The long journey to Cell Phone Purgatory
Last March, I wrote a column called “Cell Phone Hell” about my journey into the dark, confusing place known as cell phone ownership. In short, I had a contract with a cell phone conglomerate, which sold me, not one, not two, but three cell phones in the span of six months, all of which died in rapid-fire succession. (Read: They were selling me defective phones.) When I contacted the company to cancel my association with them, they refused to let me out of my contract unless I paid them an additional $175 to do so. They also had charged me some outrageous sums for service neither I nor my husband Erik, who also had a cell phone with the same conglomerate, ever received. I wrote a follow-up column in June about the response I got from three very considerate local cell phone agents who called me after reading my column. I promised then to keep you updated on my journey. So away we go.In June, I called the agent who called me first after my grievous column came out – Candy Granger, who operates a cell phone company called Mountain Mobile. She not only got me out of my contract, but whittled our bill down to a reasonable amount. With her help, we turned in our phones and vowed that it would be a cold day in you-know-where before we’d do the cell phone thing again. Nobody needs a cell phone; for that matter, no one needs a computer, a Palm Pilot or any other modern groovy gadget that, if it works (and that’s a big IF) might make our lives smoother to operate. Might. Since last March, we’ve actually operated our lives without cell phones. But Erik’s a horseshoer who travels all over the area, and a cell phone can really come in handy when contacting clients on the road. And as a journalist, having a cell phone with me (that works!) helps me avoid hunting down pay phones and scrambling for quarters to make a call.So a few weeks ago, I finally broke down and called Candy. Erik and I have since dubbed her “Samurai Cell Phone Woman,” because of not only her unbelievable skill at handling a cell phone or two – all at the same time, I might add – but her adeptness at cell phone company employee control and manipulation. She’s a master. Believe me. So now we have phones. They work. So far. Mine’s a snappy little Motorola model. So far, it’s working. And my husband’s got a military version – you know, the kind that a truck can run over and it still works. But “working” and really understanding your cell phone are two entirely different things. So when Samurai Cell Phone Woman offered to come over to our house and give us a tutorial on our cell phones, we were all over it. Gathered around our living room coffee table last Friday night, we watched as SCPW (you know, Candy) key-padded one of our phones with one hand while whipping open the other phone to call and activate our voice mail and other features. It was poetry in motion. Calmly, she explained to the customer service representative that yes, we really did have an account (we didn’t come up anywhere in their records – what a shocker), and that yes, we had ordered voice mail with our plan. She stayed with us, guiding us through the intricacies of walkie-talkie etiquette (just like little kids, we can radio each other instead of wasting time and cell phone minutes calling each other – cool, huh?!), and helped us get our contact lists in shape.So, my conclusion on this cell phone business is this: I guess I’ve moved from Cell Phone Hell to Cell Phone Purgatory (not as catchy, but more accurate). Get a cell phone if you want, but make sure you have immediate access to a calming cell phone samurai woman like Candy.Carrie Click is a reporter at the Post Independent. If you call her on her land line she’ll give you Samurai Cell Phone Woman’s number so you too can have your very own cell phone consultant to lead you through the mire. Carrie can be reached at 970-945-8515, ext. 518, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.Carrie Click is a reporter at the Post Independent. If you call her on her land line she’ll give you Samurai Cell Phone Woman’s number so you too can have your very own cell phone consultant to lead you through the mire. Carrie can be reached at 970-945-8515, ext. 518, or at email@example.com.
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