"Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Joining the 21st Century

I got my first cell phone today.

I've never had any use for such a trinket, but I know having one will make sense in the context of my adventure since I won't be able to rely on internet access.

Canada is woefully behind the times in the telecommunications choices available, so I didn't have many carriers and plans to compare. Also, I knew exactly what I wanted, and only one could provide it:

-a cheap phone (under 50$);
-no contract;
-a low monthly fee for voice mail and a low activation fee;
-no other costs except the minutes I use;
-the minutes have to be good for a long period of time;
-I can keep my current number;
-coverage is country-wide

I chose Virgin Mobile.

The phone was 49.99$, I don't have a contract, there is no fee for voice mail AND activation; I will be paying per the minute; my 100$ worth of minutes are good for a year; I can keep my number; and they use Bell Mobility's coverage area, which has the most coverage. That's the best I could hope for in this country.

Of course, there is a catch. My 100$ worth of minutes come at the expense of 30 cents per minute for local calls and voice mail checking, and 60 cents per minute for long distance calls, both incoming and outgoing. So, this won't be a phone for chatting, but I don't chat on the phone anyway. I can check in with my family occasionally by pay phone with a long distance calling card.

If things change and I find myself racing through my minutes, then I can upgrade to a monthly plan.

Apparently, I have free call display, too, so I can decide whether to take a call or not, saving me some minutes.

In order to 'port over' my existing telephone number, I have to do a juggling act with my current phone provider. VM told me to have my internet disconnect, but to keep the phone for two days. So, I'll call on Monday to have the internet disconnected on Saturday morning and the phone on Monday.

Virgin Mobile has been a pleasure to deal with so far. Staff is friendly and knowledgeable and there is absolutely no bullshit. I researched them online and then went to speak with a sales representative. I then emailed them to confirm what the sales rep told me before going back to the store and purchasing. The sales and customer service reps I spoke to in the research phase listened to what I wanted and proposed exactly what I had come up with on my own during my research. They never once tried to sell me anything else. I didn't even get the 'Of you buy a phone that's X$ more, you'll get all these cool extra features' spiel I was expecting. Today, I went to the kiosk and said "I want your cheapest phone and a 100$ prepaid card" and that was that. The rep didn't try to sell me any accessories or suggest a monthly plan. After all the horror stories I've heard of people getting locked into contracts and otherwise getting screwed by mobile phone companies, I'm relieved to say I made a clean getaway. Of course, we'll see how good service is once I'm actually hooked up with them and using their services. :-)

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