Ever since our state passed a law deregulating our phone company, they have been getting away with every possible shenanigan. Employees lie through their teeth to get me to sign up for different things, and it takes forever to settle disputes and get credited. And this is just for the land line! I've had even worse experiences when we carried a cell phone through T-Mobile. As a result of all of these unfortunate experiences, I have a pretty low regard for the telecom industry. They seem to operate with little accountability and in a way that leaves consumers helpless. But........I do need some sort of phone.
Here are my goals:
1. ONE source of telecom service (i.e. no need for both a land line AND cell phone)
2. Nothing fancy. No "smart phones," Blackberries, online access...not even texting. I just want to be able to call people, receive calls, and retrieve voicemail messages. I don't even want call waiting or caller ID, but you're usually stuck with those...I was actually considering one of these bad boys, which they market to the elderly.
3. CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP! As cheap as we can go while still getting decent quality and service. Right now, we have a package that bundles our phone and Internet. So if we change to something else, it should offer such a package. Otherwise, it shouldn't cost us more to get phone service from one place and Internet service from another. This can be tricky...
4 .No contracts. My continued loyalty must be earned, not forced.
What are my options and alternatives? Specifically...
1. Do any of you have direct experience with Vonage, Skype, Magic Jack, or Ooma? If so, are you happy with it? Are there any privacy concerns I should be aware of (I've heard some complaints about Magic Jack, especially, in this area)? Are they pretty stable and transparent with the price, or do they ding you with small print, extra fees, taxes, sudden price hikes.....?
2. Do you have a cell phone company/plan that you're satisfied with? Are there any contract-free plans that you know of?
(I'm less keen on a cell phone due to radiation concerns and the fact that experience with cell phone companies varies vastly by each individual. For every person happy with Company X, you'll find someone who had a bad experience with them).
3. Have any of you tried the non-profit cell phone companies? These people, for example? Thoughts?