I've got something stuck in my craw today. Last week my cell phone had an unfortunate accident. It fell on the ground and the screen cracked. Not just a simple crack. A big ole spider web crack shooting out from the upper left hand corner. This was my first smart phone with its pretty touch screen. Not top of the line, but not exactly cheap either. Sad part is, I'm still paying it off too. My new provider has this clever way of taking your expensive phone and breaking down the cost into payments tacked onto your bill every month. What seemed like a great idea at the time, has lost its shine since it broke. Paying on a damaged phone is kind of a cruel joke. My two year agreement ends in October or November, so not a lot of help there either.
Well, I had been searching online for a replacement thru a popular big box media store. I saw that a phone I'd like was on sale for $99.99 to what I thought had said new contract members/contract member upgrades. I thought it was the perfect solution. Well after going to the store it turned out that not all was as it seemed. I guess from what I gather now, is that I was looking at an online offer. According to the associate the prices in store were different, AND that offer is only for new contract members. Not existing ones. They continued to say something about the same phone for $250, and I stopped listening. I still stand by that it said it included upgrades/existing members, but anyway. I discovered later today that I must have been looking at the online specials ad and not the store front specials ad, which is found by using a store locater and then looking at the ad thru their link. Annoying.
Thinking I could get better information at my providers kiosk, I journeyed into the mall. I asked the associate there about the same phone. I was told that I would have to pay $200 down, send in a rebate for $50 back, and then $20 for 20 months would be tacked on to my bill. I think my brain shut down at this point, and I didn't even get to ask if I had to upgrade my data package to a higher amount, or if I needed a bigger plan to accommodate 4g from 3g. Then she quickly followed that up with the sale that was coming in the next weekend or so where I could buy my phone for the same deal, but instead of a $50 rebate, I could get the whole $200 rebate. She said it with such great enthusiasm, as if I had been given a special gift. Really? You mean I only have to pay $400 for my phone after 20 months instead of $550? Why, that's positively a steal. Can you feel the juicy sarcasm here? I'm laying it on pretty thick.
Now I've been told that the reason these phones cost so much is because they do so much. They are like little computers. They not only make calls, they can play games, stream music, take photos, surf the web... blah blah blah. I know. Yeah its helpful to my job that I can access the web at any given moment, but still. Its a phone. Its one thing that I have to pay for my phone plan and data package and unlimited texts, but why do I have to pay so much for my phone too? The phone I was looking at retails for $700. I need a new fridge (and I'm not talking big fancy stainless steel, I'm talking, medium sized, plain fridge that keeps food cold and colder). It also retails for $700. I need a new computer because my old desktop fried itself. To buy all the parts I want to build it myself, guess what? $700. Why do all these things cost the same amount? Yeah a phone can play games, but not like on a desktop. Yeah a phone can do multiple things, but a basic fridge does two things. These days you cant get by without any of these things. Food has to stay cold, computers are needed for school/work/business, and phones for work/school/business. It just frustrates me that the cost of living is so high. How does the average person (and I mean average like me, scrappin' by as best I can) afford all this? Not to mention all the pressure behind it all to stay current. You need a computer, you need a smart phone, and don't even get me started on the rise of tablets! I've even been investigating those now too! "Oh, well, maybe I need one of these too? I don't, but they're so appealing right? I have a laptop, but a tablet... that's even more portable! I could put it in my purse! I need one!" *face palm* The draw of gadgetry is strong. Its sexy and appealing and there are so many damn cool things you can get.
However, its the price tag that stops me. I know I'm not alone saying these electronics are a bit beyond a price range I'd like to pay for something. I guess that hardest part is also that after a couple months, something bigger, better, faster is coming out, and your gadget is old hat. You now have an expensive relic you may or may not be paying for still.
In the end, they'll win. I'll buy a new phone, probably more than I'd like to spend on one considering I drop stuff a lot. They'll tell me I need a bigger plan. I'll upgrade. The vicious cycle continues. At least a fridge will last a while longer, and a desktop computer is stationary, so the odds of me dropping it are much lower. ;)