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Why I Don’t Have a Cell Phone December 13, 2007

Posted by Mitchell in Politics, Science & Technology.

Shamus at Twenty Sided relates the woes of dealing with Sprint/Nextel.  I’ve heard enough horror stories about other service providers to know that they all seem to have problems.  I looked into getting one a while ago and got one of those pay-as-you-go cells.  It was nice to have around in case of emergencies, but since no one ever calls me I couldn’t really justify the expense. 


1. Steamboat McGoo - December 13, 2007

Ah-ha. I can pick your brain.

I hate cell phones and have thus far avoided getting a permanent one. Mainly, I hate carrying EXTRA SHIT AROUND! A wallet and car keys – that’s a full load as far as I’m concerned.

I had one for a year because I was selling a house (by owner) and didn’t want to give out my home phone # – and I didn’t want to miss any calls. I still have the phone, but I canceled the Cingular service as soon as the contract ran out.

How – precisely – do you get a pay-as-you-go service? Can I use this phone I already have and just get a different card-thingy to shove into it? Or do I have to buy a pay-as-you-go phone too?

Use simple words.

2. Enas Yorl - December 13, 2007

It’s been awhile since I did that (> 2 years) so any info I have is a bit dated. But I’ve seen that they still have these things out there, so general principles should still hold.

There are (or were) a couple brands to choose from: TrakPhone and somebody else. I went with the somebody else (can’t remember brand name, sorry). Here’s the deal: you have to buy the phone which is usually the lower end Nokia or somesuch for about $40. These come pre-loaded with some phone call time in minutes that you can use whenever you want and those minutes are good for a set period of time like a month or two. After that you go to the store and buy more minutes in the form of a card that you then activate over the phone. There are no contracts or anything like that. Here’s the kicker – you HAVE to buy a certain number of minutes each and every month for your phone to remain active regardless of whether you use them or not. For some – like TrakPhone those minutes roll over and the phone shows you how many you have accumulated. With the other service you lose the minutes, but the minutes were cheaper to buy in the first place. This made more sense for me since I used it so little. I really only bought it so I could coordinate vacation activites with my parents more easily. Oh, and here’s another thing about the refill cards – don’t buy any until you need to because they start to expire the day you buy them, NOT when you activate them. It cost me 20 bucks to find that out (read the small print.) That’s the long and not so short of it McGoo.

3. Enas Yorl - December 13, 2007

Oh, and you can find these things at Target, Wal*Mart and the like. The refill cards are even easier to find.

4. Steamboat McGoo - December 13, 2007

Bingo. You got me the essential info.

I think they sell those refills in Quik Trip, 7-11, etc.

I have a prescription pickup at Wallyworld tomorrow. How convenient!

Thanks, Enas!

The reason I’ve been wanting one is I take trips south (200 miles) fairly often and have been worried about car breakdown/accidents/etc. I don’t want to be without a phone – and it could be a long walk to the next services.

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