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Rant, Technology

What Does A Verizon Moment Feel Like?

Talk about being “in the zone”.

The final episode of Mad Men (Season 1) shows Don Draper coining the word Carousel for the gizmo that holds the slides on Kodak’s slide projector. And creating the Kodak Moment campaign to sell memories instead of hardware.

Which got me thinking about what could top this bit of genius marketing.

It would have to be getting people to pay for something they don’t use.

Two examples come to mind: Propane and Cellphone Plans.

I was at a friends home the other night and he was using his BBQ. I noticed that he had one of those recycleable propane tanks that you return when it gets low and exchange it for a new, filled up, tank. I hadn’t thought about that product before because I take my propane tank to a local station where they just top up my own tank when it gets low.

A little thought will reveal the brillance of the recycleable tank, which is that you are always paying for propane you don’t use. Since nobody can take the chance that they will run out of propane in the middle of their BBQ, that tank gets returned long before it’s empty. In my own case I only pay for the propane that actually ‘tops up’ my tank.

OK, that’s a bit of a rip-off, but we’re not talking big bucks and it’s hard to get mad at the guys who sell propane.

Cellphone Carriers are another story altogether. We hate these guys before the opening credits even come up.

They do the same thing as the propane guys, but it happens with bigger bucks and it’s every month. Plus, did I mention their service sucks.

When you sign up for a cellphone ‘plan’ you have to pick your ‘number of minutes’. Same idea, pay for something you don’t use. Because they charge confiscatory prices if you go over your limit, you are forced to buy more minutes than you think you might ever use.

And in the immortal words of Adam Carolla, ‘They don’t even give you a reach-around’.

Turns out a Verizon Moment is one of those minutes you pay for, but don’t use.

Don Draper would be in awe.

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4 thoughts on “What Does A Verizon Moment Feel Like?

  1. Cellphone carriers have forced a Soviet style system upon US consumers. Is it good for consumers? It is if you believe that “buying” a phone for virtually nothing is a good deal. Of course as you point out the consumer is locked into a plan that benefits the carrier. The carrier controls the minutes that you can buy and the services. Perhaps the European consumers are getting a better deal.

    Posted by John Tewart | August 25, 2010, 3:54 pm
    • From what I know I prefer the European model.

      Yes, you pay more for the phone up front, but you are not ‘locked in’ so it’s easier to switch carriers thus the market is more competitive. Pay me now, pay me later…we all pay for the phones one way or another.

      Also, in Europe you don’t pay for incoming calls.

      Our market is not competitive, so it’s a joke when politicians who are getting money from the carriers claim it is and that we don’t need any regulation. Give me a break.

      Posted by Bob Gelber | August 26, 2010, 7:34 am
  2. The problem is that when the politicians say they are implementing new regulations to benefit the consumers what they are really saying is lobbyists wrote the legislation and made sizable contributions to their campaign funds. Caveat emptor.
    The only thing I trust less than big cell phone co.s is even bigger government. And in your “heart of hearts” you know that is true!

    Posted by Pedro | August 26, 2010, 9:30 pm
    • Pedro,

      Remember not to take your knife to a gunfight. We do need the government for some things.

      At least we get to vote for the government, when was the last time you got to vote on your cell phone plan. Or net neutrality for that matter.

      Posted by Bob Gelber | August 27, 2010, 7:09 am

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