Wednesday, August 20, 2014


If you spend any time at all watching the news, you'll know that reporters love using the phrase "fluid situation." They're not talking about either floods or my life. Once I find something I like doing, or even find myself doing, I am loath to change directions. I am a human block of cement. So you'll understand why it took me over a decade to change my wireless carrier, despite being charged outrage prices every month.

If they had kept this logo,
I'd have stayed.
I stuck with AT&T for no other reason than a fear that if I switched carriers, I would not only wind up paying even more somewhere else, but I would lose service for however long it took until the new company picked us up. That wouldn't mean much to me, but my daughter communicates with the world via texting. In fact, if AT&T offered a "text only" choice, I'd have grabbed it in a minute.

Now, what would you say if I told you that my new carrier was rated #1 by Consumer Reports? Gets an A-rating from the Better Business Bureau? Requires no contracts? Switched service for me from AT&T within five seconds after I gave them the OK? And, in fact, uses the AT&T network, which means my service will be the same as before for over $100 less per month? And -- here's the kicker -- employs friendly "sales associates" who answer the phone immediately and don't require subtitles to be understood? I'm thinking you'd say, "Brother, where have you been all my wireless life?"

"I am so down with this portable
telephone thing!"
Now, what if I were to tell you the company was called Consumer Cellular, and was marketed primarily to AARP members, who receive a 5% discount? I bet many of you are suddenly OK with overpaying for your service.

I had the same problem. Just the name "Consumer Cellular" sounds generic. You kind of picture a couple of people drumming up business off a bridge table at a street fair. 

Compare it to T-Mobile. Boost. Sprint. Verizon. Cool names all, punchy, modern and hip. "Word, I got Boost."

Word, I was spending over $1000 a year to type Ok to every text I received from my daughter. The time had come make the switch.

My wife was eager to jump in the game, just to get her own cellphone, since the one she was currently using was really for work. She could have gone with an iPhone 5S from Consumer Cellular, but went with a flip phone instead, perhaps remembering our daughter's admonishment that we weren't smart enough for smartphones. (Actually, she said that about me, but I'm sure she was talking about us.

My wife's phone arrived while she was away with friends for the weekend. Taking it carefully from the box, I could hear her reaction already. "Ohhh, this is nice! This is very nice! I love it!" The reality, however, was somewhat different. After suppressing a dry heave, she muttered, "Well. This certainly isn't a sexy phone."

"Watson, come here! I need
a sexy phone!"
What in the name of roaming charges is a sexy phone? Something that looks like a Christian Louboutin platform pump? A phone with prominent abs? You show me a better phone for 35 bucks.

Sexy phone? I've been using the same flip phone for over five years. It's more banged up than someone racing against Tony Stewart. I have to use a jackhammer to push the numbers 1 and 7. From a distance, it looks like a good-sized waterbug. At least my wife's phone looks like a phone. Maybe a phone her mother would use, but a phone! Hey, it even has extra audio clarity for hearing aids! And big numbers for easier use!

This is hot.
My wife could probably deal with all of that. But what she really had a problem with were the words Consumer Cellular on the outside of the phone -- that whole "generic sounding" thing again. Our daughter saved the day by providing a sheet of stickers she's been using to cover her new iPhone and iPad. After careful consideration, my wife chose the rainbow and puffy clouds image. Very sexy. If you're My Little Pony.

Our next move is to get Nexflix Streaming, and lower our cable service to less-than-basic. Public access and the traffic camera channel will never look so sexy.


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