You Mean Cell Phones Aren't Free?

from the something-for-nothing dept

Business Week's got a slightly odd story that's basically complaining about the cost of replacing a broken cell phone. It tells the story of a New York woman whose phone died, and her carrier wouldn't replace it for free because they said she'd damaged it, which she disputes. In any case, she didn't want to accept any of the options the operator gave her: get a new phone at a cheap price by renewing her contract for two years, paying $175 to break her contract and switch to another provider or just pay full retail price for another phone. Her tale is then followed with somebody from a consumer group complaining about high replacement costs -- then about the high early-termination fees carriers stipulate in their contracts. While long-term contracts with high ETFs aren't much fun, they do allow operators to recoup the handset subsidies that make phones so cheap to begin with. For a supposed consumer advocate to complain about expensive handsets, and then about contracts and ETFs, is more than a little misguided. Operators have for some time been complaining about the high cost of subsidies, so doing away with them at the expense of high ETFs might be a trade they'd be willing to make. But that gets back to the original complaint -- that phones cost too much for consumers. While operators deserve plenty of scorn, this is one case where these consumer advocates are trying to have their cake and eat it too.

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  • identicon
    Jason, 25 Apr 2006 @ 10:40am

    nonsense. You can pick up phones on ebay for dirt cheap and use them with your carrier.

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  • identicon
    evan, 25 Apr 2006 @ 10:41am

    I think this is a ridiculous article. If technology like mp3 players, walkie talkies, digital cameras etc can all be made affordable to consumers, why can't cell phones?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Apr 2006 @ 10:41am

    Used cell phones are cheap. Quit bitching.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      JJ, 25 Apr 2006 @ 11:10am

      Re:

      They are getting us on the used ones now too. My phone that I have had with sprint for 2.5 years is dead. I went to Sprint to buy a new one. They said that they will give me a discount on a new phone, but want $36 to activate it to replace my dead one. I didn't like that deal, so I asked what would happen if my friend gave me his old phone and I activated it to replace my dead phone. I was told it would still be $36. I told them I could go to Verizon or Cincinnati Bell and not have to pay an activation fee for a new account. They told me to go to either one of them if I could. I just don't get it.

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      • identicon
        guevaramax, 2 Dec 2006 @ 10:06am

        Re: by JJ

        For anyone with Sprint: if you need to activate a new phone on an old account, regardless of time left on your contract, order and activate it through the Sprint site or on phone customer service. This will avoid the "re"activation fee for you. This is for purchases of a new phone through them only. If you bring another Sprint phone to them [like from a friend] they are supposed to activate it without a new fee. If they refuse, go to another Sprint store. It is their policy not to charge an activation fee on a phone unless you are beginning a new contract [i.e. purchasing a new phone through them/changing plans]. Unfortunately, their customer service is one of the worst so you may have to go to a few places to get this information.

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    • identicon
      phoneman, 4 May 2006 @ 2:08pm

      cell are mad expensive

      screw you anonymous, cell phones are not at all cheap

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Annon Coward II, 25 Apr 2006 @ 10:41am

    Early Termination Fees Should Be Pro Rated

    One of the biggest misnomers put out by the pro-industry crowd is that cell phones are subsidized by the cell phone companies. This would be true if there were not early contract termination fees. These fees mean that the customer is "subsidizing" his or her own cell phone purchase and then some at no risk to the cell phone company. In fact, the early termination fees are usually more than the wholesale subsidy of the phone. If you leave your contract in the 23d month of a 24 month contract, the cell companies still demand the full early termination fee even though they already made back their subsidy money. This means that leaving the company can actually be windfall for them when they collect the **extra profit** from the early termination fee.

    The reality is that cell phone companies use subsidies as an excuse to lock customers into long term contracts. In addition, the cell companies demand "early termination" fees that are un-realated to their actual damages. It is in the best long term interest of consumers that these practices be reined in by proper regulation of public utilities companies.

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    • identicon
      Michael, 25 Apr 2006 @ 11:18am

      Re: Early Termination Fees Should Be Pro Rated

      Yea, that's the ticket. More goverment intervention into our lives. What a maroon! If you don't like what the companies do, don't use 'em. Seems simple enough to me.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 25 Apr 2006 @ 11:24am

        Re: Re: Early Termination Fees Should Be Pro Rated

        Amen. You don't need a cell phone. Put up or shut up.

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      • identicon
        confusedwiseman, 25 Apr 2006 @ 11:30am

        Re: Re: Early Termination Fees Should Be Pro Rated

        You are right government intervention is bad. If the ture purpose of the ETF is to recover the cost of the cell phone if the service isn't used then why shouldn't the ETF be pro rated.
        oh wait profit maximization. nevermind.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Apr 2006 @ 10:44am

    Truth is, the early termination fee won't even cover the cost of the high end phones.
    "they said she'd damaged it, which she disputes". uh-huh. " she didn't want to accept any of the options the operator gave her" uh-huh.

