By Mir
December 3, 2006

Continuing in the fine tradition of tackling only the life issues which require very little thought and probably don’t need to be addressed right now, today I turned to my favorite activity to undertake every 730 days: Picking a new cell phone.

Today was even more fun, because Otto and I had such good luck coming to agreement on wedding ring selection, we decided to figure out our phones together. Thankfully there is no societal edict that our phones coordinate, so it was a slightly lower-pressure situation, at least. Also, if our new phones suck? We can get new ones in another two years without being worried about hurting anyone’s feelings. Much better.

So, there was actually a method to our madness, in re-upping our cell phones at the same time. At some point we’ll want a family cell plan, and it would be handy for our contracts to be on the same dates when that time comes around. Me, I’ve been eligible for a new phone for a while, and I’d been waiting for Otto’s contract to expire so that we could re-up on the same day.

[Digression: We looked into getting a family plan now, and… look, I haven’t had a family plan in years, so maybe things are different now, but isn’t the whole idea that it saves you some money? Gives you some benefit over two individual plans? What we looked at was pretty much the same cost but fewer minutes. Why? Why would you want that, just for the joy of having one bill instead of two? What am I missing?]

Anyway. We browsed through the available phones. As it happens, we currently have the exact same phone (fate! clearly we’re meant to be together!). But do we want the same phone again? Maybe not. I was thinking of upgrading to something I could use to retrieve email and such. Perhaps not all the way up to Crackberry, you understand, but more functionality than I have now.

Otto’s big concern was getting something Bluetooth enabled. Well, hey, I want that too. But since just about everything is Bluetooth capable now, that wasn’t going to be too hard.

But because I was looking at the fancier phones, he started looking, and then we discovered that our cellular provider… ummm… Vborg… leaves something to be desired when it comes to customer service.

First I got on an online customer chat to ask some questions about the phone I was looking at. Apparently, Vborg was willing to give me this $400 phone for $30. So that works with my computer, then? I asked. Oh, well, certainly, as long as I buy their “mobile office suite.” Oh really? Well how much is that? $40. I see. And how much more is mobile web service than what I currently pay? Well, that’s only $5/month, plus airtime. Okay. And how much for accessories? This was where I blacked out, so we’ll skip that part.

Meanwhile, poor Otto was trying to find out if that phone would work with a Mac. Unable to get answers online, he actually took a trip to his local Vborg store and THEY DIDN’T KNOW. As in, no one there knew, and when he asked if they could find out, THEY SAID NO. They “wouldn’t know who to ask.” Wow. He didn’t get the fancy phone. He got the free super-slim but slightly less fancy phone.

Me, I decided that this might be my chance to ditch the ancient handheld organizer I currently use (sometimes, when I take it out to jot something down in my calendar, a more advanced geek will peer at it and say something like, “Wow, I didn’t know those… still existed”) and give me a backup for accessing my mail even when my broadband craps out. Or when I don’t have a computer handy. Like, who knows, if I’m kidnapped and really really need to check my email. Whatever.

So I went ahead and upgraded my phone and crossed my fingers to hope for the best. Although Vborg would not allow me to check out without trying to force me to sign up for a million other things. Like Vcast! Which is… I don’t know. A music download service, I think, for people who are surgically attached to their phones. And then there’s their navigation service, which is another charge, but at some point I will probably cave and try it, because it will speak the directions for you. Really, short of chauffering me to my destination, that’s about THE most helpful thing they could offer. But the price, hmmm, we’ll see.

Anyway, I had to go through a million different steps just to check out and sign on the dotted line that YES, YES YOU MAY HAVE MY SOUL AND MY PAYCHECK FOR ANOTHER TWO YEARS.

Then I went onto eBay to get my accessories, and then I was sucked into an alternate space-time dimension while shopping for a Bluetooth headset, but I seem to be back now. It should all be arriving here this week and I figure I’ll actually know how to use the thing, oh, in a year or so. Let’s just say that if I figure out how to check my email with it BEFORE the first time that I drop it on floor and swear, I’ll be very impressed.

I wouldn’t have the energy to do this more than every couple of years. I’m already worried that I won’t be able to get the headset and the phone to talk to each other. Also I’m a little worried that Vborg will sign me up for Vcast in my sleep.


