When my then-roommate and I moved to the cottage in which I now dwell, the decision was made that we'd go with cable internet access and not even bother turning on the phone line. This meant that I finally (this was 2002) had to give in and get a cell phone. Looking for a quick, turn-key solution, I went to Cricket and picked up the cheapest Audiovox cellie they had, and it has served me well for five years.
It's on its second battery now, and the annoyances are starting to stack up. Even with a relatively fresh battery, talk time is barely over an hour. There's no cover for the buttons, and I can either disable them, which requires me to enter a password procedure so complex that I'm afraid I'll launch a strategic nuclear strike every time I try and make a call, or just let them be pushed by any random object in my purse or pocket with occasional hilarious results:
Me: "Heh. My butt called you."
Cricket requires you to pre-pay for long distance minutes, which used to be no big deal, as 30 minutes of long-distance talk time would last me for months, but I'm placing more calls long-distance now (and with Marko & family moving to NH, that's only going to get worse,) and last week their automated system decided it didn't like either my Visa or my Master Card.
So, I stopped by an actual Cricket store the other day to see if I could iron out the long distance glitch and maybe look into upgrading my phone to one that would correct the defects that were bothering me: Battery life and inadvertent button activation. I explained to the salesdroid that their computer was telling me that there was a problem with my card(s) and to please contact my financial institution, but the human I spoke with at my financial institution said my card was fine and that Cricket was smoking crack, so what could we do about it?
Him: "So you want to...?"
Me: "Uh, buy some long distance minutes? Maybe $10 or $20 worth so I don't have to go through this again for a while?"
Him: "Certainly..." (He sees me start to pull out my Visa.) "But we only accept cash here."
Me: *Sigh.* "Is there an ATM around?"
Him: "Just a couple storefronts down, but they will charge you a dollar."
Me: "You know, never mind, I'll fix that later," I didn't want to jog down and back, as I was on a deadline, "But I have one other issue..."
His tone was condescending and supercilious, and only got worse with my next question.
Me: "I'd like to replace this old Audiovox."
Him: "What features do you want on a phone? We have..."
Me: "Cheap. All I want is covered buttons and more talk time. Your cheapest phone should be fine."
Him: "Well, even our cheapest phone is going to be $109."
Me: "That sign says $69.99 and the phone looks like what I want..."
Him: "That's for new customers."
What I Wanted To Say At This Point: "Look, C3P0; hop off the high horse. Money isn't the issue here. If I wanted a damn Razr, Rizr, Cruzr, Pozr, or Luzr, I'd get one, okay? The reason I don't have an iPhone, xPhone, or qPhone is because I don't have a goddam phone fetish. If I want to take pictures, I'll use my camera. If I want to listen to MP3s, I'll use my iPod. If I want to remember phone numbers and appointments, I'll use the same fricking pencil and paper I've been using for thirty years. I realize I'm standing in front of you with a six year old phone and a gas station nametag, but the reason I've been using your service is because I don't want to screw around with minutes and evenings and weekends and contracts and mailing payment checks and crap like that. I want to punch my credit card number into my phone once a month for the same amount of money every month and not have to worry my pretty little head about how long I talk on the phone. If your cheesy phone service comes with a big side helping of attitude these days, then you can shove it. I'm off to find someplace that will treat me like a paying customer, even if they do make me sign a contract. Oh, and sorry about your hairline."
What I actually said was: "Gotta run. Bye."
So, phone geeks, help me out. I'm looking for a company that will give me a bare-bones phone with a bare-bones service plan, preferably unlimited local calls for ~$50ish per month.