Tag Archives: phone

What’s the REAL price?

Ever wonder why your phone plan is advertised as “$29.99/month,” but it’s always over $40? Phone bills (even landlines) have so many hidden charges, it’s enough to make your head spin. You might expect to pay State, City, and Federal Excise tax, but here are some others you might find:

  • State excise tax
  • Universal service charge
  • 911 charge
  • LNP (Local Number Portability) charge
  • TRS (Telecommunications Relay Service) charge
  • Single Bill Fee
  • Detailed Billing fee
  • Access charge
  • Intercontinental Ballistic IntraLATA Surcharge

Okay, I made that last one up, but seriously, this is ridiculous! And those are only the charges you can’t get out of, that add anywhere from 17% to 25% to your phone bill. Reminds me of a TV commercial where the husband comes in with a package in the mail the size of the L.A. phone directory, drops it on the kitchen table with a resounding thud, and says, “It’s the phone bill!”

Arizona ranks 17th in high wireless bill taxes with a State and local rate of 11.98% and a Federal rate of 6.46% (Same in all 50 states) for a combined rate of 18.44%, so we are above the median as far as taxes go.

Why can’t they fold all those fees into the advertised price and avoid the sticker shock? Well… Because then they wouldn’t be able to advertise “$29.99*” in great big numbers and then under the “*” they say (in tiny letters) “Plus applicable taxes, fees, and whatever else we can gouge out of you!” This is also true of many other businesses, such as hotels, airlines, and online ticket sales. One company even tried an all-inclusive “Out the door” price model on it’s website… and lost business to their competitors advertising a lower price, even though their final price was higher. Moral of the story? Sadly, you can’t play an honest game if everyone else is cheating.

People are starting to get really sick of this manipulation, though. That’s one of the many reasons cellphone customers are switching to prepaid service in droves. With prepaid, you buy a month’s worth of service ahead of time, typically for around $40-$45 for most carriers, and the only thing else you pay is sales tax. Granted, the hassle factor is slightly higher because you have to be proactive in making sure your service continues, but look at all the advantages:

  • No contracts!
  • No credit check, in fact, no credit needed because you pay for the service before you use it.
  • No hidden fees, and no surprises. If you need to pay more for some service, you’ll know about it beforehand.
  • You own your phone.
  • No sitting down with someone who wants to sell you lots of additional services.
  • No hour of wasted time reading and signing those contracts.
  • Depending on your needs, often lower monthly charges.

There are a few disadvantages, as well:

  • You may have to pay a lot for your phone, especially if you want the latest iPhone or similar.
  • Your selection of available phones may be smaller, or different.
  • If you run out of money, the grace periods are short, and you’ve got no phone service until you pay again.
  • If you let the service lapse past the grace period, you lose your phone number.

Still, if you stay on top of your finances, prepaid is a very good alternative for many folks. Here’s an idea: Join the revolution and demand a simple quote of the real price! Patronize those businesses that actually tell you how much something costs.

More info:

http://money.cnn.com/2013/07/10/technology/mobile/wireless-taxes/

https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/understanding-your-telephone-bill

http://www.mywireless.org/state-issues/state-tax-rankings/

Emily Post in the 21st Century

Most people have heard of Emily Post, one of the 20th Century’s foremost authorities on etiquette. Often defined as “Common Courtesy” or “Politeness”, etiquette is now more important than ever in today’s world of gadgets that distract. In fact, it has led to a new term, Netiquette, Meaning, “Etiquette on the Internet”. This can be expanded to include all use of personal technology, such as cellphones and music players.

Everything about netiquette can be boiled down to one principle:

Flesh and blood are more important than Silicon.

What does this mean in Real Life? It means, experience Real Life, not Virtual life! The people around you are always more important than whatever is going on in your gadget. Very few calls and texts are so important they need to be dealt with right away. Some ways you can practice this:

  • Never text at the dinner table unless you’re eating alone.
  • No playing with your phone at work unless it’s truly work-related! Your employer is paying you to do Company business, not personal business.
  • When in a public place, if you make or take a call, don’t be loud and don’t speak of private matters. Loud arguments in a public place are an embarrassment.
  • When in Church, the movies, a library, a meeting, or the dinner table, unless you’re expecting a very important call, turn your phone off or at least silence it and let calls go to voice mail. That is why they invented it, after all.
  • Don’t walk and text. Not only will you look stupid, but it’s rude and a good way to walk in front of a bus. You don’t want to show up at the pearly gates and explain that!
  • Don’t drive and text, either. See above.
  • Wearing headphones in a public place might be rude, depending on the place. It might also be dangerous. At the very least, don’t expect people to talk to you. They don’t want to compete with your music.

The most important principle to observe is, when you are with someone, be with them, give them your undivided attention, and save the virtual friendships for later. Live in the here and now.

The $700 mistake!

Don't let this happen to you!It happens way too often. Today’s smartphones are wonders of technology, but there’s one little snag. That screen is made out of glass. Granted, it’s very strong glass, but it’s still glass. Drop it just once, and you may have bought yourself a big problem.
There is good news, though. First of all, most screens can be repaired. Please don’t just throw that phone away if you break the screen! A screen repair might cost you $100 (Varies with phone), but that beats $500-700 for a new one unless you’re in a contract and you’re up for an upgrade.

Gel Phone case

Gel Phone case

More importantly, prevent such things from happening in the first place:

  • Get a good Impact resistant case. Ideally, this should have a hard outer shell and a soft but firm inner liner-like a motorcycle or bicycle helmet. The “Gel” types seem to work well, and they’re inexpensive if you buy them from Amazon or eBay. If money is no object, you could get the various deluxe cases, such as Otterbox or Lifeproof.
    These are also usually water and dust resistant. Get a good screen protector while you’re at it.
  • Don’t try to cradle your phone on your shoulder the way you do with your home phone. It doesn’t work! This may be responsible for a lot of dropped phones. Use some kind of headset, speakerphone,
    Poor man's handsfree adapter

    Poor man’s handsfree adapter

    or just hold it the old-fashioned way. Headsets are not that expensive; Much cheaper than a phone repair.

  • If you carry your phone in a pocket or holster, get into the habit of always putting it in with the screen facing your body. That way, the screen is protected from the things you might bump into.
  • When you set your phone down unattended, such as on your nightstand, place it face down. I know it doesn’t look as cool this way, but you’re protecting it from things dropping onto it.

Remember, if you break your phone anyway, don’t just throw it away. That’s bad stewardship of your stuff. Get it fixed, or if you don’t want to do that, there are plenty of people who will accept it as-is for parts, and they may actually give you some money for it!