Friday night, I stopped at my cell phone service provider’s store, with plans to purchase a new phone.
“Something better than this,” I said.
I held my flip phone up for the store manager, who had greeted me upon my walking into the store.
“Anything’s better than that,” said the manager, who — using an iPad or comparable tablet — sent my name to the next available salesperson, and smirked.
I laughed, and recited the list of what I want and don’t in a phone.
“Preferably one that doesn’t flip open, but I’m flexible,” I said. “I don’t text. And I don’t want a phone that requires a data plan.”
“Follow me,” he said.
We wandered through a maze of displays to the “Basic Phones” kiosk at the center of the store.
“You can pick any of these,” he said.
I had my pick…
of exactly six phones.
Only one of them sturdy, none of them sleek, and none for under a hundred bucks. Of fifty phones in the store (give or take), the folks who refuse to use the internet on phones are forced to choose from six crappy options.
In truth, I am part of an overwhelmingly outnumbered minority for my age and country. We, the phone users who only use phones as phones and whose phones are routinely mocked by salespeople in cell phone stores, can’t expect the cell phone world to cater to us. But I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t sting a little to know my options are forever limited. I think we’ve reached a point at which basic phone users are largely coerced into switching to smart phones, not just for their apps and their looks but their quality. And I wonder whether we’ll eventually reach a day on which my options cease to exist, when “cell phone” and “smart phone” are synonymous, after the demand for basic phones is so small manufacturers stop creating them.
I shudder at the thought. (Click here if you don’t already know why.)
So Friday night, I left the cell phone store empty handed.
I’m keeping my good, old fashioned flip phone.