    I'll guess there's a good chance the truth is she did something to damage the phone, she didn't want a lesser phone as a replacement and she wanted it for free.

    Cell phones are fragile, even the best of them. Drop it, get it wet, etc., yeah, it'll stop working. But amazingly, the owner always claims, "not my fault".
    Hey, if you're not good at taking care of things, buy insurance.

    Older re-furbished phones are cheap. If it's network compatible, they'll program it for free a small fee. Nope, probably won't have all the bells and whistles.

    Deal with it. I've heard the gloating "I wrecked my phone but made them give me a new one/filed an insurance claim" stories too often.

    Get over it. Cell phones aren't covered by The Bill of Rights.

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  • identicon
    dragonedge, 25 Apr 2006 @ 10:51am

    ETF's and Cell phone Costs

    Ok I understand the principle behind this but I'm sorry I just don't agree. I just purchased the new MDA and with a 2 year contract received $100 off the price of the phone. But read the contract if you want to shut off service even a week before that two years, they charge you anywhere from $150-$200 dollars (varies with provider) Most providers offer $100 off for two years is pretty standard across providers so their all making additional profit then if you were to just purcahse the phone at retail value and lets say you do keep it a year relize its a POS or something way better comes out your boned, you pay full price untill you can re-sign or switch providers and if you get a hard time with customer service and want to cancel too bad now your paying over market price on an old phone that could have cost you less a year ago had you purchased it in full.

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  • identicon
    Joe, 25 Apr 2006 @ 10:51am

    Switching Companies

    I would pay full price for a phone if I knew I could switch companies anytime and keep my cell phone and keep my number.

    That's like buying a PC that only works with AOL internet. (Yes, I do remember the free PC deals a few years back.)

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  • identicon
    bob, 25 Apr 2006 @ 10:52am

    Insurance deductable

    Yeah, get insurance and you replace the phone. With (in my case with Cingular) a $50 deductable. Which costs more than most low end phones.

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  • identicon
    Confusedwiseman, 25 Apr 2006 @ 10:54am

    This is a CDMA problem

    The $175 ETF clearly marks this company as Verizon. This problem is more noteable on the CDMA network than the GSM network. Here's why. With GSM there is a sim card that goes with the phone. The sim card has your service, and the phone is merely a device that you use to access the services. When carriers do not lock phones to their service it makes it much easier to replace a broken, old, or "I don't like it" cell phone. With a Verizon/Sprint/Nextel CDMA band phone, well the service is tied to that phone, and to replace it, you can buy a used phone on ebay (*done it before - it's the best option in this case) you still have to buy a phone that was made specifically for your service company. With GSM -- if it's an unlocked phone --- any phone will do.

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  • identicon
    Rks, 25 Apr 2006 @ 10:56am

    Basically bundling a cellphone is like fleecing customers. Phone operators should provide phone service and not the phone, just as cable operators provide cable service and not the TV.
    In India, and many other similar markets, operators provide services, and people buy cell phones from any shop they want (could be Walmart in US). The result is, handset prices are very cheap(you can get one for INR 3K = USD 80 approx. ). Operators compete to provide lowest cost services, phone manufacturers compete to provide lowest cost handsets. Operators get more customers, phone manufacturers get more numbers( and are able to launch new phones quickly) and Customers gets cheap price. Only thing that loses is pure shamless brutal profiteering.

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  • identicon
    Buggerum, 25 Apr 2006 @ 10:58am

    I can understand her point

    I can kind of understand her point of view. My original cell contract came with a guarentee that they would replace my cell phone for free for any reason. Lost, stolen, breaks, I lose my temper and chuck it against a wall, whatever. Then a little less than a year ago, I get a letter that my cell phone service sold itself to some other company, and my warranty is no longer valid, so here's a list of my new rights under contract, which pretty much amounted to nothing. Makes me wonder why I bothered paying the little extra for the full guarentee.

