New Cell Phones -- 09/24/02

Two years and a few days ago I wrote about buying a pair of cell phones, one for me and one for my daughter who had just started college and had a thirty mile commute to school (remember, this whole state is only about forty-five miles wide).

Sometimes I would give my phone to Nancy if she had to travel over to New York or up to Boston and then I began to give it to my youngest to carry when he went out at night. [Note to parents of younger children: cell phones are a wonderful thing for parents of teenagers... if the kid has a phone, he can call home at any time, none of those "the payphone didn't work" excuses... and you can reach him at any time... "You were supposed to be home at 11:00 and it's now 11:15"] He passed his road test in July and got his driver's license... and every time he borrowed my car (or Nancy's car) I'd hand him my cell phone.

So we've been discussing for some time now the need to get more cell phones. Both Cingular (the company we've been using, formerly CellOne) and Verizon have advertised family plans -- get one phone and then add extra phones for only fifteen or twenty dollars more, all sharing the same pool of minutes. Good old procrastination... I did wander into a Cingular store one lunchtime (they were just two doors down from the Subway sandwich shop where I was going for lunch) and got information about their plans... but I was also intrigued by a similar Verizon plan that cost a little more but had free long distance and no roaming charges (as long as you were in an area covered by their network).

I didn't go into the office yesterday, so I let Sean drive my car to school -- and, of course, taking my cell phone. He came home after school to report that somebody had stolen the phone out of his backpack, probably during phys ed class. He'd reported it to the school office; I immediately set out to call Cingular to have it disconnected.

It took almost twenty-five minutes before I actually got through to a live human being to have the service suspended.

Which made up my mind for me and a little while later I drove to a Verizon dealer and bought a pair of phones plus family plan service -- $35/month for a pool 300 of anytime minutes and some outrageous number of night and weekend minutes plus 250 mobile-to-mobile minutes... and I can add an other line for another $20 (which would probably mean buying a bigger pool of minutes as well. I've always said that I had no interest in a thousand minutes a month, but I would like an hour or two for twenty bucks a month. Well, this gives it to me... if I add a third phone and pay ten bucks for more minutes I'd have three phones for $85/month (yeah, plus state tax and federal tax and Al Gore tax, etc.) Right now I'm trying to determine if I really like the phones and the quality of service, etc. during the fifteen day cancellation period, then I'll add the extra phone. Why not a fourth phone? My daughter said that she thought she would take on phone ownership herself -- she likes her Nokia phone (Verizon said it could not be reprogrammed to work on their network -- which may or may not be true -- I don't think phone store sales clerks have much of a clue and, even if they did, would probably lie anyway) and, besides which, she says we're paying for her tuition and books so she thinks she should take on responsibility for her telephone. (Hmmm, this may be a good thing... I rarely use more than an hour or two worth of minutes a month, but this past month she used 355 peak and 157 off-peak minutes.)

Right now Sean is off at a friend's house (in theory they're working on homework for their pre-calculus class) with my car... and my new cell phone... I'll probably add that third phone next week sometime.

*** I began this journal on Sept. 26, 1996 -- on Thursday it will be six years old! ***

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