Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Discount Cell Phone Plans that Aren't

While researching a new cell phone, plans, and options for us older folk, I learned another ugly truth. It would appear that the major cell carriers are delusional regarding the desires of the 65+ demographic.  Either that, or they think this demographic is senile and very, very stoopid.

AT&T and Verizon insult older folks with pseudo-discount "come-on" plans. Very sneaky, beware of the dreaded *asterisks* as you read the tantalizing bits of technology thrown at you in the sales pitch.

Wait, Wait!!! These plans (*actually 2-year contracts) cost only $29.99 per month, so what's not to like, right?, compared with the plans the kids have costing $60 - $80.+ monthly? Watch out for the asterisk.

1. The major carriers seem to believe that anyone over 65 is in need of a Life-Alert connection (I've fallen and I can't get up!), can't type or spell; so offer basic senior plans of 200 anytime airtime minutes and 500 night/weekend airtime minutes per month. Sounds good at first. It's not that easy. And, don't forget the asterisk.

2. There's an 'activation fee' - a one-time charge of $36.00 ($35. for Verizon) and remember that asterisk...

3. Many of the phones listed as free or at low lost in the "discount deals" are embarrassing; including some that would rival a land line desktop phone of 20 years ago in size, boasting large numbers and letters and distinct chirps or beeps for the vision or hearing impaired. Not exactly fitting easily into that pocket or purse, if you get my drift.

Now to that asterisk.  The Contract: Yes, a binding contract = you are bound, the carrier is not.
This 2-year plan/contract MUST (no if, and, or but) include the following:
Minimum of 300 Mb Data. - $20.  monthly
Unlimited Messaging. - $20.  monthly.

Now, suddenly that $29.99 deal turns into a $70. contract after the initial cash layout of $106. with phone activation.  Some deal, huh?

I am going with Virgin Mobile's basic plan of $35. monthly which includes 300 airtime minutes, unlimited text and data - and NO contract. Seldom receive voice calls, but use lots of time messaging for work, and having the added advantage of unlimited access to the web, I think this is a step up from my current pre-paid service, Tracfone. While Tracfone has suited my needs over the last 8 years, it is time to go.

(The image above - click image to embiggen - is that of my new smartphone/android, the LG Optimus Elite that was delivered to the restaurant this afternoon - my day off.)

There are many ways we seniors pay more for less and this is a glaring example. Don't get me started on some of my other consumer pet peeves, 'cause we'd be here for a while.

Note:  I wanted to go with Credo because of their activism regarding the planet, equal rights, and support of the progressive agenda, but they don't even attempt to offer a plan for seniors. I am going with Virgin Mobile because of Sir Richard Branson's video PSA supporting marriage equality, as well as the signal strength of the 3G network here at the shore.

I hope to activate the new phone after work tomorrow evening and since it's a droid (smartphone) the learning curve may be a long, deep one. But I don't care. I am a captive audience and ready to learn.

OMG! A Kindle Fire and now, an Android!

And so it goes.


  1. Is that a "senior" plan? and how much was the phone itself? Sounds too good to be true...

  2. @Tom Rimington: No, not a senior plan. The phone was $99.00 and if you check out the model via Google you will find out what I did...I am lowering myself into deep waters.

    I will post my experience, since the phone is in my hands, battery charging, so that I can begin the activation process, probably by tomorrow morning before work. If it is "too-good-to-be-true" you will be the first to know.

    If it is, I am out $99. and can continue with Tracfone as before. Over these last 6 years, I have lost far more and for no good reason. I'm willing to take the chance.

    Take a look a Virgin Mobile's site and you'll see what I saw.

    Thanks for the visit and comment. Stay tuned, remember what P.T. Barnum said, there's a sucker born every minute.

  3. I know I am late to the party with the comments .... clicked on phone pic accidentally. But I digress. Got my father a mini IPad back in November to his much disma now neither he or my mother will put it down :-)


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