Cellular revisited…
March 5, 2010

About a year ago I wrote a rant about Cellular service and as I recall decided the best course was to do nothing until my contract time was over. It’s over! It ended in December 2009. I decided to be cell free! I feel … I feel… I feel a sense of freedom! Getting there was fun!

Last spring (2009) I made the discovery that my cell phone was text message capable. That is it had the feature for sending and receiving text messages turned on. The truth is I had no idea that I was the proud owner of such services mostly, I suppose, because I don’t text. As it happened, I was standing in a long line-up in a department store waiting to cash out when my phone rang. Dutifully I opened the phone, brought it to my ear and said hello. There was no answer. I pocketed the phone and continued my wait in line. But the phone was insistent. It rang again! This time I happened to look at the tiny screen as I brought the phone to my ear and it read, “Papa r u coming 2 lunch“. To which I responded out loud, “No!” and hung up the phone. I had no idea how to respond other than saying “No!” out loud. I turned the phone off and put it back into my pocket.

You can only imagine the trouncing I took from my then 12-year-old granddaughter for not answering her message. She was less than impressed when I told her that I did answer her message by saying, “No!” She then proceeded to give me lessons in texting. I watched and listened intently and the very next day went to TbayTel and asked them to disconnect the text feature on the phone. They said they had done so and I left happily knowing that I would never again have to deal with another text message.

The reality is I really don’t want to talk to people on a phone all that much and especially by typing cryptic messages on an undersized keyboard. It all seems pretty inefficient and impersonal to me. I was a happy man.

Fast forward to October. Same year. I’m sitting in sanctuary chatting (face to face, live, warm body type chat) with family. My son was over and we were catching up on his most recent adventures when my cell phone rang. That was unusual in itself because I didn’t often have it turned on. But I digress. The cell phone rang. I opened it up, put it to my ear and said hello. There was no response so I glanced at the screen to see if a number showed that I might recognize. Nope! There was a … you guessed it! … a text message. It read, “…Larry get over here. Melissa is on top of James and I am getting peed off… lol“.

OK. I am certain you will understand my perplexity because 1. I am not Larry; 2. I don’t know Melissa or James; 3. I don’t care what Melissa is on top of, and; MY PHONE DOESN’T SEND OR RECEIVE TEXT MESSAGES! Sorry! I didn’t mean to shout! My son waded into the moment saying that he would respond and did so telling the sender that the message arrived at my phone in error…there was no Larry at this number and signed it, “George”.

I put the phone away and within seconds it rang again displaying the text message, “Who the f@%k  (they wrote the real word) is George?” And again my son texted, “The owner of this phone.” and again I hung up the phone and put it in my pocket.

But the phone was insistent. This time the message read, “Don’t you want to know who this is“. I thought “No.” and put the phone away. It rang again. “Aren’t you curious” I thought “No” and put the phone away. It rang again. “I’m legal” the message read. OK! OK! Too much information. I turned the phone off and determined next business day to call TbayTel and have this feature deactivated once again.

Heh! Heh! You thought the story was over! I called TbayTel and got a very pleasant young sounding male voice on the phone. I explained that I had earlier requested the texting feature be deactivated on my phone and apparently it had not been done. Could he please check and see if that was the case. “Yes” he replied. “You have texting on your phone and it is active.”

“Would you turn that feature off, please.” To which he responded, “But its free and it is part of your package.”

“Yes,” says I. “But I don’t want it.”

“Why?” he queried.

Surely you see where this is heading, don’t you? “Because I don’t text”, I said.

“Why?” he asked again.

“BECAUSE IT IS MY PHONE AND I DON’T WANT TO SEND OR RECEIVE TEXT MESSAGES!” my exasperation breaking through. (Sorry, I know I am shouting again.)

“OK”, he replied. “Its done. Have a great day.”

Now I can’t help but wonder about the conversation that went on in his office after we disconnected. Probably something like this:

Customer Service Employee: (to his colleagues) Hey you guys will never believe the call I just had…some old guy who wanted me to disconnect his texting service…”

The last month of my relationship with my cell phone was blissfully quiet. No texts. No phone calls. Hmmmm? I wonder if it was turned on?                     –GRB

The Cellular world is warped…
July 30, 2008

My cell phone bill arrived today.  I examined each of the three pages carefully, as I do each month, to see what exactly the charges cover. And here is what I have concluded. Cellular companies are strictly in the business of making money. There is precious little of what I consider value for service.

My bill breaks down something like this:

  • Monthly contract fee: $19.95
  • System access charge:$ 7.50
  • 2 calls:                        $   .50
  • Fed/Prov Sales taxes   $ 4.90
  • Total                           $32.85

By my calculations, that works out to $16.475 per call. Am I wrong or does that seem a trifle excessive for 2 phone calls? I called Customer Service to see if there was a better option than my current service. I don’t mind paying for something I use but…

It seems that the cell service provider offers a Prepaid Mobility service–only it is not in my area. The company is planning to introduce that service in the future although no timeline is forthcoming. Anyway, I wouldn’t be eligible for that service until my current contract runs out in another year and a half. It appears I am stuck with a service that I use rarely and pay greatly for. Hmmmm! I’m thinking that I didn’t really think this through before I got involved. It strikes me as extravigant for emergency use only.

I did ask about the Prepaid Mobility service though in anticipation that I might switch to it when and if the service comes to my area and my current contract is done. It works like this. I buy XX minutes of call time. There are no other fees. Now that sounds more like it! Right? Not! I have to use up the time in 30 days. I have to be certain to call someone I don’t want to talk to just so I can get the value of the money I spent on the minutes.

“Can I carry the unused portion of my calling time to the next month?” I asked. The response may as well have been something like, “Are you daft?” Apparently one cannot on pain of … well, suffice to say, I cannot carry forward unused minutes. My understanding is this: I buy X minutes of call time. If I don’t use that time in 30 days the company gets to keep my money and I get… What exactly is it that I get? Hmmmmmmm?

Am I the only one who finds this somewhat strange?                    GRB