A couple of weeks back, a friend came over to show us his new phone. I’m not a mobile phone guy but this one caught my attention quickly because I could actually read the screen and see the buttons. I also noticed that he had a strong signal in our house; not all carriers do. He had switched to Consumer Cellular and went on to tell me how much money he was saving, yada, yada, yada. Between Nancy and I, neither one of us can really read the phone screen with any kind of accuracy, especially in high ambient light. We only use a phone for voice so the simplest device and service would be more than adequate. I did a little research, Tom didn’t find any problems and then yesterday there was an article in the WSJ about these new mobile startups. Basically they buy bulk time on the major carriers, wholesale, and resell on a retail basis. In this case, the carrier is AT&T. We looked back for a year and noted that in 10 of the past 12 months, Nancy’s monthly cell phone usage was under 200 minutes and on only two occasions had it gone up to 350. I’ve had a Trac Phone for emergency use for almost 2 years and have accumulated less than 5 minutes over that whole period so I’m not a factor in the equation. Half of those 5 minutes were wrong numbers calling me. The lowest level Consumer plan is 200 minutes costing $15/month; next level is 500 minutes at $20. That’s less than half of what we’ve been paying. You can add texting, internet access and other features for additional fees but we’re just interested in basic voice. The phone itself is $60 for the model that caught my eye but they have several others of different capability levels – even an I-phone coming next month. No contract, month to month only. We could also add another phone to share the minutes for $10 a month. I might eventually do that since the Trac Phone is virtually useless to me because of the small screen characters and micro buttons. Nancy got it for me so that when I’m on the beach and she’s playing bridge, she’ll be able to reach me. That’s happened twice and I think she was just testing to make sure I had it turned on. That’s when I noticed that in the beach sunlight and glare, the screen was totally wiped out for me. Since nobody knows the phone number but Nancy, including me, I knew the call was from her but could never have read it on the screen. Oh yeah, there’s a 5% discount for AARP members so the $20 per month is really $19. You can buy the phone online at the Consumer site or at any Sears store so we decided to check it out the next time we were in Daytona, the closest Sears. Nancy loved it so we closed the deal on the spot. We charged the phone for a couple of hours then called Consumer to do the activation. Since our ATT contract had long since expired, they transferred our old number to the new service in a heartbeat. The other good news was that since we were referred to Consumer by a friend, both of us get a $10 credit on our accounts. So far, no bad news.
Not sure how much more college football my heart can take!!!! I don’t recall another season with so many come from behind, last minute wins. Good news is that none of them involved the Gators. In the end, the national championship will be either a team from the SEC or a team from Florida-as it should be.