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Is Cell Phone Insurance Worth It?

LG optimus TSo you finally decided to upgrade to a new cell phone and visit your local cell phone retail shop.  The retail clerk offers to sell you a cell phone insurance plan in case you break your phone or another plan in case you actually lose your phone.  Some of these plans tend to add a monthly fee to your existing cell phone plan but are they really worth it?

I would first say look at what it costs to replace your new phone without extending your contract as some phones can be cheap but many of the new smart phones are over $200 just to start and range over $500 for the top end models.  If you end up loosing your phone or dies from getting wet you may have to shell out the full price if you just purchased the phone recently.

I’ve been in the Tmobile store and have seen customers come in with a phone that the retail clerk could tell was damaged by water.  They put a sticker inside the phone to let them know if the phone got wet, if the sticker changes to the correct color they know you got it wet and you now get to buy a new phone.  The customer then asks for a replacement phone and they are told they need to pay $200 or more to buy the same phone again.  I’ve seen a few times where the customers then tell the clerk that they plan on canceling their service then and they’ll just move to a new provider.  The clerk normally sneers at them at this point and reminds them that if they break their current new cell phone contract they will be paying the $200 early termination fee.  So it looks like if you lose your phone early in your new contract you are going to pay top dollar to replace it unless you have one of the insurance plans.

How much are the insurance plans many are $4-$7 a month but let’s use $5 for calculations.  Normally you sign a new two-year agreement and at the end of the 2 year agreement you can get a full discount on a phone.  If you have been paying for the insurance you have been paying an additional $120.  Again the insurance is in case you lose your phone early in your agreement.  So what happens if you lose your phone and you have the insurance plan?  Well my son happened to lose his phone not too long ago so I can tell you of my actual experience.

First off call your cell phone provider and let them know that the phone is lost.  This will do a few things for you first off the customer service representative can cancel the service to the phone and keep any future charges from happening with the phone.  This keeps who ever found or stole the phone from running up your charges by using up minutes, downloading content or whatever they plan on doing with the phone.  You still need to get a phone and reinstate the service or after 30 days they may cancel the contract and you’ll have to pay the disconnect fee.

The next thing the customer service agent can do for you is let you know your options.  They can look up your account and let you know where you are on your contract and if you qualify for a replacement or not.  The agent  reminded me that I had paid for the insurance on the phone which I had forgotten that I had done.  I then recall purchasing the insurance with the first phone I got my son assuming he would lose it within a month of me buying it for him.  Turns out I was wrong he lost his second phone within a month of my buying it and this time it was a fancy Android smart phone instead of his original Samsung Gravity.

The agent told me that he could not process the lost claim for me but gave me a web address to go to which is here and warned me that I may have to pay a deductible.  I had another friend that had broken their phone and used the insurance to replace their phone and paid about $100 just to get their screen fixed.  I figured since the phone was lost I would be paying more.  I went ahead and filed my claim online and found out I only had to pay about $40 as a deductible for the new phone and the phone was overnighted to the house.  I figured the overnight fee alone probably cost close to the $40.  I went ahead and paid the fee with a credit card and even though I had made the call to the insurance company after 5pm I still had a cell phone waiting on my doorstep the next day after coming home from work. I started charging up the phone and followed the instructions that came with the box in order to activate the phone with the service provider.  The phone was activated rather quickly with a phone call back to the customer service desk and I let the phone charge for a few hours.

Later  I surprised my son with the replacement phone as he was already expecting to be without a phone for two years.  I was a superhero to him at that moment as he was plugged back in and he promised to take much better care of this phone.  I was sure he would as he didn’t lose his first phone and his new phone was a nice one and he was silly enough to leave it lying around so someone snatched it.  That’s one mistake I don’t think he’ll be making for quite a while and in the mean time all is well with the world.

Even though I had a good experience with using the cell phone insurance there are some who say it’s just not worth it.  I think people will have to weigh the costs versus the chance of needing to use it.  What do you think?

 

Verizon set to kill unlimited data plans

It looks like Verizon is planning to stop offering unlimited data plans at the end of July.  According to Droid Life data plans may look like the following:

Data plans:

  • 2GB – $30/month
  • 5GB – $50/month
  • 10GB – $80/month

If you would like to add tethering on to any of those packages, you can purchase 2GB of data at an additional cost of $20 per month.

Data plans w/ tethering:

  • 4GB – $50/month
  • 7GB – $70/month
  • 12GB – $100/month

If you go over your purchased amount of data, it will cost you $10 per 1GB.

