What settles arguments in your house: Facts or opinion?
That seems like a loaded, but relatively easy question. Facts win, right? Well, sometimes.
A study by Dartmouth College suggested that using facts – researched credible evidence that proves the information is true – in an argument doubles the opposition’s opinion that you are wrong. In other words, facts just make opinion-based people mad as hell.
That would be especially true if the argument was with someone whose opinion of a cell phone company they never heard of is that it’s a rinky-dink outfit with horrible reception and a disingenuous price plan that will end up costing you more in the long run, you cheap son of … uh, well, let’s stop that side of the argument there.
Welcome to Part III of the Frugal Man’s quest to purchase his first cell phone.
To recap quickly for first-time readers: I have never owned a cell phone. Ever. My wife and three sons, two in college, one a senior in high school, have owned cell phones for four years or more. That makes them experts on cell phoning and they admit it.
Cell Phones Solve All Problems
They take turns badgering Frugal Man over this issue just about every week. They rejoice at how wonderful their lives are because they can communicate with the world 24 hours a day, while listening to an endless playlist of music and receiving reminders of important news or events that influence their day, while their phone guides them all over town.
They don’t mention cost, so I will. It’s outrageous. These companies are worse than the IRS. They gouge their customers and laugh about it. I’m paying $256 a month for four cell phones. That is more than eight times what I pay for a landline that also communicates 24 hours a day, with no dropped calls.
However, my employer offered a financial incentive for me to walk out of my cave and see what technology is doing for the rest of the world, so I thought I’d at least investigate. The “Family Plans for $100” seem reasonable so I went to the local outlet of our current provider and asked the manager to set up my family of five for $100. He laughed.
“A hundred dollars,” he said, rolling his eyes, head and arms at such a naïve thought. “Dude, that plan don’t include phones or enough data to go online more than a few times a month.
“The deal you already got ($256 a month) is the best you’re going to get. If you’re looking to add a line for yourself, I can get you a phone and a line of service for another $50 or so a month, plus taxes. Let’s say somewhere around $315-$325 ought to cover it.”
Let’s say not. Let’s say I find somebody else.
Searching For A Better Plan
I went home and got into online chats with the other major “Family Plan” providers, who laughed on-screen just as loudly. Each one told me that my provider had locked up my Iphones so I would need new phones to go with new contracts for a new family plan price of between $310 and $336, plus taxes.
Then I happened upon Michael Okel at a Cricket store right down the street. Michael said he could unlock the four Iphones so we can use them with his service. He said five lines will cost me $150 a month, including taxes. He also said he’d give me a good deal on a Galaxy Note 3 so everybody will have a top-notch phone.
I returned home triumphant, thinking the family would be thrilled I just saved us $150 a month. Actually, it was just the opposite. They were livid. Each one had an expert opinion on why this was a disaster waiting to happen and here is how the exchanges went:
What’s Your Opinion?
Opinion 1: “We have Iphones and they only work with the provider we have now. I’m not giving up my Iphone for some cheap, junky phone!”
Fact: On Aug. 1, 2014, President Obama signed the “Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act,” making it legal to unlock phones so they can be used with another provider. You can keep your phone. It just has to be unlocked.
Opinion 2: “Cricket? I’ve never even heard of them. I’m not moving to some rinky-dink outfit that probably won’t be around a year from now!”
Fact: AT&T absorbed Cricket in March of this year. AT&T likely will be around a year from now.
Opinion 3: “I just read reviews online and everybody’s complaining about Cricket’s coverage area being so small and calls getting dropped all the time. Plus, I guarantee they’re going to drop that $150 plan two or three months from now. I don’t want anything do with that service!”
Fact: The reviews you’re reading are old. Cricket uses AT&T cell towers to provide service. And thanks for the guarantee. This is a no contract plan, so if they raise the rates, we can leave.
Opinion 4: “We all like what we have. We should just keep it.”
Fact: You pay for it. You wouldn’t like it nearly as much.
There were a few more opinions conquered by facts, but I’ll have to agree with the Dartmouth folks: Opinion-based people only get madder when you present facts.
The good news is: Opinions can change. Facts don’t.
We’ll talk more as soon as I get my Galaxy Note 3.
Bill “No Pay” Fay has lived a meager financial existence his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it in 2012, helping birth Debt.org into existence as the site’s original “Frugal Man.” Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering the high finance world of college and professional sports for major publications, including the Associated Press, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. His interest in sports has waned some, but he is as passionate as ever about not reaching for his wallet. Bill can be reached at [email protected].