Wednesday, December 14, 2011

...We Only Wanted a Phone...

My mom is in the market for a new cell phone, and by God people, does no one make a phone anymore that’s simply intended for making phone calls?

My current phone is about two years old. I paid something like 40 bucks for it at a Walmart and only bought it because I thought it might be nice to get a newer, more “modern” looking phone. The one before it was about 8 or 9 years old, maybe older.  It still worked fine and I had no problems with it at all.

It didn’t have a camera, but I could still get very basic internet access and text- neither of which I EVER used. It was pretty, blue, and a bar phone with solid features. I think if I stuck my sim card in it now, it would probably still work just fine.

My newer phone is a red, slider with all the same features plus a camera that I would only use to snap the picture of something really phenomenal in an emergency if I had to. You know, like the plate on a car speeding away from an accident or something, maybe Jesus walking across the street, but mostly it’s a “just in case” feature.

My mom is looking for a similar phone. It makes calls, can send and receive text, doesn’t purse- or butt-dial and works when you need it. That’s it.

Good luck with that, Mom.

Salespeople tend to look at you funny if you ask for that. They’ll point you in the general direction of a wall of cheap plastic phone-like objects and walk off without another word.

I don’t consider myself a technophobe. But I can’t get excited about living a life that can be destroyed because someone somewhere tripped over a cord and unplugged something. Nor do I like the idea of going broke over something I don’t need, barely want, or will never use. I believe if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. It’s okay to come up with new things but that doesn’t mean the new things are better, or that the old things are worthless.

I still own a VCR. I’ve had the same one for something like 15 years and it works just fine. It sat in my parents’ basement collecting dust for a few years while I travelled and when I came back to Michigan, I plugged it in and it was ready to go. Same with the DVD player I bought some years ago --works fine, too. But the DVD player I bought last year to convert tapes to DVD lasted about 8 months, and costs me nearly twice what I paid for the other items. I still don’t have all my tapes converted over.

I wash my dishes by hand, too. I have a dishwasher, but the amount of time it takes to pre-wash, load, unload and re-wash could have better spent with one good hand wash. And I understand it could be the quality of the machine or the soap, or any number of factors but by the time I figure all that out I could have put away dried dishes, cleaned the stovetop, swept the floor, and flipped out the kitchen lights already.

My home phone is corded. (And yes it’s a push button, but man, those rotary dial phones were fun, weren’t they?) The phone came in a set with a cordless one so I’m not totally in the stone ages. I wanted to get another one but it’s hard to find those sets like that anymore.

I can’t imagine why corded-phones would become obsolete. These are the only phones that will work during power outages, so I guess in the event of some sort of government-ordered police state, they don’t want you to have a working phone. I don’t know this, I’m just guessing why we are slowly being moved towards one type of phone, by almost one manufacturer and nearly one carrier. Just saying…

One salesperson who hung out for a second explained that they were doing away with the simple phones in favor of the smart phones because the older phones “can’t keep up with the technology.” I don’t believe it, but okay.

The salesperson told us the QR code thingies (or as I have come to call them “the mark of the beast”) are going to be used for everything soon. “You won’t be able to live without a smart phone. You won’t be able to eat, get gas, have a license or buy anything if your phone can’t read the QR tag,” we were told.
You may now panic and refer back to my mark of the beast comment.

It might have just been a clumsy sales tactic to make us buy the more expensive phone, but mentioning that tag doe not help. For the record, I don’t buy the idea that scanning those things gives you access to special information. I think those things are probably taking more information than they are receiving, but that’s just me.

Everywhere we go, everyone wants to sell you one of those touch-screen phones. I can’t begin to tell you how much I love the idea of touching all kinds of dirty, germy, smeared-with-cooties public objects all day long, then dragging my finger across my phone only to later place that phone against my face and/or near my mouth. Convenient for people that eat pieces of crap for breakfast, but I’m not much of a crap-eater, and neither is Mom.

My sister tells me that I need to come forward into the future and “leave 1984 behind.” She didn’t even realize the irony of randomly picking 1984 as the year she thinks I’m stuck in. Forgive me for wanting to purchase a phone that I can use without worrying that the phone is also using me.

So Mom still needs a new cell phone. One that you can just punch the number in and hit the “send” or “call” button. And one you can choose to answer or let it go to voicemail.

Nothing against all the amazing things that phones can do now, but it would be nice if companies had a little more awareness of the range of their customers. Everyone is not 18-34 and I’m pretty sure disposable income is, for now anyway, a thing of the past.

It’s not that customers aren’t willing to get on board with new things, and I know the whole thing about you have to adapt to change and survive, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay to hand me some junk and say, “take it or leave it.” I’m inclined to leave it. Any old phone will work in an emergency, and that’s really all you need it for.

You would think these companies would have it figured out by now: in this economy, there are still some customers who don’t care what else the product can do if it can’t do what it’s supposed to do.

Listen, I can’t always help what pops into my head, okay?
Mr. Mister – Broken Wings

Erykah Badu – Back in the Day

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