Monday, March 26, 2012

Going Mobile

We just switched from our old wireless carrier to a new one. I don’t want to mention names, so lets call them magenta and red.

In order to do a fair comparison, we created a spreadsheet listing all the fees for various features of the plans … basic service, additional line, unlimited messaging, data, etc. We checked the Web sites, looked up all the options, and even emailed and “live chat”-ted with some of their agents. (The only way you can’t contact the phone company is by phone.) It turns out the plans, and their prices, are meticulously designed to be as indecipherable as possible.

What’s more, if you ask three different agents, you’ll get five different answers about what the costs are and what discounts are available. There are discounts that apply only to certain users at certain hours of the day, during certain astrological signs. You can sign up for a “friends and family” package, unless you’re actually friends with someone in your family. Then you pay extra. For a limited time, you get double the bandwidth for the same price … unless you choose an iPhone, in which case you get half the bandwidth for double the price. You get an additional discount if you sign up to receive spam.

The choice of phones is completely bewildering. There’s array of gadgets with 4G, LTE, Gingerbread or Ice Cream Sandwich, with a slide-out keyboard or with Swype or on-screen touch-sensitive G-spots. And now you don’t have to get a phone at all. You can get a tablet! iPads and Android tablets proliferate, each with the power of a small computer, combined with the awkward size, lack of a keyboard and inability to make phone calls that sets them apart. In addition, there are quasi-tablets … oversized phones that are too small to be tablets, but still don’t fit in your pocket.

So now we have mobile phone service from the same company that provides our household phones, Internet and TV service. This happy state is what the tech-savvy like to call “single point of failure.” But we get a discount.

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