Tablet data plans will now go to $30 for 2GB of data as well instead of $20 for 1GB of data that is currently available.

 

It appears on other posts from Droid Life that Verizon is saying that if you are a current customer that you keep your existing unlimited data plans but new subscribers will have to move to the tiered pricing.  Some people are speculating that if you switch out your phone and modify your plan that you would be moved to the tiered pricing.  Droid Life reported that their sources inside Verizon say that now you can still upgrade and keep your unlimited data plan.  I wouldn’t hold your breath though I had upgraded my sons phone with Tmobile and we got switched to a different plan that doesn’t save us as many minutes as the previous plans to the point that we try to keep a watch on our family plan.

Verizon had started supporting the iphone which probably contributed to their increased data usage along with many of their new droid phones that they are marketing.  So what does the tiered pricing mean for the data plans.  Well I personally don’t use that much data but I know my son does.  My sons actually spends time one Youtube streaming videos on his phone which has high data usage since you have both sound and video playing.  We are currently on Tmobile and the rumors are that all cell phone companies will be moving to a tiered pricing plan soon.  If your company forces you to tiered pricing what would you do?

T-mobile buying used phones or are they?

I saw in the technology news today that T-mobile was actually buying  phones for trade ins.  I thought it was a great idea so I went ahead and pulled out my multitude of cell phones that I have stored away in the closet that are perfectly good working phones but they have been replaced already.  I found three phones that I know two were in perfect working order and one that sometimes has a screen issue but still works.

I logged into the suggested site that tells you how much your phone is worth and sets you up for your trade in.  First I’m disappointed that I can only trade in one phone when I have three that I would like to trade in.  I still was curious what the phones were worth so I start typing in the information for the first phone.  All of them were Samsung phones since they seem to work best with my wife and her hearing impairment.  The first phone was a basic clam shell phone in perfect condition and the only reason I replaced it was she wanted a camera phone.  The phone was worth zero dollars for a trade in but I sort of expected it.  I type in the information for the second phone which was actually her second phone which was very close to her original but had a camera option.  This one was also worth zero dollars okay I wasn’t expect zero twice.  Now I took her Samsung Gravity 2 which she just loved since it had a four gig card in it with tons of her songs, pictures and videos.  It’s a slide phone and great for texting.  I figured if anything this phone should be worth something for a trade in.  I type in the information and sadly learn that this great phone is worth zero dollars for a trade in.

So what gives T-Mobile?  We already know that your probably going to get bought out by AT&T so they are obviously trying to increase some sales to help beef up their purchase price.  I don’t understand why they try to make it look like you are going to get a nice deal for trading in your phone but then pretty much every phone is worthless.  The article by Yahoo News made it look like you should dig out your old phones and use this service .  Either they didn’t do their homework for their article, they were paid to write the article or maybe something is up with the trade in site.

If nothing else the article made me realize that I do have some working phones sitting around the house that could be put to good use.  You really shouldn’t throw them away as you shouldn’t throw away electronics or batteries in your trash and should find a way to recycle them.  There are shelters for domestic violence that take donated cell phones so I suggest you look here if you are looking for a national organization to send them to.  You can also contact your local  shelter as many of them will accept your cell phone.  Your phone will be put to good use and actually help someone instead of a scam to trick you into paying full price for a trade in phone.  Turning it in to the shelter will be good for your soul while sending it to T-mobile will just put a dent in your wallet.

Are kids texting too much?

You’ve seen commercials that talk about how much teens are texting and how they are driving up the cell phone bills but the commercials of course never address the other consequences of excessive texting.  The have been multiple articles regarding teens texting too much and some of the side effects of it.

One of the major issues is that children are staying up late and texting instead of getting much needed sleep.  Your child could be in bed and passing themselves off as asleep but secretly texting the night away.  Children that are sleep deprived end up having multiple effects as school.  Some of those would include falling asleep in class, having a tough time concentrating which of course affects their grades.

These bad habits also affect them mentally as well as the lack of sleep will make them more aggressive and increased anxiety.   There have been studies that also show that lack of sleep will increase the chance of diseases such as obesity, diabetes and even cancer.

You should be watching out for signs of this if you notice your teen is needing naps in the middle of the day or perhaps comes home from school irritable.

Too much texting also have social affects on children as well as it is known to affect their communication skills.  Some children will have difficulty holding actually conversations with people and will avoid personal social interaction.

