Dave and I are just about at the end of our first two years as owners of them new Mobile Cellular Telephones, and there’s a lot we like about them, but we learned we are not heavy users. For some people, their cell phone is like their right arm. For us, they’re more like skin tags. And $106 a month seemed like a lot to pay to shoot a couple little texts a day through the air. My contract’s up in a couple days. I put it to the collective Facebook mind: who’s your phone service provider?
It was a wildly successful gambit from the point of view of collecting a bewildering clusterfiddle of opinions. The advice that appealed to me the most was to go to Best Buy where someone could walk us through all the available plans and give us sound advice, because he wouldn’t care who you went with.
So we did. We took a number and got in line for a consultation with a bright young person, and they all looked friendly enough, except for that one guy Jason, and then it was by-God Jason that sure-enough whistled us over to Big-Ass TVs and started punching on a computer and spitting out instructions. What’s your phone number? Done. What’s your pin number? I don’t know.
Jason sighed audibly and stared at the ceiling and said I am NOT paid enough money to talk to one more old fart, I swear to God. Possibly not out loud.
Let’s start over. What’s the last four on your Social Security? Whose?
Whoever’s on the account. I don’t know which of us that is. Listen. I just want to know if there’s a cheaper way to get phone service. Verizon is offering us a free iPhone but maybe we could buy a different phone and get a different service. Like…you sell other phones, right?
Jason was a multi-tasker. He could operate a keyboard, sigh, roll his eyes, and shrug all at the same time. We left. Our tipster was correct: Jason was a disinterested third party. Specifically, he did not give one rat’s ass about us.
“Let’s go to Verizon,” I said to Dave. “Maybe they’ve got some kind of deal.”
Jason’s older and more sullen brother worked at Verizon. “We were just trying to get our phone bill down a bit,” we whimpered.
Were you thinking of getting the free iPhones? That’ll get you up to $180 a month.
I grabbed Dave by the elbow. Run! I hissed in his ear. They’re charging us more just to THINK about it!
We were dejected. And then we noticed the Facebook thread had had several recommendations for Consumer Cellular. And that it is the outfit recommended by the AARP. The AARP! My people!
We’re going with them. I checked their website. My word! HUGE font, some of it in Palmer-method
cursive. Their phone comes with an optional two feet of curly cord so you’ll have something to twirl as you lie on your bed with your feet in the air and admire your toenail polish. It has a protective Bakelite case with a Dr. Scholl’s lining. Customer service answers on one ringy-dingy–land sakes!–and in the background you can hear Mabel pulling the cords on the switchboard and patching you through to people clear across town. The mailman has to put a tie on to deliver the bill and they only take personal checks. There’s a good choice of ringtones.
I’m going with two shorts and a long.
AARP sounds like a burp. An extra long burp full of air.
I have no idea what kinds of offers or plans are available here in Aus, I just stick with my old prepaid flip phone and recharge it when it runs out of credit. I'm not a "phone" person.
(I did get my cat recently, a kitten that I've named Angel, you can see a short video of him playing on my blog).
Cute KITTY! Tater used to fetch the little fuzzy mice and even try to throw them onto my chair so I wouldn't have to get up to re-throw them. She nearly always missed, but it was so cute I'd get out of my chair every time.
I've heard good things about Consumer Cellular. I hope you give us a post about it once you've had it awhile. My contract with Verizon isn't up until November. I'm so ready to go somewhere else.
I'm already sold. You can call them up just to say hi if you're lonely. They'll answer.
I'm not AARP age, but I've been dreading getting a replacement for my 8 year old fritzy phone, exactly for these reasons. Thanks for the laugh.
Oh dread can come early. And you'll know when you're AARP age, because they'll write and tell you about it.
As a seriously old, totally inept old codger, I have allowed myself only a plain, old fashioned clam-type cell phone with limited minutes. I got a Jitterbug phone for just less than $100 and their 100 minute per month plan for $19.95. But I've since downgraded to the 50 minute, $14.95 plan since I only carry it for emergencies and such anyway. Young hipsters may roll their eyes when they see it, but then again – I'm only paying $14.95 (plus $% or $6 in taxes) each month. Let 'em laugh.
Oops, that's $5, not $%.
I think CC can give you the same deal for about five bucks total.
I'm frequently appalled at all the things we pay for (without the blink of an eyelash) that once were free. When did these all become necessities? I think this is proof that it is still a man's world, because I'd be perfectly happy with basic cable – or none- and I'm not mesmerized by the magic of a new app, like someone I know.
I got a star app on my iPad, but I keep forgetting it's there. I suppose I should step up my app consumption, huh?
Consumer Cellular is also available through AAA. You don't have to be an old fart. And when you figure out that even CC gives you far more minutes and bells and whistles than you will ever use, you go to Family Dollar and get a TracFone.
Do you have to be an old fart that drives? Because that's a dangerous combination. I look forward to seeing how little I can get away with, because CC will go pretty minimal.
I like my Trakfone. Don't even think about it but once a year.
And then you think "oh Trakfone, Trakfone…whatever would I have done without you?"
Sounds like heaven. Love the description of Jason and his brother.
By the way, guess what my family's old "ringtone" was, on our party line when I was growing up? Yep, two shorts and a long. You picked a good 'un!
Dang! My grandma's was five shorts. I thought that would have sounded too odd. Of course anyone who had UP TO five shorts could feel justified in listening in.
