I purchased my first cell phone in the fall of 1997 with BellSouth Mobility. Since I would be taking credit card numbers over the phone, their 8bit encrypted digital was more important to me than connectivity. And anyone that had a BellSouth Mobility phone knows that they didn’t have great connectivity! Knoxville’s signal map looked like a piece of Swiss cheese. Regular users knew the spots on the road where signal would be lost and would apologize in advance, "I’ll call you back in 20 feet" or pull over. My phone was a Motorola flip phone that weighted a ton and was huge by today’s standard. It was strong enough to make my brain vibrate in my head. At one point I went in the store to upgrade and was warned off with the explanation that phones were not allowed to send a signal as strong as that one anymore and that I should keep it until it dies hard. The "sim card" was the size of a credit card and mine was labeled "first 100 customers" which I do not believe for one instant that I was one of the first hundred customers of anything.
I took advantage of programs as BellSouth Mobility (which became Cingular) introduced them. As such, I ended up grandfathered into a lot of nice features. When text messaging was introduced, they had unlimited free text messages. Since the feature was grandfathered, I had the pleasure of sending tons of messages while others customers were charged. I also had a feature called Alternate Line Service. It allowed my one phone to have 2 phone numbers, one for business, one personal. Unfortunately they both went to the same voicemail box until a technician made a mistake and allowed each to go to its own voicemail. I kept this feature 3 years after they quit selling it. See, it did not completely work with the AT&T towers. You could receive calls on either line but could only make outgoing calls on your primary line. This feature cost $4.95 per month. When my old Motorola v400 bit the dust and I was forced to upgrade to the Motorola RAZR v3xx which supports up to 4 lines, Cingular/AT&T explained, "We don’t support that feature anymore. Your account is provisioned for it but you will have to get Motorola to explain how to configure your phone." Right! No such luck. "OEM?" I canceled my Alternate Line Service.
Looking at my bill I realized that although I had been assured the feature was canceled, I continued to be billed $4.95 per month. Yesterday I decided to fix it. I finally found a competent rep would arduously worked to fix the problem and apply some refunds. Additionally, I decided that the $4.99 per phone per month I was spending on insurance with a $50 deductible on 3 phones just wasn’t worth it (it was supposed to be on 4 phones but one fell through the cracks). Although Sarah loses her phone all the time, I think it will be cheaper to buy a new one than carry the insurance. Additionally, I was paying $19.99 each on 3 phones for a feature which has been reduced to $15 per month. Overall, I am now saving roughly $40 per month on our cell phone bill which comes to $480 a year! A call to customer service for credit cards, cable, phone, etc can often result in money saving adjustments on your bills.