The Benefits of Paying Your Bills (and how I’m dealing with my cell-phone in Doha)

Today I suspended my cellphone service as of the date I leave for Qatar, resuming the day I get back, because T-Mobile’s international plan is much to expensive for my budget. T-Mobile’s website is not the easiest to navigate, so I always call customer service directly. I called planning to switch to a prepaid plan, and only pre-pay a tiny bit so I could keep my relationship to T-Mobile and avoid paying $50 a month for the privilege (I’m out of contract, thank goodness).

The customer service rep on the other end didn’t up-sell–she right-sold. She suggested I  pay $10 a month to suspend my service.

But what about pre-paid? According to her, with T-Mobile and for me, traveling internationally with a pre-paid phone is bad juju and costs around $50 a month in fees. So, suspension it is. Suspension also turned out to be the best choice for my Netflix account–except they don’t charge me anything to out my account on hold.

Here is where paying my cell-phone bills on time came in handy. The customer service rep told me they could only suspend my account for 90 days, but she would try to get me special dispensation. About 15 seconds later, she said my account looked good and I could set whatever date I wanted to have my service resumed (I think if I had said “January 4, 2011” she might have balked, but I’ll be back in early May 2010). I do not think I would have been given this flexibility if I didn’t systematically (some might say, compulsively) pay my bills on time.

When the customer service rep from T-Mobile offered to suspend my service as of today, I had a life-without-a-cell-phone-and-with-no-way-to-contact-people-without-a-computer flash before my eyes moment. I do not think I want to go unconnected for 4 months.

Here is how I plan to stay connected while I am in Qatar. I plan to call my family and fiance with Skype, but probably laptop-to-laptop for free, as Skype’s website tells me it will cost $38.88 to talk for 90 minutes from the U.S. to Qatar. To talk to my new friends in Qatar, I will need to work through QTel. Since I cannot purchase a plan without entering a store, I will wait until I am in country to get a new plan. Whether I choose Shahry, Hala, or Thuraya will have to depend on what I learn in the store in City Center, because the website is less than clear.

And now, to pay tuition!

Inspirational Quote:

“All group structures create dilemmas, but these dilemmas are hardest when it comes to collective action, because the cohesion of the group become critical to its success. Information sharing produces shared awareness among the participants, and collaborative production relies on shared creation, but collective action creates shared responsibility, by tying the user’s identity to the identity of the group.” Clay Shirkey, Here Comes Everybody, pp 51.

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