I hate phones

I really do. Growing up we weren’t allowed to “hang on the phone”. It was a tool. It was used to communicate. We were taught be precise, clear and short. If it’s going to take longer to discuss the topic than it would to go to the person you are speaking with then we were told to go in person and talk. I didn’t really talk on the phone much until I started dating my wife. And even then I was not much of a talker. 10 or 15 minutes at the most. I didn’t even have a phone when I moved into my our house. I didn’t get one for about 3 months and that was only because my mom worried that I wasn’t taking care of myself and she wanted to be able to call me. I was married 5 months after buying my our house. And since then my phone expenses have done nothing but go up.

Shortly after I got married I was working for Standard Register and I had to be able to dial into work to make sure backups kicked off and none of the spooled up print jobs were hung. That’s when I bought my second PC, a Gateway 2000 386dx40 (that was the AMD processor for you geeks out there) with 4MB (yeah 4MB!! that was a $1200 option!) of RAM running DOS and Windows 3.1. I also picked up an Okidata 9600baud modem to go with it. My first PC (also a Gateway 2000, it was a 386sx16) was converted into a Wildcat!BBS that people could dial into … so I had to have a 2nd line for the BBS as well as to use for dialing into work. I was not allowed to tie up our home phone! 🙂 So my phone bill went up to $60 for the 2 lines. Part of that cost was because I added call waiting and caller ID.

In 1991 I got a cellphone installed in my car. My wife was pregnant with our first kid and we were concerned about the pregnancy because … never mind. I wanted to be available if she needed me. My monthly bill for that was $49 plus minutes. Average cost was $65 a month … so now I’m paying for 3 lines .. $125 a month.

In 1997 we went from 1 cell phone to two. Wife was having to run around with the kids and I felt she needed the security of a cell phone. Cost per month? $90 … there was no “Family Plan” at the time. Now I’m paying $150 a month.

I had my second home line until 2001 and dropped it go to a 1 meg DSL line. My home phone bill was now $105 a month. And with the advances in technology I was able to get voice-mail. All that good stuff costs money .. yeah … good stuff … voice-mail, call waiting, caller ID .. all expensive, but worth it. Or so I kept telling myself. Monthly bill for DSL, home phone with the good stuff and two cell lines – $195

Also in 2001 my in-laws got cell phones … so it got a little more expensive for me. I had to up my minutes when I found my wife and mother-in-law in Kohls talking about the deals they found in different departments. Yeah … there were less than 200 feet away from each other, on their cell phones … Verizon found a cheap way to make money on us! I’m now paying $100+ for the cell phones and $105 for land line and DSL.

2003 brought the family plan and we added a cell phone to give to the kids. We gave it to them whenever they needed to go on trips or stay after school, plain and simple if they were away from us they had the phone. Cost per month? $90.00 with the newly invented Family Share plans … finally I was saving money but now had 3 cell lines, a home phone and DSL … still paying close to $200 a month. And that doesn’t include the fluctuating long distance charges of $20+ a month.

In 2004 VOIP technology was becoming popular. I bought into it through Packet8. It was $19.95 a month plus tax .. $21.50ish. I had dropped the DSL service and picked up broadband with Earthlink/TimeWarner and was looking to drop my land line all together. I tried several times over the last 3 years to get Sprint (now they are called Embarq) to let go of my home number so I can port it to VOIP. I got really frustrated last year and started going through all my bills with Sprint. Every month for over 10 years I paid a $1.05 for LNP … I called up Sprint and demanded a refund for the LNP fee I was being charged since they were not willing to release my phone number. I got it. Well I got 5 years worth as a credit on my bill. AND they dropped the LNP charges.

2005 saw us adding 2 more lines to the “Family Share” plan. One for our second daughter and the other for my sister. Monthly cost? $150 ($25 of that my sister pays every month). So I’m still paying $50 for the Embarq land line, $21 for the VOIP (I shut off long distance on the home phone this was cheaper). I’m still paying $200 a month for phone service.

I found out yesterday that after Embarq took over the local Sprint operations late last year I was allowed to port my home number. I just started the process with Packet8 and should have my home phone ported to VOIP by the end of this month. That means the $50 a month I’ve been paying Embarq goes back in my pocket.

Wife is not very sure about it. She’s bought into the FUD spun up by the local phone companies in order to keep land line customers from jumping ship. I told her that we can setup the VOIP phone to transfer to her cell phone if our VOIP unit at home goes down because of power loss or internet outage. That way she’ll never miss a call. If it becomes a hassle we can always move back to Embarq and pay 2x the cost of Packet8 … and drop P8.

OK .. I really don’t hate phones, can’t you tell by the number of lines I have? I just hate having to pay for them. I went from paying $22 in 1989 to paying out $224 for Verizon, Embarq and Packet8 in 2007. Hopefully that will drop to $174 in 4 weeks. And in November my Verizon contract is up .. I’m already shopping for cheaper options! Any suggestions?

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