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Speeding Down the SmartPhone Highway

June 9th, 2009

It was destined to be stressful.  Any trip to a cell phone store is.


“Can you show me how to get e-mail on this thing?” I asked the customer service rep. 


He tossed my silver flip phone around in his palm.


            “You can’t get it on this baby,” he said.  “What you need is a Smartphone.”


I’m always skeptical of salespeople who tell me what I need before we’ve exchanged the usual pleasantries.  I want them to smile, say something nice about my haircut, and be at least vaguely curious about my price range. Otherwise, I suspect they’re competing for a trip to Bermuda.      


So I was firm. “What I need is a phone that gets e-mail,” I told him.  “I don’t want to miss anything important when I’m out. And I don’t want a camera, tiny web pages I can’t read or the weather channel. “I was looking at a sign that said, “E-Mail, $5/month.”


“I want that,” I told him. 


“No problem,” he said, and lurched ahead down the eight-lane Smartphone Highway, with me stumbling breathlessly behind. Within minutes, I learned that: (1) I was entitled to a free upgrade, except that (2) my daughter had already taken it, so (3)  I would need to take hers, which did not come with as much credit, and that (4) the $5 deal was only a deal if I activated it with a $15/mo. additional charge. 


However, since (5) we were consistently under our allotted minutes and had VIP “overage” coverage, (6) I could save $20/mo. changing plans, and voila! (7) that would be almost enough to cover the $29/mo. Blackberry charge, which I really should go for because (8) I would get a $70 rebate on the equipment, which prorated was worth almost $6/mo, bringing my net monthly additional cost to only around $4.


“Does it get e-mail?” I asked faintly, now panting from the race to a Smartphone.


“Yes,” he said, “and so much more.  Let me show you!”  and directed me to a bench  where, for 45 minutes he rubbed his thumb over a little track ball in the middle of a phone that contained a direct path to Facebook, access to every major media outlet, and even – ta-dah! – a way to check e-Mail.


 “Sold!” I sighed, and trundled off with a white plastic tote jammed with instruction books, an abuse-proof phone cover, and an invitation to a free class beginning at 7:30 a.m. on a Wednesday.


I must confess.  I cannot stop at e-mail.  I’ve tried Facebook and the weather and everything works.  Each time it flashes and wiggles, I hope for a show-stopper message that proves how much I need it.   A tornado alert, perhaps, or some first-come, first-served offer that could not have waited the trip home.   


The other day, when I was out shopping, I received an e-mail for a 40% off

coupon when I was right next door to the bookstore that sent it.  


“Amazing luck!” I thought. Then realized with some regret that I had no printer.  With all the money I’d be saving, I bet one would pay for itself.








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