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4 reasons to keep the land line

Despite all the hoopla about the Verizon iPhone deal, some are still perfectly happy with their old-fashioned phone.

By Karen Datko Jan 11, 2011 11:49AM

This guest post comes from "vh" at Funny about Money.


Semi-Demi-Exboyfriend called the other day to say he's going to get rid of his land line. He figures it's going to save him a ton of money.


Not only is he going to ditch the land line, he's also going to kill his Cox high-speed Internet connection, effectively taking his computer offline. His plan is to haul his laptop to the library whenever he wants to read his e-mail. Won't that be fun?


He's not alone on the land-line issue. The other day Echo, over at Boomer and Echo, reflected on the joy of land-line freedom, listing three good reasons to get rid of the thing.


Me, I'm not so sure. If you don't already have a cell phone -- which I don't because I can't afford it and I don't deeply want one -- several reasons argue strongly in favor of keeping the land line. Even if you do have cell service, there's no reason to rush to judgment. Consider:



Around here, cell phone service runs about $60 a month -- that's before you buy the gadget, which can cost several hundred dollars. Get yourself into a cell phone plan, and you may not be able to get out, even if the service stinks.

Experience suggests that most service from most communication providers stinks. I would, for example, never go near Qwest again, and all you have to do is enter terms like "Verizon," "Comcast," or "AT&T" into The Consumerist search bar to be given permanent pause about cell phone providers in general.


Cox's land line costs all of $29, half of what SDXB pays for a cell phone connection that does not keep him in touch if he goes hiking very far into the sticks, exactly when you would have the most need for such a connection. So, while yes, he will save money by canceling the land line, he pays twice as much for the privilege.



Own a cell phone, and you have a cell phone: That's one, count it, (1). When it jangles or vibrates at you, you have to find it. That may be easy enough if you're a guy, because you probably tote the thing around in a pocket everywhere you go. But most women's clothes don't have pockets. So that means the cell gets put down -- wherever you happened to put it down, or wherever you happen to have last dropped your purse.


So, every time the thing goes off, what are you gonna do? Run all over the freaking house trying to find it, that's what.


Last time I bought a land-line phone -- it was very cheap, by the way -- it came with not one, not two, not three, but five extensions. I have a phone in every room, and every one of them has its own squawk box. If I set one down and can't find it quickly when someone jangles me up, all I have to do is walk into the next room to pick up another unit. My phone is never lost.


I don't happen to think having to carry an electronic tether everywhere you go is especially convenient. Nor is it convenient to have to remember to turn it off whenever you go into a restaurant, a theater, a church, or choir practice. At choir, a $5 fine is assessed every time a cell phone goes off. One of our members underwrites cake and cookies for 50 people with her repeating fines.



Speaking of having to carry an electronic tether around, that's exactly what a cell phone is. If you're hauling that thing everyplace you go, you really have no excuse not to answer it.


What happened to privacy? What, hevvin help us, ever happened to alone time? Who needs to yak on the phone while driving, while walking around the grocery store, while sitting at a restaurant, while strolling down the street, while hiking in the desert? About 99.9999% of phone calls can wait until you get home or to the office.


When people can bombard you with phone calls everyplace you go and demand your attention right now, you're never free. Your time is never your own. Even turning the thing off doesn't really free you. You're expected to check in regularly, or let the phone nag you by vibrating at you. If you don't, you feel guilty and antsy until you do so and then get back to callers, often not at your convenience but right this minute.


I appreciate hearing from my friends and business associates, but I feel no need for that degree of connectivity. Or for that degree of immediacy. Except for the occasional car wreck, nothing really needs to be dealt with instantaneously. When I'm out and about, I'd rather have the peace and quiet, thank you, to focus on what I'm doing and the person I'm with. When I get to a landing spot, that's when I'll deal with callers' issues.


As for freedom from nuisance phone calls, I rarely get telephone solicitations anymore. The National Do-Not-Call List proved to be surprisingly effective. For those rogue solicitors and off-shore pests who scoff at the law, a handy device called the TeleZapper disconnects almost all of them. Phone solicitation stopped being a problem for me several years ago.



The cell phone is one of those gadgets that brings to mind my mother's favorite old chestnut: Just because some of the sheep jump off the cliff doesn’t mean we all have to. IMHO, the very fact that everyone else is doing something is a good reason not to do it. Especially if it costs you money.


Does anyone ever consider how silly a person looks, walking down the street yapping on the phone and not paying the slightest bit of attention to anything around her? How annoying her blatting voice is as she shares her private business with 10 or 15 people who don't. want. to. know?


How insulting it is to interrupt a face-to-face conversation to pull a phone out of your pocket and answer an inconsequential call? Or how spectacularly dangerous and stupid it is to drive with one hand on the steering wheel and the other punching numbers into a cell phone?


