You might recall the fuss I made about a year ago when I listed the reasons why I don’t need a smartphone, and how I subsequently broke down and finally bought a smartphone. Now I want my mom to upgrade to a smartphone.
I should tell you right off the bat that she’s 67 years old, so maybe I am just expecting way too much.
Everything was going along fine and she was just tickled with her little “dumbphone”. She doesn’t actually use her cell phone for talking, since she has been housebound for over a year now, but she loves text messaging. She didn’t care one bit that she had to press the number keys 1 to 4 times each to type in one single letter. The only little problem was for some unknown reason the phone would only allow her to receive one photo text message. I suspect that is because the rest of the family is using smartphones and the photos are too big for her little phone to accommodate more than one at a time. She is on my account with T-mobile and I had her call them to help her walk her way through getting her online album set up.
After a frustrating time on the phone, she called back to tell me that she was told she cannot have an online album with her phone. I was surprised to hear that because I’ve had an online album with T-mobile for the past ten years and it hasn’t mattered what kind of phone I was using. So one day on my way to work we both got on the phone with T-mobile and discover that the previous representative actually told her she doesn’t have an online account. This was a misunderstanding on my mom’s part – she thought they were saying she is not allowed to have an online album but the online album could not be set up because we had not gone in and created an online account with T-mobile.
To apologize for the hassle – at least that’s how it was presented – the representative said they would like to give my mom a free data plan on her phone for 90 days. My mom wasn’t sure she wanted to do that, but I said she could check it out and I had a phone she could borrow to try it out. I knew there was no point to try it out on her little slide phone.
The phone I had agreed to loan her belongs to my son, AJ. When I asked AJ if I could loan the phone to Grandma he was okay with that, but then it took me several weeks to get the phone ready and by that time AJ was moving out on his own and wanted the phone as a backup, in case anything should happen to his current phone as he would be in a tighter situation financially. I insisted that Grandma be allowed to borrow the phone and then I went through several hours of hassle trying to ready the phone for my mom to try out.
I had to download all of AJ’s photos and music to a hard drive so that I could set the phone to the original factory settings since I knew it would confuse my mom if the phone was trying to check AJ’s email, instead of hers. I set up a Gmail account for my mom. I was on the phone with T-mobile three or four times and finally I went to a T-mobile store in person and was there for 90 minutes while they trouble shot the phone. As it turns out, I had done the resetting process, but I hadn’t selected the right option so it hadn’t totally cleared the phone.
Finally, when eight weeks of the 90 days free trial period had passed, I got the phone to my mom’s house. I tried to demonstrate some of the features, but she had had a bad day and wasn’t able to spend any time on it. I left after a few minutes feeling extremely frustrated. I had made a very long trip to my mom’s house (over an hour) and for nothing. I had spent hours of time that I didn’t have on the phone with T-mobile, and AJ didn’t even want to loan out his phone but I had insisted. I went through a lot of trouble to get that phone to my mom for her to try. To top it all off, I had driven that long distance to my mom’s in a vehicle with no air conditioning. It was hot and I was frustrated. And unfortunately I let my frustration show. As a result, my mom has been avoiding me ever since. She used to call me daily and we talked for about an hour each time. So in the last six weeks we’ve talked maybe a total of five minutes.
A few days later, I was on the hunt to decrease expenses and I discovered that I could lower my data plan on my smartphone from $20 to $10 a month since I don’t use anywhere near the lowest amount of data allowed for $10. But when I tried to change my plan, I was told that I was locked in for 90 days. The 90 days that had been so kindly extended to my mother as an apology was actually a sales gimmick in disguise. I was annoyed, but I couldn’t do a thing about it until the 90 days was up.
In the meantime, my mom switched out her SIM card from the little phone into the smartphone and was trying it out. I found out she was still diligently deleting every single text message and photo message as they came through so I told her she could save thousands of images on this phone, and not only that, but thousands of text messages. I was able to tell her about the option to speak into the smartphone and it would convert voice to text. She seemed thrilled about that.
One of the reasons I wanted to let my mom borrow AJ’s phone is because Costco has this phone free with two year upgrade. I thought how perfect, since my mom can try out the phone since she won’t leave the house and can’t go to Costco to see any of the other phones, this is perfect.
The phone bill came due, the 90 days were up. I texted my mom to make sure it was okay that I pay her portion of the phone bill which is $18. I told her it would be $28 next month for the smartphone.
That’s when she texts me stating she doesn’t want to upgrade right now. She wants to upgrade when she’s ready to upgrade. Okay, that’s fine, I say to her. But inside I’m seething with frustrating and disappointment.
Since my mom is housebound and her husband is so vile that no one wants to visit – for that matter he has forbidden certain family members from even coming into the neighborhood – I had hoped the smartphone would offer a way for her to interact with her family and children. She is always bemoaning the fact that we never get together as a family, and yet now it seems she is unwilling to reach out in any way to her family.
My mother has never been very much of a grandmother to my children, it has always been a hurtful complaint of mine which I have never verbalized to her. She is a sensitive person and so I have always been careful to shield her from my true feelings. When I had my first child, her youngest was just 12 and so I figured she was too busy with her own children to spend time on grandchildren.
I’m not sure how I allowed myself to get my hopes up after a quarter of a century, all because of a smartphone. One thing I had really wished is that she would at least take the time to see my son Big A’s YouTube videos. The smartphone would have allowed this, since she does not own a computer.
And so, here are the reasons I wanted my mom to upgrade to a smartphone:
- The smartphone is free with 2 year upgrade
- Her phone bill will increase by $10 (from $18 to $28)
- She has been able to touch and use this phone, it’s a Samsung Galaxy S Vibrant
- I even offered to pay the $10 for her if it’s the money
- She can get email
- She can have more than one picture at a time on her phone
- She could upload those photos to have them developed and shipped to her home
- She has a new grandchild which she can’t see in person so I’m sure it is frustrating for my sister to not be able to share photos with our mother
- She could view my son’s YouTube videos
- She could order from Amazon instead of having to rely on various family members
- She could access Kindle books with her smart phone
- She could surf the Internet for recipes and patterns
I did make one last plea to her – by text since she doesn’t want to be on the phone with me- explaining in a novella sized text message that I was disappointed and tried to tell her a few things about the phone. I guess it is just stupid of me to want my mom to upgrade to a smartphone. After all, I was reluctant for a very long time, but I have to say a great deal of that hesitation came from the cost. If I could have gotten a smartphone for a total of $28/month you can bet I would have jumped on it.