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Playing the numbers game when changing cellphone plans [Column]

You can't swing a dead charging station anymore without hitting a cellphone plan that claims it's better than the one you've already got ... or so it seems at first glance.

Doug has researched so many "bundles" that even he's beginning to lose track of who offers what for how much and how many hoops you have to jump through to get which deal.

When choosing a plan, it's important to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges — not watermelons to strawberries or strawberries to armpits. But TV ads bombard viewers with loud music, shouting voice-overs, and frenzied images of "their customers" riding skateboards until I'm comparing cellphones to breakfast tacos to cheap cruises.

We don't want another plan that locks us in for two years — or until aliens take over the planet, whichever comes first. Then again, advanced civilizations in other galaxies probably have better cellphone deals than we do on Earth.

My phone and I have never seen "I" to eye. I'm still trying to figure out how to work the flashlight feature. I almost had it yesterday ... but no.

I've never mastered the calendar app, either.

My kids insist it's better than my calendar-on-the-kitchen-wall system. How can they can say that? I've never once lost a kitchen calendar. But my cellphone? I lose that once a day.

"I've made a decision," Doug announced the other morning. "We're going with Carrier X. They offer unlimited talk and text."

"How much data?" I countered. Doug rifled through his notes. "Rats," he said. "Only one-billionth of a MB. Carrier Y offers plenty of data, and you get a free phone."

Unlimited talk and text? He shuffled papers again. "Nope. It's on a text-by-text, call-by-call basis. But Carrier Z has unlimited everything."

But then he added, "Hold the phone." (No pun intended, I'm sure.) "Carrier Z's phones cost 300 bucks — each."

I realize Doug's put a lot of time into this. Still, I'm trying to dissuade him from changing plans and phones. I don't like change: That's how I got this cockamamie iPhone in the first place.

"I'll have to learn a whole new bunch of apps," I bemoaned.

"You never learned to use the ones you've got now," Doug pointed out.

"Well, how can I, if you don't explain them to me?" I complained.

"Here's a suggestion," he said. "Try reading the manual."

"I don't read manuals. They only get me more confused."

Doug had an answer for that, too: "How do you know? You never tried reading one."

"You are the techno-expert," I explained patiently, "and I am the artiste. That's why you read the manuals and I do artistic stuff — like baking cookies."

This time Doug's eyebrows did the talking, and I got the message, loud and clear.

"OK, we'll get new phones. But why duplicate effort? When we get them," I proposed, "one of us can read the manual and explain it to the other one."

Meaning, he'll have to read it and explain it to me, because I don't read manuals. (I think we just covered that.)

"Tell you what," Doug offered magnanimously. "I'll flip you for it. But if I win, you have to read the manual and explain all the apps to me."

Anybody know where can I get a two-headed quarter ... in a hurry?

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