???*
Stuff like that. Less than profound reality checks & such. Keeping it both real & minimalist.

But alas to get that phone we HAD to buy the additional extra $20 buck a month internet connection, with the sucky internet connection.
Who am I that I am so effing important & such a total & complete news junkie, that I MUST have access each & every minute of every day? I mean really.
So we had 30 days in which to return the phones, and today, day 29 we returned them. Went down to a basic model. I liked the fancier phone better.... but am I wiling to pay an extra $600 bucks over a 2 year contract for it?  We're not stupid. We know they tack on the internet connectivity for more revenue... they have all that access pre purchased in bulk- more & more it seems the phones are entwined with mandatory add ons.
Why oh why can't we just have a nicer phone w/o the attached $$$ add ons?
Also, in this area a certain carrier seems to have the most towers & the best coverage, over even more major carriers like AT & T, for instance, that is why we tolerate Verizon.

So what's your deal re cell phones?
Did you go for a Smart Phone or 3G network & all it's whiz bang features? Do you love it or not?
Do you have the freebie basic & laugh all the way to the bank??
Just curious.....


lisahgolden said...

The idea of an iphone set off a huge argument at our house yesterday. Yes, I understand that everyone has one, but right now, while I'm unemployed and there's not a new job anywhere to be found, do you really need an upgrade? The answer was easy for me and MathMan. The 19 year old was not so pleased. She was willing to pay the extra data fees, etc, but we couldn't just let her jump in to buy a $250 phone plus pay the extra when the fact it - it's a want, not a need.

I love my phone, the internet connection on it, etc. but am I willing to go bigger, better? No. Not even if I get a job.

Fran said...

Lisa~ I feel your pain. My kids are older so they do what they please- the older son is the kind of person who not only buys the latest greatest, he's likely to camp out all night to be one of the first to get it. Jeez! Nothing worth having to do that in my book, plus I'd rather not be a guinea pig/beta tester for the initial big rollout of a new product.
I think it is a marketing scheme that all the crappy phones come w/o the data package, and the mid range "decent" phones require the spendy add ons. We had an EnV phone a solid phone w a realistic sized keyboard- but the carrier opted to make the mandatory add on.
We tried it, but found the web connection (entry level) navigation very annoying-- it has limited access time, but most of that time would be spent futzing around trying to get the little cursor to actually align with the thing you want to click to hope it responds & opens the item you are feverishly trying to click open, all the while, burning up web time.
I'm thinking- for this we are paying extra???

Everything below has not-so-good reviews- I mean when people post thing like "I want to throw this phone out my car window on the freeway", you realize they not only dislike the phone.... but actually hate it.

I resent the marketing people setting it up this way. Hey! Give us a decent/reliable phone.
It's like there is no middle ground & that is not a coincidence. They have set it up that if you want a good phone, you are roped into spending some serious cashola.

For a young college kid, in your case, that is over the top- especially when they are going to get hit up for expensive books (even used), and exorbitant fees & tuition. Plus they make you lock into a 2 year commitment- which always annoyed me-- If your service/product is SO good, why make people lock in for such a long time period. I can see how they easily rope in a college kid-- the shiny techno goodness, and all that tiny fine print.
Or they make you pay almost $200 bucks to back out of the deal.

Techno hucksters!

Jerry Critter said...

I still use my phone only as a phone and when I want to use it. That means it is off most of the time. The kids say, "but how will we get a hold of you if we need to". And I say, call the house and leave a message.

I've had the same flip phone for about 4 years and still have an "outdated" plan that you cannot get anymore and only costs $19.95 per month.

Works for me.

nonnie9999 said...

not to out-do jerry critter, but my flip phone is 7 years old, and i pay $20 every 3 months through virgin mobile. i have my landline, and i only wanted a cellphone for emergencies. i never use the damned thing, but i kept paying the 20 bucks so i would have it for emergencies, and i wound up with a couple of hundred bucks worth of credit on the phone. my son moved, and he has yet to get a phone, so i lent him my cell. he decided to just get a cell instead of a home phone. however, there are so many plans that he's finding it difficult to pick one. i sometimes toy with the idea of getting a new phone when the battery dies on the one i have (well, the one my son has at the moment), but i know that i won't sign any contract. that's what i like about virgin mobile. i can tell them to kiss my ass, and i won't owe them a dime.

Fran said...

Jerry ~ Ha! A holdout you are. I bw to your ability to buck the trend.

Nonnie~ Wow! Good deal for you- I am quite miffed at how these companies lure you to the upsell. One dealer said to me today, they are trending to make ALL the phones in that data package required mode.

I heard consumer cellular is an interesting company (AARP is using them exclusively)....
They don't require contracts, and they allow you to change your plan prior to getting dinged if you go over your usage.

they are a little light on the options for phones.... but jeez why do we put up w 2 year contracts & really if you want a hoot read customer reviews of what people think of their cellphones!

More & more I like the idea of pay as you go & no contract-- that way if your phone is a total piece of crap, you can get rid of it, and you can adjust to what level services you want/need.

Lots of kids in the Gen X generation go totally land line free. They are not actually home much to use a land line!

Having a cell phone has been a lifeline to stay in touch w my local kiddo.
I like your KMA plan Nonnie ; )

Dada said...

Well, not to out-do Jerry Critter or Nonnie (just kidding, guys!) but we have a flip phone w/camera thru Virgin Mobile pay-as-you-go, i.e., $20/3 mos. (which was all we ever paid up until we dropped our land line provider Vonage of a couple years at the vaunted "$24.99"/mo. which was actually between $33-35/mo. after taxes, local state federal fees, line fees, whatever--you name it--and a cut to Don Trump or some other crapitalist capitalist, and opted for Magic Jack @ $19.95 flat rate/year [thru our computer] that includes all the little amenities & which is currently running a five year renewal offer for $69.95 [which even if they're not around for five years is about what I used to pay for TWO MONTHS of Vonage!] so I may take them up on it. Mind you, I don't do texting (all thumbs, you know?), but since our land line is now so very, very cheap, we're using the Virgin pay-as-you-go a bit more, so are paying probably a bit more than $20 every three mos. (probably closer to $30/3 mos. now.

Fran said...

Well! I guess the consensus is to Stick it to the man!
Not get sucked into those shiny techno traps.....
People w the Smart phones are paying thousands of bucks over a 2 year time.

I imagine there are some folks who really NEED that kind of device... those who travel a lot, work on the road or @ various locations, or are on call etc.

But I don't want to put out that kind of coin.

Glad we jumped ship

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