Joni Blecher, a.k.a. the Cell Phone Diva, wants to answer all your questions about cell phones, service plans, and wireless connectivity. Send her a question!
Play it again
Q: What do you think of refurbished cell phones? I am thinking of purchasing one from AT&T. Is the quality still good, and are they good deals in general?
A: Refurbished phones are like the transitional person in your life--you know, the person you date after the end of a long-term relationship and right before your next serious commitment. They are perfectly fine for a couple of months or more, while you wait for the phone you really want.
That said, be aware of the return policy. If something is going to go wrong with the handset, it will probably happen in the first couple of weeks. In fact, most mobiles from insurance claims are actually refurbished models and typically don't last as long as new models. These phones are less expensive and fine deals, as long as you remember that you get what you pay for and that a refurbished model, like a transitional person, is not permanent.
Q: I have an Audiovox CDM-8600, and I'm appalled that there are no standard-sounding ringers. I don't want to sound like a carnival every time my phone rings. They should at least include ringers that sound professional. How can I get a ring tone that doesn't embarrass me?
A: You are not alone. Many people want a ring tone that, well, sounds like a phone ringing. The easiest thing for you to do with your current model is to actually record the sound yourself. Since you can use your phone's voice recorder to save your own spoken alerts, such as "answer the phone," just record the sound of a phone ringing instead.
Q: What would be a good phone for my eighth-grader? I want to be able to control who she calls. Is this an option? Thanks.
A: Cell phones don't come with the same parental controls that let you block certain Web sites on your computer or channels on your TV set. If you really want to limit whom your daughter calls, your best bet is a GPS Locator cell phone offered by a company called Wherify. Priced at $399 (service plans range from $19.95 to $44.95 per month), the tiny handset's GPS locator lets parents look up their child's location by using the Internet. Additionally, it can be set to call only 911 and one other phone number. It can, however, receive calls from anyone. The calls probably won't last long, though, since this extremely basic cell phone is essentially a pendant with a big speaker that's worn as a necklace.
If you really want to get her a phone, any basic model should be adequate. The main thing to consider when buying a phone for teens is to remember to include a solid text-messaging plan. Most teens love to use text, and bills really add up when a text-messaging plan isn't included.
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