Tone Deaf


Courtney’s cell phone started acting up several months ago. The phone would drop in the middle of calls and texts. I couldn’t get the issue to reproduce. I did a hard reset on it, re-synced her contacts from the iMac, and left it at that.

Another week goes by. Courtney tells me that it still “doesn’t work”. I see that the SIM Card isn’t reading into the device. I resolve it by powering off, removing the battery & SIM, snapping it back together and turning it back on. I show Courtney this. She tells me that’s what’s she has been doing all along. I tell her to hang on until we can get a free upgrade. She’s not a happy camper.

Being the geek I am, I go online and googled “Sony W518s” issues. I read the ATT and Sony support discussion boards. The next day I re-install the firmware and wiped the SIM card’s memory. It seemed to work. I handed it back to her.

About a week later, I asked Courtney how her phone was. She replied “It’s broke. I don’t use it anymore.”

I log into my AT&T account and see that she’s eligible for a “free” upgrade on December 6. I tell Courtney that it’s a few months before we can get the phone replaced. She doesn’t like hearing that. It’s late September. December 6 is too long to wait for a teenage girl.

The blog-sphere is alight with rumors about the new iPhone. I know the current iPhone will see a price drop. Apple always does this. I take the leap and tell Courtney that I’ll get her an iPhone.


I don’t know.

Why not?

Because no one outside of Apple knows. It’s a secret.

Can I get a new phone now?

When Apple introduces the new iPhone.

But I need a phone now!

Apple’s announcing their new iPhone at their October 4th Media Gathering. We’ll know for sure then.

I can’t wait that long. I need a phone now.

OK, I’ll see if I can get one to use until the iPhone is out.

I’m all in at this point. Courtney has been using friend’s phones to contact me. How embarrassing. She needs a new phone. I look on Craigslist, there are jailbroken iPhones and “hot” smartphones at ridiculously high prices and nothing else. I post on Facebook asking if any of my friends had an unused ATT/T-Mobile phone that we could borrow. No luck.

October 4th comes and goes. The new iPhone 4S is introduced, and it’s a marvel. The 4 goes down to $99. The 3GS becomes free. Availability is listed as October 14th. My teenage daughter somehow knows this. She wants to know when she can get her iPhone. The last thing she wants to hear is me babbling on about how cell phone contracts work. She just wants a phone.

I call ATT. I tell the Rep the situation. She’s remarkably attentive and courteous. I ask if there was any way we could get Courtney bumped into an upgrade right now

The Rep says Yes. Based on what you told me, we could make an exception here.

So I can get her a new phone today?

Yes you can. We can chose any phone except Apple’s iPhones.

Any phone except an iPhone?

That’s correct.

Let me ask you, if we got a new phone, does that mean that Courtney has to wait another two years on contract before she’s again eligible for an iPhone?

That’s correct.

I don’t want to do that. I do want to get Courtney an iPhone in December. What can we do for her until December? She needs something today.

Why don’t you get a Go Phone?

Doesn’t that require a month-to-month contract?

No. Just go to a local ATT store, and bring in her phone. They’ll take the SIM card and activate the Go Phone with it.

That’s all?

Yes sir. That’s all.

Yesterday I go into Radio Shack. I pick up a Samsung Go Phone. It’s marked $9.99. I bring it to the counter. I tell the clerk I don’t need to buy the Go Monthly airtime contract. I just wanted to buy this phone and activate it with Courtney’s ATT SIM card. How much would that cost me?

The clerk looks at me with an incredulous stare and says $9.99.

I feel like an idiot.