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    • identicon
      defeated, 25 Apr 2006 @ 12:06pm

      Re: I can understand her point

      The same thing happened to me. I bought a $275 cell phone b/c it was a top of the line and the salesperson told me that I would be able to replace the phone in any event, for a phone of equal value at whatever time that was. So I made the investment. I held onto the phone and now the screen goes out when I flip it open. I have never dropped the phone, always took care of it, it's just getting old. Well I called them to find out my options~ They are no longer providing that service and I would have to pay another $200/300 if I wanted to buy a phone that is of equal value in today's market. I was fuming. I still am kind of, mostly because I can't afford a new phone and I'd rather have my old phone than the free nokia piece of crap phone. But whatever, I've been burned too many times by corporations who will do anything to get my money and then when it comes to actual customer service they are no where to be found.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Apr 2006 @ 10:59am

    Create Demand by Giving It Away

    Its the cell-carrier's own fault if you ask me. They advertise these expensive phones "FREE" or stack rebate after rebate to get them down to 20 bucks. What does this mean? The customer has no clue as to the REAL value of the unit, and hence, won't take care of it.

    Ask this - would you take more care with something that cost you $300.00 or $30.00?

    While I do think people are dumb as hell when it comes to cell phones (I can't even convince my wife that we don't need the damn things) and they don't understand the basic economics of the transaction they sign into, the companies haven't helped matters any by hiding the real cost, locking phones, etc. Last time I checked, I didn't need to buy a special phone to plug into my wall and use the phone service at my home, why can't I just buy a compatible phone from anywhere and use that?

    Oh that's right, because the phones are locked.

    and dont' even get me started on the proprietary data services that don't let you do anything unless it goes through their servers. . .

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Apr 2006 @ 11:03am

    No Contract! No EFT!

    I avoid ETF entirely by having a pay-as-you-go (or should that be "pay-as-I-go"?) Virgin cell phone.
    25c a minute but then I don't yak all day on it, and it only cost me $10 at Worst Buy.
    A crappy Nokia Shorty but it does what I need.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Apr 2006 @ 11:14am

      Re: No Contract! No EFT!

      "I avoid ETF entirely by having a pay-as-you-go (or should that be "pay-as-I-go"?) Virgin cell phone. 25c a minute but then I don't yak all day on it, and it only cost me $10 at Worst Buy. A crappy Nokia Shorty but it does what I need."

      If more people looked at it this way the industry would be forced to change. Unfortunately there are too many people who think a monthly cell bill under $100 is "great" and couldn't exist without text messaging.

      Barum was right.

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  • identicon
    Bran, 25 Apr 2006 @ 11:08am

    Uhn uh

    I have a Motorola V220, the phone company gave it to me when I re-upped for two years. The phone lasted a little over a year. It wasn't dropped, gotten wet, etc.. The first thing that happened was the camera stops working. Sorry, it's out of warranty. Then the screen goes dead, sorry not our problem. Ok, so they don't last forever. I'm in a local Wal-mart, and a guy is looking to buy this very phone from my provider service person in the store. He's told and I quote, "Yeah, it's a cheap phone, it'll last you about a year, then you'll start having problems with it. I'd go with a better phone and pay a little more."

    Ok, so if they know the phone is going to last a year, why not recall the sucker or at least give us the option of another phone, even if I have to sign up for another year. I'm not going to switch service because for my area this particular company has the best service.

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    • identicon
      krum, 25 Apr 2006 @ 11:31am

      Re: Uhn uh

      The average life of any handset is a little over a year so that's why most providers offer a discounted handset upgrade after a year of service. True, you have to extend your promise to stay with that carrier but nothing is truely free. Many customer's complain about the free phones they offer but if someone is offering me a free car, I'd expect an '89 Camry. If I want a 2006 Lexus, I'm willing to pay a little more. I also wouldn't trust the judgement of a sells rep at Wal-Mart.

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  • identicon
    Kevin McFerrin, 25 Apr 2006 @ 11:13am

    Cell phones ARE cheap

    Granted, the latest and greatest with all the whistles isn't cheap (RAZR), but there are plenty of brand new lower end models that cost next to nothing. Personally, I don't see what the problem is. She didn't want to re-up for two more years to get a new phone (presumably she wants to switch in the future, or may want to), but she didn't want to switch today and pay the ETF. So buy a really cheap phone and cope with it until the end of your contract, then do what you want.

    With most phone companies offerring free phones every time you extend the contract, I don't know anyone who doesn't get a new phone every two years to begin with (whether they switch carriers or not). And I know that I personally have 3 cell phones at home collecting dust (Moto T730, V60, and StarTac) that could be used if something broke. Who doesn't these days?

