I have an iPhone 4. I also have a 6GB data plan (that’s 6,000 MB) for which I pay $30/month – an amazing privilege, I am told, since it was only made available to those who signed up for an iPhone in the first 30 days of its release. I only use about 100 MB a month though, so have asked Rogers numerous times if I can pay less for less data. The next cheapest plan is 500MB for $25 – a paltry savings that makes the whole deal quite unattractive. So, I’m stuck paying for a large amount of data I don’t use with no meaningful option for saving money.

I also have an iPad. Apple does not allow the iPhone to tether to the iPad (although it can do so with other computers and laptops), making it impossible to use my iPhone data plan on the iPad. This means I need a second data plan for the iPad – another $16.93/month for 250MB. Not only that, but the iPad data plan renews automatically every month, whether I use it or not, i.e. there is no “rollover” of unused data into the next month. So, every month I pay a combined total of some $50 (including taxes) between devices, for a couple of hundred megs of actual data usage. Very clever. Now I know why they call them “smartphones”….you can’t be too smart buying one!

A few years ago, my wife and I visited Jamaica. We were warned by our tour guide to not leave the shopping center he had taken us to. My wife wanted to buy some postcards and saw a corner-store across the street from the small shopping center. As we crossed the street, we were mobbed by at least five young local men, asking us for $5 to help us cross the street unharmed (hey, didn’t I see that in some mafia movie?). We shelled out the money and immediately retreated to the safety of our starting point. Trying to go “native” in Jamaica made me feel like an earthworm being circled by vultures.

But dealing with cellphone and cable companies in Canada brings to mind another metaphor: I feel like the honey-pot into which everyone is dipping their fingers. No matter what I try to do to save a buck, I actually wind up paying more. They must have more actuaries, statisticians, and psychologists working for them than all the insurance companies and mental hospitals combined – constantly figuring out every possible permutation and combination of human desire and discontent in order to make sure they always get the same money no matter what you do. Brilliant. Wish I had thought of it.

“You can’t protect yourself part-time from people committed to taking advantage of you full-time”. Words of wisdom for the holiday season and its buying frenzy.

And just to preempt those wise-asses among the readership (Yes, I mean YOU Mr. Italo and Mr. Dario), I know that I’m actually angry at myself for being so stupid and not following my own advice to “want less”.

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