Buying a new cellphone redux

Unlocked or locked?

I was exhausted. That was literally true. While I’ve indicated that I hate shopping, I despise buying things I don’t understand and repurchasing them. That’s about four hours I spent buying a new cellphone redux.

On August 5, I bought my daughter a preowned Samsung Galaxy S20+ from Best Buy for about $320. It was coming from the warehouse and was scheduled to arrive at the store by August 10; it came a day early.

There was a problem. The “unlocked” phone was, in fact, locked. My daughter took it back to Best Buy. They said she had to take it to AT&T because they could unlock it.

Well, no. The message from AT&T: “We can’t unlock this device until the former owner removes it from their AT&T account.” So, Best Buy sold a phone that was tied to another account?

“Buy your device through a second-hand reseller? We can’t unlock it until the former owner removes it from their AT&T account.
“When the device is removed from that account, you can submit a new request. If the device meets the rest of the eligibility requirements, we’ll approve the unlock request.”
The cavalry
The daughter called, exhausted and exasperated. I totally get that. So her daddy came to the rescue. I eventually talked to a Best Buy customer service rep who immediately called a manager.

I showed the manager an alternate Samsung phone, but they said it was a step down from what we already had. What do I know? So they recommended a new phone over $235 more expensive, but they could take off $100. Sure, whatever.

I walked from Best Buy to the store where my daughter worked, some 900 steps each way, five times to get more info, such as her Samsung password. Then I needed to wait at Best Buy for the info to be transferred from the old phone to the new phone, then to zap the info from the old phone.

Oh, and while I could pay for the original phone charge over 12 months at zero interest, the additional $135 was not treated the same way because it was less than $300. So when THAT portion of the bill comes due, I’ll have to pay that whole amount plus the 1/12 of the original amount.

It wasn’t my plan for the day, but I’m the “retired” guy. She needed a working phone before returning to college. As my wife put it, I took one for the team.

Naturally, the case for the old (Aug 5) phone doesn’t fit the new (Aug 21) one, and my daughter had decorated the extant holder. [Shrugs yet again.]


Cash: don’t carry; you need your phone


moneyMy oldest college friend complained on Facebook. “It is almost impossible to use cash in the airport. You’re SUPPOSED to use a QR code to download a Health/Travelers form because there’s No Paper, but you need to sign up for an ACCOUNT to do it!!”

Yes, that was worth at least two exclamation points!!

There are a number of places where cash is no longer king. Getting food on an Amtrak train, for instance. A lot of retailers at markets seem greenback-averse. My running joke at a store register is “Do you still take cash?” Apparently, you CAN accept cash and checks with the service Square. Are businesses required by law to accept cash? It depends on where they are

What countries are going cashless? China’s society is, its central bank is pushing backSweden and Zimbabwe, for two, are also getting resistance.

Also, increasingly, I NEED to have a cellphone. When I’m making a medical appointment, I get notices on my phone. When I get there, some places require that I check in via the device. And the photo of my vaccine card is stored therein.

Not covered

Speaking of medical things, I had gone to my doctor in September to get two shots during my annual physical. In October, I received a bill for $125 for services not covered. My physician’s office seemed to think it was because I had received both the flu shot AND the tetanus shot at the same time. But that wasn’t it.

Medicare had rejected the tetanus shot, the representative told me. Now, they would have covered it if I had been bitten by an animal or stepped on a rusty nail, or had another medical necessity. But since I was ONLY getting it because physicians believe I should get one once a decade, Medicare didn’t cover it. And since Medicare rejected it, my Medicare supplement carrier ALSO rejected it.

I’ll have to remember to step on a rusty nail in the fall of 2031.

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