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  • identicon
    Rand, 25 Apr 2006 @ 11:15am

    History lesson

    For those old enough to remember, back in the 80's you could only rent your landline phone from the service providers, implicitly tying the service to the equipment. Subsequent antitrust litigation prohibited this practice. Thus, you can now buy phones at considerably cheaper prices and from a much wider assortment of retailers than just the carriers' company owned stores. Today, we have the same thing in wireless as we did in the 80's with landline. Sure while the GSM carriers discuss the beauty of being able to simply switch SIMs, the reality of handsets with subsidy locks and carrier-specific firmware means that the phones are for all practical purposes tied to the service providers. This would not be a big issue were it not for the fact that there are indeed high early termination fees that in essence force the customer to repay the subsidy while not providing customers with the ability to use phones that they paid for to take them to other networks by prohibiting unlocking or refusing to upgrade firmware for compatibility reasons. The situatiion is much worse for those who are customers of CDMA carriers, who not only have handsets built to order for specific carriers (no generic handset production runs as for GSM OEMs that want to sell unbranded handsets) but also do not incorporate the portable SIM feature at all, rendering them practically useless to those that want to switch carriers. The answer is simple, let consumers pay the full economic value for their handsets, as in PCs, so that a true free market exists in handsets to give consumers choice about what they buy, how much they pay, and what features they get, thus benefitting everyone by expanding the selection of models, retail channels, and price points.

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  • identicon
    Dam, 25 Apr 2006 @ 11:28am

    The Problem Is Phones Are Locked

    Cell phone users in the US get the shaft because service providers are allowed to "lock" the phone. My Motorola V555 can only work with my provider, even though other providers offer that phone.
    It's been more than twenty years since the local Bell operating company has been allowed to provide a phone with a new phone line install. Used to be the Bell company was the only source for your home phone. When the breakup came, and Bell companies were prohibited from providing phones, a whole new market for phone providers opened.
    The same thing has to happen with cell phones. Prohibit providers from locking the phones and offer the phones on the open market. With the Wal-marts of the world selling unlocked phones, your cell will become a true throw-away.

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    • identicon
      guevaramax, 2 Dec 2006 @ 10:12am

      Re: The Problem Is Phones Are Locked

      When you activate a new phone, especially through customer service on the phone, you will get a Lock Code for the handset. Most reps are trained to breeze by the information or not even tell you, however, they are required to give it to you if you request it at the time of activation. This is the number needed to "unlock" the handset, though if that model is not offered by your carrier, the handset may still not work with that provider's system.

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  • identicon
    LordVader, 25 Apr 2006 @ 11:28am

    Pay As You Go

    I loved living in Europe and the Middle East, as well as New Zealand. The best thing about the cell phones there is that everything is pay as you go. In the Middle East, I bought a phone, bought a service card which lasts a year. If you want it to go longer and go with the national phone company you can, but mostly everything is pay as you go. What a wonderful world. The phones were inexpensive and when I got tired of one or it was a POS I would simply go to just about any shop downtown and by a new one switch out my SIM card and go. Why can't American companies hop on board. I hate the contract I am in now, but do not want to pay for the ETF so I am stuck, but I love my phone. I bought it in the Middle East and everything there is unlocked.

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  • identicon
    Posterlogo, 25 Apr 2006 @ 11:31am

    Ya! More power to the man!

    "I am an ignorant, irresponsible consumer! I don't take the time to consider all my options and avail myself to figure out contracts! I don't want to think! I want that done for me! I want new laws against free cell phones! I'm gonna sue!"

    Get the picture? Frankly, I prefer to rely on my own intelligence. I've thought about my cell phone costs and find them reasonable. As always, if you don't like a particular product or company's business model, DON'T FUCKING BUY IT! If you do, don't fucking complain. There is no mystery about the early termination fees. You know what you're getting into.

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  • identicon
    krum, 25 Apr 2006 @ 11:33am

    ETF's

    I know of at least two providers that will let you "buy out" your contract if you're in the last few months of it. They don't proactively offer this of course because they want the ETF to recoup their costs but you can get away with cancelling and just paying the remaining months off.

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  • identicon
    skrote, 25 Apr 2006 @ 11:35am

    cell phones not free

    If you do not read the contract, that does not mean you are not held to the contract.

    If you do not like the terms of the contract, don't sign it, do without.

    waa!

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  • identicon
    Oh Please, 25 Apr 2006 @ 11:40am

    Consumers are the problem

    I have been in this industry for many years. The problem is far and wide the consumer. They want it for free. In the early 90's when the FREE phone started and sales went mainstream, the true value of handsets were lost. Now phones are sold at low cost to the consumer or given away "free" so there is no value anymore. Most often these phones are sold $75 - $150 below cost. So when the customer gets the "free" phone and breaks it they are shocked when the retailer wants to make a profit on the replacement. I might also add that they never did anything to break the phone in the first place, it just got wet all by itself.

    It also might be noted the the carriers don't make the phones, they do just provide the service. Last time my TV broke I didn't call the cable company and demand a free TV to replace it with. I also didn't run down to their office and yell about changing to Directv if they didn't give it to me. After all I'm pay them $150/month, shouldn't I get a free TV.