  1. Patricia

    Are we on the same cycle? I bought a new phone yesterday!

    Kindly tell Otto that many of the Pocket PC type phones can and do connect with Macs, there’s a little app he’ll need on the Mac called “Missing Sync” which is pretty amazing. (Yup, Mac girl with a Pocket PC for a bit.)

    Now I have gone from Crackberry (which I tell you I LOVED) to the new BlackJack — which I really like to fondle often. Still working the kinks out of the e-mail thing.

  2. Sharkey

    When you get your first bill, look closely to make sure they didn’t “automatically” tack on (and bill you for!) a bunch of services that you don’t want or need. Earlier this year we re-upped with our provider, and while we didn’t request any changes, guess what? Yep, they started charging us another $20 or so each month for things we hadn’t asked for.

    When I realized it and called them, they had absolutely no problem giving us an immediate credit for the three months or so we’d been charged. Which tells me they do it to everyone. I wonder how much money they make every year from people who don’t call them on it?

    Cell phone companies suck. All of them.

  3. Ruth

    Woo hoo! That phone looks like fun to play with, but is it easy to balance while typing with those tiny “keys”? Seems I’d be knocking it over with my knuckles, or any jostles in my “mobile” environment. Is the small screen actually sufferable for reading email, or is it instant eye strain? I’d love to know if the practicalities are up to the inspiration.

  4. Elizabeth

    It really bugs me that cell phone contracts are automatically two years long. I would LOVE one of those Blackjacks. Last week when my ISP had a three day outage? I could have really used a phone thingy that can access the Internet.

    Oh, and my organizer? Is a Sony CLIE from about six years ago, with a black and white screen. My inner geek is shocked every time I turn it on.

  5. Marvo

    Mir, please don’t be one of those people who keep their Bluetooth headset always in their ear. It looks so silly. Plus, it gives the headset the opportunity to merge with your brain.

  6. crazyjane

    i just recently got a new phone, also from the V poeple, and let me tell you that navigator thing is fantastic!!! i did not sign up for the montly usage because i’m usually stuck within a 10 mile radius of the home/school circuit, but you can access it for a 24 hour period for just 2.99! this is great if you’re like me and rarely need it. i used mine to go way the heck up in maine for thanksgiving and it was great! it really does tell you exactly how to get places, even telling you to prpare to exit and on which side and on which side of the street your destination is. it even will find you the closest restaurants or shopping areas along your route. you know, in case of a shopping emergency in the middle of a long trip. it could happen. anyway, it’s an option.

  7. Zee

    I used to swear by my Pocket PC and then it spontaneously died and lost all my information. (Fortunately, the important stuff, like calendar and contacts, were backed up on my PC but the games! and applications! All gone!) So I recently needed something that did calendar, contacts and phone and I got the Crackberry Pearl. As you would say, I big pink puffy heart it. I never did get email to work on my Pocket PC and I had the thing for several years. Setting up the email on my Pearl took 5 minutes. Seriously. I’m totally converted.

    Anyway, in case you were curious… :) I hate the darned 2-year contract thing too… I’m committed to T-Borg for the rest of my natural life plus probably two years beyond it to boot. [sigh]

  8. danelle

    The benefit of a family plan is that you can talk to each other for free, without using minutes…that’s why it seems like you’re getting less.

  9. Fold My Laundry Please

    I got a Pocket PC/Cellphone combo from Vborg, but we found the same thing with their customer service so we switched providers to Cingle-minded. Of course, our Vborg phones would not work at Cingle-minded so we had to get new phones as well. The sales guy said we were getting the top of the line phones with improved reception, etc., but I haven’t been able to have a single conversation without saying, “What?” at least three times since the changeover!

  10. Lady M

    I’ve got a Treo, issued by my company, but it’s driving me crazy. It’s not a particularly good phone, and no one seems to be able to figure out how to get my email working on it. Time to trade in?

  11. Dee Dee

    If you have the same provider, with the V people, it’s free to call each other. It’s their “in” feature. So, I don’t know what the benefit of the family plan is either. We’ve had one for so long, I haven’t looked to see if it’d be cheaper to go with individual ones…

  12. Brigitte

    Ooh, Marvo, this is why I don’t even have a cell phone! Now excuse me while I get my foil helmet on. ;-)

  13. tori

    My husband just bought me a new phone. He was going to save it for Christmas, but since he transfered my old number from my existing phone, he had to give it to me early. That is the truly low pressure way of phone shopping…leaving it all up to someone else. Plus, he got me the adorable new “Miami Ink” tattoo phone in pink. Very cute!

