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2009-01-30 16:22:37

All Is Not Rosy in Cellphone Land

 

After hearing family, friends, neighbors, strangers complain about their cell phones, I decided to find out how prevalent the complaints are. So, I typed ‘what the cell phone companies don't tell you’ into my search engine of choice and was a little stupefied to see more than 3,310,000 results!
Clearly writers, editors, bloggers, columnists, and joe-citizens have a pleasure/pain threshold at which they will finally stop complaining and commit their angst to writing. No surprise there – the Internet is the world’s most popular tool for communication, data collection and research. But, even more popular than those features, is the option ordinary citizens invoke each time they post or pursue ‘consumer’ experiences with their purchases and pitfalls.  
The web is a giant consumer report and clearly most cell phone users share my love/hate relationship with their cell phones. Again, no surprise.
But what was a surprise, is the humongous variety of reasons people complained. A top 20 list of complaints moves quickly from hidden fees, to fine-print surprises; from long-term commitments to short-lived batteries; from the fact that text messages cost companies virtually nothing to transfer, to fickle pricing and the fact that tomorrow’s customers will get a better deal than you did today. 
Several readers even discussed the arrogance of cell phone company advertising. One writer found that at least three carriers claimed to have better pricing and coverage than all other companies – clearly at least two (but probably three) of those companies had to be stretching the truth.
Another writer pointed out that cell phone companies call their products “cell phones” because if they were called “mobile phones,” then people wouldn’t be as inclined to use them as their primary phones, opting instead, the writer hypothesized, to use them only when “mobile.”   As a result, he pointed out, people have actually stepped back in time in the quality and reliability of their communication.
Another clear complaint is that cell phone companies refuse to offer options that make your cell phone work with landline phones. After all, if they offered this feature, you would be less likely to be so dependent upon your cell phone. 
That’s why companies such as OneCall are doing so well – with services such as its ‘Mobile Manager’ service, subscribers receive one universal number that works on a find-me-follow-me basis. In other words, you hand out your number to everyone you know, then you easily program it to ring where you want, when you want.
If your cell phone is charging, then direct it to ring on a land line. If you’re visiting Grandpa’s farm in Nowhere Iowa which doesn’t have cell power, then you have your calls ring on Grandpa’s home phone or check your voice messages online. If you’re out and about running errands, you can have calls ring on your cell phone. If you’re at Suzie’s piano recital, you tell your calls to go to voicemail with simultaneous notification that you got the call. What’s more, with Mobile Manager you can receive and send faxes, and even check voicemail and faxes online.
The point is that your cell phone isn’t your end-all-and-be-all communication device. Rather, it becomes just one of the tools you use to send, receive, and never miss calls again.
Let’s face it: cell phone companies would be hurting themselves if they offered a service that allowed you to use your cell phone as one of many tools rather than the be-all-do-everything-with-limits tool it is today. Their goal clearly is to make you dependent upon you cell phone despite its limitations on quality, reliability, battery life, and limited-to-nonexistent faxing options.
Judging by the tone of the 3, 310,000 online complaints, consumers are becoming savvy in seeking out options that will work with and enhance their cell phone usage. 
Suddenly it doesn’t matter what the cell phone companies don’t tell us, but rather what matters is what we share with one another.
For more tips and ideas, read more about OneCall’s Mobile Manager at http://onecall.realtown.com.
OneCall is a RealTown Approved Vendor.
(Debra Traverso is the author of hundreds of articles and five books, published in eight languages, a speaker, marketing consultant for Fortune 50 companies, regular lecturer at Harvard University, and vice president of OneCall. She can be reached through .)www.makejustonecall.com

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