    Be a smart!

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    • identicon
      Dennis, 25 Apr 2006 @ 2:46pm

      Re: Consumers are the problem

      It also might be noted the the carriers don't make the phones, they do just provide the service. Last time my TV broke I didn't call the cable company and demand a free TV to replace it with.

      Bad Analogy: Change to TV to Digital Cable Box, then we might have something.

      Sure your cable company doesn't make thier own cable boxes, but they are provided by the cable company. You can't use your digital cable without the cable box. So if you cable box stops working and you can't watch TV, of course you are going to call the cable company.

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      • identicon
        Oh Please, 25 Apr 2006 @ 5:39pm

        Re: Re: Consumers are the problem

        The point was that the cable company provides me a service and the TV is a means of using the service. Just like Carriers provide phones service and phone is a means to use the service. Now granted they have put themselves in a position of selling the means to the service, they don't make them, or provide the warranty on them. In this case, I think I was seeing the phone was water damaged. All phones have a color change disc or other patch on them that changes color to show water damage. Many customer have been shown this and still deny ever getting the phone wet and then demand a replacement.

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  • identicon
    Ryan, 25 Apr 2006 @ 11:49am

    Toilet Water

    The fact of the matter is cell phone companies are making a fortune simply on monthly fees. It amazes me that they don't just give you the highest end phone just to get you addicted to the damn thing. Most people that I know who start texting or using video and picture features seem to be on the phone more than the Pope pray's and rack up phenomenal bills just using these features.
    Like most people I have stopped expecting things for free but you would think that they would be at least a little kinder and understanding, simply from a customer service stand point. I mean of course I don't expect them to give you a free cell phone every other day, this would get abused more then a young boy at Neverland ranch. We all know someone that throws them when they get pissed or simply get's drunk and drops it in the toilet or leaves it at a bar. The thing is though it really wouldn't be that hard to keep a record of repairs/replacements. If you see a trend growing then you charge. Perhaps then when you're contract ended you wouldn't be in such a rush to find better service.
    It seems a lot of people are pissed at cell phone companies and this article seems to cover a number of issues. A cell phone is a pretty personal thing between what you have stored in it and what you've done to it, and yes you can get one cheap on e-bay or stealitback.com but of course you run the chance of it being already dropped in a toilet and not knowing it. Good luck...

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  • identicon
    Robert, 25 Apr 2006 @ 11:57am

    They still lock you in!!

    I've been with my carrier for about a year and a half. I bought my phone's used and new paying full retail. But I am still under contract and have to pay $150 dollar ETF. I have never got a free phone or even upgraded from my carrier. But in order to swap my service to the lastest and greatest phone that I purchase from a third party I have to agree to a one year contract again! And still have to worry about the EFT. And my service is prepaid monthy service through Sprint. If I want service I have to make sure my bill for the upcoming month of service is paid or they will cut me off. Now who is getting screwed?

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Apr 2006 @ 12:06pm

    Europe is better... Pay as you go (I pay 0.06 cents a minute, and then just a measily 0.19 cents a minute to call the states), no contracts, and YOU own the phone. I can change service provider whenever I please, and use the same phone and keep my number. Also, people take better care of their phones when they dont get them for 30 dollars or less. A lot of the people I know actually have cell phones that are over 5 years old. USA needs to get with the program. =P

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  • identicon
    Zeroth404, 25 Apr 2006 @ 12:13pm

    Heres an idea:

    Don't get a cellphone!

    yeah, thats just crazy enough to save you 50 bucks a month! my god, thats 600 bucks per year! way more than a landline phone in your home!

    seriously, if you cant afford a cellphone, then you really don't need one. end of story. however, I do agree that you shouldn't have to sign a contract to get services from a provider. what are we, hollywood actors?

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    • identicon
      krum, 25 Apr 2006 @ 12:42pm

      Re:

      What part of the U.S. do you live in where a land-line is cheap? I used to have a Verizon land-line and if I wanted all the features that come included with Voip or cell service ( voicemail, caller-ID, call waiting, call forwarding, conference calling ) I had to pay over $82.00 a month after taxes and I live in a State where we don't even have sales tax. Cell phones are way cheaper.

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  • identicon
    Pat, 25 Apr 2006 @ 12:21pm

    Techdirt's got a slightly odd post that's basically complaining about the cost of replacing a broken cell phone. Umm... Maybe I'm missing something but isn't that what happens when your phone isn't insured? When it breaks you're on your own. If you're worried about breaking it or losing it pay the extra few bucks a month. Then you can get it replaced for cheap. Plus sometimes they'll give you the newer model. The Business Week story makes mention of this (twice). This odd post doesn't. Usually stories this silly aren't posted on Techdirt. I guess that's because Mike usually posts the stores.

