Monday, April 24, 2006

Cellphone rip-off

If you've been reading this blog long enough, you know I'm cheap when it comes to cell phones. Still, it boggles me that people so blatently pay for functionality they don't use.

Cellphone companies, especially Sprint and Verizon Wireless, have been aggressively promoting mobile video services, which cost an average of $10.70 a month for access to sports, news and weather clips. More than a quarter of cellphones now in use can play such videos. But only 1 percent of wireless subscribers are using their phones to watch them, according to a recent survey by the NPD Group, a market research firm. (NY Times)

Kudos to the people who don't see the need to pay $10.70 for cellular video. But why did you buy a phone with the functionality if you're not going to use it? If my math is correct, at least 24% of current owners are doing this.

But, you say, I got my phone for free! (Or heavily discounted.) I see. What kind of contract did you sign with your "free" phone? Do you really having a phone that can receive and play video clips doesn't cost anything?


Eric said...

The last time I purchased a cell phone (through Verizon) I walked into the store with a list of features I wanted. Part of the list was "must have" and part of the list was "would be cool". Some of the things I wanted as "must have" items were Analog service (Tri-mode if possible), and speaker phone. Some of the "cool" features were Bluetooth, camera, and a memory card.

I ended up with a great tri-mode camera phone that I have been able to hack to give me GPS coordinates at will. This phone was available at the Verizon store for exactly ONE week before it was pulled from the shelves.

The problem as I see it is that large services such as Verizon are stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one side, they have jaded consumers who want all the latest cool features and they want them for pennies. On the other side are the phone manufacturers themselves, who push a new model more often than car companies. But with each new model, Verizon still has to provide support, replacement, etc.

And then there's all the garbage that they would LIKE us to buy, but that NO ONE with any sort of life actually needs, such as video on your cell phone. Instead of pushing techno-junk, I wish that the large providers would just give us more for our dollar. Sure, I can get a phone that takes pictures and can send text messages, but Verizon is going to charge me per picture to do anything with them and has PURPOSELY disabled the ability in their Bluetooth phones to send files to your desktop. The phones can do it... but Verizon wants their cut.

I won't even talk about how insane it is to charge 15 cents per text message.

Julian Pascha said...

We've had a Sprint phone for many years and finally canceled that service. The price seemed low ($35 including taxes), the problem was we were not using all those minutes and it became a waste of money. We also needed a second phone and Sprint customer service offered us a shared plan for $60. No thanks.

What do you do if you don't need a camera phone or other fancy features and just need to keep in touch with your wife and close friends?

We chose to get two phones (T-Mobile prepaid) and, depending on how much we talk, spend around $15 a month total, with no bills to write. The new world of frugal cell phone users is here!