I have a love/hate relationship with my cellphone. It is an electronic leash that helps me dramatically improve my productivity while simultaneously acting as a cruel jailer that never really lets me stop working.
In theory if you have my number you have instant access to me. The time of day doesn’t matter, because the office travels with me. There are no “banker’s hours.” Oh sure you can and should make a policy about what time people can call you on it, but is only semi-effective. People still call and regardless of the time I have to make an effort not to respond. That ring generates a Pavlovian response in me.
This past week I was reminded of just how important my phone is to me and why I hate cellphone contracts. You see my Treo 700w died. It didn’t give me any warning. It didn’t tell me that it was tired of the relationship it just checked out and left me standing there with a confused look on my face.
I called my provider to ask for their help. This is the second time that I have had to replace it. The first one lasted about six months or so. This one made it about five. As you can imagine when I spoke with the provider whose name rhymes with horizon I was less than pleased. I wanted to know why the phone keeps dying. I don’t drop it. I don’t throw it. It hasn’t been folded, bent, stapled or otherwise mutilated. All I did was utilize the standard features of the phone.
So when I spoke with the provider whose name rhymes with horizon I inquired about switching to a different phone. They said sure Mr. Shack, we’d love to help you. Why don’t you consider using this fabulous Blackberry. That is all well and good except they want me to extend my contract or pay an outrageous amount of money for the fabulous Blackberry.
The provider whose name rhymes with horizon and their fellows in the industry are very quick to offer discounts to new customers. If you are a new customer they’re happy to wine and dine you. They can’t work hard enough to help you.
But once you are in the system you are stuck. You can’t just walk away from a contract. They make sure of that by sticking you with a large “early termination fee.” If you have a problem with the phone they’ll do what they can to help you, but that help is limited.
It reminds me a bit of the kid and the shiny new toy. He has a bunch of old toys that he enjoys playing with, but they’re not nearly as much fun as the bright new shiny one. That is the one that gets his attention. That is the one that he showers love upon.
You’ll forgive me for being bitter that a new customer could buy the Blackberry I am interested in for $100 less than it is being offered to me. You’ll understand my irritation at being stuck with a product that doesn’t have the life expectancy that it should. It is bad enough that we have to deal with Planned obsolescence, but surely we deserve better than this.
I think I am going to call the provider whose name rhymes with horizon and ask to speak with someone in their customer retention department and see if we can’t find a suitable compromise because I really am unhappy about being stuck in the cell jail.
I’ll let you know what happens.