Friday, September 22, 2006

Rental rotary phone costs $14,000 over 40 years

An 82-year-old woman with a rental phone ended up paying over $14,000 for the rotary set over 40 years. She began renting the phone at a time when AT&T would not sell you a phone -- and they wouldn't let you buy a phone from someone else and plug it in to your wall.

These days, DRM hardware and media seems to all come on terms like this: a license, a rental, anything except a plain, old-fashioned sale where you end up owning property.

The DRM people tell us that rentals are great for the poor and disenfranchised, since these rental "offers" can be made for less than a real purchase would cost. But I think this is more representative of the trajectory of rentware models: you pay, and pay, and pay, and pay.

It's not a coincidence that rich people who have a choice almost never choose to rent. They own their homes, their cars, and their TVs. Rich people don't sign "agreements" that let repo men come over and take away their stuff. Even if you know you'll never miss a payment, we all know that owning enriches you, renting enriches someone else.

The number of customers leasing phones dropped from 40 million nationwide to about 750,000 today, said John Skalko, spokesman for Murray Hill, N.J.-based Lucent Technologies, a spinoff of AT&T that manages the residential leasing service.

"We will continue to lease sets as long as there is a demand for them," Skalko said.

Benefits of leasing include free replacements and the option of switching to newer models, he said.


1 comment:

Elke Kolodinski said...

Also why no one should ever lease a car or buy expensive things on MasterCard, but people do. Pay cash, grasshopper...