Several weeks ago, our contract expired, leaving me free to abandon your services. As I stepped towards the door, you shouted out (in typical Shatnerian style), “Wait! No! Come back!” and offered me a shiny new device. “New every two,” you called it–a reward for 24 months of fidelity. I stepped back toward the counter, interest piqued. “Alright, show me what you’ve got.”
Now, i’m not a pushover. New toys aren’t going to keep me in a hurtful relationship. Frankly i’m a bit insulted; i’m used to celebrating important relationships every year, not every other. Still, you’ve proven reliable in the past. You’re usually there when I need you to be. It’s just like in those commercials: no matter where i go, i get the creepy feeling that millions of people are following me. And so I’ve stayed with you.
“So, what kind of phone do you have right now?”
I’m not sure, so I slide the battery cover off (which is pretty easy, since after 2 years of abuse it’s more or less falling apart) and rip out the battery (which barely holds a charge these days) to reveal, somewhere between a string of barcodes, the “W385” you’re looking for. “I used to have a RAZR,” I explain, “but when it came time to upgrade I decided for something a little more solid, a little less popular, but still lightweight.” I then laugh and explain how ironically my “less popular phone” turned out to be the phone of choice for at least a half dozen of my friends, but i cut myself short when i notice that you don’t care.
“Well, that’s a pretty basic phone. Depending on what you’re looking for, you’ll have quite a few options as far as upgrading goes.” You pull out the DROID and my mouth begins to water. I’ve read the reviews, and I know it’s the best phone on the market. But after all the discounts have been applied, you admit that our relationship doesn’t quite mean that much to you–and demand a cool $150.
Thanks, but no thanks. I back away and you say “Well, how about the ERIS? It’s a lighter, cheaper version of the DROID, but it still has excellent reviews.” “How much,” i inquire suspiciously. “Just 30 bucks.”
That’s not so bad, i think. “Okay, you’ve sold me.” I pull out a Jackson and a Hamilton and lay them on the counter.
“Just one minor detail. See, this is a smartphone, which will probably be used for a ton of web-surfing and such. So, since we don’t want you to have to worry about amassing a ton of data charges, we’ve conveniently mandated an unlimited data plan for all of our smartphones. It’s just 30 dollars per month.”
Indeed, you’d like to “conveniently” double my monthly bill. “I think not,” I reply.
You offer me the next best thing–the ambiguously named “3G Media Phones.”
“What’s the difference?”
“It accesses less Internet.”
“It accesses less Internet than a smartphone.”
“What does that even mean? I mean…does it have a real web browser? Or just a few portals.”
“It has a full browser.”
“So how can it access less Internet?”
“The Media Phones only require a 10 dollar per month data plan.”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“Well, what does 10 dollars a month get me?”
“The $10 plan includes 25 MB of data allowance per month, and 20 cents per MB over that allowance.”
“What exactly does 25 MB of data allowance mean?”
“I mean, say I want to use Facebook on my phone. So i’m commenting on pictures, updating my status, etc. How long until i’m over my allowance?”
“I don’t know. I guess that would take a long time.”
“You don’t know? That’s kind of important isn’t it? I mean…wait a minute.”
“How much did you say you charge per MB over the allowance?”
“Twenty cents, sir.”
“That’s 5 MB per dollar, right?”
“I…I believe so.”
“And so it would be five dollars for 25 MB, right?”
“Then why on earth do i pay twice that for the first 25 MB? Shouldn’t you be penalizing me MORE for going over?”
“I don’t write the rules sir.”
“I give up. Forget these data plans–I don’t need to be able to surf the web. That’s what WiFi is for. These phones are WiFi capable, right?”
“Okay, good. I’ll just get this phone without the data plan. Then we don’t have to worry about my allowance or your ridiculous pricing model.”
“But the data plan is required.”
“Why? Why pay for a feature i’m not going to use? Can’t you just put a data block on the phone?”
“Well, technically, yes, but we still require that you have a data plan for this phone.”
“Is there an actual reason for that?”
“Again sir, I don’t write the rules sir.”
So forget the 3G phones. I’ll take a basic phone. You show me the “Basic Feature Phones.” A part of me dies. Half of them are hideous. Now, i’m not exactly a fashionista but even I know when a phone looks like it was made six years ago. Besides that, almost all of them are chunky. I complain about this. “Oh, those ones are ruggedized.”
“Ruggedized. They are designed to withstand a lot of damage.”
I look incredulously at the W385 in my hand, which has held up against quite enough without this “ruggedizing” process.
“What if I have a habit of wearing tight pants? There’s no way I’m even going to fit that phone in my pocket.”
“We have an excellent assortment of belt clips and other accessories to help accommodate our heavy duty products. Can i interest you in—”
“No! No you cannot interest me in a belt clip that will snap off when i go to sit down at my already claustrophobic desk. You cannot interest me in a pouch that makes a fanny pack look en vogue. I want a phone that I can take along with me–not a phone that takes me along for the ride.”
Your blank stare suggests anything but a response. I look desperately at the last two phones. The “Razzle” looks really weird and has only a 1.3 MP camera, but then it does have a QWERTY keyboard. That said, I’m pretty sick of being “butt-dialed” and “pocket-dialed” and i’m sure that’s what will start happening if I get a phone with an exposed keypad.
And so I come to the final phone, the Samsung Trance in “Piano Black.” It’s sleek, trendy, and at this point the features don’t really matter. I ask to see customer reviews for the Trance. Another part of me dies. “Worst phone EVER,” says Sarah228 from Omaha:
This phone is honestly the worst phone I’ve ever had. It is extremely breakable (I am on my third phone in less than 6 months) and the battery life has never been good. It hardly lasts a day (I unhook it at 7am and it is dead by 11pm). This phone is a waste of your money. Besides the fact that the front display shatters easily, it is just cheaply made. My newest one is already starting to fall apart and it really hasn’t been through that much. Get a more durable phone. Don’t let the sleek design fool you (taken from VZW.com)
I dejectedly drop the reviews, pop the battery back in my W385, force the shoddy backing back over the battery, and slide it into my pocket.
I give up, Verizon. Screw your “new-every-two.”
You know that mass of millions of people i mentioned earlier? I feel like they’re all personally violating me.
Can you hear me now, Verizon?
Didn’t think so.