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    • identicon
      Carlo, 25 Apr 2006 @ 12:39pm

      Re:

      Did you bother to actually read the post before commenting? You might notice that the point I make is that the expectation of free phones with no strings attached is unrealistic, the point you seem to be accusing us of missing.

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  • identicon
    Zech, 25 Apr 2006 @ 12:26pm

    Not exactly as it seems..

    Actually, I'm not sure what cell phone provider she uses, and from what you said she is expecting to much.. But some cellphone providers, such as t-mobile offer "Cellphone Insurance" for 5$ a month. This is a great thing to have right? Wrong. In all actuality, you still have to pay $75+ dollars for a replacement phone. Even without the cellphone insurance, with tmobile I could send in my phone, with $75 and receive a new phone. The problem I see with this is, if you pay 5 a month, every month for 2 years, and than your phone breaks, and they want you to pay $75 for them to replace your phone... it doesn't seem logical, what was the point in even paying for it. You know? Maybe i'm just a consumer who wants everything as well, but something seems terribly corporate about that.

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    • identicon
      Krum, 25 Apr 2006 @ 12:38pm

      Re: Not exactly as it seems..

      True, I have a T-Mobile MDA and I had to buy it at full retail price for $416.36. I obviously insured it and it costs me 5.99/month. I received the terms/conditions for the insurance company, Asurion, and my device has a deductible of $110.00. I usually purchase a new handset every year so insurance will cost me $71.88 over the course of a year and with the deductible that's $181.88 for a new handset in the event that something happens to mine. That's considerably less than what I paid for the handset so in my case, I feel this is worth it. But if you have a lower end handset with no bells and whistles, you should be able to afford a new one with no insurance in the event that something bad happens to it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Cabel, 25 Apr 2006 @ 12:30pm

    Re:

    @ Zeroth404

    Where do you live? In Orlando, FL bellsouth (the only locals in my area) charges over $50 for a "basic" landline per month. Sure, theres VOIP (which I use) but thats an additional $30 over the $55 I pay for cable and it still doesn't provide the features of either the landline or cellphone. Luckly, work provides a cellphone so I get better 911 service than both voip and landline.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Zeroth404, 26 Apr 2006 @ 6:13am

      Re: Re:

      Cabel,

      I live in Michigan.
      That does sound expensive. you can buy a telephone for 5 dollars for your home and whatnot for services, or you can spend 80 to 800 dollars on a cellphone and the same servicce charge, maybe with a discount for signing a contract for a year or two, which would cost you an arm and a left ass-cheek to break.

      the prices may end up pretty close, but the truth is that nobody really NEEDS a phone at all, especially a cellphone. to say "having a phone is convenient" is an understatement, but should it really cost as much as t does? I think not.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        eb, 26 Apr 2006 @ 7:50am

        Re:Re:Re:

        Nobody really needs a phone at all? Come on, are you employed? You won't be for long if you can't contact your boss and just don't show up for work.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Zeroth404, 26 Apr 2006 @ 10:42am

          Re: Re:Re:Re:

          "Nobody really needs a phone at all? Come on, are you employed? You won't be for long if you can't contact your boss and just don't show up for work."

          You don't need an expensive one. a normal land line in your home with no call waiting, no caller id, no bullshit like that, will suffice for neccessary communication.

          phones aren't the only form of communication.

          Generally, you are only in serious trouble if you don't show up three days in succession, in which case is generally considered a voluntary quitting.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Nismoto, 25 Apr 2006 @ 12:43pm

    Cell phones are not any less affordable than digital cameras or pdas.

    Why buy phones from the service providers? Legally buy an unlocked phone and use it with whatever provider you want without the "two-year" sentence.

    My 2 pennies...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Just Me, 25 Apr 2006 @ 12:58pm

    eBay. TigerDirect.com. Unlocked phones. With T-Mobile, Cingular, and some Nextel phones, the sim card **is** the phone. Easily swappable.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Krum, 25 Apr 2006 @ 1:10pm

      Re:

      Well said, there are over a billion GSM subscribers in the world so perhaps Americans should catch up and go with a provider with a SIM card so they can use unlocked phones at their convenience.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 25 Apr 2006 @ 1:11pm

    Re: by krum

    Verizon still sells a $14 flat rate basic service.

    Verizon Wireless Freedom Value plan is $29.95/mo, includes unlimited local, regional toll and long distance calling in the US. But NO extras. None. Zero. None.

    Both exclude the usual taxes and fees, etc. but you can do the whole thing for about $50 per month.