We listened in regardless of how many rings. Just sayin'….
I didn't have weird rings on my phone when I was little, but we were on a party line, and sometimes when you picked up the receiver there was already a conversation going on. Uh, I listened in.
I'm with River. I go the pre-paid option and top it up every so often. Really not very often.
I wonder if Murrmurrs readers are, in general, not phone people?
I'd be lost without my iPhone. Literally. Siri or GPS gets me where I need to go. I can find nearby restaurants, motels, or Starbucks wherever I am. I can look up birds and their songs on iBird Pro, listen to NPR podcasts or even NPR, tune in to comedy or music with Pandora, take pictures when I don't have my real camera, record frogs or birdsongs for later ID, identify landmarks nearby, set an alarm or timer, Google stuff, check the weather radar, send an email, use the flashlight app, check Facebook, scan QR codes in a museum, oh, and make phone calls. I'm 58 so I qualify for old farthood.
If I could do all that on my phone, which–theoretically–I can, I'd feel the same way. Sadly, I just now set up my voice mailbox, and I still don't know how to retrieve my messages. Inchworm inchworm.
You haven't bonded with your phone yet. Spend an afternoon with it. Drink some wine, put on some soft music, and start pressing buttons. It will warm up to you. It helps to use the app that tells you how to do stuff, too. 🙂
I already am warming up to it. Why, I figured out three whole things on it yesterday, including how to get my voice mail, which I never did master on the dumb phone. Oh! And I installed an APP! Myself!
My grandmother was a telephone switchboard operator. Her name was Mabel. I kid you not.
I didn't get a curly phone cord with mine. No fair!
You'll just have to twirl your hair.
I hate phones. I have post traumatic phone disorder after working for a living for longer than the Jasons of the world have been alive. I carry a cell phone because my family insisted after heart surgery but I don't turn it on. I don't know how to take messages off either. I can lift its lid, turn it on, and phone Himself to say the tie rod has broken on the car, come get me and call the tow truck. That's good enough for me. $11 bucks a month charged to my credit card and enough accrued to call Australia for an hour or two, if I've remembered to charge the darn thing.
Oh sugar lamb. I feel your pain. My own sister says she got PTSD from being forced to call her own classmates on the phone in fourth grade to find out why they didn't come to class. What were they thinking?
I keep a cell phone in case of emergency when I am traveling on the motorcycle or in the car. Otherwise I don't even bother carrying it or turning it on. I pay $100 a year for 300 minutes – I probably use less than ten minutes a year. For me a telephone is a tool – for everyone else it seems to be a social connection meant to replace actual interaction. I am not on facebook and I don't twitter: actually there is no one that I give a fuck about enough that I want to hear from them twenty-four hours a day.
You're not on Facebook? How are your old girlfriends going to track you down?
My Tracfone costs about $20 every three months. Cell phones don't work where I live, so I use it when I travel. I have over a thousand minutes to use up and I only travel about twice a year. It lives in my lunch box.
Now I'm interested in your lunch box. I hope it has a cartoon character on it. Mine was Quick Draw McGraw.
Hey Murr! I like the sound of these AARP types, tho obviously I do like me phone that can do my taxes while acting as a musical barometer. But I'm curious: DID you save money? Roth x
Huh. I want YOUR phone. One of these days I'm just going to get my computer phone printer and iPad in a room and tell them to sort it all out between themselves or no juice for them.
I have a smart phone. I love my smart phone. I grew up with my dad always telling me to "look it up!" when I asked questions. The encyclopedias were next to the dining room table. The dictionary was frequently ON the table.
I have all of that in my pocket now. ALL of it and MORE! How cool is that??!!
I also use it as a microscope. Take a photo of the little bug or flower part and then zoom waaaay in on it to see it up close.
Flashlight, alarm clock, timer (measuring water flow, not my own speed, thank goodness), calculator, calendar, camera…oh my gosh. What would I do without it????
So, no, not ALL of your readers shun cellphones–some of us thrill to the magic!
You're so mod! Let's see. I HAVE used my camera (my regular camera) to zoom in on a distant bird so I can tell what it is. You did remind me how much I like going through a regular print dictionary. I don't think that kind of perambulation can be adequately duplicated on a device.
I mentioned to my son that my flip phone was starting to act wonky and so for Christmas he bought me a Droid – also, for reasons I don't understand, called a smart phone – I think that's just a joke only the kids get. He put us on the family plan and then lectured me on what I could and couldn't do with the phone (when did my 30 year old kid become my dad?). I did this because I travel over 100 miles a day to and from work and also because of the hassles we went thru last year after the Marathon Bombing here in Boston when I got locked into my building and couldn't get a call to my son, who was also locked into his building (too much phone traffic) – the flip phone wasn't easy to use when texting. The phone is incredibly stupid and there is no common sense to using it – but my kid is happy I have it – it apparently gives him a sense of comfort. I figure about the time I finally figure out all the bells and whistles it will be extinct. I just wish that instead of coming up with new phones they came up with a battery that lasted more than 15 minutes even if you aren't using the darn thing!
I'm afraid by the time I learn all the bells and whistles I'LL be extinct. I'm going to satisfy myself with two bells and a whistle. Update: successfully set up my voice mail box today and my email account. Now I'm going to shave my chin fuzz into a soul patch and go have an expensive coffee somewhere.