Two reasons why phones suck

First: My wife’s cell phone was stolen from her office at work. She called T-Mobile and had a stop put on the phone. When she went to the local T-Mobile store to get a cheap-o replacement phone, it turns out that she has to renew her contract for a year or two years in order to get a cheap phone. Otherwise the “cheap phones” start at $100. And she will be charged a $200 cancellation fee if she doesn’t get a new phone within (I think) 60 days, so there’s no option for just not getting a replacement phone at all. It turns out we should have put insurance on the phone — but at the time, we told the T-Mobile rep no thanks for the insurance because why insure a free phone? And the rep didn’t argue with us.

Second: Because the T-Mobile service at our new house is nearly nonexistent, we had to get a landline phone for calls made from home. We ended up going with the $14.99/month plan from Vonage, and we’ve been very happy with the service. (Cool geek feature: Voice mails are automatically converted into audio files and emailed to you!) However, now it appears that Verizon is going after Vonage for patent infringement, and winning — which means, according to this, that Vonage may be out of business within a year.

So: the phone technology that currently exists either sucks, or the company that sells it sucks, or both. And the phone technology that is being developed which doesn’t suck and which is being managed by companies that don’t suck, is being eaten up by larger companies which do suck. Overall effect: Lots of suckage in the phone industry. (And let’s not even begin talking about the suckage of the phones themselves…)

This ain’t the way technology improves, folks.

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Filed under Geekhood, Technology

4 responses to “Two reasons why phones suck

  1. The technology is fine. The companies are guilty of abusing customers.

    I thought that hapenned only in my country

  2. I don’t think the technology is fine, not in general anyway. The coverage on cell phone networks once you get outside urban areas is horrible (at least here in the US). And cell phones (at least the ones I’ve used) are clunky, nonintuitive, and overly ambitious. For example, to turn my cell’s ringer off without turning the phone off, I have to go through seven layers of menu options — but to take a picture, I press a little button on the side, and the button has no “safety” to it so I am constantly taking pictures of the inside of my pants pockets when I sit down. It’s like the manufacturers forgot that it’s a phone, and think it’s a camera with voice capabilities.

    The tech needs work.

  3. Uhm, you are right.

    Mi master theses is about optimizing celullar network with constraint programming (ouch), and I´ve realized that the technology is mostly fine.

    If a company wants you to have good signal, they’ll put an antenna with enough power near you. Unfortunately, they try to minimize costs and hope you don’t complain too much.

    (sorry my english)

  4. virusdoc

    Many of the reasons you list are why we’ve been using Virgin mobile prepaid for years. There is no contract, and no monthly fee. Just 0.18 per minute of usage, long distance and roaming included. Their customer service is pretty good, and you can get a human on the phone within a few minutes of calling them.

    Their phones are not at all ambitious, and tend toward the simple, value end of manufacturers’ lines. Which means, ironically, that they are really good phones that do nothing else. I’ve been using the candy-bar shaped Nokia phones, which do just about all phone things well and have no antenna. And when I washed my first one in the laundry, I ordered an upgraded one on the Virgin website for $20, which included $10 free airtime. We find that on average we use about $10 airtime per month per phone, which is darn cheap. Virgin using the Sprint PCS network, so the coverage is fairly good and mostly digital. Unless you use a ton of minutes, I think this is the best business model out there.