  14. Kimberly

    Lady M, Really? The Treo is crap? Because I pink puffy heart the Treo. If I were to move up to a big girl phone from my current pay as you go handmedown situation, I would get the Treo. It’s so cute.

    I also second the borg fears. Bluetooth is the first step in assimilation.

  15. Barb

    V-Borg is an evil entity in my family right now. My 13 yr old nephew’s phone was stolen by a classmate (don’t ask WHY a 13 yr old has his own phone, I’m not his parent!). Anyway, it was stolen, the thief passed it around to like half the school, and in less than 24 hrs they downloaded over $300 of ringtones, games, and other crap before it was retrieved by the cops.

    MIL, who has custody of 13 yr old nephew, called V-Borg to report the theft and dispute the charges, expecting it to work much like a stolen credit card. “Hey! I didn’t charge that! My phone was stolen!” “Oh, ok, we’ll take it off your account.” NO! V-Borg very unhelpfully told her that she was responsible for any charges made up until the minute she called to report it stolen and could she pony up that $300+ right now? She tried pointing out that it should seem sort of odd to them that a customer who had never ever downloaded ringtones, games, or other stuff had done so much downloading in a 24 hr period and the V-Borg person blew her off. The basic attitude was “this is your problem, not mine, and where’s our $300?”

    So… we aren’t exactly V-Borg fans around here anymore. Our service is with Cingle-minded since that’s the only one available in our tiny little podunk town and MIL will be switching as soon as her V-Borg contract runs out.

  16. Ben

    I’m pretty sure my cell phone hates me, so I wouldn’t trust it to give me directions.

    I can see it now: (or hear it, even)

    “Take a left turn onto the one way street. Ignore that all of the cars are driving straight at you, you’ll be fine. Now merge onto the freeway, which also appears to be going the wrong direction, but isn’t. Really”

    Followed by a mechanical “mwahahahaha!”

  17. liz

    Make sure you and Otto don’t get the exact same phone. It will be Very Confusing when you are together, in the same house. My husband and I have to make sure we keep ours in separate places at all times so we don’t get them confused. Last time we get the same phone, I tell ya.

  18. Heather

    Ooh wanna share what you learn(ed) about bluetooth headsets? Because I want one, but you’re *much* better at this whole “research” junket than I.

  19. Aimee

    Couple thoughts — ditto what Sharkey said. Be careful with that. My husband and I switched to a family plan and all of a sudden I was getting billed for dozens and dozens of text messages that I neither signed up for nor received. It took us months (and a new phone number for me) to get it resolved.

    Also, if you do get the same phones and their camera phones, you can avoid the whole getting-phones-confused-thing by putting different wallpaper on your phones. That’s what we do.

  20. Aimee


  21. foodmomiac

    I have the same phone and I love it.

  22. radiationman

    Ok here’s something to consider before getting that “free” phone from Vborg, the Orange Splat, Yellow with black swirly thing, etc…

    The carriers lock you in to that 2 year contract because they are “subsidising” the phone and expect to recoup the costs over the next two years. If you don’t want to go two years you can break the contract and pay the Early Termination Fee (usually about $150).

    Weigh that fee into your decision. You can pay more money for the phone and not get locked into the contract. With the Orange Splat it’ll cost you $100 more upfront for a Blackjack if you don’t go under contract, but you’re still eligible for the same $100 rebate that you’d get if you extended your contract. So a Blackjack is $399 plus a $100 rebate with a two year contract and a $150 ETF if you cancel your service early, or $499 plus a $100 with no contract obligation. That’s what we did with Patricia’s phone (first comment above)

    If you don’t mind being betrothed to a cellular carry for 2 years than you might not want to pay extra for the phone, but if you’re like me and hate that contract, the extra $100 for the Blackjack is worth it… The non-contract price will vary depending on the phone, same with rebate availablilty. However in general hot new phones don’t get subsidized much, while older phones (read Razr) now have deep subsides on them which changes the equation a bit.

