Last month, my wife opened the cell phone bill and I had to fetch the smelling salts. Our cell phone bill is usually a predictable amount, because we have one of those “rollover minutes” plans, and we seldom use them all. So we have a tidy account of banked minutes we can use whenever we exceed our allotment, avoiding those expensive additional minutes. Our plan did not include text messaging, which cost us 20 cents apiece (sending or receiving). Until last month, I was the only person using that feature, and I seldom spent $10 in any month on text messages.
Last month, however, my daughter decided that texting was way cooler than talking and the bill was $167 over the normal amount.
My daughter sends and receives text messages constantly, using barely-comprehensible text shorthand, like “OMG I 8 1 2! LOL!” You would think for 20 cents apiece, she could spell complete words.
We quickly rectified the situation by changing our plan to include unlimited text messaging for an additional $30 a month, which seems like a bargain. But then, my daughter’s phone started to exhibit erratic behavior, with dead keys and short battery life, so my wife went shopping with her and upgraded to a fancy new phone. My daughter was thrilled with her new personal appliance.
She enjoyed it for 5 days, and then dropped it into the toilet “by accident.”
I immediately pulled the battery and had her spend 20 minutes heating it with a hair dryer, only to find out later that’s probably the worst thing you could do (you should suck the water out with a vacuum cleaner). Our efforts were to no avail, and the phone was declared DOA at the cell phone store about an hour later.
Because the phone was an upgrade, the sales agent told us, “You’ll have to pay full price to replace it … unless…”
“Unless what?” I asked.
“Well, you’ve only had it for 5 days. You have 30 days to insure it. The only thing is, insurance doesn't cover water damage. But for 50 bucks, you can insure the phone, wait a couple of days, then call the insurance company and tell them you ran over it with the car,” he explained. “They’ll send you a new one.”
“But she didn’t run over it. She dropped it in the toilet,” I insisted.
“Then run over it,” he told me.
My daughter, who had been sitting in glum misery at the prospect of spending the rest of the summer with no phone, listening to repeated lectures on the subject of responsibility and the value of a dollar, sat up with a bright glimmer in her eye. “I’ll pay you back!” she said.
Now I have to spend the rest of the summer lecturing my daughter on the subject of insurance fraud.