Now, I'll admit I'd love to have one of those swell smart phones, which really are less telephones and more extremely portable computers. But that's not going to happen because I can't afford it. Failing that, I don't see any good reason to tie an electronic tether around my neck.


A land line lets you stay in touch without making you look like a fool or putting you at risk. By and large, it keeps you in control of whom you're going to speak with and when. I wouldn't get rid of it, even if I could afford a smart phone.


More from Funny about Money and MSN Money:

Jan 12, 2011 4:11PM
"By and large, it keeps you in control of whom you're going to speak with and when."
I wasn't aware that owning a cell phone meant giving up that type of freedom. I treat my cell phone just like a portable landline. If I see someone on my built-in caller ID that I can't or don't want to talk to right now, I let it go to voicemail. If I don't recognize the number, I definitely let it go to voicemail. If I'm driving, I don't have to answer it. I return calls on my breaks just as I would if someone were calling my desk phone. What's the difference?
Jan 12, 2011 5:19PM

I also don't have a cell phone, just a landline.  I don't have a job where I need to be available 24/7.  Also, no dependents who might need me in case of emergency.  I have internet access at work and at home, so don't need a smart phone for that.  And the most important reason I'm cell phone free is I really can't afford one right now.

I also hate it when a friend or relative interrupts our conversation to check their cell to see who might be calling.  I just find that rude and insensitive. 

But my biggest pet peeve is people who walk into public restrooms, talking on their cells and proceed to do their business without hanging up first!  Not only is it gross, half the time I have to bite my lips to keep from laughing at them.  Maybe I should stop trying to control myself!

Sep 2, 2011 9:44AM
I already use a cheap tracfone for traveling outside the home.
I have cable internet and use nettalk, one thing about nettalk is you can plug it into your homes phone jack and then ALL of the homes phone jacks work on it.  So I still have my 5 wall plugin phones working on it.

ATT, good riddance.  Party
No more solicitation calls, political calls, etc... even though I'm on the national do not call list.
Nettalk has all the services that ATT charge you for included for $29 per yr.
Not the $35 monthly charge that ATT bill you.

And nettalk has unlimited long distance and 911 service as well.

Feb 15, 2011 9:18PM

Landlines are old obsolete technology and will soon go the way of the dial-up-internet and the VCR. There is only so much bandwidth available in a standard phone line and that is 56 kb's even though that's almost impossible to achieve.


All I need and use is my smart phone but in case I do need to fax I do have a Magic Jack hooked onto my broadband internet and that works fine for fax's and voice calls. That is only about $20.00 per year and is unlimited long distance too. I do use that for voice calls when I get close to my cell minutes going over which is rare. It is turned off when I do not need it.


A smart cell phone is pretty much all I need since it is with me at all times.


I had Cox phone service for a time and got tired of the charges they added on besides the standard charges.

Jan 11, 2011 11:48PM
Land lines are more expensive here than cell phones. I pay about $35. (no bells and whistles, just phone service) a month for a cell phone: I travel for my job, and if I have car problems, I need to be able to contact someone to help, thus the cell phone. My land line, including local, long distance, a second line just for my TiVo and my internet service, is around $100 a month.  I would love to get rid of the land line; I live in a rural area, when the power goes out, my land line does not and I have access to phone service. Plugged in phones do not have that ability: once the power is out, so is the cordless. I also do not have the greatest reception from my cell at home. And although most newer cells have the ability, some older ones do not provide emergency vehicles access to your location should the need arise. So, I keep my land line, hoping some day, I can get rid of it.
Jan 11, 2011 4:22PM
I agree 100%.  I do not understand the need to constantly be contactable, unless it is required because of your job.  I don't understand why people want to carry around a cell phone for $60 a month.  I am so sick.and.tired. of passing up stupid drivers on the road, only to look over and yup, I was right, they are ON THE PHONE.  How I wish I had a blowhorn to yell at them.  How I wish I was an undercover cop so I can pull them over and ticket them.   I have a pay as you go phone and use it for those just in case moments.  Just in case I forgot what my husband wanted me to pick up at the store, just in case I'm stuck in a ditch, just in case I'm going to be late, and sure I do use in the car, but all I do is press 1 or 2 or whatever and it calls my house.  I can't text normally on it because it doesn't have a keyboard so doing it while driving is like suicide.  I dread the day my 9 year old asks for one, because she will probably get a better phone than me and it will cost me 3x as much!!  And people who get in "accidents" while driving and talking or texting on the phone should thank god everyday that you didn't kill yourself or someone else. 
Feb 16, 2011 8:27AM

Reason  #5

My DSL (& therefore, my whole home network!) comes packaged with it....

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