Wednesday, March 28, 2012

That was a close one.

A couple of weeks ago, I came home after work one day, put my bag down, glanced over at my phone, and the answering machine said "0" like it normally does. You see, most people send me email, or we chat on some sort of instant messenger service, or we use homing-pigeons (a lost art, I say; Mike Tyson has been into them since he was a kid).

I thought to myself, "I'm paying $34 a month for my landline. Shoot, that's how much some cell phone plans cost. Why am I doing this?" So, I started checking out various cell phone plans, intent on ditching the landline once and for all.

And, boy-howdy, there's a lot of cell phone providers out there. There are pay-as-you-go plans and month-to-month deals, and of course the always dreaded year-or-two-or-eight contracts that the Big Guys lock people into. Some offer free phones; I have a fairly recent Blackberry, so I don't really need one.
  • We give you X local minutes free per month!
  • Unlimited texting to Canadian and US numbers!
  • Evenings and weekends, as many minutes as you want!
  • Free beer!
It was enough to make a fella's head spin. And, nobody seemed to give the right mix of features that I wanted for a price I thought was fair: I don't need a data plan, I don't need unlimited North America-wide long distance, I don't need a newfangled touchscreen phone.

And then there's the X minutes per month thing. Some months I might talk on the phone less than 30 minutes in total; other times I'll call up an old friend and we'll chat for two hours. How do I know how many minutes I'll need, in advance? There's really no way to tell.

Yes, I could've gotten around some of those issues; if I wanted to call up an old chum and chew the fat for a good long while, I could dial them up using Google Voice for free. Primus has this phone system which only needs a high-speed internet connection. Skype might've been an option.

In the end, everything which isn't a landline is a giant damn hassle. I've had a VOIP phone before (years ago with Rogers Cable) and the quality was shitty; my parents have the same thing now with Cogeco and they've had service guys out to their house so often they probably know 'em by name. If I was to go cell-only, I'd have to charge the damn thing all the damn time, it wouldn't work if the power was out, and if I lost it I'd be totally fuuuuuuucked (as so many people seem to be when they lose their designed-to-be-lost cell phone in a cab or at a rave or in a wax museum or wherever the deuce it is people go these days).

So, I called up Bell, asked what they could do for me, and they hacked $10/month off my bill. Status quo achieved! Landline and a cell I use sparingly, it'll remain.

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