Cell Phone

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My Cell Phone!This morning, Finally Frugal had nothing but positive things to say about their switch from Verizon Wireless to Virgin Mobile.

I too made that exact same switch back in October of 2007, following Frank from the Happy Rock’s lead.

And you know what?

I’ve got nothing but great things to say too…

My “service” hasn’t been any different since my days with Verizon but my bill certainly has — to the tune of a $900 per year savings.

Here’s how it works…

Every three months, I’m required to “top-up” my account. It’s simply a $21.20 bill that I have automatically billed to a credit card.

Yes, $21.20 for THREE months. Not per month, but THREE whole months.

My cell phone bill is $84.80 per year. Think about that the next time you pay your monthly cell phone bill.

The best part is that my $21.20 payment isn’t forfeited at the end of the three months.

I suppose it’s like those rollover plans that AT&T advertises on television — my Verizon plan never offered that (and cost more too!).

Looking back, Verizon was horrible.

I sent them forty something dollars each month and if I didn’t use the $40 worth of airtime, well, tough luck. I put up with that for years. It was stupid.

So I’m due to “top-up” with Virgin later this month, you know, for another 3 months of service. With all of the roll over from my previous payments, it will put my “balance” at over $120.

Obviously I don’t use my phone very often (which might be why this plan has worked out so well for me) but with $120 worth of airtime available for use, well, let’s just say that I don’t have to be concerned with running out of minutes.

And that peace of mind is only costing me a smidgen over $7 per month.

I’d bet most folks are paying 6 or 7 times as much per month.

Just something to think about if you’re looking to cut your costs.

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Put the Phone Down!!!If you have a cell phone, and you’re not the type to have it surgically implanted to the side of your head, chances are, you’re paying too much.

I’ve been with Virgin Wireless for just over a year now. The service has yet to fail me and I’ve covered a lot of ground over the past few months. Who needs “the network”, right?

The best feature though has been that, over the entire year, my cell phone bill has been $84.80.

Total.

Some out there, I’m sure, pay that much for just one month of service. For me, it’s a year. Think about the savings.

A thousand dollars? Or eighty-four bucks? Hmmmmm…

I know which route I’d take.

Actually, I already took it.

And look what happened to my consumer debt as a result…

Coincidence?

I think not.

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UTstarcom SliceTo those still struggling to activate their new Apple iPhone 3G’s this morning with AT&T or Rogers, I just wanted to let you know that I just “topped-up” my own cell phone plan with Virgin Wireless for another three months of service for $21.20.

So for an entire year (and including the price of the phone), I’ve spent $116.59 on my cell phone.

Less than $10/month.

And I didn’t have to stand in line all day to get my phone. I didn’t even need someone “technical” to set it up for me.

And you know what? I can even make phone calls on it.

BTW, that’s what phones are actually for… phone calls.

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UTstarcom SliceReceived my new cell phone last night. Took me nearly 10 minutes to get the package open — it came sealed in one of those super sharp plastic enclosures that you need scissors and a crow bar to get open. Thankfully I didn’t cut myself.

Took me another few minutes to get the stubborn battery door off. I was pushing so hard, I was concerned I’d snap the phone in half.

But after that, it was smooth sailing. The phone is a lot smaller than I’d expected. The thing is tiny, but feels nice and solid in my hand. Definitely not a hunk of junk, by any stretch.

I went online to activate the phone and have a number assigned. Not even 30 seconds after submiting the phone’s information, I had a text message come in saying the phone was now active. Quick and painless. Didn’t have to sit on hold, didn’t have to speak to a person, didn’t even have to lift a phone. That’s just the way I like it.

Sadly, my new number contains both zeros and ones — so I can’t say things like, “Yeah, my number is B-R-A-I-N-Y-8,” but that’s okay, I guess. I’ll live.

So far, so good. I’m very happy with the phone. The signal looks good, call quality was better than my Verizon phone. The volume, of a call and the ringer, destroys my old phone. I used to hate how I could never hear the other end of a call and I don’t think that will be a problem with this phone.

Voicemail set-up was short and simple. They even had an option to skip putting in a password each time you want to check messages — and that’s a feature I like. I’m sure Verizon had that option somewhere too, but it certainly wasn’t well advertised.

