|Don't consign Granny to telegrams. Buy her a cell phone.|
In researching this subject, I was not surprised to find that modern phones confuse the elderly. After all, this is the generation that could not figure out how to program their VCRs when they were still in their 40s. What an Octogenarian needs in a mobile device is simplicity, large numbers, and good volume. They need a Contacts menu with few steps; two clicks away from the loved one they want to reach. And, they don't need a plan at all because they still use their house phones for everything (i.e. they need a prepaid plan).
|Alcatel 382G. Big numbers but hard to find.|
Both these providers offer slightly more expensive services than the virtual networks, but I do believe in the old adage that one gets what one pays for. What surprised me though is how much cheaper AT&T's plan is compared with Verizon.
Prepaid MinutesBoth offer comparable plans in terms of prepaid pricing, but AT&T was more generous with regards to how they measure minutes and time used, and so they offered a slightly better value. They both had a $100 package with minutes that stay good for one entire year, but Verizon charges 25 cents a minute for usage and AT&T charges 20 cents a minute. So your $100 goes farther with AT&T. Both offered lower priced plans, but the minutes expire after three months. For grandma, who will likely use the phone sparingly, the year-long expiration is better. Get the plan early in the year, and that way you can have her use up unused blocks of time around Christmas talking to friends and family.
Extra CostsAT&T beats Verizon hands down when it comes to additional charges. First off, they offer the Nokia 100 (about $30) for $20 less than the Samsung Gusto 2 (about $50 with discount). Verizon charges an annoying $35 "activation fee." Why? I've bought your phone, which is more expensive than your competitor's and I've purchased minutes from you. Why then an activation fee? Believe me, I went back and forth on this with the manager at the Verizon store in lower Manhattan, and they will not budge. You're about to plop down $150 of business and threaten to walk away from the deal, but Verizon is willing to watch you walk out that door and take the $130 AT&T plan rather than give up that $35 activation fee. This may be a deal breaker for some, but if you have all your other services through one company, the impulse to stay with that company is strong, even when they are charging a ridiculous fee, and the thing is, the company knows it. As far as I can tell, that fee exists to ensure that Verizon Wireless' top executives can afford that third vacation home in the Caribbean. (I'm embarrassed to admit which plan I went with, and for me it came down to the phone and continuity with all my other devices, but I live vicariously through all you wonderful readers who walk away from the onerous activation fee.)
And that is all I have to say on this subject. Good luck to those of you who love your elderly relatives enough to find the best device for them.
Additional Articles On Phones For Seniors
- The Five Best Cell Phones For Seniors
- Four Tricks To Buying The Best Cell Phone For Grandma
- Which Cell Phone Should I Buy For My Grandmother?
Ed Lazellari is a blogger and fiction writer. His novels Awakenings and The Lost Prince, part of the Guardians of Aandor series from Tor Books, are available at Barnes & Nobles and Amazon.com. His short stories The Ogre Hunt and Paths Not Taken are available for free on his blog by clicking on these links.