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Monday, January 25, 2010

Cell Phone Deals

Lately there's been a slate of ads touting reduced cell phone rates. I rarely watch TV, and I still have been subjected to countless ads that imply a victorious rate reduction from $99 a month to $69 a month.

I can't tell you how amazingly hokey they are. Ads are the reason I can't stand to watch TV to begin with, and so I suffer greatly in order to see the occasional episode of Criminal Minds.

The biggest problem I have with TV ads is that they're geared toward the average idiot, and they are a blatant attempt to manipulate. If *I* want a product, I'll research it through Consumer Reports first. I don't care if someone with a "witty" personality or capped teeth is trying to sell it to me.

Of course I'm in the minority.

However, being subjected to those ads is why this article is of such an interest to me. The author claims that (gasp!) these reduced fees are a precursor to future hidden fees.

Ah, the old "bait-and-switch." It's nice to know that the ethics of the snake oil salesman remain with us to this day. "The more things change, the more they remain the same," as Alphonse Karr said.

In the meantime, may I recommend Metro PCS?

Their customer service is absolutely horrendous, and you can almost never speak to a real person if you try calling them. So, when you DO need customer service, you usually have to go to a local company owned store and wait for an hour or so (I am NOT exaggerating). But... how often do you need customer service, anyway?

I probably lose 2 hours a year waiting to talk to someone at the store, and probably my blood pressure peaks close to a stroke when I try to call them a couple times a year, but you get what you pay for.

Metro PCS offers unlimited talk and texting for something around $60 a month. Yeah, you have to buy the phone, but I used to have Verizon and they positively rooked me for everything they could get out of me. My savings with Metro PCS are at least $100 a month, overall.

So in this economy:

Metro PCS = Cheap Rates + Poor Service

Other Companies = Higher Rates + Locked-in Contracts + Good Service

You do the math.

10 comments:

Ed said...

I get unlimited calling anywhere in the US for $25/month. The customer service is fast and you always talk to a real person. The only catch is that the phone has to plug into a jack inside my house.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Ed, Yeah, my parents have that too, and they love it. ;o)

Fred said...

I'm with Verizon, and five lines + data packages is pretty darned expensive. I just may have to give it a second thought.

daveawayfromhome said...

I'm always jealous when I hear Europeans talk about their cell service; it's better and cheaper than ours. Wonder why? Must be all that regulation that we have, huh? Just like the health care system?
And Ed, of course your land line is cheaper, because they actually have to compete - with cell phones.

Gary Baker said...

dave,

"I'm always jealous when I hear Europeans talk about their cell service; it's better and cheaper than ours. "

Chances are that it's neither. They probably just want to boast of their superiority over America. The same way that they boast that their health care is better and cheaper even though their cancer survival rates are 20% lower after diagnosis, it can take months to see a doctor, they let babies die if they are borne before a certain point but count it as a still birth even though it was borne alive. You know, the usual stuff.

Or it could be the same way that they hold the price of airline tickets down - the government heavily subsidizes it and everyone ends up paying more anyway.

Gary Baker said...

You know, I was so busy smacking down dave for his snarkiness that I didn't give him credit for his excellent point.
The proliferation of cell phones is probably one of the reasons why land lines are such a great deal. Unless you just have to be in constant contact, you can have great phone service for a very modest price. At our house, we use the land lines and keep a "pay as you go" cell for emergency calling on the road.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Fred, Yeah, Verizon isn't cheap. But you're locked in now, so you can't easily switch.

Dave, I haven't heard anything about cell phones being cheaper there?

Gary, I know many people who do the same thing (use the cell as an emergency). In my case, it's not an option because I have people who need/want to get in touch immediately and sometimes sales depend on it.

Plus, it's a nice luxury to be available all the time in case of emergency, etc. Of course the downside is that you're...always...available...

Saur♥Kraut said...

Fred, Yeah, Verizon isn't cheap. But you're locked in now, so you can't easily switch.

Dave, I haven't heard anything about cell phones being cheaper there?

Gary, I know many people who do the same thing (use the cell as an emergency). In my case, it's not an option because I have people who need/want to get in touch immediately and sometimes sales depend on it.

Plus, it's a nice luxury to be available all the time in case of emergency, etc. Of course the downside is that you're...always...available...

Ed said...

Dave - I met my wife-to-be in Europe and she had a cellphone back then too. The plans in Europe were horribly expensive. That is why everyone bought prepaid sim cards with so many minutes and when done, they had to be recharged. While I don't remember that being too much cheaper than plans here, it was a hassle having to stop a conversation to recharge all the time.

Saur - I finally converted last year and got my first cellphone. I have to admit it comes in handy now and then but I still don't wear it as an accessory as some people do.

Three Score and Ten or more said...

I have internet service through my telephone company. Generally speaking it is stable and okay but they have irritate me to the stage that I am considering switching to one of the other sources. I have subscribed to DSL through the phone Co. since it was offered (about ten years.) A few years ago they offered free virus and spam protection. I signed up for both. In about six months I go a notice that it woud be cancelled unless I signed up for a two year contract. There would be no change in finance, but the two year contract would be binding like the bloody cell phone contract. I had been a steady customer since the inception but I had to sign a contract. I didn't. I believe that an intelligently run company wants to please the customers it has. The company has added other features but with each one comes another contract extension. In my case, rather than secure a customer, they have about driven me away.