My $125 mistake

Life lesson No. 1,396: Never put your cell phone in a washing machine.

...So I had spent much of the morning working outside. When I came indoors, I changed out of my grungy clothes and then threw them into the washing machine with a load of laundry. I glazed over the pockets and thought I'd removed everything.

But I missed my cell phone.

I started the washing machine and went upstairs. Barely a few minutes later, I wanted to make a call and began looking for my cell phone. I searched every room in the upstairs thinking surely I'd left it lying on a table or desk. Then it suddenly dawned on me -- it was probably still in my shorts!

I bolted downstairs to the laundry machine. Only to open the lid and find water up to the rim, the clothes were soaked. I pulled from the suds my shorts, and there in the pocket was my cell phone. Soaked. Dead. Blank. Nothing.

Words will never, ever -- ever -- express the frustation, the madness, the depression, the stupidity I felt.

Although the trash is about the only place it can go now, it's still sitting upstairs on the desk in hopes it might magically come back on. ... I've always had about perfect luck and affection with my cell phones. I had my first one nearly four years, and only had it replaced because it was getting old and starting to die. This latest one I had used for barely a year, and I figured surely I'd have it for at least four, five years as well. I loved the feel of it, it had all the minimal and necessary functions I wanted ... and I've been with Sprint so long, I'd gotten myself into a low-cost, really nice, plan.


So ... First thing this afternoon, I drove across the state line to the closest Sprint store. I was off from work, and we don't have a landline in our house, so I needed to get a new cell phone, pronto -- especially this week, considering the phone calls and business I needed to take care of.

If I wasn't frustrated enough already, I walked into the packed store and was immediately put on a waiting list to be served. ... What seemed like an hour later (it was probably 15 minutes...), I was called to the counter. My service person: a short woman with dark, wrinkly skin, frizzy blonde hair and Freddy Krueger style finger nails, painted teel of course -- she looked more like she belonged at a psychic fair, not working at a Sprint store.

I told her my problem.

"Do you have insurance?"

"I don't think so..." ... on a cell phone? Of course not. I've never had anything bad happen to my cell phones. I treat them like my iPod, Like my unborn babies.

... Several minutes pass as she pecks on the computer. Watching her with her long nails makes me cringe like fingernails against a chalkboard. ... Finally she figures out I can get a $75 discount on any phone because of my good-standing with the company.

But the new phone I was interested in was $199, and was available for $49.99 with a rebate.

"No, you're not eligible for that," she tells me. "All I can do is upgrade your phone and give you the $75 discount..."


"Or I can give you this phone for free and we can add another line for $60 ..."

What? ... She's starting to have me running in circles here. All I want is a new phone, with my same number -- and I want it for as little cost as possible.

... She proceeds to add that I can't keep my same plan because it's under $30 a month and in order to get the new phone I have to upgrade my plan to at least $35 a month. That way I can keep my number, but I'd be paying $125 for the new phone. Or I can get the phone for free, add a new line and start paying $60 a month, have a different number, and be able to change it back to the old number after 30 days .... And either way I have to take a two-year agreement...

Confused yet? I was.

Just when she was about to begin punching in the numbers for me to buy the $200 phone for free and add another line for the $60 a month, I was catching up and stopped her.

"So wait. You're telling me I can get this phone today for $125 because of the $75 discount, keep my number, and have about the same plan for $40. Or I can have the phone for free, have a new number and be paying $60 a month for the next two years?"


"Well, no. Go with the $125 phone then."

She rolls her eyes and starts tapping out the corrected numbers. ... "I was just trying to save you some money today?" she murmurs.

"I'm more concerned about saving money in the long run." ... lady!

So I'm waiting patiently for her to hand me the reciept so I can sign it and get the heck out of there ... Until she tells me there's some problem with the computer, and for some reason, it's not accepting the $75 discount I was entitled to on the new phone. She looks at me like I'm supposed to know how to figure out their stupid computer system and says, "So what do you want me to do now?"

"Ah, can you go ask for some help?" ... LADY!!!

She marches past a door and comes back a few second later, saying she asked a manager to come out. ... Good. And then she adds, "We could have had this whole thing done if you would've taken the $60 plan."

I DIDN'T want the $60 PLAN!!

The manager comes out and figures out the error like it was no big deal.

... and finally I was signing my receipt.

I walked out with a new phone and managed to keep the same number I've had for the last 3 1/2 years.

... And at least now I have a camera phone.

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