I also set up my account online to automatically bill me the $20 every 90 days to keep my service active. It comes out to $21.20 including taxes, but wow, I mean, by next month, I will have already cut my costs by $30 and that’s including the cost of the phone itself.

Better phone, better features, better call quality and at one sixth of the cost.

Why didn’t I do this sooner?

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Verizon WirelessWhile working a golf tournament today, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to bother keeping my cell number when I make the switch to Virgin Mobile later this week.

When I arrived home, I called Verizon Wireless customer service. Amazingly, only a 2-3 minute hold time and the woman I spoke to, Shawnita, spoke perfect English. Things were going well so far.

I was prepared for a fight — you know, them saying I was breaking my contract or something and that it would cost me $175 to cancel, or maybe they’d pull a fast one and try to keep me by offering me even more minutes. You know, the passive aggressive technique credit card companies use when you activate a card. I hate that.

We went through the “verification” things like my name, address, account number, that sort of thing, and then she asked what she could do for me today.

When I told her I’d just like to cancel the service, she responded with the loaded question, “Well, that’s unfortunate Brainy Smurf, is there a reason why?”

“Um, I just don’t use the phone.”

Silence. I heard a few keystrokes and then she said, “Wow, you really don’t use the phone. Can’t argue with that reason.”

And with that, my Verizon Wireless account is no more.

It was so much easier than I expected.

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UTstarcom SliceI pulled the trigger this morning after mulling it over all weekend. I’m switching my cell service from Verizon to Virgin Mobile.

I was very tempted to take their most basic phone, the Nokia Shorty, which comes free and with $20 worth of free airtime upon activation, but the old materialistic side of me wanted something that looked a little flashier.

I ended up selecting the red version of the UTstarcom 1400 Slice. It has the options I’d like to have on a phone, you know, like make and receive calls, and more critically, it looks, well, modern? I think that’s why it won out over the Nokia phone. Hey, even one of the reviews on Amazon said hers had been mistaken for one of those LG Chocolate phones… As far as I know, those are expensive.

This way, I get the expensive look without the hefty price tag. Besides, I don’t really know what BlueTooth is, I won’t listen to music on my phone (really, what’s the appeal?), and I’m not really interested in having memory for 1000 different contacts. I’m not sure I even know that many people…

Let’s see… There is Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Jokey, Vanity, Hefty, Baker, Handy, Sleepy, Harmony, and Clumsy… I guess to fill a few extra spots, I could put Gargamel and Azrael’s numbers in there too, but let’s be honest — I’m not actually ever going to call them. Seriously…

Total spent so far is $31.79. I should have the phone later this week at which point I’ll have to activate it. Did I mention that there isn’t a contract either? I’m really upset with myself for delaying this process for so long.

From the way I’m interpreting it, the flat 18 cents per minute plan is what will suit me best, and to keep my phone activated, I need to send in $20 every 3 months. The fine print is kinda tough to understand, but I believe that’s what it boils down to.

It’s unlikely, still, that I’ll use $20 worth of minutes at 18 cents in a 3 month span, but when compared to the $40 per month I’m sending to Verizon currently, this switch will save me over $400 per year.

And for that, I don’t feel so bad about paying $31.79 for the phone.

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My Verizon Cell PhoneAfter following the Happy Rock‘s postings this week regarding Virgin Mobile’s pre-paid cell plans, I’ve decided to follow his lead.

I’ve been a customer of Verizon for nearly a decade now. I’m on my third phone with them. The plan I’ve been grandfathered into is what I’d call an affordable rate these days. It’s just shy of $40/month with all of the taxes rolled in. Certainly within my budget.

Problem is — I’d say in that over the entire decade, I’ve used less than 500 minutes. That’s right. I average less than 5 minutes of airtime per month.

That, my friends, is a waste.

Thanks to the Happy Rock, my eyes are now open to the fact that I’m essentially paying $8 per minute at my current rate?

I always considered having a cell phone, given my daily activities and total lack of usage, to be a waste anyway, but on the freak chance I *needed* to make a call (such as after the accident, the convenience of having one available was worth the monthly bill.

Well, with more attractive alternatives out there, those days are nearing an end.

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