My wife’s cell phone keeps dropping calls. It is a dumbphone (as opposed to a smart phone). They weren’t even top of the line when we got them almost four years ago. They were the most basic ones available and I think they were more-or-less free to us at the time.
Anyway, since my wife’s phone keeps dropping calls, we thought we’d check into replacing it. We don’t text, we have plenty of talk minutes, and we don’t need any apps or doodads, so we just need basic phones. Also, we have something of a vintage service plan and if we make any changes, we’ll automatically boost our bill by twenty dollars per month. So we’ll be paying the full retail price of the phones in order to keep our current contract.
We did a bit of research online, but decided to head into a store to see the selection and hold them in our hands before making any decision. We were greeted at the door and put on some kind of wait list, as though this was the hottest club in town and the bouncer was taking a minute or two to decide if we got in. We wandered among the many bright screens vying for our attention, each promising its own mysterious enlightenment for a cost of only hundreds of dollars each month, hidden fees not included.
“Do they even carry dumbphones here?” my wife asked me as we strolled through the greedy screens.
“Um,” I said. “Maybe over there.”
Finally, we found the saddest display that the store had to offer, replete with almost five models of basic phones. It was at this time that the salesman found us.
“Josh?” he said, tentatively.
“That’s me,” I said. “My wife and I are looking to replace our phones with something nearly identical to what we have, but new. We don’t text, take pictures, or surf the internet on our phones. We only use them to talk.”
“Huh,” said the salesman. “So you’re pretty much off-the-grid. Well, you found the phones we have. If you sign up with a new two-year contract, these two models are only a dollar, plus a thirty dollar activation and setup fee of course.”
“We like our current plan,” I said. “We’ll pay the retail price for the phones. Can you tell us how much these phones are?”
“Sure,” he said. “No one asks for that information anymore. Almost everyone just does the two-year contract.”
“Also, if we aren’t setting up a new contract, can you waive the thirty dollar fee?”
“I’ll have to check,” he said. “As for the prices, the cheapest one here is $150 and this other model is $200. I’ll just go chat with my manager.”
He went off, my wife and I looked the phones over. We were nonplussed.
Have basic phones ever cost $150? Shouldn’t these things get cheaper with time? Since when did having any kind of cell phone put you off-the-grid?
We haven’t bought anything yet. Maybe we should just let the phones die and start using smoke signals instead. That’s obviously how old-fashioned we already are with our dumbphones.