Tuesday, September 07, 2010


Over the weekend I bought myself a new mobile phone... and almost instantly regretted it.

Modern mobile telephony is an all-or-nothing kind of thing. Either you become a communication junkie, who would wither and die if forced to go without Facebook and Twitter for ten minutes, or you get left out in the cold. You can sign up for $29 cap plan that gives you $8,000 worth of talk time, $14,000 worth of texts and unlimited free Lady Gaga ringtone downloads. Or you can go away and die. If you just want to make a couple of calls and send a couple of texts each day, you are beneath contempt.

I fall into the "beneath contempt" catagory - my needs are few. Even on my chosen plan, which charges 28c per text and a kidney for each call, I still only pay around $5 a month. It's extortionate but it's cheaper than signing up for a $29 monthly plan that'll give me thousands of calls and texts that I won't use. So when my old phone started to fail, I decided to stick with my plan and just get a new handset. After perusing the very limited range of options, I decided to give a Blackberry-style Nokia a go. Naively, I thought it'd be neat to use a keyboard rather than picking my way around a numeric pad when sending texts. I paid for it, took it home, and plugged my SIM card into it. Then the trouble began.

As it turns out, the phone was designed for business people who a) need to be online constantly and b) don't pay for it themselves. Every function, from changing the wallpaper to trying to add a new contact, required it to lunge for Vodaphone's overpriced internet portal like Lindsay Lohan diving on an unguarded pile of cocaine. Even when I'd told it to use my home wireless network, it tried to use Vodaphone's instead.

And it would not be stopped. Vodaphone had fixed it so that the ports couldn't be closed. It was intended to be an online computing and communication device, and no mere preference of the customer was going to get in its way.

It only took me a few hours to realise that if I kept this phone, it'd be like having a lively toddler with me 24 hours a day - I'd have to be watching it constantly. The second I let my guard down it'd decide to download a software patch, or get my email, or look up wikipedia, or do one of a hundred other things that would go through my credit the way Tiger Woods goes through cocktail waitresses. It had to go.

So I heaved a sigh and phoned the department store, but they couldn't decide whether or not they could take it back, so they asked me to come in. I went in before work the next day, and they vacillated some more, because once a phone has data on it it's compromised as a product. So I carefully deleted the couple of messages, calendar entries, photos, notes and other input I'd made. Then they decided to be nice and refunded my money, and bundled the phone back up in its packaging to resell it.

Naturally on my way into work, I suddenly remembered that I'd added one name to my contacts list... and left the password to my home wireless network on it.... and written something on the word processor which included my full name. Gaaah! The woman at the department store had taken pity on me, given me the benefit of the doubt and refunded my money, and now I'd gone and betrayed her. Major guilt trip.

So now I have no phone and a dark cloud of shame hanging over me. Maybe I should just get two cans with a string between them.


Anonymous Troy G said...

I suggest carrier pigeons, a book of 10 55-cent stamps, and an e-perb.

3:37 PM  

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