Upsell Joy

RazrI bought a new cell phone with a year’s contract. It’s a cute phone. We like it.

The phone goes for about $200 on eBay, and after all the rebates are said and done I’ll have spend minus $50 dollars. The service is $480/year. So one way to look at is they paid me $250 to lock in $480 in revenue; e.g. to clear $230. That’s of course not quite right because Amazon, who sold me the phone, got a kickback, they certainly paid a few bucks for the phone and then of course there is a bit of cost to complete the phone calls.
It’s a perfectly nice phone, but it has a very slippery keyboard.

But now that I have this phone it is a study in modern telecom up-selling. The user interface is a rats nest of buttons and menus; and many of these offer you the chance to spend more money. There are at least three dozen places in the UI where you can spend a few more dollars. Here’s a short list of just a few of the stupid ways they try to get me to spend another few bucks:

  • Sign up for crippled web service (i.e. WAP). $6/month
  • Send an SMS.
  • Send a photo.
  • Call information for a phone #.
  • Get a weather report.
  • Get a sport’s score.
  • Horiscope

Just what you’d expect in an abusive locked in relationship, it’s obnoxious. It is far too easy it is for an unsuspecting phone user to randomly poke buttons and spend money. Twice already I’ve thought: “Damn, if I’d poked the button one over I’d have spent money.” I think the slippery keyboard design was intentional.

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