Did you know that mobile phones these days come with 50-metre swimming pools?
Neither did I until until a phone company representative rang me yesterday and asked if I wanted to upgrade my cell phone.
I was entitled to a "free" upgrade to a "basic" model phone, she said.
But if I was willing to pay just a teensie, weensie bit more, say $44,000 a month, I could have one with e-mail, backlit screen, camera, Olympic-sized swimming pool and as much caramel fudge as I could eat.
"Pardon?" I said. "Did you say a swimming pool in my phone?"
"No, sir," said the woman. "Your eyes must have been glazing over."
"I guess there's no caramel fudge either?" I said downheartedly. (My imagination has been carried away with technobabble before.)
"Um, no, sorry," said the woman. "But for just $44 a month we can offer you our latest model, the super-duper any-colour-you-want CPWERTUEVBN37601207342. It has e-mail facilities."
Via a phone?
I already get e-mail on my PC at home. I get lots and lots and lots of it but most of it is unsolicited junk.
If I had e-mails dropping into my phone every five minutes, I would never be able to get to the end of another work meeting.
What would I say to my colleagues?
"Excuse me a minute but I have to deal with a very important e-mail. Um, anyone else here need a bigger penis? Larger, more natural looking breasts? Human growth hormones? Viagra? A university degree? The chance to earn your fortune from home? A partnership with a very rich African?"
I told the woman I had no need for e-mail on my phone.
I told her I was a traditionalist.
It did not matter to me that my current model only came in shades of black.
It worked fine as a phone. All I wanted to do was talk to other people easily and as cheaply as possible.
My only requirement in a mobile phone was that it was not too big.
I remember when mobile phones first came out and were so big you had to have bricklayer-sized hands to hold them.
The model I have now fits nicely into my pocket and plays a burst of Monty Python's Flying Circus when it rings.
The woman wanted to know what kind of phone I had now, the THEKEMYEKEOSNSS38383838359494 or the EMTIOXCOSXOXO86474840696969?
"Er, dunno," I said. "It's all so confusing. I cannot even remember my phone number. Isn't it on your records there?"
"I am afraid not," said the woman. "Those kind of details aren't recorded. All we know is that your contract has expired."
Ah, so that is why I was entitled to a new "free" phone.
It was not going to be free at all. I would have had to commit to the phone company's fees for another couple of years.
I was helping my son Jack, 6, with his homework when the phone company representative called and, to be honest, found it a bit hard to digest the woman's information while tying to help him add 3 + 4.
"Can't you send me out some brochures so I can study the options?" I asked.
"No, sorry. These are only verbal offers," she said. "Perhaps, you can look at our web site."
So I did last night.
And I looked at some competitors' web sites too.
I wonder if mobile phone companies have done market research on the number of older customers (I am 44) who are bamboozled by hard-sell salespeople on the phone who will actually follow up with research on the Internet?
I think I will go with a no-contract don't-have-to-sign-two-years-of-your life-away pay-in-advance phone card option.
One rival company even offers digital ring-tone jingles customers can download.
I spent a lot of time testing the tunes out in anticipation.
I could not believe I found a Boney M tune listed under Golden Oldies though. I guess I am just getting old. I remember that song from just yesterday. Well, before we even had mobile bricks anyway.
©March 25, 2003 John Martin. All Rights Reserved
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