    But NO extras. A small detail that most people just can't deal with and they quickly add about $50/mo to the bill.

    Phone service is like dieting. Saying you're going on a diet is easy. Doing it, that's another matter.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Useful Commentor, 25 Apr 2006 @ 1:35pm

    Unlocked Phones

    With places like tiger direct selling unlocked GSM phones fro $70.00 to $700.00. you can buy a phone install your SIM chip and screw the long term contracts

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    defeated, 25 Apr 2006 @ 1:57pm

    I did not know that I could just change out my sim card so thanks to all of you who helped me out with that one! :o) and as for you Zeroth404 - I can't afford another $200/300 cellphone, not my service. Which is comparable to having a land line except that I have it with me all the time which adds to my personal safety which is... ~priceless. So get off your high horse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Zeroth404, 26 Apr 2006 @ 6:14am

      Re:

      defeated: "which adds to my personal safety which is... ~priceless"

      What is priceless is being cut-off in an intersection at a yellow light and the person doing so being completely oblivious because they are talking on their cellphone. You call that safety? Cellphones are nice if you get in an accident -- but not if they are the cause of it. Cellphones cause more problems than they they fix. You can't argue that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Stuart, 26 Apr 2006 @ 5:11am

    Verison Early Termination Fee

    I used to be a Verison customer. The have the best servcie around here in the mountains of NC. Anyway, I entered into their contract, however, I brought my own phone because one was given to me by another customer who had upgraded. I was a loyal custome for close to 5 years, and never was given a phone. At one point, I wanted to quit with the mobile phone as I found that the cost was not justified by the use I was getting out of it. When I asked my service to be terminated, behold, I was accessed a $170 early termination fee. Now I know that that is part of the contract, but I would think that having been a customer for so long, and never being given a phone, that they would relent. Not so. So I paid the fee, never to use Verison again. Just a word of warning.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Apr 2006 @ 8:43am

    re: Verizon Early Termination Fee by Stuart on Apr 26th, 2006 @ 5:11am

    Either you signed additional service argeements or they wrongfully charged you an ETF. After completion of your original service agreement (usually 1-2 years) you become a month-to-month customer and can cancel effective the end of the current billing cycle without incurring an ETF.

    http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/globalText?textName=CUSTOMER_AGREEMENT&jspName=footer /customerAgreement.jsp

    If this happened recently, contact them for a refund or file a complaint with the NC Utility Commission.

    http://www.ncuc.commerce.state.nc.us/consumer/ucconsum.htm

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bran, 26 Apr 2006 @ 10:42am

    You know I really hate seeing phones blamed on traffic accidents. It's not the phone it's the idiot using it. That same person that can't drive and talk on a phone, is probably going to be the same person that can't drive and talk to the person sitting next to them, eat, put on make up, etc...

    Bottom line is paying attention while you drive.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Zeroth404, 26 Apr 2006 @ 12:48pm

      Re:

      "You know I really hate seeing phones blamed on traffic accidents. It's not the phone it's the idiot using it."

      which is why I'm advocating the use of land-line phones instead of cellphones. Everyone is an idiot on the road at one point or another, and I'm not one to say "blame to trigger," but in this case there is a perfectly fine alternative -- lane line phones. There's no reason a person should be holding a phone to their face while driving.

      I'd feel more comfortable knowing everyone carry a gun in their glove compartment than everyone hold a phone to their face at all times. At least that way, I've got a gun too. What am I gunna do with a cell phone, throw it at them?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Zeroth404, 26 Apr 2006 @ 12:52pm

        Re: Re:

        We could have advanced warning when a bad driver is near by counting all the bullet holes in their car.

        this is turning comical.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    kes, 13 May 2006 @ 12:08am

    Nobody really needs a phone at all

    As the mom of three school age kids and a husband out to sea for an extended period of time, I absolutely need a cell phone. In the days before cell phones, simple things like flat tires or sick kids at school presented a serious dilemna for me. My husband has never been stationed near family so I am all the kids have when he is away. If we are new to a place, then in most cases I don't know anyone to ask for help. Cell phones absolutely are convenient but in some instances are also the only line of communication.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    LaRue, 16 May 2006 @ 8:27am

    CELLPHONES AAAAAAArrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhh

    Hi,

    I have a Virgin Cellphone and most of my experience is with them. The one downside everyone should know about. Is according to their TOS/Terms of Service you can only change your Cell Phone Number 2 or 3 times for your account. If you buy something shouldn't you have the freedom to do as you please. And if it is a matter of cost for changing the numbers, they could charge a fee after the first 2 number changes etc. I don't like a company that tries to limit your freedom on a product like that. If I buy a toaster and want to shove crayons in it, hey it is my toaster. That is a little extreme, but you get the point.

