I’m about to go untethered. Unattached. Uncommitted. Free.
Call it what you will, but at the end of this month, my cell phone contract ends and I’m not signing another one. I’m a free agent baby.
So what am I going to do? Well, let me tell you. I’m staying right where I am. That’s correct -- same carrier, same data plan, same service. My monthly bill will drop 10 per cent, but nothing else will change. (Or at least that’s what the fine folks in the Virgin Mobile kiosk assured me recently when I inquired about my options.)
As it is in the NBA – and I usually turn to the NBA for analogies in my life – it makes more financial sense for my free agent self to stick with my current team than to sign elsewhere. A new team can’t offer me what I’m getting now for the same price. Actually, Virgin won’t either if I sign another traditional contract with them. The only way to keep what I have and not pay about 50 per cent more, is to snip the contract cord and go month-to-month.
Right now I pay $65/month. For that I get more calling time than I use, unlimited texts, and a sweet 6 gigs of data. If I sign a new contract with Virgin, it will cost about $90/month to get the same stuff. And I don’t want to give up those 6 gigs. I use most of them every month, tethering my Surface tablet to the mighty Virgin/Bell network to get Internet where Wi-Fi is iffy or unavailable. The kids can watch Netflix on a two-hour drive to Toronto using those 6 gigs. I’m not giving them up.
We sign contracts to get the new phone we want for a heavily subsidized price. When contracts in Canada were three years, the pricing reflected that time period. We paid off our phones over three years, then usually upgraded our phone and signed another contract. When noted consumer advocate Stephen Harper banned three-year contracts, reducing them to two years, you won’t believe what happened. Cell phone companies had the gall to adjust their pricing, recouping the sunk cost of the phone in the shorter period of time. Who saw that coming?
When my contract ends, I could very well continue with the phone I’ve had for three years – a Samsung Galaxy Nexus – but what’s the fun in that? Instead, I’ve already purchased a 32 GB, Nexus 5 directly from the Google Play store, where it was $399, much less than anywhere else. In a few weeks, I’ll take it to the Virgin kiosk and make the official switch from old Nexus to new Nexus. Being something of a computer genius – ahem – I’ve already transferred all my pictures, songs and other detritus to my new phone. It’s ready to go.
Of course, in the time between buying the phone and getting it up and running with Virgin, Google has released the Nexus 6. You might not have heard about that because Apple had nothing to do with it and doesn’t sell it at their stores. But I’m happy with my Nexus 5. The 6 is just too big and too expensive. At least until the next time I get the itch to upgrade. Once I’m untethered, I guess I’ll be able to upgrade any time I want. Oh, that could be dangerous.