Honestly, in a world where cell phones are now roughly the size of matchbooks, I thought rotary phones were long gone. Apparently I was wrong.
USA Today: "Woman paid thousands to rent rotary phone"
Here's the drive-by version: Until about two months ago, our pals at AT&T have been leasing two black rotary phones to 82-year-old Ester Strogen for quite a while.
Like since the early 1960s.
Two months ago was when Strogen's grandkids figured out what was going on — that for the last four decades, Ms. Strogen had been paying roughly $10 per month to AT&T to lease real "dial-up" phones. As you might imagine, the grandkids were nonplussed. They whipped out their Nokia N80s and put a stop to it, and pronto.
Now, I'm all for capitalism. Throw rocks at me if you want, but I believe that companies like AT&T are in business to make a profit. Further, I believe that that's okay.
I also steer very clear of advocating "protecting people from themselves" — especially when it comes to matters of personal finance. At some point, folks have to step up and take responsibility for what goes on in their lives. And at some point — say, sometime in the last 20 or 30 years — kids or grandkids probably could have taken notice of Grandma Strogen's outdated communications gear, and maybe righted this . . . uh, grievous wrong.
As far as the above story is concerned, I guess I'm just heartless. I don't see where AT&T is guilty of much of anything, other than perhaps not pushing Ms. Strogen hard enough to sign up for some sort of outrageous Feature Bundle. I cannot, in any way, wag a finger at AT&T. And I sure don't see where "outrage" is justified on the part of the woman's granddaughter, Barb Gordon:
What difference does it make? Maybe the rotary phones are the best choice for those folks. Maybe . . . just maybe . . . that's what they want to use.
Gads. Perhaps Barb would like it better if AT&T just flat-out discontinued rotary-phone service and compatibility altogether — and left all those grandmas and grandpas disconnected and in the lurch.
It's not just the government that we expect handouts from any longer. Now we want to be coddled by corporate America, too. If we're not signed up for a product or service that's in our own best financial (or technological, or whatever) interest, apparently, then Mr. Graysuit over at the Gree Dee Corporation should be expected to step in and play babysitter. Isn't that what this is about, at least just a little bit?
Protect us from ourselves. Please. We're too busy ... too distracted ... or too lazy to do much of anything for ourselves. Except, of course, blame The Other Guy.
Last time I checked, AT&T was not in the business of geriatric oversight. But I could be wrong. Those guys are greedy to the extreme, right? And goodness knows there's probably money in it.
"I'd like to have my rotary back," she said. "I like that better."
One good thing about all this: At least now Ms. Strogen should have some extra monthly funds to put toward broadband 'net access. It's what she wants, of course.
She just doesn't know it yet.