By Pierre Koudelka

I just purchased new cell phones for my wife and me for Christmas. At the store, the propaganda hasn’t changed. It starts with yelling that these new phones are clearer, faster, brighter, have better sound, take clearer pictures, offer the best apps. It’s the same baloney they told me four years ago and yet everyone seems to be taken in—the store is packed as if it’s single-handedly keeping our economy going. Personally I feel all this faster, clearer picture has now surpassed humans’ ability to tell the difference.

Then there is the billing. I’m promised the bill will be such-and-such, but invariably when the first bill arrives, they’ve attached all these fees that no one understands. Even the store employees can’t really explain all the fees and surcharges.

Adding insult to injury are the plans. You are supposed to guess your monthly usage. Everyone over-estimates usage to avoid penalties so the company makes more than they should for calls or data not used. (Some might say it’s a bit like metered parking before the dawn of pay-what-you-use technology—you pay for what you think you’ll use and risk a fine if you’re wrong. Our industry has moved on—et tu, phone companies?)

Finally, they make phones fragile so they’ll break and they aren’t ashamed to sell and charge us for protective covers. Who else does that?

If you’re buying a new phone, be very careful what you sign up for. And have a very happy holiday.

Pierre Koudelka is a 45-year veteran of the parking industry.