Thursday, December 02, 2004

Cell Phones = Cool
Cell Phone Companies = EVIL

WARNING: Marginally funny rant ahead.

It seems these days that everyone has a cell phone. Of all my friends, I may be the only one who doesn't have one. Yes, I'm one of those people. Last week the Yale Daily News published an article exploring the reasons that so many people have cell phones, and why some people hold out.

Here are their points for why people do have cell phones:
  • "gives a greater sense of safety"
  • "more of a convenience"
  • "the lure of cellular telecommunication"
Their list of possible hold-out reasons includes:
  • "private cultural rebellion"
  • "did not need one"
  • "mystique"
Sadly, I find this article to be sorely lacking. I don't have a cell phone, and it has nothing to do with "mystique" or any kind of "rebellion." I don't have a cell phone because, to put it plainly, cell phone service providers are evil. I had a cell phone, in fact. During the long year of my "service contract" I experienced frequent dropped calls in an area with plenty of coverage, improperly reported remaining minutes (resulting in insane overage charges), refusal to repair or replace a broken phone, and a plethora of other frustrations. The company that charged me $40 a month for the pleasure of all these annoyances was SprintPCS, but the companies are all the same. Pay for minutes you don't use, sign away the next two years of your life, and good luck contacting an actual person (let alone a native speaker of English) for support.

I have noticed lately that Sprint has taken a new approach to their service plans and marketing. In fact, it's not really different from what all the other companies are saying, they're just being more blatant about it. Their marketing campaigns can essentially be rephrased to say: "Pick us! We've got cool phones, and we're slightly less sucky than the other guys!" Yes, cell phones are cool. But you know what's cooler? Not paying out my ears for the privilege of using one.

And yes, even Tracfone is guilty of being evil. They're the "prepaid wireless" company that claims to sell you minutes that "never expire." Well, what they don't put in all their flashy advertising is that if you don't buy new minutes every three months, your phone service gets deactivated. So I guess at that point your minutes become undead. "Prepaid wireless with minutes that never expire" becomes "low-feature wireless service with a three-month service contract term." Like I said, "slightly less sucky."

I want to be able to buy a cell phone up front, with no "service contract." I want to be able to purchase reasonably priced minutes that don't expire, for real (as in my phone's "service" doesn't expire, either). I want decent coverage, and few dropped calls. And I want a way to pay my bill easily online. Is that so hard? Apparently it is.

Thankfully though, I'm not tied to the local (also evil) Bell for phone service, either. I've been liberated by Vonage and I'm not looking back. $27 a month (after taxes — update: I now pay just $17 a month) for crystal-clear phone service through my high-speed internet connection with voicemail, caller ID, call waiting, three-way calling, online payment, and a host of other great features. I couldn't be much happier. It's going to take a lot more than a flashy phones and slightly less sucky service to lure me in. Can you hear me now, Verizon? SprintPCS? Cingular? Tracfone? Anybody???

Source: Yale Daily News


Blogger cedia said...

I think when I have time, I'm gonna have a blog just about this. Sorry about the profanity on my posts. Do read. It'll give you an insight on who NOT to go with.

Cingular is Evil Part 1Cingular is Evil Part 2Btw, Walmart is Evil too!

9:43 AM, December 09, 2004  

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