Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Cell phones. Grrrrr.

My sister gave me a cell phone so I could keep her posted when my son was in the hospital over five years ago, and it still works. Looks like an antique at this point, but it WORKS! It also works like a walkie-talkie -- when I can remember how to use it, that is. I only use it now when she and I are going to meet up and want to keep in touch en route, and I have to get out the instruction booklet to take a refresher course every time.

Last year, DH gave me another cell phone because it came with his as a package deal. This thing is nearly useless. First of all, the battery won't hold a charge worth a tinker's darn. Every time I'm going to use it, I first have to charge it up again. Most of the time, I cannot even get a signal, and if I do, it breaks up so any conversation is a garbled mess. I had an appointment in town where they sell these phones, so I took it yesterday to see if I could resolve the problems I'm having with it.

First of all, upon entering the store, you have to go to a sign-in station to type your name into their queue. I can type. I can type really well, and really fast. But on that stupid thing, I cannot make it let me type two words without having to backspace, clear and start over, etc. I had tried over and over, and was thinking I might push the stinking thing over if it didn't soon cooperate, when the store manager burst through the back door and greeted me with, "Hi! How are you doing today?" in a voice loud enough that I'm sure people in New Jersey probably heard him.

I informed him that I was, in fact, not doing very well at all with this machine because it would not allow me to type two words without fritzing out. So he typed in my first name and then hit the enter key. Whaddya know! It doesn't even NEED my last name, after all. So then ... why do they ask for it? Tsk. The whole system is just a stall tactic, so they don't have to actually wait on you when you first arrive. It's designed to get you to browse, in hopes that you'll fall in love with one of their hot new devices so they can have you sell YOURSELF on an expensive upgrade.

Eventually, after standing there for about 10 minutes with my arms folded, not at all interested in their goodies, a "salesman" approached and asked if he could help me (he could tell it was my turn because my name was number one on the video screen up over my head -- that, and the fact that I was the only one who had not yet been waited on). So much for the "high tech" system.

So the salesman asked me, "What can I do for you today?" I told him that I needed a new phone, that mine would not turn on this morning, and about the problem with not holding a charge since day one, etc., etc. Oh ... and "can you just retrieve all my contacts and stuff from this phone, because I'd hate to lose all that info ..." His eyes lit up. As long as the phone would turn on, he COULD pull my stuff from the old to the new. He wanted to know what model I'd like to purchase. So I explained that it was on my husband's account, and since he was entitled to a free phone at this point, I'd like him to show me which ones were available with that plan, and tell me what the differences were between them. I don't think he was planning to have to DO anything except take my order. He looked stunned.

That part about the "free" phone took the wind out of his sails (read: S-A-L-E-S). He showed me a cheap phone. I don't care, as long as he could put my info into the new one! (I know I told him that was one of the problems: can't turn it on today.) He told me the new models have different connectors than mine, so I'd have to purchase new chargers for the house and car because they've switched to a "universal" kind. (Hey ... that's what they said LAST time! Apparently last year's universal is not the same as this year's universal.) Oh, and now that he's had a few minutes to think about it, I could not actually get the free phone because it was on my husband's plan, so only HE is entitled to get the new phone. Does that make any sense? He gave me this stupid phone in the first place. Ugh ...

So, now I was going to have to purchase the new phone and two chargers to go with it. I asked about whether or not they had i-phones, because as long as I'm going to buy, I might as well buy the ONE gadget that TV commercials have caused me to covet. (I LOVE those "there's an app for that" commercials! But that is neither here nor there.) Nope. That's not their brand, but they have one that's even better, according to him. How so? He had no answer to that question, but looked a little livelier at the prospect of selling me one of those bad boys. So I nudged him with, "so ... do you think you'll be able to retrieve my info from the old one, then?"
I was beginning to get a little irritated by his vagueness, and the way he made me feel by not answering my questions. I realize I am not exactly cell-phone savvy, but I'm not a complete dunce, either. I have CHOSEN not to spend my time learning everything there is to know about cell phones. I don't intend to make cell phone usage a career, after all. He punched a few buttons on the old phone in rapid succession. I asked him what that was about, and he answered that it was just a little trick ... Lo! and, Behold! That sucker lit right up. Hah-HAH ...
But the joke was on him. As long as the old phone was now working, I had no need for a new one after all! DH can go get himself a new one -- as soon as he has half a day to kill, reading the little signs next to the phones because nobody there is going to explain the differences. I guess we're expected to go in and find out which ones are available at a price that matches what's in our wallets, buy it, take it home and read the book to learn how to use it. Me? I've got other things to do.


  1. Hey, did you know that if you are in an area with no cell service (home), if you leave your phone on it will send out a signal looking for a tower every few second and run the battery down at a ridiculously fast rate?

  2. Yeah ... mine runs down whether or not it's turned on. Someone told me to hit *93 once a month. I asked the guy at the phone store and he said he never heard of that. Same company as the gal who recommended it uses.