Contracts Have Gotta Go

I had a little experience yesterday with Verizon that made me stop and ask myself if the service I am getting from my carrier is really worth th $130ish that I spend every month for the smartphones my wife and I own. Not to mention the fact that to upgrade my phone I would be shelling out a ridiculous $30 upgrade fee in addition to the already expensive $200 it would be for a new phone. Is it really worth signing a contract that dictates that I will be spending $3,280 over two years for my wife and I to have a new phone?

While most people would rather not think about how much it actually costs to own an iPhone 5, Samsung Galaxy S III or a Nokia Lumia 920, when you sit down and do the math, it gives you pause. If you want to get out of your Faustian pact (my new favorite phrase), it will cost you $350 minus whatever your contract stipulates.

America has things bass-ackwards when it comes to our phone culture. We are so focused on short-term thinking that we would rather pay nearly $4,000 over two years for a phone for ourselves and a phone for our significant other. Not to get political, but it is the same mentality that gets people into bad debt situations. Short-term satisfaction now, big cost later.

I sincerely wish that we were a predominately prepaid, contract-free society. I understand that our phones are pocket-sized computers and can cost $750 or more if you bought them outright. In exchange, charge me a more reasonable $50 a month for my voice, data and texts. What I don’t like is carrier’s justifying their exorbitant contract prices by saying it’s to make up the cost of the subsidy. Bullhonky!

Have you ever done the math on how much it costs to own a smartphone? The Oregon Saves blog has an excellent post on the cost of owning a smartphone. If you compare the rates you pay on a two-year contract to the rates you get with a prepaid carrier, you’ll see that the carriers are flat out lying about their justifications.

I really wish that I could switch to a prepaid carrier. Sadly, Straight talk isn’t an option, I use too much data and other MVNOs aren’t either because they use T-Mobile’s network, which is abysmal in Oregon. That leaves me in a rather frustrating situation. Because I need good coverage and there aren’t any MVNOs I can use in Oregon, I am stuck with AT&T or Verizon.

So I could use your help. Any good prepaid carriers that run on AT&Ts network and don’t have ridiculously restrictive data plans?

Kenny Larson
Onetime Apple/Android/Windows fanboy. Now a firm agnostic when it comes to OS. They all suck in their own special way.

"Be excellent to each other."
--Bill & Ted

This article has 3 Comments

  1. Do you know something about Straight Talk’s data plans that I don’t? I haven’t been able to find exact parameters for data use with them, and this is pertinent as I consider switching to them from Sprint.

    Problem is, the switch is only for freedom, NOT for savings… We pay $99.50/month for BOTH of our phones with unlimited everything. Hard to argue with that.

  2. With Straight Talk you get warnings if you go over 2gb a month or 100-150mb a day. They will simply cancel your service if you ignore their warnings. Also you are not allowed to stream music or video, nor are you allowed to tether your phone.

  3. Wait… not allowed to stream music or video? Like, no YouTube or Pandora? And in terms of tethering… technically I’m not allowed to tether my phone with Sprint either, but after rooting it’s not a problem. Do you know if Straight Talk has found a way to stop that loophole?

    I’m becoming much more satisfied with Sprint’s service in this area — they must be doing upgrades because I can actually watch Netflix over 3G now. If this keeps up for the rest of the month I might just preorder the Galaxy Note 2.

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