    http://www.sitekreator.com/eroma

    http://mywildrose.blogspot.com

    Just some of my photos:

    http://www.fotolia.com/partner/42484

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Shannon, 27 Jun 2006 @ 7:37pm

    Get a friken pay-as-you-go phone

    OMG... If you are stupid get a cell phone with a contract otherwise be smart and get a cell phone that's pay-as-you-go. I fell into a pool the other day with my cell phone in my pocket and my cell phone was trashed but it didn't matter that much because i didnt have a contract and the only thing I had to do was buy a new cell phone. For only $100.00 (around that) and buy minutes for either $10 $25 $50 or $100. For T-mobile it only costs 20 cents a minute and you get $10 or $15 worth of minutes when you buy a phone. After that you can buy Mins. at Walmart Kmart Target Best Buy the store you bought it from Walgreens and Jewel.. There could be other places but i am only 12 and dont go many places besides the usual stores.... Ohh and The phones are totally awesome they come with the standard stuff too like text messaging and ringtones and games and all the cool stuff. Ohh and if you know this Lady tell her just cancel her contract and get a T-mobile or Verizon wireless phone thats PAY-AS-YOU-GO!!!!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Drunk Will Nightlife Dot Com, 11 Jul 2006 @ 4:25pm

    Deal with It!!!!

    If you HAVE to have a Cell phone, TAKE CARE OF IT.


    Or, accept the price of replacing it. I pay 4.99 a month for Verizons insurance. i have a Treo 600 phone. I paid 61 dollars on ebay for the Treo 600. It is a PDA phone with every fricken OPTION i would need. Its almost as functional as my laptop.

    If i break it, 50 bucks and 2 days later i have a new one. I go through about 1 phone every 3 or 4 months becuase i pout it through h***. Work, Dropping it, the Holster losing its grip, bumps into the wall, etc..

    Its a 299 dollar phone through Verizon. With discount.


    EBAY KIDS.. EBAY !!!!!!! 51 bucks... Come on, for a PDA.



    You can pick up lesser phones, Motorola (one of the best manufacturers since 1985) all day long for 20, 30 bucks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Aug 2006 @ 2:58pm

    Cell phone companies create the problems

    Here's the problem - you get a phone with your service plan. A year later, maybe you want a new phone. It's not that simple. you can't just go out and buy a phone and switch it over. You have mess with new contracts and all this extra trickery (unless you want to risk buying - as many have suggested - on ebay. This is technically a violation of your service contract with ANY wireless provider. Don't believe me, call them and ask them.)
    Anyway - rather than give out phones valued at $200 - $300, why not make consumers pay lower fees up front. And if you want a new phone, they say - Sure - we'll switch it over. It makes sense and eliminates the overhead.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    shwrcrtn, 7 Aug 2006 @ 6:51pm

    Maybe we should look instead at what we need!

    What we need and what we want are two different things. Do we really need that camera on our phone, do we really need it in color? Do we need the MP3 player, games and other stuff that cool? So buy a cheap phone, that works, is durable, and is unlocked. Preferably one that has long battery life and you don't have to charge every 12 hours of use. Had one like that makes u crazy. i have a 3595 Nokia have had it for more than 3 years to use in the US. It has been dropped in the toilet, thrown on the driveway dropped on cement, and still going strong. I lived in a foreign country and used two different phones. One for CDMA and GSM . Both use SIM cards. Both unlocked. (CDMA cheaper in the country and GSM easier to call anywhere in the country or out of country). Paid as you go. Changed providers when I wanted to to get the best deal on minutes (this is when you buy new sim cards and less cost than buying their phones and getting locked down by contract). (don't get into the lie of needing to buy the providers' phones. YOU DON'T NEED TO BUY THE PROVIDERS PHONE TO GET SERVICES FROM THEM. IT'S USUALLY THE CHIP. CHECK IF THERE IS A SIM CHIP!!!! IF IT IS CDMA OR GSM. Here in the U.S. I believe the month by month deal is better. So get the month by month no contract deal. There are options to look at. And consumers need to be wiser in what they want to buy and what they NEED to buy. There are a wide variety of options if we just search and look for them. This way we don't get locked into the cell phone consumer cycle. I was locked in that cycle and it sucked. Then I smartened up and found out that we don't need to be locked down anymore.I know we want the great new stuff on phones, but do you really need it. options of what we do to get perks for our phones: Take care of your phone buy putting it in a bag of it's own. That's what we do in the Asian countries instead of buying new phones all the time. Change the outer covering because the inside of the phone is probably still great. and tip: make sure when you buy a phone check the battery of how long it will stay on before you have to recharge it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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