Since the kids have their own language when texting which includes a lot of abbreviations and purposely misspelled words it tends to affect their writing skills as well.  I known of young adults that couldn’t even fill out a resume correctly because their writing skills were so bad they couldn’t write a complete sentence.  A lot of their writing would include misspellings and improper grammar as well.  Additional reinforcement of bad writing skills can also come from other forms of texting such as Instant Messaging, social network sites and online gaming as well as their accepted form of communication in those cases are often similar to cell text chat.

So how do you help prevent the excessive texting?  Some of the experts having the following advice:

1.  First be the example by avoiding using your cell phone, black berry or other electronic devices during dinner.  You should be instead engaging your child on verbal communication at this time.

2.  Make dinner time an electronic free time.  The experts suggest turning off the Television, ipods, radios and other electronic devices.  This will allow for more communication between you and your child.

3. Setup a proper time for your child to stop texting or chatting on their cell phone with your friends.  Some experts say to take the phone away from the child at night while others say empower your child and let them know the rules.  You can use the cell phone bill to let your know if your child is breaking the rules or not.

4. If your child continully breaks the rules you can have your cell phone company disconnect the texting service on your childs phone.  You may want to let your child know that you do have that ability before you actually have to use this and it may help enforce your rule.

5. The final step is to of course communicate with your child and let them know why you feel the need to enforce these rules.  Let your child know that you are a team and get some of their feedback when trying to establish the rule.  Keep them off the defensive by keep the conversation in a tone where you are acussing them but instead let them know you are concerned for them.

My son and his cell phone

Originally my wife got to stay home and raise our son but as he got old my wife thought it might be time to go back to work. This created new issues later as she sometimes worked weekends and wanted to be able to keep in touch with our son at all times. He also goes out to play and sometimes doesn’t hear us call him to come in so we thought a cell phone might solve that issue as we can call him or text him to come home.
His first phone was a very basic one and in fact he wasn’t happy with it since it didn’t have a camera phone and no fancy keyboard to make texting easy. Hey it’s his first cell phone he’s bound to break it right? Of course and in fact I was impressed that he managed to keep it for nearly a year before he finally dropped it accidently in water.
I took him to the local T-Mobile store so I could meet with the staff and have them help me pick out a new phone for him. I was looking at some basic phones at first but then all of a sudden the geek side took over and I ended up getting him the Gravity phone from Samsung. It’s got a camera, it takes video, has a slide keyboard so he can text away and can hold music and stuff if you buy the extra memory card. So I geeked out and bought him the 2 gigabyte chip which was the max that model could carry and bought him a clear shell to help protect it if he dropped it. I also got smart and bought the warranty this time after all this was a $200 phone at the time but I was getting a pretty good deal since we were renewing a contract (my line).
I’m thinking wow my wife is going to think what a great dad I am for buying him a really cool phone. So after making our purchase we head over to her work and show it off. I didn’t get the reaction I was hoping for. In fact she was pretty furious since I bought him a better phone than she currently had and figured it was really too much phone for a 14 year old. I explained it was sort of a birthday present (which was just around the corner) but she had some valid concerns. She had made it clear before that she didn’t want him to have a camera phone due to watching news stories of kids sexting and doing things with camera phones that they shouldn’t do. She also felt with the new easier to use keyboard he would become a text-aholic and who knows who he might end up texting.
I’m basically crushed at this point since I’ve already paid for the phone, bought the upgrades too it and finding out that she is not impressed but actually mad at me. Geek dad once again overdid it and is now in trouble. I now had to settle her down by explaining that I would be keeping an eye on what he is doing and that I would set ground rules for him and if he didn’t follow them we would take the phone away from him. I also explained to her that this phone actually works as an MP3 player and he could actually load up his music on this phone instead of having to carry a phone and an MP3 player around. She had been wanting an MP3 player for herself when she is working, cleaning house or basically doing whatever when she is trying to keep a quick pace up.
I understand her concerns though as it is scary thinking he has a camera that is capable of sending pictures of himself to anyone and everyone and we all have seen the stories on the news of kids getting in trouble from doing exactly that. There is also the distinct possibility of him get a new texting friend that might suggest that he does certain things. We already monitor his computer use but now he has a portable device that gives him access to stuff that when we aren’t around. I didn’t enable the web service hoping that might keep him out of some trouble until I’m pretty sure that he’s going to be good.
I know he’s a good kid and tries to stay out of trouble but there is always the possibility of troub le coming to find him. I know I’m not the only parent out there with these questions and I’m aware of some organizations out there to help educate parents as well. What are some of you doing with your kids?