Why Can’t Cell Phone Activation Be Simpler?

Is it me, or does it seem to take an inordinately long time to set up a new cell phone?

The screen on my flip style cell phone died. I hadn’t dropped it or in any way abused it. One moment the screen displays the time and icons. The next, it’s solid blue (like a Windows blue-screen-of-death). It was about five years old.

So I go to the wireless service store to get a replacement. I was called on fairly quickly. The process of actually setting up and purchasing the phone had taken about an hour – the store had closed before I left and the clerk had to unlock the door to let me out. (Now there’s a sales tactic!)

I understand this was an outlier. In my experience it doesn’t take that long. Usually it’s 30 minutes or perhaps a little less. But even that seems quite a bit of time. Why isn’t the process more efficient?

I’m not complaining. I’m just wondering.

I wanted another pre-pay phone, which for some reason limits my choice of phones. Why should it matter if it’s a pre-pay phone or a contract phone when it comes to choice? Why should the choice of phones be conditional on the carrier? (I know the answer from the carrier’s perspective, but still.) And you always have to “upgrade” when getting a new phone, even though the new phone has the same features as the previous one. Just a way for carriers to stuff in some extra fees ($10 in this case). I had to choose a new plan as the old plan was retired.

It’s like you and the clerk are having to learn it all again each time.

Can’t it be that you go into a store and choose a phone that meets your needs. Then you can either set it up with the carrier then and there or go home and do it online. Either way, all it should take is going onto the website of the carrier you choose, enter the phone’s unique id, pick a plan and either choose a new number or transfer the existing phone number. 10 minutes.

What has your experience been? Do you also feel that the process of getting a new phone takes longer than it needs to?

Leave a Reply