Sunday, July 19, 2009

Livin' the Highlight!

I finally did it. I finally, after months of window shopping and careful comparisons and weighing the pros and cons of various options, including staying with my current provider, jumping to another, buying online versus in a brick and mortar store, I finally, this weekend, pulled the trigger on the purchase of a new cell phone.

I went with the Samsung Highlight, from T-Mobile. I had almost decided, as recently as a few weeks ago, to go with AT&T because they had all the cool phones and buying one online, from amazon or one of those places that only sell cell phones, would cost me anywhere from 1 cent to at the very most $49 depending on the model of phone, and to me every dollar counts these days. My employer also has been pushing their discount deals with AT&T -- 10 percent on your monthly bill and 'select' hardware -- but I found out the same sort of deal was available with T-Mobile. The biggest factor in my decision, though, was even though I was not thrilled at the fact that my prize for being a loyal T-Mobile customer in good standing for more than two years was a 'discount' of well, really nothing from anyone who's walk in off the street -- actually, the phone cost about $150 more than it would for someone who would come in from another cellular provider -- and I could get a better phone from AT&T for nothing if I switched companies, was the reliability factor.

My previous T-Mobile phone wasn't always great with the reception, and I'm guessing this one will have its faults, as well, but I pretty much knew where the weak spots were, such as near the elevators in the Apparel Center and in my gym at Halsted and Belmont, but not outside of it. AT&T, though, from my research (and believe me, I did a HELLUVA lot of research) had weak coverage just about everywhere in and around Chicago. Alot of it comes from people with iphones, but I read plenty of forum posts, Yelp posts, etc., from people with AT&T as their cellular provider who have awful service in Chicago. Unfortunately, people in other parts of the country who have AT&T don't report anything near the problems people in Chicago have. And I decided to buy a phone from a physical store instead of online, because it seemed that it would be easier to resolve any problems with the phone if you get it from an authorized store where you can actually take the phone to and show to someone, instead of e-mailing a customer service rep in never never land. And, also, I appreciated that I could go into an actual store and try out the phones I have read about and seen online, and you know, I don't want the bricks-and-mortar stores to go out of business, so I thought I should give them my business as a form of thanks.

In spite of the reception issues in Chicago, I was still nearly going to buy an AT&T phone, because I didn't like the idea of paying $160 or more for a new T-Mobile phone, but after talking to people in a couple AT&T stores, I realized that those $0.01 phones only are sold online. While the AT&T phones were cheaper than comparable T-Mobile phones, the ones I was interested in were still in the $100 to $150 range. I could see paying nothing or close to nothing for a phone that would have spotty service, but for $150? Why? That's just stupid.

I found, by accident really, a new T-Mobile store at Clark and Diversey, and I stopped in there earlier this week and the manager talked to me, explained all the costs to me, told me I could spread the $170 cost of a phone over a few months and let me just play with the phones I was interested in. I went back there today, after driving my mom around to do her grocery shopping and that, and having worked last night I was not completely alert, but I thought I would drop in there this afternoon just to play around with the phone a bit more and ask them about an employer discount (10 percent -- whoopee) and the gal who waited on me was so nice and not only showed me the features on the phone but told me how to work them then told me to try my hand at it all, which I thought was strange but strange in a good way.

So I though, as long as I was planning on very likely buying this phone later this week anyway, why not buy it right now? So I told the gal to wrap it up and activate me on the new phone, as I slipped out of the store a couple times to feed my GoddamnedDaley parking meter machine. She moved my SIM card, which has all my two dozen or so contacts onto the new phone, and told me while the ringtones I had on my old phone were now history, since this phone has an mp3 player, I can just drag mp3 files onto it when it's hooked up to my computer, so I can make my own ringtones and I don't have to buy any anymore. How cool is that? I can't wait to drop "Waiting by the Telephone" onto it to be my first new ringtone.

I guess I'll have more free time now, since my phone search was an obsession of my the past few months. I spent hours every week reading reviews, window shopping, hanging out at cell phone blogs to get an idea of what was coming down the pipe and when -- geez, the comments in those blogs all seem as though they're written by 12-year-olds and complete idiots -- so now I can stop checking into those sites on a regular basis (well, with the possible exception of the 'samsung highlight' blog and 'guys with iphones,' you know, uh, just to check on technical issues and updates and such).

I'm looking forward to having a camera that is more than 1 megapixel, and not having to pound the number pad to type out text messages. And hey, my orange/red (officially its called 'fire') highlight, has a neat rubbery sort of backing and is kinda cool-looking. I need more people to call/text though.

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