We may not have jetpacks or cars that fold up into our suitcases, but this is absolutely the high-tech future that my parent’s TV shows promised. Most of us carry devices on us more powerful than the machines that put man on the moon. We have more ways to communicate than people we actually want to talk to. And yet, it seems a holdout from the early twentieth century is still with us – phone rentals.
I’m not talking subsidized phones on your wireless provider. I’m talking landlines. Once upon a time, you couldn’t just go to any old store, buy a phone and plug it in. No, you would rent your handset from Ma Bell.
Philly’ KYW–TV brings us the story of an elderly couple paying $7 a month in phone rental fees for three old school handsets – one of which they don’t possess anymore. We’re talking $253.08 a year since the 1980s. That’s a heck of a lot of money to pour right down the drain.
I’ve occasionally made snarky comments about the practice of people locking themselves into a contract for two years for a quick deal and ignoring the total cost of ownership – except those people at least get to keep the phone/tablet/netbook when they’re done. There’s no endgame here. This is an almost inexcusable waste of money, and it actually makes me physically ill to think that there are hundreds of thousands of people on this one provider alone who rent their phones. Imagine how that number climbs when you take the entire United States into account. This is a service that preys particularly on senior citizens because they often don’t know any other choices exist or this is how they’ve always lived, so they’ve never thought to seek out other options
If you know someone who has one of those old time phones or has lived in the same place for a long time, make sure they’re not paying this ignorance tariff.