  23. Susan

    I still have my PAPER day planner and I carry it everywhere. I like it primarily because it freaks people out so much. Also because they assume I’m some sort of Luddite, which makes me giggle.

  24. radiationman

    Sorry, that’s a $100 rebate even if you don’t extend your contract when you get a blackjack. Thinking faster than I was typing! :)

  25. Liise

    I have to get my phone replaced…and now, I’m skeered.

    I will totally get suckered into a phone that does everythin but wipe my butt for me…mayhaps I will wait until AFTER Christmas…

  26. Judy

    Susan, I’m with you. I still have my paper planner as well… it’s my office away from home. I would be lost without it. We keep talking about upgrading to some kind of handheld electronical thing, but so far this works well. I can keep receipts in it, my checkbook, money, everything I need to survive. How could I do all that with an electronic gadget????

  27. Lena

    I’m so jealous of you and your clam. (What?)

    I’m just happy that I was able to fish my Razr phone out of my mocha yesterday.

  28. beatrice

    Remember to get insurance. It’s about $1 a month per phone. The more things your phone does, the more things can go wrong, and the more expensive it is to fix.
    I speak as a woman with a husband who has a bad habit of dropping his phones on cement. He’s broken enough of them now that he’s no longer allowed to have a phone that’s anything other than a phone, because I got so frustrated with him losing his schedule, his email, and various other things when his phone would be smashed.

  29. Daisy

    I’ll echo Liz — don’t make the phones identical. My husband put a belt-hook on his so it wouldn’t get confused with mine. Then he ran his through the washer and dryer. (Don’t ask.) Now he has a new one, complete with camera and Borg-like thing to go in his ear. I’m just happy we’re all on the same plan so that cell-to-cell minutes are free.

  30. julie

    What are these planners of which you speak? I love my pink legal pads. They make my kids laugh…

  31. Rachel May

    I, too, carry a paper day-planner. There’s something very important about actually having to write the stuff down. That helps me remember. Plus, I have to be able to see everything going on a whole week at a time. I’d love to see the whole month at a time, but those squares are WAAAAAAAY too small to hold everything I do in a day.

    My phone is pretty simple, too — doesn’t even have a camera (*gasp*)! I use the things till they fall apart. For my current phone, my carrier (think “runs very fast”) actually refused to renew my contract with my old phone. It was three years old and held together with a rubber band. Naturally, I kvetched and badgered until they agreed to give me a phone for FREE, since they were the ones refusing to service the one I’d already paid for.

    Anyway, Mir, I’m so very happy you finally made a decision.

  32. Jo

    I am known as the cell phone guru here at work. When we switched providers this past September, I received all of the calls from 50+ people needing help with these things.

    Lady M- The Treo has been the hardest phone to set up for email out of all of the phones I have worked with. I actually got up to 4th tier of Tech Support at the V place before they offered to send a new phone out. I actually had a 3rd tier agent ask me why I don’t just switch the phone (quite rudely too). I kindly told her that they offer a service that obviously has issues with the Treo phones. They sent a new phone and I was able to set it up (finally).

    Something else to think about with those two year contracts. Go ahead and sign up for the 2 year contract. If you find that you want to switch providers before the end of those two years, check out which cell phone companies will PAY YOUR EARLY TERMINATION FEE. I have a friend that is a market manager for the C place. She has told me that some companies will do that just to get your business.

    Ringtones- If you or anybody (teens) in your family love to download ringtones I would think about the purchase of a cable that connects your phone to the pc. I personally have one of these for my RAZR. I create clips from my music I have on my pc and then download them to my phone. It helps if you have 2,000 albums to choose from though.

    Just do it!

    The best PDA phone out there IMO right now is the XV6700 (through V right now). My company has Exchange Server on it. This phone syncs up even before my email on my laptop. I can automatically sync up my contacts, email, tasks and calendar between my laptop & my phone without having to be connected to my laptop. I can put games, ringtones and files on this thing. It’s not as pretty as the Motorola Q (which is a good phone too) but I think that the finger functionality is much better. Besides, I can use my stylus to write letters on the screen and have it translated. :)

  33. daring one

    Dan and I discovered that we had the same leatherman shortly after we got married and we took it as a sign that we should not get divorced.

    I’m carefully taking notes here. We need to pick new phones soon.

Things I Might Once Have Said


Quick Retail Therapy

Pin It on Pinterest