With nine months to go on our cell-phone contract, we misplaced one of the four phones in our family plan. I suspended the number the following day so no charges would be incurred, but we still had the problem of replacing the instrument.
I went to the provider’s San Mateo office. We were told we would have to pay $200 for the least expensive replacement. Of course, if we extended the contract for two years we could have the phone “free”---a contractual commitment of approximately $3,000 so that we could save $200. No thanks. Because of their attitude I’d rather pay the $200 but walk out the door the minute the contract is up. But back to the problem at hand, there had to be other options.
We stopped at the Radio Shack close to our house. The salesman asked if we still owned other late-model handsets from the same carrier. Yes, two years ago they had joined the collection in the garage that we had never gotten around to recycling when we had upgraded our phones. The salesman suggested that, if we bought a SIM card for $25, he could activate it and insert it into one of the old phones. He could even give it the same number as the one that had been lost. If it all worked, we would save $175. It did, and we did.
Given the time he spent, Radio Shack couldn’t have made much, if anything, on a $25 sale to us. Well, they sell mobile-phone contracts from different vendors, so they’ll get the first crack at our business when we change carriers. Meanwhile, we won’t be singing the praises of our current provider. © 2006 Stephen Yuen
[Update - 8/30/06: It's a good thing that we didn't dispose of our old equipment, as per today's warning about sensitive information left on recycled phones. Of course, I don't have anything to hide....]